Following the article I wrote last week, I feel compelled to mention that as a black man leaving in black community and basically leading a black life of squalor and dismay, I should take a moment to reflect on the things that we do as a race that perpetuates our own undesirable complex – that of inferiority.
This, in other words, is an admission that, albeit not entirely our fault, we in a significant way are guilty of doing or not doing certain things, the function of which is our state of indignity, of self-hate.
There are many ways to prove this stubborn fact, but I will focus on just a few.
One: Are we blacks, for example, not the ones who prioritise European language(s) ahead of our own?
How many of us speak English to one another even when there is no European to accommodate in a conversation?
Even if the reason for us to be speaking English all the time is to accommodate a European, why does this make so much sense, especially when you consider that the overwhelming majority of the Europeans themselves do not even attempt to learn our indigenous languages!
Why, have you ever wondered, do we give so much power away to other races by speaking their languages all too readily without expecting them to be speaking ours?
When last did you, black man, write a text message to another black person with whom you share a mother tongue in that very mother tongue? Seldom? Never?
Who is going to promote and preserve our own languages if we do not appreciate them, if we do not speak them? Certainly not Europeans.
It is my personal believe that to speak another man’s language when he has no intention to learn yours is to give away too much power, and at the some time to take away from your very own language!
Two: We do not want our children in township schools.
We want them in town, with whites, where they spend the majority of their time speaking a different language and being assimilated into other cultures.
Why do we not leave our children in township schools? They aren’t good enough I hear you say. OK. So why do we not get actively involved in the affairs of our township schools in order to make them as good as or even better than schools in town? Our participation in the continuous improvement of our education system is exactly the kind of resource our schools need in order for them to perform better.
It is simple – get involved, contribute your time and skills and we will have wonderful schools that we can be proud of.
Three: So many times we would take a bath, dress up, and pay a taxi fare to travel to town in order to buy things from a white man’s shop, almost always things that we could have bought from that store at our street corner!
Why do we do this? Are we even aware of the consequences of our actions? Are we really that oblivious to this self-hate?
What must happen for us to wake up and start supporting one another, and how are we ever going to beat poverty and hunger if we do not make sure of it ourselves by starting and supporting each other’s businesses? If we are going to improve our lives meaningfully, then we need to make sure that our money stays longer within our very own communities.
Buy black. Support black businesses.
Four, and this is close to my heart: some people might want to argue differently, but we don’t read enough. If you doubt this then stop reading this piece right now and ask the person next to you if they remember the last time they read a book, and which book that was. Try that and let’s see. While you are at it, why don’t you walk to your friendly teacher neighbour and ask him if he has ever walked into a bookstore to actually buy a book for himself, or for a friend.
A lot of folks in townships are not even members of local libraries, or have never set foot inside a library itself. This is self-oppressing. It can’t be right if we want to free ourselves and our children.
And, significantly, if we do read, we do not read books written in our own languages. A lot of us almost exclusively read books written in English. Good and bad, this. Good because reading in any language should be appreciated, but bad for the reasons I have given elsewhere in this piece.
Let us not, I appeal, fight oppression by only focusing on the one unleashing it. Let us also look at ourselves to see how we are contributing towards oppressing ourselves.
Maruping Phepheng is novelist. His twitter handle is @TheDukeP.