The claim by Bell Pottinger’s Chief Executive, James Henderson that his company “supported or aided campaigns to stir up racial division in South Africa” is a clear sign of white arrogance that seeks to suggest that black people need a London company funded by Indian immigrants called the Guptas to express our lived experience in South Africa which goes back more than three centuries.
So the place currently called South Africa was colonised by the British in 1795 only for Bell Pottinger to make a claim that it “sowed racial division” in 2017 through a media campaign and not the slavery and racism brought by the British since their arrival on the land of our ancestors.
A quick reminder of laws of segregation brought by Britain where Bell Pottinger is headquartered:
- Hottentot Proclamation of 1806 – grand theft of land where various Khoikhoi clans and nations lived.This proclamation was also the most stringent pass law to control movement of Africans after the pass laws from Dutch and British slavery
- Masters and Servants Act of 1856 which criminalised Africans for unwillingness to work for slave wages plus prohibition of striking for better wages and work conditions
- Mines and Works Act of 1911 – Job reservation for Whites and Africans deemed Coloured by colonial authorities.The phenomena of “Colourism” among Africans is rooted in racial classification as a means for jobs and definition of “beauty”
- Natives Land Act of 1913 was the final grand theft of land by the British where the indigenous population had to live on 13% of the land and it is a legacy that has not been corrected
South Africa is defined by racial division and no amount of media campaigns funded by the Guptas and run by a British company can change those divisions as its a daily experience for the majority Black population. It is their lived reality.
No media campaign can “stir up” the fact that poverty in South Africa is Black and disproportionately Black-female or the fact that wealth is controlled by white males even in 2017 as South Africa’s “Rich List” has shown over the last 23 years.
Its a great tragedy that South Africa is promoted as some “miracle” by our own government just because blacks can now determine who gets to control administrative power or the colonial bureaucracy on the basis of one person one vote. Racial division in South Africa is a reality and no media campaign is necessary to show its existence. The aerial photography by Johnny Miller over Cape Town’s settlements segregated by race and “class” is a clear example.