The Black Monday march in protest against farm murders represented a global rise in White nationalism, which is essentially an anti-Black movement, writes MEOKGO MATUBA
Black Monday soon turned into what it was meant to be. Anger against Blacks. A naked display of the Afrikaner nationalism and longing for the days of Apartheid. When people’s emotions are tested and space is opened for them to display that emotion, we often see the truth revealing itself. Organisations such as Afriforum know too well that calling upon South Africans to mourn farmers and not farmworkers will surely turn into a racial debate, given that farmers remain White while farmworkers are Black.
Yet South Africa is not the only country to be struggling with flags. John Kelly, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, recently waded into the debate on the Confederate flag in the United States. From the days of Obama, there has been a debate in the US on the place and flying of this flag which symbolises White nationalism and Black slavery.
This debate on the flag led to explicit displays of nationalism and overt racist marches after Trump’s election to the White House. Climaxing in Charlottesville earlier in the year, President Trump was known to blame both sides of the alt-right and, what he termed, alt-left. Yet the alt-right was given significant space in the Trump campaign. To this day, those opposing Trump would point out his magnifying the voices of alt-right leaders by retweeting their statements. The project to “Make America great again” is one of the most explicit nationalist projects that we have seen in modern times in the US.
Yet it is not the only nationalist campaign and project happening at the moment. The current stand-off in Spain shows this continuous eruption of nationalist sentiment in Europe following on the heels of Brexit. The fact that Catalonia’s independence cry has become this loud and daring in progression tells us of the current epoch’s ability to nourish nationalism. After many years of fighting for independence, the current wave of nationalism sweeping through Europe and the world, nothing as strong as this since Nazi-Germany, has allowed Catalonians the nerve to push as far as they have; going even to the extent of doing that which is illegal.
The right coalition in Austria that has emerged and which copulates one of the youngest elected leaders in our age also points to this yearning for nationalism. No doubt this nationalism has been displayed in Brexit but was interestingly but narrowly rejected by Scots in the vote for independence. This nationalism has made Europe to respond the way it has to the immigrant crisis and has propelled people such as Wilders, in the Netherlands, and Le Pen, in France, into the role of notable national figures again.
But this wave of nationalism is not only restricted to the Western world. Many continue to believe that the election of Narendra Modi as India’s prime minister was done of the nationalist wave of Hindutva. The lack of action from the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, in response to the Rohingya crisis, again shows to this deep-seated sense of nationalism.
Therefore, in the wake of this tsunami of nationalism that has swept across the globe, South Africans, Black and White, must not be surprised in the upsurge of White nationalism, and Afrikaner nationalism in particular, here in our own country. Days of mourning against the killing of White farmers will inevitably be used to swell support for the singing of Die Stem, the draping of the Vierkleur and the appeal to Christianity.
If English White South Africans could display the Union Jack or sing God Save the Queen they would. But they rather practice Westminster democracy in our Parliament while their leading party, the Democratic Alliance, lends support to this White nationalism.
Much has been written about the verkramptes of the National Party staying in the DA while the verligtes left to join the ANC. The same could be said of Coloured nationalists because while progressives left the DA to join the ANC, Coloured nationalists such as Gerald Morkel and Pieter Marais remained with the DA.
Of course, they were finally booted out by the liberals from the DA, just about how nationalists such as Ivan Meyer and Rhoda Kadalie have been shoved around by African nationalists such as Bonginkosi Madikizela and Mmusi Maimane. It must come as no surprise either that the biggest support for this #BlackMonday protest came in the Western Cape the very home ground where nationalism was born and bred.
Donald Trump must have taken his nationalist tweeting lessons from Helen Zille. For it is Zille who controversially stoked nationalist sentiments through her tweets time and time again. As if declaring Africans from the Eastern Cape as refugees was not enough, Zille was sure to translate these sentiments into praising colonialism. After all, Coloureds had to be reminded that they had more in common, culturally and linguistically, with their colonial masters than they did with the San and the Khoi and therefore the Nguni peoples of southern Africa.
Through culture, language and religion; the Boer could count on his Coloured farmworker, whom he often assaulted and abused, to stand and march with him on Black Monday. It is for this reason, to reinforce Coloured nationalism than for nothing else that Afriforum stood by those four employees of the Department of Correctional Services. It is for this reason that Anton Bredell, de facto leader of Afrikaners in the DA in the Western Cape and newly elected provincial chairperson, could sit next to Ivan Meyer and the leadership of Afriforum endorsing #BlackMonday.
In its discussion document on the balance of forces in the lead up to its National General Council in 2015, the ANC was witty to point out that this rise in global nationalist movements was due to the crisis faced by liberalism and its bedfellow capitalism. Capitalism and freemarket economics were in crisis given the 2008/9 economic global meltdown and therefore one witnessed this insurrection of nationalism. There is to be no doubt that Black nationalism had also reared its head in South Africa.
As a result, we must understand that nationalism, as a negative political project, is only a response to a socio-economic system that is sick. Only if we have a socio-economic system that is weak and exploitative do we see a rapid rise in nationalism. There is no better example that the rise of national-socialism in the Weimar Republic.
It is for this reason, to fend off Black nationalism, that radical economic transformation becomes an imperative. We must see the return of land to Blacks in this country. We must see the economic emancipation of Black people in order to fend off a rise in Black nationalism which will ultimately lead to Zimbabwe like tendencies being implemented in South Africa. Remember, the Mugabe regime only formalised that which was already taking place, the occupation of White farms by Black nationalists in Zimbabweans.
The organisers of #BlackMonday must, therefore, be very careful not to stoke a strong response from the Black community in South Africa through its own adaption of nationalist tendencies. For very easily, #BlackMonday could very well mean just that: the day Black nationalists rise in this country.
Matuba is Secretary-General of the ANC Women’s League