African National Congress: Post-Colonialism & Political Activism

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Western academia has long employed itself in the study and analysis of the certain racial and class dichotomies present within nearly every global societal structure. Many theorists and researchers have aspired to explain these phenomena with a wide assortment of applied knowledge ranging from Darwinist biological determinism and consequential competition to the ubiquitous struggle between socio-economic superiority and inferiority. However, it is much more probable in one’s mind to address these issues as constructions and manifestations of what was discussed in the previous essay. By 1914 and the development of an era which historians characterize as “the age of imperialism,” the colonialist rhetoric that western empires had notably engaged in for nearly three centuries expanded tremendously to keep up with  the increasing necessity for raw goods and workers which the spread of industrialism and the onslaught of World War I demanded.

By this time, 84% of the world’s landmass had been affected by colonialism, 500 million people were citizens of a European colonial power, and nearly all of Africa had been divided into European nation-states as directed by the Berlin Conference (Ferrante 216). What are the implications of such a forced assimilation of so many people into a constructed universality? In Sub-Saharan Africa, at least, it was the struggle for racial equality under a set of mother countries that pursued to blindly stratify and ostracize native peoples to the point of nonexistence. British influence on the Cape following the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 seemed to be rather industrious and profitable to the cause of the African, and society called for and crossed political and economic lines to include the voice of the still rather marginalized native. Different indigenous groups organized under the South African Native Congress which increased African solidarity, visibility, recognition, and ultimately protected their political interests now that they had a medium to do so (Odendaal 14).

When the British (re)gained control of the Cape in the early nineteenth century they encountered a moderately well-educated and politically conscious population of Black Africans who under years of contact with European colonists had subsequently assumed such a cultural role. In contrast, this large group of colonial-active natives did not have the electoral and political cohesion to umbrella themselves under a governing body to advocate their rights because of the intersectional differences which exist even within that cohort (Odendaal 16). Unlike the fairly closed evolutionary and cultural pattern of Europe, Africa had ten-fold the amount of different ethnic groups which were not interchangeable nor could they be grouped together or separated from one another, as did the Berlin Conference in 1884, without the recognition of their cultural and historical diversities. This vulgar display of patriarchal power which Europeans exerted on native Africans was a bold depiction of how much they were valued (if at all) within the colonial empire, and would unfortunately be a daunting omen for what was to come particularly in modern day South Africa.

As the British spread throughout the southern coastal region of the Cape they began implementing new structural order to maintain and preserve subordination while experimenting with the native population to see how such controlling mechanisms would be utilized back in Cape Town. When the British entered Natal in 1842 they instituted a system of segregation and racial differentiation in which the government collected information on different tribal groups and separated the natives based on the indigenous heritage while stating that they were governed under Native Law rather than Colonial Law which would deny them of franchise (Odendaal 16). This, in retrospect, could have also been a ploy for the British to eradicate some of the ills they had instituted in the past which universally and blindly organized groups of natives based solely on the fact that they were native without any regards to their tribal heritage.

In time this would mature into another medium for systematic suppression and maintenance of the Black South African. This separate development procedure over the course of a few decades became this overbearing law to not only separate different tribal groups respectively but also to separate the natives as a whole from colonialist society. In the mid 1880’s through 1900 evidence of increasing African political awareness and activity became more prominent as natives realized that in acquiescing to the divisive demands of the Europeans they were also being compartmentalized from the benefits of the society being constructed in Sub-Saharan Africa (education, government, franchise). One activist strategy in particular which became an instrumental demonstration of socio-political dissatisfaction came when Mangena Mokone and Edward Tsewu in Transvaal began leading the rise of African Separatist churches in response to the paternalistic domination from white missionaries known as Ethiopianism (Odendaal 23).

“The Global Colour Line,” as mentioned at the 1900 Pan African Conference in London, referred to several cultural dynamics of what would soon be coined as post-colonialism. The conference implicitly referred to the representation of Europe and the Americas in Africa and Asia, and how such expansionism had correlated along with the development of white supremacist regimes throughout the world (Vinson and Edgar 44). As the international community became more interested and therefore politically invested in the region, so did the affirmation of the African’s reliance upon political activism. For instance, as a measure of cultural symbolism, Americans became to associate the imaginative idea of the stereotypical African with that of the Zulu man and therefore addressed and publicized the intersectional experience of the African as such. When the 1933 World Exposition in Chicago asked the South African government permission to display Zulu rickshaw and medicine men in the “Odditorium,” not only did the government refuse but Eric Louw, the Minister Plenipotentiary of the South African Legation in Washington, D.C., reacted by stating that exhibitors had exploited Africans in the past and it would not happen in the United States (Vinson and Edgar 50).

Where does this learned necessity for political activism lead Black South Africans living under a post-colonialist government which still adhered to the separate cultural development scheme in the early twentieth century? Isaac Seme, an internationally educated Black African scholar, returned to South Africa in 1912 to pursue his shared dream for a brighter, more equal future for his fellow South Africans. Noting that Blacks in Africa have always been served better on an international scale in autobiographical terms rather than the biographical, he set out to publish a set of his own essays of political affirmation which he formed while at Universities abroad (Vinson and Edgar 57). In addition, he was also a key founder in several other domestic social organizations benefiting the Black African such as the Native Farmer’s Association of Africa Limited whose main purpose was to purchase land for Black South Africans to settle on (Reeve, and Couzins). He would then later become the first president of a national (and contemporarily increasing international) political organization known as the African National Congress which pursued to, as what was lacking during colonial expansion, umbrella the needs and voices of the African so as to be heard and met by the domestic government and realized by the international community.

It was not until the mid part of the twentieth century in which this organization assumed a pivotal role in the definitive future of South Africa. The Anti-Apartheid movement pursued to end the atrocities and human rights violations which had cultivated out of the racial separatist ideologies exhibited in Natal during British occupation. Oliver Tambo, president of the ANC at the time, traveled internationally to gain support from westerners who in the fear of losing the corporate money invested in the country were highly hesitant to divest and support the seemingly violent and terroristic facets of the African National Congress at the time. After decades of pleas, speeches, political reformation addresses, and United Nations councils, Tambo passed away from a stroke on April 24th, 1993 only a year prior to the first democratic elections ever to be held in the country that he could have voted in (Have you Heard From Johannesburg).

“The Formulation of the ANC signaled the birth of an organization that has become the undisputed leader of the struggle for liberation in South Africa” (Odendaal 5). The progression of colonialist domination, separation, division, and later post-colonialist political structures hindering the social development of native Africans fueled the desire for equal recognition and representation within South Africa. The ardent lineation towards political activism rested heavily in the needs of the people to be heard, not neglected. This reliance upon political activism led the African to be autonomous and assume a role of power both domestically and on the international stage which would autobiographically tell the story of their struggle. This philosophy is the cornerstone of the African National Congress.

Works Cited

Ferrante, Joan. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th. Belmont, California: Thomson Wadswoth, 2008. 216. Print.

Odendaal, A. (1994) ‘The roots of the ANC’ in Liebenberg, I. et al (eds.) (1994). The long march: The story of the liberation struggle in South Africa. HAUM: Pretoria. Page 5.

Odendaal, A. (1984). Black Protest Politics in South Africa to 1912. Rowman & Littlefield Pubs: U.S.A. Pages 14, 16, 23.

Reeve, Richard, and Tim Couzins. “Discovering Seme: Tim Couzins.” African National Congress. African National Congress, 2011. Web. 10 Mar 2011. <http://www.anc.org.za/4663&gt;.

Vinson, R. and Edgar, R.  “Zulus Abroad: Cultural Representations and Educational Experiences of Zulus in America, 1880–1945” in Journal of Southern African Studies. Vol. 33(1): pages 44, 50, 57.

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South Africa & the United States: Post Colonialism & Hierarchies of Dominance

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Since the exposition of recorded human history there have been incidents which reaffirm the universality of ethnocentrism; some, notably, quite violent in nature. As a predominant flaw in our species, our consistent desire and irrational need to assign these differences correlatively fuels our drive for socio-economic and imperialist expansion upon the subordinate through the social heterogeneity constructed from prior colonialist and contemporary neocolonialist rhetoric. Post-colonialist discourse through the reiteration of dominance yields a stratified hierarchal social order; which like both in the United States and South Africa, is phenotypicaly exhibited through the sadism of Social Darwinist altruism and henceforth vehement racially-infused class disparities.

Dinosaurs, Diamonds, and Democracy: A Short, Short History of South Africa compliments this theme and effectively communicates the several and many consequences colonialist rule not only exerts on the affected South African nation but also to that of the entire African socio-political sphere. A mercantilist entrapment between the empires of Europe led many to embark on maritime journeys through the gateway of the Mediterranean and around the African continent in the fervent hope to increase both their monetary and terrestrial wealth (Wilson 43). Therefore, the discovery of a sea route establishing a connection between the imperialist powers of Europe to the Indian colonies would not only further expand the range of colonialist economic influence but it would also heighten the cultural ethnocentric competition between the empires. The rapid succession of colonialist domain which followed this discovery, particularly on what Portuguese navigator Bartholomew Dias coined as the “Cape of Storms,” transcended nearly two centuries of blind, oppressive expansion (Wilson 44).

The native men and women of the Cape with whom the Europeans came into contact with; such as the Khoikhoi, San, Xhosa, and Griqua; all were westernized cultural embodiments of  uncivilized agrarianist savagery whom were seen as incredibly inferior and therefore subordinate to the societally ostensible dominant European colonizer. Their invisibility and lack of recognition within their colonial governments would extend even further, as Dr. Andre Odendaal argued in class, when in 1844 the Berlin Conference with little regard to the socio-cultural boundaries of the native peoples in Africa restructured their colonial expanses in an almost “cookie-cutter” sort of way which inadvertently created tension among immensely different groups of people (derivative semiotics, spiritualities, tribal political structures, etc.) whom were now forced to live along side one another for the first time in their cultural histories.

Comparable to the Caledon Code of 1809[1] and a century later with the Land Act of 1913[2], the British also employed such oppressive tactics on American colonists to affirm their dominant stance as political authority and in their citizen’s unyielding piety to the Church and colonial throne. As group three during their in-class presentation mentioned, incessant taxation of goods and services in the colony in addition to the enforcement of such heinous Quartering[3] and Navigation[4] acts further communicated the subversive nature and role of the colonists and their inequity within the British government within which they were supposed to be a part of.

The consequences of being progressively forced into biased structural development for the sole benefit of a sort of patriarchal “other” fatherland at the expense of your own socially constructs this notion of difference between the colony, the colonizer, and even hierarchaly within the dynamics of the suppressed. Post-colonialist structure tends to center on this replication of antiquated stratified discourse almost as if it were learned from the “fatherland” and consequently taught and passed on through the generations of the country’s independent development. Within both the United States and South Africa these transcensions can be observed in the deplorable racial and class disparities which the two nations have harbored within their sordid histories.

Granted, it seems that at least to the uneducated eye that the struggle for racial equality and the resulting revolution from separate development under Apartheid in South Africa tends to be stereotypically more radical than the American Civil Rights movement in the mid-twentieth century; yet, the same operational pretenses still remain. The need for dominance and a subordinate “other” in a society initially formed with such a hierarchy, even when the society becomes independent of their parent civilization, still resonates and yields the desire to enact such an order of Darwinist heterogeneity among them to model their previous colonialist structure.

In this theme I find an anchored strength in Dinosaurs, Diamonds, and Democracy: A Short, Short History if South Africa and how it pertains to its explication of South African historical development from the rise of the native African to the adversities faced as a result of colonization through the arising of Apartheid. Correlatively, this replication of colonial dominance can be found in much the same way in the analysis of the American struggle for independence and in their post-colonialist constructions of non-institutionalized racism as discussed in class.

Works Cited

Wilson, Francis. Dinosaurs, Diamonds, and Democracy: A Short, Short History of South Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: Umuzi, 2009. 43. Print.

Wilson, Francis. Dinosaurs, Diamonds, and Democracy: A Short, Short History of South Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: Umuzi, 2009. 44. Print.


[1] Several laws which denoted the submissive class role of black and colored native Africans within the colony of the Cape.

[2] Prohibited native Africans from owning land or any type of fertile, prosperous land.

[3] Applied the responsibility to house British troops in colonial homes while abroad.

[4] Limited the sale, trade, and transport of goods to align the economic development of the American colonies in British favor.

Free at Last: Mandela as a Figurehead for the Anti-Apartheid Movement

'''Nelson Mandela 2005, 2004 & the 20th century'''

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This week has seriously been one of the craziest weeks imaginable. Exams and essays have continued to kick my butt as well as my family coming in for my birthday on Monday (seriously, it is great to have family that feels like they should come together for my birthday, but it still is a little stressful at times haha). So here I am once again, sitting in my office between server updates frantically trying to finish up some homework and trying to stay cool because the one day he actually wears something appropriate for the cooler weather they excessively turn on the heat in the office and now it’s well over 100 degrees! But I digress, and can announce that the Kentucky & South Africa: Different Lands, Common Grounds program is nearing its end and this will be my last reflection post on Connie Field’s transcending documentary Have You Heard from Johannesburg? This week’s final segment, “Free at Last,” in my opinion, was an efficient and comprehensive way to sum up her research and interviews regarding the struggle to end the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

 

However, I did find it interesting that as a filmmaker she waited till the end of the film to formerly introduce Nelson Mandela, the most notable and recognizable face of the Anti-Apartheid movement. Instead, it seemed that her film centered on the reverence of other African National Congress leaders as well as citizens in the other spheres of society and how their complimentary influences systematically led to democracy for all in South Africa. Honestly, before watching this last installment I barely noticed her exclusion of Mandela and likewise never considered her motivation behind it. Based upon my own personal opinion of the film as well as what I can gather from the lecture with Connie Field it seemed that her disregard for the superior importance of Mandela was not in detriment to him as one of the most publicly recognized figures of peace and forgiveness in international politics yet it was to understand the complexity of the contexts surrounding the cause for those thirty or forty years the struggle actively progressed in the country. In addition, while Mandela was in prison and not capable of having a definite and powerful impact in the movement as he should have had, it was his friend Oliver Tambo and the African National Congress while abroad in exile who made the most socio-political achievements towards racial equality in the country through several international delegations and activist rallying to gain the confidence and support of the Western nations who could bring down the Apartheid government.

 

Ironically enough though, while Field paints this picture of Tambo as one if not the most important active figure in the fight for equality in South Africa she admits that to her dismay that like us entering the program at the University of Kentucky most people in the country still have no idea who Tambo is or how important he was in the creation of the society they benefit from today. According to her, satirically most South Africans just think that he is an airport…which is sort of funny (Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg) considering that the way her documentary was constructed it creates an image of Tambo as someone equitable in political and national rhetoric as George Washington is to the United States which makes it hard for me to fathom that not only do South Africans not herald him as such but likewise we haven’t heard about him as much as someone who had been in prison and not actively involved in the struggle for the duration of the conflict.

 

Her centralization on people like Tambo (and Steve Biko, a student and Black Consciousness Movement leader who lost his life due to police brutality while in unfounded custody) yields a more comprehensive and enriching view of the dynamic situation that played out in late 20th century South Africa; a story that while acknowledging the importance of Mandela’s forgiveness and figurativeness when it came to the international community also tells the true story of the true, lesser known heroes of the Anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. Her answers to the discussion group’s questions regarding her choice to form the work in such a way clarifies some of my inquiries yet I would still like to know other than her background in civil rights activism (she is the filmmaker of The Life and Times of Rose the Riveter) and her endowment from the Humanities Council what either drove her to become interested in the project and also if the story of Oliver Tambo as the true father of the struggle was either her intention or that of her funders. Nevertheless, I think that Field’s documentary Have you Heard from Johannesburg is an eye-opening, comprehensive, and transcendental film which truly inspires its audience whether they witnessed this struggle on the international forefront or just now learning about it through this program. She is an exceptional filmmaker who obviously spent years of researching and interviewing members of affected and esteemed organizations to create such a purposeful and cathartic work that would move even people in a classroom in Lexington, Kentucky whom were not even born during the time of Apartheid in South Africa to tears. I was honored and greatly thankful to have been given the opportunity to experience her film and to hear her thoughts about the documentary as well.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility

1970 Ranger (South Africa)

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Taking some time to reflect and breathe from the constant onslaught of final essay prompts and looming comprehensive exams in the coming weeks, I find that I have a continuing appreciation for the Kentucky & South Africa: Different Lands, Common Grounds program. Likewise, as I was sitting in the discussion session this week, I was thinking how much the critical examination of the film series Have You Heard from Johannesburg and the blog entries have really taught me not just about South African history and the complexity of the situation surrounding the anti-Apartheid movement but also in interdisciplinary socio-cultural contexts. This week’s segment of the film, “The Bottom Line,” centered on the corporate and fiscal response to the struggle for human rights in South Africa both domestically and internationally. The content empirically built upon previous portions of the film which focused the international response and activist demands to financially and corporately divest from the country; therefore, not continuing to harbor and fund the Apartheid government. However, the film and the following lecture by University of Kentucky professor of Business & Economics Ikenna Uzuegbunam , shed a new light on the international response as it pertained to corporate investment and the morality of social responsibility in the open market.

General Motors, Inc., a company heavily invested in the country felt pressure from their domestic partners as well as consumers to leave South Africa each year at the board’s annual forum meetings. Some American consumers even went as far as to suggest that not only was the company’s operations in South Africa ostensibly aiding the treasury but also, as pointed out by a student at one content review panel meeting, was offering donations to the Apartheid government resistance campaign against the ANC movement with every purchase made in the country. This outraged many American citizens and business leaders as a more prominent selection of corporate entities began to pull out of the country such as the Chase-Manhattan Bank Group. Reverend Leon Sullivan, a Baptist minister and African-American Civil Rights movement leader, became an integral part of the General Motors board of directors as the pressure from the American community heightened and the long since stereotypical upper middle class Caucasian board needed, for lack of a better term, an other-raced member to increase diversity and to compete at least appearance-wise with such liberal companies as Polaroid, etc. However, the board was completely embarrassed when after years of dismissing the claims of divesting from South Africa, Sullivan during his first address to the board indicated his distaste with General Motor’s presence in the country and how their business there directly supported the Apartheid government. However, what yielded from Sullivan’s activist stance on the corporate dealings in South Africa was not an entire pull out, but the composition of a set of regulatory principles to encourage foreign companies in South Africa to not directly support the government and to provide advancement opportunities for their Black African workers.

Sullivan Principles

1. Non-segregation of the races in all eating, comfort, and work facilities.
2. Equal and fair employment practices for all employees.
3. Equal pay for all employees doing equal or comparable work for the same period of time.
4. Initiation of and development of training programs that will prepare, in substantial numbers, blacks and other nonwhites for supervisory, administrative, clerical, and technical jobs.
5 Increasing the number of blacks and other nonwhites in management and supervisory positions.
6. Improving the quality of life for blacks and other nonwhites outside the work environment in such areas as housing, transportation, school, recreation, and health facilities.
7. Working to eliminate laws and customs that impede social, economic, and political justice. (Added in 1984.) 

(“Marshall University”

Though these principles of operation within South Africa (and presently, any African country not deemed as “first world” or “western”) seem to have the best interest of those subjugated peoples at heart, it does offer a more American, Western democratic, neocolonialist approach to solving the problem of racism, poverty, and cultural human rights violations in these countries. Sullivan proclaimed, as noted by Professor Uzuegbunam and a student during the discussion of the film, that these principles were going to solve the issues in South Africa “his way” and therefore the “Christian,” “Western,” “Democratic,” way which in some understanding could have also been applied to his own struggle for civil rights at home in the United States. While his intentions were good, I concur with Ethan (the student) and Professor Uzuegbunam that his efforts to solve a problem in another country were well meaning but he applied solutions which would have affected the movement contextually in the United States while in disregard of cultural relativity the racial equality struggle in South Africa was innately different. There are those though, like the Leon H. Sullivan foundation, which revel in the achievements of the Reverend and herald the advancements Black Africans have seen through working with companies following his principles of corporate social responsibility (“Leon H. Sullivan Foundation”).

Another issue that Professor Uzuegbunam raised during his lecture with the program was this idea of “throwing good money at bad money.” From the Royal Dutch Shell company continuing to supply gasoline and oil to the fuel-strapped nation against oil embargo sanctions and the incorporation of the South African government as a major investor of Polaroid and their usage of its film to systematically subjugate millions of Black South Africans with the embarrassment of the passbook requirement all further communicate the greater importance of one thing over human rights and equality: money. Consumers from many different western countries part of the open, international market all had the choice to continue to support these companies (whether it was buying Polaroid cameras, having Shell credit cards and fueling at their convenience stations, etc.) or to boycott their blatant and grotesque pursuit to clandestinely continue to provide the South African government with goods just because of how large of an investor they were. An issue like this is something that really makes me question our social and cultural evolution as a species and contextually as a globalized international community when a piece of paper that only represents monetary value becomes more important that preserving basic human rights and standing up for what is right with even an ounce of corporate social responsibility. I feel the same, well disgust, for General Motors pledging to donate a certain amount towards the South African government resistance…at least (while it was not enough) the Royal Dutch Shell company imposed a greater Apartheid tax/fee on gasoline sales in South Africa and Polaroid outlawed the direct assistance of the government before pulling out completely. It is understandable that these companies do rely on heavy consumers and the amount of money a nation as a whole brings in. However, much can be said for when the New York City Police Department, as one of their largest clients, threatened to suspend all dealings with Motorola if they did not put an end to their corporate presence and financial support of the South African government. So what happened? Motorola terminated their plants in the country…it takes an act of good faith and the realization that first and foremost we are all human and if you truly want to gain, even financially speaking, your consumers are not going to trust you if you show them how much of a money-hungry organization that you are by disregarding the pain and suffering of other consumers who just might as well be them.

“Leon H. Sullivan: Building on a Legacy.” Leon H. Sullivan Foundation. Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, n.d. Web. 7 Nov 2010. <http://www.thesullivanfoundation.org/>.

“The Sullivan Principles.” Marshall University. Marshal University, n.d. Web. 7 Nov 2010. <http://muweb.marshall.edu/revleonsullivan/principled/principles.htm&gt;.

Pride in American Activism

Robben Island South Africa

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I must say that out of all the events and lecture series I have attended within the Kentucky & South Africa: Different Lands, Common Grounds program that this one truly has left a lasting affect on me…even in the most simplistic of ways. As an exposition to my blog entry this week, I would like to reflect on a personal and somewhat humbling experience of mine over the weekend following Eddie Daniels lecture and part 5 of Have You Heard from Johannesburg: From Selma to Soweto. I went to a rock concert in Cincinnati, Ohio with a friend who apparently was infatuated with the band playing while I had never heard of them. We had VIP passes which for some reason necessitated that because we paid more money we were allowed in early to meet the band but you had to stand in 4 hour line one at a time. Because I had never heard of the band, standing for that long seemed a little incessant, however Mr. Daniels indicated that while he was a political prisoner on Robben Island he was made to stand as much as 14 or more hours a day and was only permitted to sit or lay down to go to sleep. Such cruel and unusual living circumstances shed a new light on standing in a four hour line to meet a rock band…and like me, without having any knowledge of the band I was seeing I could not even imagine what it must have been like for Mr. Daniels in prison as well as the continuing Anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. I believe that this weeks film, when it depicted the response of my then peers in American Universities, also showed the physically removed response of those that associated our struggle with theirs in South Africa. Not that an allusion between prison and a line to a rock concert is all that relevant, but I think that it draws a significant comparison between the activism seen by American University students during the 1980s for a cause, like the band that I had never heard, that most of them had not experienced for themselves. It was the humbleness and realization of their international community while not directly being affected which, as Daniels suggested and congratulated, that led to the several economic and trade sanctions on the Apartheid government that indirectly aided the freedom of “his people.”

So as I stood in this line (because I certainly had the time) I not only reflected on the personal importance of why I felt like it was torture to stand in line for only four hours when it was obvious that it was humanly possible to do so for much longer but I also considered why students like me would decide to stand up for something which did not directly affect them living within their little bubble we call the United States of America. That question can be answered by looking at the tradition of University activism and as Edward E. Sampson from the University of California, Berkeley suggests that “youth has always been a period of restlessness, of searching for unbound energy…fed from a stream that flowed from the Civil Rights Movement” (Sampson 1). Certainly this is true; American Universities since the middle of the 20th century and the American Civil Rights Struggles have been a hotbed for socio-political activism and propositional reform. But isn’t that one of the critical components of what we as Americans pride ourselves in having? When the Black Caucus members following a nation-wide response to the Apartheid government and the sometimes forceful acquisition to divest from companies that do business within South Africa stated that they never felt “more proud and more American” than that day when they realized that their efforts had been heard and had officially changed policy and law. It may be seen as being an “international police” or task force, but I think that our transcendental efforts in spreading our thematic morality and activism to countries that harbor such deprecatory basic human rights violations is incredibly necessary at times. Especially, on a personal note, when I was sitting in a classroom in Lexington, Kentucky in tears after a story from a man whom associates his freedom and life as a man living in Cape Town, South Africa with what Americans did for him and his people in the 1980s.

Mr. Eddie Daniels, esteemed scholar and former Anti-Apartheid movement leader allowed us the amazing opportunity to hear his story of life in Apartheid South Africa as well as his time incarcerated at Robben Island along with Nelson Mandela. There are moments in ones life which, well humble, but also stand out as a wake up call in sorts. I will never forget how this elderly man, despite of the atrocities he had seen and maintaining his sanity in prison for decades, stood up before a auditorium full of foreign students and commanded such a presence and sense of strength, soul, and personality. I can only imagine what he has seen and likewise I think that it is amazing that his livelihood is still in tact and that his reverence precedes him. His reflections on seeing his son for the first time after being released from prison and not recognizing him, snagging the weekly edition from the pastor that visited them in block D of the prison, hanging out with Mandela in the quarries, to even when he was released not being able to marry a white woman without the social backlash and the abandonment of ¾ of her sons dynamically forms this association of his struggle with my own (it also encourages me to read his book!). In this sense I can see the important affect and role of television and the media in the Anti-Apartheid struggle; the South African government had made it illegal to film within a Black township, any police action, or any one or more Black persons respectively which in turn yielded very few images and stories like Daniels’ flowing out of the country and making a presence internationally. This makes the association of University Students and citizens with their prevailing empathetic and correlative struggle to financially divest from the South African government even more notable. The fact that we, as  Americans, can care for the well being of our brothers and sisters half a world away and take action when our government did not makes me feel like the Black Caucus members did on that day on Capitol Hill…proud and empowered.

Sampson, Edward. “Student Activism and the Decade of Protest.” Journal of Social Issues. 23.3 (1967): 1. Print.

Social Patriarichy and Politics in Competitive Sports

South African cricketer Graeme Smith.

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I find it interesting that the theme of the social inclusion of sports and it’s relevant to socio-political ideologies has come up more than once this year in various different departments and classes. Upon investigation I do think that my relationship to sports, while somewhat vague and ambiguous which is shocking coming from a small town in the Southeastern United States who reveled in its “Friday Night Lights” mentality, has improved greatly. However, I cannot say that a greater understanding and appreciation for the practice has inadvertently driven me to become a sports fanatic; but it has led me to draw several different conclusions which this installment of Have You Heard from Johannesburg as well as Dr. Boyce Watkins and columnist Billy Reed have dynamically built upon in the arena of the performed role of society and politics within the compositionality of competitive sports.

After the afternoon spent with Watkins and Reed I have a more conclusive association and connection with what I already identified in sports with socio-political structures and the competition between opposing movements or groups (in this case, the revolutionaries in South Africa and the Apartheid governmental structures). The historical relevance and nature of competitive sports are fused with the enforcement of certain social stereotypes in regards to patriarchy and idealism in the western world. Organized sports plays upon the performance and reiteration of the male athlete being an embodiment of an “ideal” male form stemming from the construction of, for instance, men and the performance of masculinity and physical strength in Ancient Greek Olympia games (Oates, and Durham 303). This example of Robert W. Connell’s hegemonic masculinity also through certain contemporary structures, such as the NFL draft, stratifies men’s bodies based upon an enumerating classification system centered around this embodiment of an ideal (the stereotypical, hard, physically strong, heteronormative Caucasian male).

Why is this realization of patriarchal gender binaries in sports important to the understanding of their role, if any, in social and political competition? Colonialism, or the exertion of power from a contextually more powerful nation-state or region over another subordinate, also draws upon this stratified structure of hard vs. soft; strong vs. weak which in turn can be applied to various other aspects of society (class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc). The colonialist structure in South Africa which enforced the domination of Black Africans by the seemingly elite White European South Africans was an arguably post-colonialist affect of the European exploitation of the region’s resources and peoples a century prior. Competitive sports which also form around this socio-political mold of the ideal male (the White South African) allowed for policy and revolution to be “played” out on the arena between members of the “other” or men (Black South Africans) that were socially subjugated by the ideal.

Sports, in particular Cricket, became an indirectly integral component in the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa because of these replicated sociological structures on the playing field and within the policies of the game. The ICC World Cup, held in South Africa in 2003, incorporated a diverse, racial mixture of teams, players, and coaches which would have shocked those players more than a decade prior when team integration was a distant desire and White South Africans excluded any of the racial categorizations in the country other than “White” to participate in games with or between members of different racial and class groups (Odendaal 10). This, in turn, allowed for a non-violent medium for competition between the opposing political ideologies to be performed during play; thus, while ostensibly sports (I.e. Cricket in particular) in South Africa and hence the international community can occupy a social niche that is much more important and critical than just for Monday Night Football and for entertainment purposes. It allows for the social and political post-colonialist policies of patriarchy and inequality to be performed on a structured, yet competitive, non-violent playing field.

Oates, Thomas, and Meenkashi Durham. “The Mismeasure of Masculinity: The Male Body, “Race” and Power in the Enumerative Discources of the NFL Draft.” Patterns of Prejudice. 38.3 (2004): 303. Print.

Odendaal, André. The Story of an African Game. 10. Print.

Racial Segregation and Education in Apartheid South Africa and Contemporary Western Structures

Anti-apartheid protest in London, UK, at South...

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Have You Heard From Johannesburg: The New Generation was yet another installment in the “South Africa & Kentucky: Different Lands, Common Grounds” film series which details the anti-Apartheid movement in 20th century South Africa. This segment of the film, like the ones prior, centralized on an individual, critical factor in the fight to overturn the oppressive Apartheid regime: activism, universalism, and the internationalization of the struggle cross-culturally in the new, college-aged generation. In turn, our esteemed guest colloquial, Professor Jakobi Williams, Ph.D. communicated the importance of this activist, new generation in context to the United States and the associative civil rights struggles here as it pertained to the black consciousness movement. 

This portion of the film truly struck a nerve in me; and while like the past discussions I did not vocally advocate one position over another; I am someone that takes socio-political action when it comes to issues that are relevant to me. I agree with Williams in that opposite of inspiration and this sense of unification that came from hearing of men and women my age standing up for their rights and those like Steven Biko who lost their lives in the fight I also get a great sense of overwhelming anger when I saw The New Generation. It is becoming more and more appalling to me that the United States and other western democratic economic facets did not take earlier and more drastic measures to show their distaste for the racist and in-humanistic subordination exerted by the South African government. However, a corollary can be drawn between the incessant amount of time it took the United States to become involved in World War II and the shameful violation of human rights occurring within Nazi Germany because of yet again domestic and international financial politics. Even in 1974 when the United Nations from the supposition of the American Carter administration banned representation of the South African Apartheid government within the body, when it came to the economic sanctions of the country which would then cripple the governmental structures domestically and allow for the anti-Apartheid movement to succeed western powers in the Security Council whom were proportionately dependent upon the sale of exported good into South Africa blocked the motions. Is this really as a globalized human race want to enforce? That the basic rights of every human that inhabits this seemingly small planet are not as valuable the flow of paper representations of wealth and people can enslave, incarcerate, segregate, discriminate, and dispose of one another through homicidal Naziist governments without punishment?

Williams also shed light upon the comparative struggles for equality in the United States particularly within urban Chicago and the black consciousness movements. It was equally disturbing yet not surprising to hear his propositions that some of the same degree of inhumane violence and corruption had occurred and still is within our own country which we would ostensibly define as “free” and “ democratic.” Yet, on a smaller more privatized scale I can see where this happens each day within the United States but just either subconsciously or isn’t recognized by the majority. While Chicago as an American metropole has not seen the degree of violence to the extent of the student uprisings in Soweto where 10,000 or more students peacefully marched against the oppressive forcing of the “white man’s” language upon Black Africans in public schools it does continue to see it’s own form of racial segregation through opportunistic development and education (“South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid, Building Democracy”).

Kathy Kelly, an activist and native Chicagoan, indicates her extreme disappointment in the current economic and education systems which harbor and continue to selectively exclude members of economically-depressed African-American families much like those in the invisible segregated south side of the city (“Race and Poverty in the US”). Kelly describes in her interview with the Real News Network the path of poverty, financial instability, lack of quality education, and the lessening of career opportunities associated to the education and economic standings of the African-American families in these areas. However, just north of the loop and the invisible barrier in the predominately White communities of Chicago there are quality schools, jobs, housing, and availability for advancement which are virtually non-existent in the south-side. The ratification of these issues must start with the acknowledgment of the problem and the reassessment and training of instructors and members of the community on being willing to and how to address these prevailing issues in the blind lack of availability (Dee 158-165).

Maybe it is possible that when Dr. Gasman from the University of Pennsylvania spoke to the “ South Africa & Kentucky: Different Lands, Common Grounds” discussion group and proposed the question as to why race and segregation are such easily discussed and open topics in South African post-Apartheid but likewise in a nation whom also has had it’s fair share of racially discriminatory policies and sociological concepts, the United States is so shy to talk about racial issues because of this simple factor that Kelly suggests. While racial struggles hit an all time climactic high in South Africa and the issue has been dealt with and they believe as a nation and as a culturally rich and diverse nation that they are on the right progressive path to full equality we in the United States continue to fight for civil rights for many marginalized groups and without the same degree of violence and climax that the new generation in South Africa initiated we have yet to eradicate the problem. We just don’t recognize nor talk about it.

Dee, Thomas. “A Teacher Like Me: Does Race, Ethnicity, or Gender Matter?.” American Economic Review.95.2: 158-165. Print.

“Race and Poverty in the US.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; nbsp;The Real News Network. Web. 26 Sep 2010.

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYZPDroJZC4>.

“Soweto Student Uprising.” South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid, Building Democracy. National Endowment for the Humanities. Web. 17 Oct. 2010

 

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