THERE IS STRUGGLE TO BLACK WOMEN’S HAIR
Hair, more especially that of black women, possess social qualities which are associated with people’s lived experiences. Unpacking the meanings behind the lived experiences of these women highlights that these very experiences are embedded in symbolism, cultural, political and generational influences that underpin how these women wear and style their hair. These evolved into political discussions and engagements that dictated the struggle and power behind black women’s hair, thus the emergence of slogans such as ‘Black is Beautiful’. Furthermore, Black women continue to reinvent these discussions on a daily basis by the manner in which they introduce new styles to their hair. Whether a black woman wears her hair natural or in weave, she is always criticised and can’t win. There is a struggle attached to this hair.
During the evolution of Black Consciousness in AZANIA, negative cultural and social connotations that are attached to the natural hair of black women, were vociferously challenged. The social characterisation of Black hair as ‘bad hair’ requiring straightening and by extension black skin as not good enough and needing whitening invoked an active rejection from those who had imbibed Black Consciousness as a liberatory philosophy and a weapon of struggle. Through the permeation of Black Consciousness, AZANIA witnessed black women choosing natural hair as a symbol of their social standing and characterisation, affirming the fact that there is struggle to black women’s hair.
Over time, we have witnessed the intertwined relationship between the black women’s hair and race as an averment of historicity of black people. Hair is greatly used as a strong determinant for stereotyping. It is easy for Black women to crave for hair that is different to theirs. You would have seen the different styles of black women’s hair being an awe of other races, more so the European descendants who would commonly be heard making “innocent requests” such as “can I touch your hair?” This attraction and attention would have been aroused by the natural beauty of dreadlocked hair or simply well-groomed Afrikan natural hair which would have been seen as different from the norm, the known and the accepted.
Black women are now seen wearing different types and styles of hair ranging from natural to borrowed. To what extent does this recharacterize the symbolism of black women’s hair as a determinant of race and struggle? The struggle has benefitted from the commitment of women whose type and style of hair has not been prohibitive to them being influencers to the progressive development of society. As hair continues to invoke discussion in struggle and society, women’s intelligence, wisdom and beauty should not be seen as attached to their hair. Women should be embraced and celebrated for their womanhood and not so much for what is seen on top of their heads. After all, people who tend to comment more and stereotype women based on their hairstyles and type of hair they wear is men than other women. It is, more often, men who run away from their own hair as they cut it as soon as it rears.
Afrikan natural hair is rich with symbolic meaning and a site of self-expression, regardless of gender or social class. Nowadays, more and more black women are embracing and celebrating natural black hair and hairstyles. Black women’s hair is so meaningful and creative and that should be celebrated and not subordinated.
HEARINGS INTO LAND ARE A CHARADE
If there was anything that proved beyond doubt that the ruling party has perfected the art of manipulating the masses of our people, it is the recent public hearings into the proposals of changing the Constitution to enable the state to expropriate land without compensation.
As expected, the majority of our people expressed their support that Section 25 of the Constitution should be amended to allow the expropriation of land without compensation. The submission of AZAPO to these hearings was also to correct the terminology, that we should seek the repossession of land without compensation. AZAPO argued that the term “expropriation” suggests that the ownership of land belongs to the settlers, which is a wrong premise. AZAPO’s position is the basic truth. And the truth is that the land was stolen by the European settlers. This is the land that should be repossessed and its ownership transferred to Black people.
AZAPO has argued, since the dawn of democracy, that the struggle to liberate AZANIA was aborted in 1994, the main reason for this assertion is that 27 April 1994 did not usher in the transfer of land from the descendants of the European settlers to the Black majority. This is now supported by the many more voices that are admitting that the 1994 CODESA deal was a sell-out arrangement. The CODESA deal delivered a vote to the majority but failed on the major issues of the transfer of land and economic power, what others refer to as the means of production.
So, the current ruling party has been in power for 24 years. During that time, we have seen deepening levels of poverty. We have seen South Africa becoming the most unequal society in the world. We have seen rising rebellions against the state by various communities. We have seen more and more people expressing their anger over their landlessness. And to calm the frustrations of the people, what does the ruling party do? They organise public hearings on the issue of land expropriation without compensation.
These hearings were a creative ploy to blunt the anger of the people over failed government’s program to give land to the people. The essence of these hearings are similar to asking a person who is on the brink of starvation if it would be okay for him to be given food. There can only be one answer. A hungry person needs food. A landless person needs land. Period!
To prove that the ruling party was not sincere in holding the public hearings, even before the process was concluded, the party announced that it would proceed with plans to change the Constitution to enable the state to expropriate land without compensation. But through the hearings, the ruling party has been able to buy time. It has been able to convince the masses of our people that it is concerned about their state of landlessness. It was all a charade. It was all an act. It is an election tactic for next year. What a pity!
POLITICS WITHOUT INTEGRITY
Tragically, politics and integrity do not go together in South Africa. Yet politics is supposed to be the exercise of making decisions in the positive governance over the affairs of a community of a people. Where politics involve the state, a political mandate is given to those in position of state power to control the affairs of the state and advance the lives of the citizens.
The word “politics” is derived from the Greek word “politika“, which means “the affairs of the cities”. In this sense, politics should not be reduced to or corrupted to benefit the rulers against the ruled.
When that happens, politics has lost its twin – integrity, which is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles“.
Douglas Adams marries politics to integrity in this statement: “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity”.
Most unfortunately, politics in South Africa is without integrity. The ruling party is a living example of politics without integrity. Every newspaper you open is littered with the corruption and scandals of the ruling party and its leaders. Every TV and radio news bulletin carries the corruption and scandals of the ruling party and its leaders. It is corruption after corruption; scandal after scandals.
Almost all the Commissions of Enquiry that are operational are investigating the corruption and scandals of the ruling party. While the citizens are charged and answer for themselves in courts of law, the leaders of the ruling party face commissions that run for months at the cost of millions of Rands at the expense of tax payers.
If the ruling party was irredeemably corrupt, you would expect the Opposition to hold the ruling party accountable. That is what the DA promised the people of South Africa.
DA’s Solly Msimanga drew public applause on the corruption he was continuing to dig up in the Tshwane Metro. You can imagine how disappointed the citizens were when Msimanga could not explain how he hired a white woman as her PA without the necessary qualification for the job.
There has been a DA shadow boxing in the Western Cape . The DA accused De Lille of corruption. It promised to institute a disciplinary hearing against De Lille. between Mayor Patricia De Lille and her party over a long period of time.
When it was clear that De Lille was determined to ‘fight back” by exposing the corruption of others in that organisation, the strategy suddenly changed from a hearing to wanting to expel De Lille from that organisation. The DA claimed that De Lille may have technically resigned when she appeared to show readiness to leave the DA in a radio interview.
De Lille won a court ruling in her favour on the matter. In a joint press conference, DA and De Lille have both disappointed the public by stating that the two parties have reached a secret settlement to part ways amicably.
AZAPO wonders what happened to political integrity. What happened to the evidence of corruption that the DA had claimed to have against De Lille? Is there a sweeping of corruption under the carpet in the DA? On what basis is De Lille now claiming to be vindicated that she is innocent without an opportunity to defend herself, or expose the corruption she may know?
The secret settlement leaves more questions than answers. It is not different from the golden handshakes that the ruling party gives to corrupt politicians and officials that are caught with their hands in the till. The ruling party is notorious for crediting its corrupt leaders with ambassadorial jobs.
AZAPO calls on the voters to punish political parties that do politics without integrity.
PROFITS OVER JOBS
The Ministry of Mineral Resources has condemned Impala Platinum for its plans to retrench 13 000 workers in its mines, a move that will further increase the unemployment rate in the country.
AZAPO Voice will not join the minister’s acolytes who will be showering him with accolades for his “tough walk” towards the mining giant. Talk is cheap. After the tough talk, Implats will proceed with its plans and cut jobs. After all, Implats is not in the business of creating jobs but of making profit. If jobs are required in the pursuit of profits, the minimum jobs will be created.
For a long time, politicians have been mouthing impressive rhetoric about beneficiation and adding value to our commodities rather than exporting them raw only to import finished goods at huge prices at the end of the production chain. Most of the beneficiation talk has come to naught. And sadly, jobs are being lost and the best that our politicians can do is to issue media statements condemning companies for retrenching workers.
If we rely on big companies to create the much needed jobs, we will wait in vain for ever. In fact, some of them are investing in new technologies that will minimise the need for using or employing people in the production of their goods.
There is no short cut in the struggle to grow the economy and create jobs. Quality education remains one of the most potent instruments to fight poverty and build a stronger economy that will create more jobs. It is often stated that Afrika is the richest continent in terms of its natural resources yet it is the poorest continent because its people are unable to effectively exploit the natural wealth endowed in the continent.
Perhaps, instead of hurling condemnations at mining houses for their plans to reduce their labour costs to maximise their profits, we should get the basics right. We would improve the quality of education and also create real space for new industries to emerge and translate the beneficiation slogans into reality.
To print and read the pdf version, please click here ⇒ AZAPO Voice Volume 1 Issue Number 24. For all comments and inputs, please click here, we thank you in advance.