Black on black oppression

Black on black oppression

One and half hours in a queue at the Maseru Border/Caledonspoort is enough time for any one man or woman to ponder the reality of the so-called post-apartheid era and to really think and draw conclusions on whether the post-apartheid period presents apartheid as a lesser evil than black/majority rule in South Africa.

If I may state the fact; it never took me that long to cross the border in the apartheid era, despite the large amounts of paperwork one’s elders had to fill with regard to purpose of visit, intended length of stay and other reasons demanded by the apartheid authorities.
Come new age-led rule, the fan has hit the s#!* and we are left wondering whether those émigrés we gave asylum to were actually vipers that were docile only because they were cold in the long winter of apartheid that began in 1948 until 1994.

Now with power in their hands, one gets to see their true colours and to hear many justifications for this type of behaviour that finds Basotho being forced to queue for endless hours just to get a circular stamp on their passport’s page.

It is not that Lesotho’s porous home affairs authorities cannot be put in line with regard to the issuing of passports to non-deserving individuals of dubious origins, what should be questioned is the reason why the immigration officials at the border points between Lesotho and South Africa find it easy to have people fry in the heat of the summer sun, to be frostbitten in winter, and to constantly worry about long lines each time they intend to cross the border.

Social problems force people to migrate; to move from one place to the next in search of some type of livelihood, and this means that the people shall cross borders at any given point in time.

It is not a phenomenon that is new to the human race, for we have wandered the globe in search of some comfortable space to live in, where we can raise our offspring in relative safety, and where we can live each passing day in contentment.

There is nothing wrong with people moving from their place of normal habit to a place they deem to be a greener pasture, it is a basic human right that in all essences is above the law itself.

The role of the recipient nation is to fashion the legal and constitutional system in a manner that establishes appropriate controls to ensure that the movement does not infringe on the rights of the locals. It however does not mean that people should be harassed to the extent one sees panning out the borders between Lesotho and South Africa, because it ultimately leads to the birth of crime and corruption.
Some will find ways to get into South Africa illegally using those river crossings that are not safe, others find ways to pay their way into the land; as is openly advertised by members of those bands of men that ‘help’ people get past the passport control booths.

Whether one harasses those with the right papers that form the majority of the masses that cross into South Africa due to the presence of ‘illegal’ migrants, the movement does not stop and will never stop. Forcing people to stay on the line for two hour stretches of time in this day and age is pure oppression sans limits or consideration.

Political rhetoric in this part of the world is a straight up lie that does not shy away from revealing its true form soon as any regime sits comfortably in parliament. When this phenomenon began with the advent of the FIFA World Cup in 2010, one would have thought that the suffering would stop soon as the spectacle ended: it has gone on ad nauseam to the present day which is ten years later.

We have seen the rigmarole posing as agreements between the home affairs ministers and officials of the two countries that never actually reach the level where one finds crossing the border an affair done in reasonable time.

There is no will in the political spheres of the two countries to resolve issues pertaining to the ease of movement between the enclave kingdom and the republic. It is a social fact that Basotho will have to cross into South Africa to find the means of living.
It however does not seem to be a political fact, or, the political classes of the two countries don’t actually feel it matters because it does not directly affect them.

It seems that somewhere along the line, the black political class in the two countries began to feign amnesia at the shared struggle between the two countries; the 1982 Maseru massacre is forgotten, the long years in the mine camps are forgotten, the knuckledusters and steel-toed boots of the apartheid police are forgotten: the once-oppressed has become the shameless oppressor.

Economical realities in the present day are not different from those in the apartheid era; the fact of the matter is that the apartheid system seems to have been decisive in ensuring that the economic burdens of the now impoverished masses never got out of control: everybody worked and there were actually laws against loitering.
The scenes of young men and women hanging out in bars because they are not employed in some activity that are now common were not there in the old days.

The question of the matter is why they have been allowed by the ‘liberated’ governments to pan out as they are: one sees youth openly injecting drugs on the pavements of Johannesburg, and it is a common sight to see a young woman and man with a quart of beer walking the streets of Maseru. The older generation are scared to correct this behaviour because they know for a fact that there are no jobs for the graduate youth, for the only places that are there are taken by loyal party followers that often do not even posses the appropriate qualifications to serve the post that they are filling.

We have come to a point where the economic realities that could be addressed by the political class could prevent the continuing fragmentation of society to the point where it shall become chaotic and ungovernable.
In the prologue to Alex la Guma’s In the Fog of the Season’s End the security police officer speaks to their prisoner in condescending tones:

‘I do not understand the ingratitude of your people,’ he went on. ‘Look what we, our Government, have done for your people. We have given you nice jobs, houses, education. Education, ja. Take education for instance. We have allowed you people to get education, your own special schools, but you are not satisfied. No, you want more than what you get. I have heard that some of your young people even want to learn mathematics.

What good is mathematics to you? You see, you people are not the same as we are. We can understand these things, mathematics. We know the things which are best for you. We have gone far to help you, do things for you. You want to be like the Whites. It’s impossible. You want this country to be like Ghana, the Congo. Look what you did in the Congo. You people will never be able to govern anything…’

One would have thought the fat police officer was wrong, but the situation as it pans out proves his words right; we are not able to address such conquerable issues as cross-border movement control, unemployment, increasing levels of poverty, disease and other social realities directly related to governance.

It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the youth are educated, the stalemate between teachers’ trade unions in Lesotho and the government now finds children languishing at home out of school more than six months after the initial discussions began.
Wool and mohair farmers still wait for the proceeds from the sale of their wool with bated breaths despite the promises from the new monopoly after the old reliable partner was unceremoniously ousted.

The interviews between government and media reveal a scenario where the government addresses the people as the apartheid era security police addresses the figure in the la Guma novel: they know better than everybody else inspite of the fact that they are not the ones feeling the full brunt of their decisions. Where apartheid spoke down to the majority, one finds the same type of attitude from the differing regimes over the years: the one who voted the other into power is now seen as of less intelligence by the other he or she voted into office.

This is the same as the apartheid government that saw the majority only good enough to be the labour reserve: modern black rule sees the masses as only good enough to be the vote reserve.

The arguments raised in the past were that the education was not good enough, and this would naturally mean that post-independence government would work hard to see to it that the education system was well-furnished.

The present scenario between the teachers and the government is as it is because the children of the MP’s and the ministers do not attend the public schools that are directly affected by the teachers’ strike, their occupation affords them the liberty to send their children to private schools.

As much as there might be pretence that the teachers’ grievances are unfounded, the truth of the matter is that they are not addressed on time because those they speak to do not have to go through the same hardships that they do.

It is oppression of the legal kind if one’s grievances are not answered on the basis of the assertion that one’s demands are preposterous, without the accuser actually bothering to find the collateral impacts of their deed. One finds the scene of the grass suffering because two elephants are wrestling repeating itself too many times: it needs to be put in check if there is any kind of stability to be reached by the differing two and half-year regimes now common in Lesotho.

Countries regress because of one simple fact: choosing the wrong people into government. The level of literacy when it comes to the analysis of Africa’s political class is not satisfactory. Matters of governance demand more than the rudimentary understanding of what government is and how it should be run.

The love of the people for a given candidate does not mean that such an individual is fit for office, and adopting the attitude where the love of one figure takes precedence over necessity is what finds the country where it is: a herdboy fresh from the cattle post knows only to force things and never to refer to common sense and logic when it comes to solving issues.

The standoffs in Lesotho at the moment are the result of a battle between herdboys and teachers, seasoned men and ambitious newbies that have not taken the time to understand the nitty-gritty aspects of issues on the table.

We oppress the masses if we elect into office individuals that rely more on popular opinion than logic, for certain matters demand in-depth knowledge and not simpleton village understanding. It takes more than being popular to deal with matters of progress.
Lesotho does not progress because popularity takes precedence over decisiveness, despite the glaring example of its danger as seen in the case of South Africa that is down on its knees after prolonged fascination with popular and starkly illiterate political leaders.

Oppression does not come in the same face it wore, changes with every passing regime and metamorphoses for the sake of confusing the seer that encounters it; for oppression is fashioned for the sake of subjugating masses and raising a few selfish individuals to vanity.
If the colonial segregated himself from the native so that the pillaging of the land’s resources could go on without question, then the new colonist in the form of the politician shall adopt and apply the same divide and rule methods to repress the masses of the followers through unemployment, hunger, and poverty.

Political affiliation if taken to fanatic heights becomes the root cause of the polarisation a lot of analysts deem to be the leading cause to Africa’s continued regression.

Divided people are easy to oppress, and the African politician has ensured that party colour is the main tool to use in the division of the people at the expense of the welfare of the state, the country and the land. There is just no way we can get out of the oppression that comes in the forms of unemployment and poverty if we do no share a similar vision and ignore the maladies brought by the false belief that being of a different political ideology makes neighbours enemies or strangers.

The truth of the matter is that politicians and preachers create ideas of heaven and hell to influence the people into wrong notions of what we should do to address issues that adversely affect us.

It is black on black oppression if we adopt the erroneous idea that we are different when we have to share the same basic spaces and go through the same experiences on a daily basis. The black that thinks they are smarter than everyone else soon becomes the dictators that came in Africa’s past.

By: Tšepiso S. Mothibi

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