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The Salon

Untitled

Ernie Koela

(University of Cape Town,  Honours in History)

It is a nickname your hatred gave to me
Don't call me black stripping me of my autonomy to create my own identity
Your ply is to architect my history and linages destiny
Ravage my sanctity and sanity penetrating me psychologically
Like those woman forced to embrace colonial tyranny
In their wombs they breed the manifestation and condemnation
You place on race and white supremacy call me, me!
So if art was a spoken word my jaws would hurt
My canvas would be burnt by candles
I'd be an African child in dark days weeping to the skies praying for rain
For all he knows are vacant spaces between his blood veins that remind him his history cannot stay
The system aims to create wild rabid dogs, rabies babies
Silent heart throb's Pinocchio's fake boys looking to their creator for theirs spoils
My blood boils
Cut yourself from these strings they don't support you they abort you in fake joys
It is a nickname your hatred gave to me
Don't call me black stripping me of my autonomy to create my own identity
Call me, me!
If art was a spoken word my jaws would hurt, my canvas would be burnt by candles I'd be an African child in dark days looking to the skies praying for rain

For all he knows are vacant spaces between his blood veins that remind him his history cannot stay.
Now we live in a world creating wild rapid silent heart throbs, rabies baby's heart throbs,
Now cut the strings to that system coz they abort you in fake joys I see - men like Pinocchio's fake boys
Looking to their creator for their spoils my blood boils.

If art was a spoken word my jaws would hurt, my canvas would be burnt by candles.
I say It is a nick name your hatred gave to me.

The Patriarchs Empty Drawer

 
Ernie Koela

(University of Cape Town, Honours in History)

Day:10

What is it to be a man, do we drop water from our eyes in the eyes of those who see us as pillars of their lives or soak as sponges in dirty water to drown in our own demise?

Thus he cried at night silent in depression manic pain seeped in his heart-veins struggling to hold himself together his fears at the doorway.

A tear drop from a full heart potency only he knows like ink stains on folded sheets. Mouths to feed growing ego's knees deep his anguish turns his faith to empty speech.

See I've looked into the eyes of a growing man ready to die his pride diluted with life storms. Seems all he knows are the calms before in a small fishing boat in the trough of Poseidon's wars

Treated like a cheap whore who finds solace in silence alone in quite nights when she isn't required to tap dance for men's delights.

But hope always behind his pupils, greyed and murky in the midst of his gaze, aged by wisdom.

The stars it seems are his soliloquy. Pearls that sparkle in the black abyss as if unlocked by God's lisp. Every breadth is taken as a dying gift. Spoken under his breadth, soft are his words a wish.

"One day god will see me"

Day: ∞

The day exhales my mind prevails to veil - my presence sustains to suffocate sisters crudely known as fe-males.

i reach to the drawer where my problems stay it's function to protect but all that come into its path are in harm's way -

i'm sickened somewhat nauseous i've been inept or out of sync with my feelings

Other people cease to be Beings in my eyes i value them as means to my ends , in the end i leave again stricken by an ailment with no physical symptoms

Sunday i aim to pray God is silent or i'm unprepared to hear again, in distress i reach to that draw pulling out names to fulfil my selfishness

A stench of my lies reaches my nose and the tip of my tongue , i contort at decaying innocent civil-aliens

As i play the emotional racist maybe supremacist taking along with their preciousness and in an unequal exchange searching for my repentance

i slam the drawer tempted by its allure i introspect to no effect for the exchange you know to be inept feeds my value gauge overflowing with her sufferings

Blind to this i claim to not see but the eyes aren't the only tool for recognising the value of her being

Sweet nothings i speak to both of us , no you're not emotionless just honest , her - i can't be yours but we can still do this

The trick is distance without disappearance under false appearance passions obscure reason and caught in this infringement are causalities lost or emotional treason

The History of the Black Body has been Exoticised and Fetishised in a Pornographic Fashion

 
Ernie Koela

(University of Cape Town,  Honours in History)

The Black body historically and to this day has and continues to be eroticized in a violent pornographic fashion. Displayed in a crude and vulgar form, in galleries and museums - as if saying, ‘it is art' warrants this attack on ‘the black body'. These obscured obnoxious representation of our somatic features violate our dignity. In this degrading fashion what underlies these notions is a long colonial, racist oppressive, psychologically violent and violating narrative on the ‘BLACK BODY'. It seems black bodies are only art when they feed into the notions of ‘primitive', ‘sexual', ‘natives'. Thus woman are naked and bare and men and their gentiles are enlarged and exposed as opposed to their white counter parts who are dressed and seemingly dignified. These presentation falsely and crudely misrepresent the black narrative and further assimilates it into a colonial and racially fetishized narrative.

Saartjie Baartman, was put on display in Europe's freak show attraction as the Hottentot venus, Post mortem, her Genetalia, buttocks and brains were preserved by and in George Cuvier's laboratory at the Museum of Natural History- as he described ‘Hottentots' as closer to ‘great apes than human'. These notions were later used as scientific justification of the understanding of the ‘savage ‘and white so called paternalism. Thus feeding into the colonial agenda to tame and civilise; physically, sexually, morally, politically and spiritually the savage, being the black body and by extension Africa.

We reject her presentation in the library, we reject that her standing naked commemorates her and retains her dignity. Further we see no difference in the racist, sexist methods used by the French and British in the freak show attraction than her presentation in the UCT Oppenheimer library. Thus we aimed to illustrate that the violent objectification and sexualisation of the black body is a system which feeds into the stereotype of racial superiority so subtly and insidiously it is hard to detect even by those bodies it represent in real life. So our aim is to challenge a history that represents us as a fetish, as a base sexual beings. There are Particular ways in which Saartjie Baartmans spirit and legacy can be contextualised and respected. Thus in our climatic end we Draped her and covered her hoping to show these violence's inflicted on the black body and psychology still continue and we will not stop until we decolonise the black body and mind!

Apples of My Eye Cry Dry

Ernie Koela

(University of Cape Town, Honours in History)

Apples of my eye cry dry but fill masters cups and foreign waters whilst my native rivers run dry

Imagery Adam and Eve pigmented separate both meek - in their eyes they saw love not somatic secretion spued by satanic completion through tongues turn apples of eye's to blasphemous seeds

Meadow of my heart find root in a misty storm obscure their vision, secure me of scorn born innately? in infant cradles homes .

Young friends aged 7 named master by my grandmother of whom I revere as gogo .modesty in-humanity prevailed to veil pain from wrinkled skinned males grievously but viciously stripped of their hue- man qualities

Sins of the soul take root in physical iniquities mouths preach pigmentation as if it's polygamy to rebuke free speech for bleached aesthetics is what they seek

effecting ,on the rights one feels to plant legacies

Apples of my eye cry dry but fill masters cups and foreign waters whilst my native rivers run dry .

 

Liberals and Consciousness

Photo Credit: Wandile Kasibe
Photo Credit: Wandile Kasibe
Ernie Koela

(University of Cape Town, Honours in History)

The ‘specific exclusion' of white persons in black institutions sounds counter intuitive to a theory or philosophy that aims to dismantle racist ideology. For the former notion at first glance seems too imply an opposing racist or racial ideology of anti- white or reverse apartheid. What the essay will aim to do is flesh out what Steve Biko meant about the specific exclusion of white people and outlines the context of South Africa in 1970 which support this claim. Furthermore the project will discuss the justification of this claim and the possible objections to black consciousness.

Apartheid South Africa in 1971 is a highly racialized and racist society; South Africa at the time is a society rife with racially motivated metaphysical, epistemic and moral injustices.[1] Miscarriages of justice in the forms of death squads and undefined detentions without court order, socio-economic injustice where the factors of production and means for economic appropriation are unequally divided or concentrated in the hands of the white minority.[2] There is systematic discrimination of black people institutionalised in the migrant labour systems and Bantustans policies, aimed to firstly segregate blacks and whites socially but also use black people as means to white economic ends. The immorality act and separate amenities act aimed to separate amenities to distinguish white superiority and enforce black inferiority. Along the same vein these acts perpetuate a white purity through anti-miscegenation laws, and further assert the black man's subservient and sub citizen place in apartheid South Africa. The Bantu education act systematically aimed at the creation of the quintessential "non-white person" in South Africa, trained to obey and not ‘know' his place and role in society, according to Biko to serve white goals in body and in soul.[3]

This describes a society which formulates all its structures whether on economic, political or social structures based on an ideological foundation of racial segregation and in that a hierarchical relationship of subordination. Drawing from Miranda Fricker's ideas on hermeneutical injustice a theory that suggests that in an imbalanced society where power is dominated by a specific interest group. All knowledge and structures such as courts, parliament and legislature that form the resource pool that society use to understand themselves in relation to their society and their own personal identity.[4] Render, usually but not exclusively, marginalized peoples intelligible in understanding or communicating their grievances.[5]

For example if in a patriarchal society male dominance is espoused as a norm and in that woman play a subordinate role in society. Woman in this society are thus deprived of generating knowledge and by virtue of their exclusion in hermetical resources generation are potentially rendered incapable of forming concepts for their experiences in society.

For example in a patriarchal society, a woman who is sexually abused or raped ‘within marriage' , insofar as the society sees woman's as a subordinate to men's will or desires. Would not recognize this abuse as a real violation of a person's rights, that has moral implications and in that requires to be noticed. This is because according to Miranda Fricker, it is not in the interest of the group in power to recognize these problems thus they ignore or warp the ability for woman to conceptualize their violation.[6] In that, limit woman's ability to use/ form what is now known today as ‘marital rape' as a permissible concept and tool to rectify and communicate their problems to others and themselves.[7]

If Biko holds that, yes identity is self-determined but external factors such as social position, in this case pigmentation, act strongly to what contents are included in self-determination.[8] Then Bikos argument follows that the process of interpretation of self, metaphysically and morally are different for white and black people due to the nature of the systems they live.[9] The contrasting narratives of black and white in the apartheid system ran parallel to one another in that the former and latter only had their own perspectives to understand themselves. Biko suggested that South African society created a black man who was spiritually disempowered.[10] This was due to Biko's notion of ‘spiritual poverty' - derived from an inability to act freely and think individually.[11] For insofar as he is treated as an ‘object' in that given sources of understanding of his being that are "flawed" , not generated by his own process of social hermeneutical resources generation. The content of his identity is morphed or stripped from him thus, his human potential of freedom or autonomy of creation of self is undermined.

By that very logic Biko suggests that the black man in a warped social ,economic and political structure sees himself as inferior for all ‘injustices are imposed on him" as a result of his "blackness'.[12] The white man on the other hand was within a structure where all legislature and forces were at his disposal. He was, or at the least had the potential and capacity to be involved in the process of hermeneutical resource structuring. In that he could plea violence or civil rights violation at any of the injustices that the black man suffered.

The value of ‘identity' or more correctly understanding of self informs both our understanding of personal identity.[13] Further it informs our perception of others identity that then informs our interaction with other people. Biko thus highlighted the structure of apartheid South Africa, which through a process of socialization, created a system where black and white were habitually separated and in that understood each other in a vertical relationship of inferior and superior. [14]

Biko suggested that due to this ‘vertical relationship' the resources of understanding that inform interaction placed white and black in different positions in society.[15] Thus the liberal white could not make or understand the black problem of oppression because the system gave him potentials and rights that did not subject him to the injustices suffered by those perceived as black.[16] It is important to note the injustice is placed on those who are black because they are black and the privilege to those who are white because they are white. The white man thus could sympathise, but never fully be because he was white in a system which structurally and ideologically informed the white man of his dominance and privilege and the opposite thereof for the black man.[17] Thus the black experience can only be had by black people therefore a white person can never by virtue of the apartheid system know what the experience is.

For in a society that oppresses black people because they are black people the institutions that aim to raise consciousness about these grievances must be black.

Supplemented to this Biko purported, that due to the inability to be black and thus understand the gravity of the ‘black' grievance.[18] The White man implicitly or explicitly uses his white perspective and frames a black narrative and direction for emancipation based on his ideology or ‘false or insufficient ‘understanding of the black struggle.[19] Thus for Biko and Miranda in order to raise consciousness about the black emancipation the grievance must be put forward by black peoples.[20] For in a society that oppresses black people because they are black people the institutions that aim to raise consciousness about these grievances must be black.[21] For to form hermeneutical tools and resources to assist in understanding the cause and the means by which to achieve black emancipation - those who are oppressed must consolidate and understand what their grievance is and in that how and who they must fight against to overcame this grievance.[22]

Then white liberals cannot in the system of apartheid necessarily ‘identify' with black people and thus articulate and communicate to themselves and others the black grievance. This speaks to the dissonance that Miranda speaks of where for example in the patriarchal system, if woman band together to raise consciousness about the abuse against woman.[23] It would follow that woman as the victims of abuse are then the ones who are able to fully articulate or describe the grievance.[24] If men were the parties articulating what they perceived as the grievance for woman within an institution for woman abuse - there is a tension between how far a man can articulate a grievance that only a woman can experience within the context of the marital rape example. Therefore in the same way white people who are not black and thus cannot know oppression cannot lead institutions that are meant to generate knowledge about the oppression.

Biko suggested the white liberals went as far as to describe or proscribe the means, methods and goal for black people's emancipation.[25] This passive engagement directed by the white liberal firstly narrates the black struggle in a false path of independence, based according to Biko on the false premise that a colour blind society will change South Africa.[26] This assertion reduces the black struggle to a plea which presents its case to the white powers - who then will decide what to do with the black problem.[27]

Liberals aim for integration without destroying an imbalanced system, attacks the straw man of apartheid for the problem is the systems and how do you integrate people whilst the system designed to separate still exists?[28] Thus white involvement is counterproductive to conscious raising and the black liberation struggle.in that white people cannot grasp the black struggle because they are not black and thus cannot by the hermeneutical structures that be fully, fight for the black struggle in the same way as black people ‘must'. This statement suggests white people can fight for the struggle thus they are not excluded but must do so in their own way.[29] Biko suggested that if the white liberal aimed to assist the black person he should begin to challenge and change the white misconception of superiority and not to control the black institutions.[30]

The question that is usually posed to black consciousness is whether it fosters black exclusivity. This question I argue is unfairly placed, for in an imbalanced society balance is gained though a counterweight not by adding feathers to the other side claiming there is something on the other end but in actuality those things make no difference. That is the agenda of creating a colourless society without tackling the real systemic issues. Thus to counter balance the misconceptions of black culture history and identity real concepts should be created by a black institution to add to the black identity. The question is how far does black empowerment go and when do all colours become equal?

Another question then is - are other ‘races' unable to understand or conceptualise the oppression of other races and in that assist on the basis of morality? The essay suggests that one must first distinguish your goal and then decipher whether this stance is logically true or is it justified by other means. To deal with the former the essay holds that although it may be difficult for the oppressor to identify with the oppressed for their experiences are not the same. The oppressed can in particular cases identify a moral injustice and act in kind for example Mr Schindler in the Schindler's list a German man who assists Jews in a Nazi regime with his financial resources. Thus even though he was not Jewish he could still identify an injustice and in that acted on a moral judgment. Although moral identification may be possible why can white people not on moral obligation join the institutions?

If Biko's goal is the strengthening of the black man to regain his independence and in that of black institutions This is a mission to identify with being ‘black' (defined as all those who are oppressed) not to discard pigmentation as if this will bring real change.[31] This aimed to recognize ‘black oppression' as not only a conceptual injustice but a process or subject that includes different economic social and political injustices.[32] The flaw of the liberal apart from falsely purporting to know the black struggle is the goal for integration.as if pigmentation and all concepts and socio-economic factors that are connected to it will disappear with a shift in ideology or attitude in how peoples perceive one another.[33]

Thus by Biko's definition of black peoples as those who are oppressed economically, socially and politically through the apartheid system.[34] Then the essay would suggest he is justified. In excluding liberal whites on two levels, A, the tension of dissonance, whereby in order to be in a black institution one needs to be black in order to articulate the experience. Secondly in the feather analogy in order to build conscious real understanding of self must follow to counterbalance the misconstrued understanding of self that the apartheid system has induced. The essay holds this justification insofar as your have a divided system like apartheid South Africa where the disempowerment of black people and the root of their ‘spiritual poverty' is living lives of dependence on white persons and system. Thus white participation in black institution is reproducing this dependence and subtly a case of spiritual poverty.

REFERENCES

Biko Steve, Chapter 6, ‘We Blacks', of I Write What I Like,ed. Aelred Stubbs (Heinemann, 1978), pp. 27-32 59

Biko Steve, ‘White Racism and Black Consciousness', in Student Perspectives on South Africa, ed. Hendrik W. van derMerwe & David Welsh (David Philip, 1972), pp. 190-202

Biko Steve, Chapter 8, ‘The Definition of Black Consciousness', of I Write What I Like, ed. Aelred Stubbs (Heinemann, 1978), pp. 48-53

Fricker Miranda, Chapter 7, ‘Hermeneutical Injustice', of Epistemic Injustice: Power & the Ethics of Knowing(Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 147-175

ENDNOTES

1. Steve Biko, Chapter 6, ‘We Blacks', of I Write What I Like,ed. Aelred Stubbs (Heinemann, 1978), pp. 27-29
2. Ibid
3. Ibid
4. Miranda Fricker, Chapter 7, Hermeneutical Injustice', of Epistemic Injustice: Power & the Ethics of Knowing(Oxford University Press, 2007), p.150-151
5. Ibid.p.167-168
6. Ibid.p.150-151
7. Ibidp.p.152-155
8. Steve Biko, Chapter 8, ‘The Definition of Black Consciousness', of I Write What I Like, ed. Aelred Stubbs (Heinemann, 1978), pp.48-52
9. Ibid.p.49
10. Ibid.pp.48 -49
11. Steve Biko, Chapter 6, ‘We Blacks', of I Write What I Like,ed. Aelred Stubbs (Heinemann, 1978), p. 28
12. Steve Biko, Chapter 8, ‘The Definition of Black Consciousness', of I Write What I Like, ed. Aelred Stubbs (Heinemann, 1978), pp.48-49
13. Steve Biko, ‘White Racism and Black Consciousness', in Student Perspectives on South Africa, ed. Hendrik W. van derMerwe & David Welsh (David Philip, 1972),p.199-200
14. Ibid.p.199
15. Ibid.p.194
16. Ibid.pp.194-195
17. Steve Biko, ‘White Racism and Black Consciousness', in Student Perspectives on South Africa, ed. Hendrik W. van derMerwe & David Welsh (David Philip, 1972),p.194-195
18. Ibid.pp.192-193
19. Ibid
20. Miranda Fricker, Chapter 7, ‘Hermeneutical Injustice', of Epistemic Injustice: Power & the Ethics of Knowing(Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 174-175
21. Ibid
22. Steve Biko, Chapter 8, ‘The Definition of Black Consciousness', of I Write What I Like, ed. Aelred Stubbs (Heinemann, 1978), pp.52-5
23. Mirandan Fricker, ‘Hermeneautical Injustice',p.167
24. Ibid.p.168
25. Steve Biko, ‘White Racism and Black Consciousness', in Student Perspectives on South Africa, ed. Hendrik W. van derMerwe & David Welsh (David Philip, 1972),p. 193
26. Ibid
27. Ibid
28. Ibid.pp.194- 5
29. Ibid.p.195
30. Ibid
31. Steve Biko, ‘White Racism and Black Consciousness', in Student Perspectives on South Africa, ed. Hendrik W. van derMerwe & David Welsh (David Philip, 1972),p.194
32. Ibid
33. Steve Biko, Chapter 8, ‘The Definition of Black Consciousness', of I Write What I Like, ed. Aelred Stubbs (Heinemann, 1978), p. 52
34. Ibid