We, the inhabitants of devious sanctuaries
The human being is nothing if not an epithet of human spirit. At once it is the great equaliser but also the victim of differential components in two parts. It’s the human spirit that’s responsible for this notion of oneness, sameness and the sad payoff lines that emerge from it, like Rainbow Nation or non-racialism. It’s the misused weaponised science of a togetherness that undoubtedly benefits some more than others. The price of a rainbow nation, after all, has been more costly for us over them.
But it’s also the human spirit that lies at the heart of all art, philosophy, psychology, knowledge and ultimately self-reflection. It is a means to a higher end. To move beyond the toxic sanctuaries of a false sense of safety we constantly inhabit without cognizance of the effects this kind of imprisonment has on our passions, our intellect and ultimately, our understanding.
The “we” I speak of is not white people. White people have nothing to do with this narrative. Everything we do, everything we achieve is not measured against them, it is beyond.
We must address ourselves as the victims of our own toxic oppression. If I do not sit in the bunker with you and participate in reactionary, knee-jerk opinions it does not mean that I separate myself from my principles, my politics and ethics. It does not mean that I tiptoe around the undeniable evidence of the opportunities of whiteness. They have chewed on us long enough, but must we also start to eat ourselves?
It merely means that I choose, actively to distance myself from a meaningless shutting down of the outward representation you long for. If one of us wins out there, we all win.
The powers of reason are a beast of their own nature. Systemic racism, intra-racism, sexism and competition amongst women of colour are social constructs that cannot be transcended without a certain degree of introspection and rationality.
Beware your prophets and soothsayers.
There are “figure-heads” and “powers” among us who exist in those bunkers that preach without reflection. We must put in our awareness, especially as women of colour, the overwhelming power of these secondary malignant growths – the primary site of the cancer of the society lies in white privilege, capitalism, unequal representation but voices grow to power from feeding out the palms of these hands and then, they distance themselves from the cancer when the deal has not come to pass.
We have all been here. We are the voices who came to sound through the journeys of our own experiences. But the words of James Baldwin, when he reflects on how such metastases of power imperil the moral climate of a society and corrupt the very foundation of democracy ring true, and again, when he speaks of a "we", it is not a happy-clappy rainbow nation we. It is our we. It is us! And I quote him in the context of South Africa.
“We are living through the most crucial moment of our history, the moment which will result in a new life for us, or a new death… a new vision of America, a vision which will allow us to face, and begin to change, the facts of American life… This seems a grim view to take of our situation, but it is scarcely grimmer than the facts. Our honesty and our courage in facing these facts are all that can save us from disaster. And one of these facts is that there has always been a segment of American life, and a powerful segment, too, which equated virtue with mindlessness… It always reminds me of a vast and totally untrustworthy bomb shelter in which groups of frightened people endlessly convince one another of its impregnability, while the real world outside — by which, again, I mean the facts of our private and public lives — calmly and inexorably prepares their destruction”.
Heed the voices you listen to, those that shout loudest are not always equivalent of virtue. History has taught us this when it painted the picture of Gandhi amongst others.
Followers are often a reflection of mindlessness. And in a time as crucial as ours as our collective we, ask yourself, do we want a new life, or do we want a new death at the hands of our own?
Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of 'Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa'. Follow her on Twitter.