Suppression and Propaganda
The advent of the Internet has finally given some racist White South Africans something to say which they have nave not been able to say for many decades. It is not like the South African Apartheid government did not use the media to defend its case against it s detractors overseas. There are ample examples of the how they did so.
They spent billions buying media conglomerates in the United States and Europe to present their case. It is worth noting that people say that they want the truth, but what they really want is a confirmation of what they already believe. People tend to define history through personal memories. There are some White folks in South Africa who believe that African history should be dealt in a positive light deemed right by them.
According to these White people, dwelling on the negative(meaning those that expose Whites and their blaming Africans for everything) only reinforces negative images of Africans among themselves and other races and also re-opens the "blame" wound that makes Whites uneasy That is some logic there! Perhaps the most important factor in public uneasiness is the knowledge gap.
Most people's images of Apartheid in South Africa and elsewhere is what the Radio, newspapers,TV and the Internet tells them it is or should or could be. Some define history in a political context, based on propaganda. Still others define history through mythos, a collection of interpretations of the past carried in expressive media such as songs, dances, movies, words-of-mouth and the internet.
But then, there is real history, the one which is analytical and it is also done through academic research. History will always be critical of mythos and memory because they have little to do with standards of evidence. It is this gap between how the average person perceives Apartheid - a simplistic White oppressor, Black Victim Story - and the much more complex historical record that poses a dilemma for many people. A lot of people, African and White, are afraid of a greater analytical view of these very problematic things of the past because it will not conform to their strongly held mythos.
So, what they do is conflate the feelings that they have today with what they imagine people felt during Apartheid. Most whites who are busy attacking Africans and African history of South Africa on the Net do not understand how difficult survival was and is-Spiritually emotionally and physically, for Africans - and that, that survival was strength and is still strength for Africans, today. And in this mix, one can begin to add the new ANC-led government, and its history will be dealt with below that of the one on Apartheid.
In Defense of the 'Vaderland' and the 'Volk' in the Media
Historical Perspective and Academic Analysis of Apartheid Media
In order for us to understand the Media Propaganda flourishing on the Internet by many Racist and unapologetic detractors of African people, we will be better served if we really put Apartheid Media into a proper Historical Perspective. To understand the present vitriol on the Web against African people in South Africa by White people, we will delve into some research in order to paint a much clearer picture.
Today it is very easy for White bloggers and Internet users in South Africa to assail African people from every angle conceivable. It is true that of the 45% of Internet users in South Africa, fewer than 3% are African users. This is due to imposed poverty, ignorance and many other shenanigans applied by those who still uphold the values and life-style of Apartheid and will not let it go.
In order for South African Africans to understand this concentrated and vicious effort against them it is important to put the history of the South African press into a propers perspective; African people were not included nor consulted on their opinions or points of view by the colonial government of the day. When the Afrikaners undertook their "Great Africa," they did so with the hope that will create Republics conducted to their own liking.
But the discovery of diamonds and gold brought about fortune seekers who began to intrude on how these new "Boer Republics " were run, and the intruders were backed-up by the Newspapers they brought along with them. In 1800, The Cape Times Gazette made its debut. It carried government notices and paragraphs of news. Within three months, the governor withdrew its printing monopoly and bought the press. Lord Somerset proceeded by sending the press to a remote 'frontier' village in Graff Reinett on the Western Cape Coast, where it was used to print government forms(Varley, 1962)
By then, Thomas Pringle and John Fairbairn, in January 7, 1824, ran the first issue of South Africa's first independent press, 'The South African Commercial Advertiser.' The Commercial Advertiser printed proceedings of a court case that dealt with allegations of corruption in Somersert's administration. By this time, the governor had just returned from leave in London. Before he left for England, the Governor had asked Pringle and his colleague to submit proof sheets to his office before publication.
The issue duly appeared under these conditions. Pringle was summoned before the governor,whom he found with the South African Journal lying open before him. Pringle wrote: "'So , sir,' he began, 'you are one of those who dare to insult me and oppose my government,' and he launched into a long tirade of abuse; 'scolding, upbraiding and taunting, with all the domineering arrogance of mien and sneering insolence of expression of which he was so great a master'(Pringle, Narrative. p. 89) Despite further difficulties, the press won when in April Somerset was recalled to London.
From then on, papers rapidly expanded into the interior. A list of newspapers listed in the Colonial office of Cape Town in 1891 included names of more than 125 assorted journals(Cory, 1913). In this part, one begins to see officialese arrogance and harsh attitude and stance being taken by individual people in power, and in the later years that spun into policy and then law.
The reaction of the Dutch Settlers and Colonists was to set up a journal to counteract Fairbairn's newspaper. De Zuid Afrikaans appeared in 1828 and according to an Afrikaner historian, was obliged from the outset not only to fight against "radicalism of the negrophilist philanthropists," but also frequently to defend the name of the Dutch residents against libel of the British in the Cape(Greig, 1963) and to fight and preserve the Boer Culture and the "Vaderland"(Fatherland) through the press. To the Dutch, the terms "free press" and "independent press" came to mean dominating African populations and the control of intellectual property and content and academic superiority and superior complexes over African people.
In 1858 Cape Town had eight newspapers of Which the Cape Argus, a commercial newspaper survived and spawned Africa's largest newspaper chain. Before long, The Argus was the only triweekly in the Cape and claimed the largest circulation. This newspaper printed a special supplement prepared by correspondents in London. In 1876, The Argus, together with the mining and commercial interests formed The Argus Printing and Publishing Company. The discovery of gold in 1872, in the eastern Transvaal and in 1886 in the Witwatersrand(the areas of what is today known as Johannesburg[or Gauteng]brought about hundreds of prospectors and fortune seekers.
The diggers or "Uitlanders"[Foreigners], as the Boers called them, had little sympathy for the Boer government. Pro-digger newspapers like the Gold Fields Mercury and the Argus were very critical of the government, denouncing it as corrupt and inefficient(this theme , as will be seen, is recurring today against the ANC-led government in the South Africa press). In 1889, the Argus Printing and Publishing Co., limited was formed. It was a collusion of English newspapers in Johannesburg, Kimberley and London.
The Cape Argus was then called the Star, and changed from a triweekly to a daily newspaper(Neame, 1956; Rosenthal, 1970). The British and the Boers were on a collision course. The merging of big British capital and the British newspapers brought resentment from the Afrikaners, and this is what partly led to and culminated into the Anglo-Boer war at the turn of the century.
One of the key players in this war was Cecil John Rhodes. He was one of the richest men in South Africa at the time. In 1871, he opened diamond mines in Kimberley, known as the De Beer Consolidated Mines. As a private citizen, Rhodes also had gold mining interests in the Transvaal. Using that toehold, he developed a plan that he hoped would bring about British power to the Transvaal Boer Republic. He sent some of his Henchmen to stir up unrest amongst the "Uitlanders," getting them to agitate for voting and other rights. In 1895, acting on his orders, Rhodesian troops(today known as Zimbabwe) staged a raid on the Transvaal with the hope that it would set off a revolt which would finally oust he Boers from power.
This attack, which came to be known as the Jamieson Raid - because it was led by Jamieson, was botched, and Rhodes' plan failed(Caldwell, 1975; Le Seur, 1913). The Jamieson raid damaged relations between the Boers and the British beyond recall. The raid affected the press. In 1896 President Kruger passed a law requiring the press to disclose the names of printers and publishers. This law also gave the State President the right to ban the distribution of publications which were perceived to be breaking the law of the Transvaal Republic. Kruger took these moves to protect his government against the British press attacks.(van Jaarsveld, 1961)
The reasons for the Anglo-Boer War lay in a combination of strategic, political and economic factors. When the war started in 1899, the Kruger government shut down the British Press. On the other hand, the British arrested Afrikaner editors and shut down the circulation of Dutch newspapers in all British colonies. When the British defeated the Boers, they were sure that the press would never be anti-British again.
They put the press under the control of the Argus Company. (Pemberton, 1964) It is in this tradition of 'robust British-type press freedom,' established in the last century, and has come under pressure in the 20 Century, that the press found itself caught in conflicts of a deeply polarized society, to-date in the 21 century. It was a press caught between a divided English and Afrikaner public, and both the English and Afrikaners caught between African nationalism of the 20 century, and the new neocolonial, post-apartheid petit African bourgeoisies of the 21 century.
The Afrikaners emerged from the Anglo Boer War a defeated and impoverished nation. The war was a White man's war. But, rarely discussed, was the participation of Africans in the war- and that is for another topic in another Hub. Nonetheless, it has been recorded that Africans helped on both sides of the war -- and thousands of them died in concentration camps, but their contributions as fighters was not and is still not yet acknowledged. Nor had any nations that were conquered by the Whites during the late sixteen hundreds had a chance to seize the moment of white division. British armies had crushed African resistance and black power structures and were also in a position to impose their will on the Afrikaners (Sol Plaatjie, 1974)
But two of the most successful Boer Guerrilla leaders, Smuts and his commander-in-chief,General Louis Botha, led a movement for conciliation. The liberals in London and the Afrikaner 'conciliators' revived the idea that they should amalgamate. They set about forming a united South Africa in which the English and the Dutch speaking people would bury their differences. Africans were not included nor invited to these talks. The others that were included were the gold mining companies and a growing class of Afrikaner large-scale farmers who needed a stable permanent settlement and a large cheap labor force.
To secure a government that would guarantee both, they formed an alliance of gold and maize. With the British looking on benignly and helping where they could, the leaders of South Africa assembled. They had many differences, but within a couple of years, Afrikaners and the British framers and mine owners from the interior, traders and plantation owners from the seaboard, agreed to merge -- not as a mere federation, But a Union, with overriding powers given to central government (Le May 1965).
The Afrikaners were quick to mobilize their political power against the British Imperialist gestures. They refused to serve on the proposed legislative council, declaring that self-government alone would satisfy them. In fact, by 1904, several hundred Afrikaners in Pretoria established their first major political organization, "Het Volk." It focused on Afrikaner grievances over restrictions on their use of the Dutch language and over the administration of relief funds.(Davenport, 1966)
The devastation of the Anglo-Boer War had turned the Afrikaner in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State into an impoverished people. The landless poor whites had become a serious problem into he Transvaal even before the war. Many Boers were no longer self-sufficient and independent. Consequently, these barely literate indigent Whites began another Great Trek.
They moved from the rural outbacks into the burgeoning towns and cities. They arrived with essentially no better skills that the Africans who also left the rural areas to seek urban employment. In other words, Whites in South Africa were on equal footing with the Africans. Many of these poor, uneducated and unskilled Afrikaners gravitated towards the famous war veteran, General B. Hertzog.
He eloquently articulated their fear that their 'civilization' would be obliterated by the technologically superior civilization of the British Speakers. Hertzog crystalized the Afrikaner movement in 1914 with the formation of the 'National Party'. From that time to this day, the National Party has been the major vehicle for Afrikaner Nationalism(Vatcher, 1965) The movement was further boosted in 1915 with the founding of he newspaper, Die Burger in Cape Town, under the editorship of D.F. Malan.
This was the first daily Afrikaans-language paper in South Africa. It was complemented in 1938 by the Transvaaler, edited by Hendrick Verwoerd. Die Burger began in less than promising circumstances. The country was under martial law and Die Burger was suspected of pro-German leanings. During the First World War, Die Burger was cautious to avoid suppression. Its readership was predominantly rural people or city dwellers of modest means who had little purchasing power to attract advertisers. However, it developed and propagated the policy of the National Party in its news and editorial columns. Malan made Die Burger the shield and sword of Afrikanerdom (Sachs, 1975; Scholtz, 1974)
During the second World War, Jan Smuts, as Prime Minister, decided through a series of informal arrangements and committees to seek the cooperation of newspapers in critical war effort matters. Although the Afrikaans newspapers were hostile to the war efforts, they knuckled down to the informal arrangements because they felt that these were preferable to full scale censorship.
Meanwhile, the attitude of The Transvaaler was even more ambivalent. On one hand it attacked those who openly sided with the Nazis of Germany. But on its columns it sounded ore like the Nazi Radio (Neame, pg. 41; Herzstein, 1987) Dr. Verwoerd was a big Nazi sympathizer and he even studied in Germany. But the British established a pattern of internalized control and self censorship that became a corrosive feature of the South African press.
The issue that divided the British and the Boers, and the newspapers that represented them, was centered on the external policies of the government. The Afrikaans press realized that it was more profitable to focus on internal policies and specifically on the questions of race. This is what the Afrikaners/English press is doing to the ANC-led government today. One now becomes aware as to where all this press hullaballoo of the proposed media tribunal historically originates from.
The English press, with its close links with a wider Anglo-American social reality, reflected the West's growing revolution against Nazi racism and "authoritarianism," pressed for more liberal policies in South Africa. In 1942, a government commission recommended important reforms in the educational, social and health conditions of urban African. Although the Smuts government had taken the country to war on the side of the allied forces, and also introduced some reforms in South Africa, it was far form liberal in its approach to race relations.
The difference between its attitude to the country's traditional segregationists policies and that of the nationalist was one of degree, not kind. However, the country's booming wartime economy, spurred by industrial development to produce arms and munitions, had drawn an increasing number of Africans into the labor market.
Apartheid Media and White Supremacy
When the Afrikaner Nationalist Party came into power in 1948, it was bent on implementing apartheid and entrenching White supremacy in government. The attitude of the government towards the press was not rooted in the Pringle-Fairbairn tradition, but rather in filial relationship between the Afrikaans press and the Afrikaner nationalist movement, or the "Het Volk".
The Afrikaans newspaper had arisen as part of the 'volk' movement, and as instruments in the ethnic mobilization of the Afrikaners. Although they were allowed a measure of freedom to criticize the political leadership and test reactions to new ideas, it was expected that their criticism would be temperately phrased and essentially constructive in approach.
The essence of the relationship was that the newspapers would at all times be loyal to the movement; not harm the government with embarrassing reports, and would as an instrument of communication between the movement's leadership and its followers. At election times,the Afrikaans press sounded the trumpet call to rally the 'volk' to the Party's support.
In short, it was a 'patriotic' press in the narrow context of the ethnic political movement it served. When the Nationalist government came into power, the press was still expected to be loyal and patriotic when it came to larger 'national interests'. This included reports on the implementation of Apartheid and the international reactions to it; the press was expected to be loyal and patriotic at all times. Under traditional authoritarianism, the press operated outside of the government and was permitted to gather and publish news, but it had to function for the 'good of the state'.
The government usually left the press alone if it did not criticize authority or challenge the leadership in any way. If the press attacked or embarrassed the government. Then the political authority intervened, imposed censorship or even closing down publication and jailing editors. The government arrived at this logic at a position where it was apparent that the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions among members of the community necessarily had a negative effect towards the government. Sometimes, as we shall later see, this effect was immediate, and at other times 'remote' also, we'll see this play itself out in the same manner under the ANC-led government. In fact, what the media restrictions limited most was the ability of its receivers to know the full story of events that lay behind newspaper editorials.
Other Apartheid's Myriad and Media Laws
The Nationalist Apartheid government immediately began to implement racial segregation or Apartheid through a series of laws. The Prohibition or Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 made intermarriages between races illegal the population Registration Act allocated every South African to a specific racial group. The immorality Act made sex across color lines illegal. The English press reflected the human suffering wrought by Apartheid legislation on the society.
This made for sensational headlines: prominent people committing suicide after being arrested under the immorality Act; families split under the Population Registration Act; Arrests and banning under the Suppression of the Communism Act. The English press through this type of reportage, continued to believe that it was practicing its traditional press freedom and in the process embarrassed the government even more. The Nationalist government perceived this as disloyalty prepared to damage national interests for the sake of partisan political gain. The government increased political pressure to control this inveterate disloyalty through close government monitoring (The Star, 1950)
The press commission was set up in 1950. It sat for eleven years as an intimidating inquisition. Its charge included the concentration of control of the press and its effect on the editorial opinion and comment and the presentation of news. The press had been served a notice that it activities were under scrutiny ad was warned to watch its steps.(Giffard, 1975) This sound like and look like the direction which ANC is going with its proposal of a Media tribunal.
J.G. Strydom succeeded Daniel Malan as Prime Minister in 1954. By this time, segregation had been enforced in almost all public places: libraries,churches, theaters and so on. The Extension of University Education Act set up four ethnic colleges for Africans, but restricted admission of other races into the traditional White universities. Africans were compelled to carry passes or reference books(got scrapped towards the end of Apartheid).
Multiracial Congresses were shut down. Inevitably, the press reflected in its reporting and comments the growing polarization in the land. Strydom regarded the English press as the enemy of the government. But at the same time, the government remained relatively unfettered by the negative reporting about Africans. (Hepple, 1974) Apartheid had in fact suppressed authentic African politics, which were really the politics of opposition. This suppression systematically affected both institutions and the press.
A key measure in achieving this shut-down of the opposition was application of the Suppression of Communism Act. This Act prohibited newspapers from quoting the utterances, past of contemporaneous, of any person place under a special restriction called the "Banning Order". Similarly, newspapers could not publish anything deemed to further the aims of any banned organization. This was he law used to ban the ANC, PAC, BCM and 37 other organizations.
This made it impossible for newspapers to report authentically to report on African politics for over 20 years. The copy-edition of the White newspapers were constantly on the alert and kept an up to date list of 'banned' persons in a tickler box on the copy desks(Phelan, 1985; Mathews, 1971; Mathews, 1981)
Slowly the net tightened. Defense matters were placed out of bounds, except when publications were authorized by the Defense authorities themselves. The Official Secrets Act was tightened under the title of "The Protection of Information Act"(The ANC is using the same terms and Act to create a media tribunal). Reporting on activities of the police ad on prison conditions was made hazardous through a cunning position that reversed the onus of proof: 1.e., newspapers had to prove that they had taken 'reasonable steps' to establish that what they published was rued.
This meant, for example, that newspapers could be prosecuted for publishing any 'untrue matter' about the police. For example, if a policeman tortured, assaulted or killed someone, the press wold have to ask the police themselves whether the allegations were true. If they denied, which they routinely did, the newspapers could publish that information at their own risk. This in turn cost them large sums in lawyer fees and tied up senior editors and key reporting staff for months on legal consultation and court appearances(Pollack, 1981; Potter, 1975)
All these laws were in force before the special press restrictions were enunciated in 1986. The laws of the 1986 State of Emergency were already enough to fill a thick legal volume that every South African journalist kept on his desk as an essential book of reference. There were more than 120 laws restricting what could be reported in may areas of activity; for example, the police, defense,prisons, official secrets, key points, oil supply, nuclear energy, the quoting of banned organizations or promoting their aims, the quoting of a banned person/s, remarks held to foster racial hostility, photographing and or publishing pictures of prisons, prisoners and so forth, are a few areas subjected to restriction. (Moseki, 1988; Stuart and Klapper, 1982)
To avoid the implementation of these threats, the newspaper proprietors agreed to establish a press Council in the early 1970s. It was created to enable the press to monitor and censor itself. And it had powers to reprimand and fine the newspaper found guilty of breaching the code of conduct (McKay, 1988)
According to Percy Qoboza, "Reporting and editing a newspaper in South Africa in the 1980s was like walking through a minefield blindfolded". (Qoboza , 1984) A journalist who wanted to get ahead was expected to show that he was at least half a businessman who understood and had a finely developed sense of what pleased the Ad agencies and paper owners. The journalist was expected to take this into account before exposing police brutality or the torture of detainees. On the other hand, they had to be wary of security agents and government legislation. (Hachten, 1979)
In the final analysis, the press got entangled with immediate-future preoccupations, viz.., the economics of circulation; rationalization between publishing companies and an increasing concentration on business journalism; news that was politically safer and economically more sensible was fully exploited. Maintain and holding tight to Ad agencies Only through a genuine social revolution could there be a return to Pringle-Fairbairn press tradition.
But until then, the press under apartheid faced an authoritarian and recalcitrant regime. Further on we will show the press has been used by White people to blame the victims of apartheid(Africans) which they say that the condition they find themselves in, meaning Africans, was their own doing.
The African Press Under Colonialism and Apartheid Rule
The first newspaper for Africans in South Africa, Imvo Zabantsundu(African Opinion), was founded in 1884 by John Tengo Jabavu. By the 1930s,the number of registered African newspapers were 19. At about that time, literate Africans constituted about 12.4 percent of the adult African population. This reading intelligentsia was made up of members and office bearers of proliferating independent African political and cultural or economic organizations that sought to generate accoutrements of middle-class lifestyles. The voluntary organizations which they established and the activities which they became personally involved were publicized in their journals survived the Great Depression of 1929-1932. After 1932, The Bantu World was founded and came to represent African point of view and reportage(Switzer, 1979)
After 1932, The Bantu World was founded and came to represent in form as well as in content all issues African. But it was owned by the Argus Company, a White, inevitably capitalist firm, and could not be trusted. The Bantu World attracted corporate and financial interests that provided the newspaper to develop rapidly as a business enterprise with fully fledged editorial, advertising, accounting, printing and circulation departments.
At the same time, the newspaper became a resource center for training Africans in the skills needed to run a successful business; for example, they were trained to work as printers, truck drivers, typists, clerks, salesmen, advertising personnel, as well as journalists(Walshe, 1971). Social control in the newsroom did not have to be communicated officially because Tema, the editor and subsequent editors of the "Bantu Press" and those that followed conformed to the policies of the newspaper proprietors(Couzens, 1977)
The Bantu World became a trendsetter from an elite to a mass audience. By 1946, African literacy had increased to 21.3 percent. Only the Bantu World and Unmteteli wa Bantu(Speaker of the People), were regarded as national papers. The former circulated mainly in the Transvaal and Swaziland; the latter circulated in the Reef(Johannesburg and Vaal Triangle, Ciskei, Transkei, KwaZulu and Bophutatswana(Friedgut, 1949; Couzens, 1977) Suppression of African perspectives, even in bland and moderate forms was considered essential to the maintenance, and by extension, the very survival of Afrikaner dominance.
During the 1960s and 1970s, newspapers expanded coverage of African news (an area long ignored), but was gradually recognized by some White newspapers who began to publish 'specials' or 'extras' for African readers. As a result, the English papers in particular, began using African journalists, and in the process, reported more Black news in the 1960s and 1970s.
Though no independent African or White press existed during the Apartheid era, there were publications that were edited and published with the African reader in mind. What can be called the African Press in during the realities of Apartheid South African could be described this way:
1. The English press became a 'surrogate' press for Africans especially in papers like the Rand Daily Mail(banned) Daily Dispatch, Sunday Times and others.
2. There were weekly African orientated papers such as the Imvo Zabantsundu(Xhosa) Ilanga (Zulu) Bona(See - in Sotho, Zulu and Xhosa people and the Cape Herald [For Cape Coloreds].
3. Bantu world, came to be known as The World, World, (both owned by Argus) was banned in 1977, and was succeeded by Sowetan. It was produced by an African staff and edited for Africans .
4. Golden City Press, s Sunday paper for Africans in Johannesburg, founded in 1982 (which was filling a void of the banned Post) and was owned by the Argus. (Switzer, 1988)
Thus, there was no independent and free African press in South Africa during the hey-days of Apartheid rule. A combination of political pressure and economic failure saw them closed down or taken over. In its determination to silence the African political opposition, the government had closed eleven newspapers in 40-plus years. Five of them newspapers specifically for Africans, and the other six were left-wing papers with a high African new content. It is therefore clear that the Apartheid State was bent of crushing African Press, its content and existence in a period of forty years or more.
Other African newspapers either went out of business or were taken over by White commercial companies, some of them went pro-government Afrikaans Press Companies. For example, Imvo Zabantsundu was now published by Perskor, the most racially conservative of the Afrikaans newspaper companies. City Press and Drum Magazine, both publication of honorable provenance in the African struggle, were owned by a rival Afrikaans publishing house, Nasionale Pers(Naspers). The Sowetan, a daily paper, was owned by the English-language group, The Argus Printing company newspaper, which in turn was effectively controlled by the giant Anglo American Mines(Rubin, 1981).
The African press was less free, during Apartheid , to print the news it saw fit to print. This was partly because of White ownership, encouraged by Apartheid legislation. And inevitably, the African press reflected the White perspectives and perceptions in its reportage of news. The government kept a hawkish eye on the African press because it considered it a potential enemy. Joe Latagkomo, former editor of Sowetan, neatly summed the Steyn Reports accusations that the 'black press -- meaning Sowetan, and some few others fomented discontent and lacked loyalty, responded in 1982 thus: "We do not believe any of these statements to have been true either for the The World, The Weekend World, Post, Sunday Post or now for the Sowetan.
What those newspapers did was precisely what this same commission suggests the Afrikaans press did not do: The Afrikaans press failed, the report says, to adequately report on the hopes and frustrations of the black community. We reported on those hopes and frustrations. We did not call on the government to pull down shacks and leave people in the cold... They came and we reported it. We did not create community councils such as that which received a disastrously low poll in Soweto. The government did and we reported it. We did not detain people without trial, ban them, deport ethem. The government did and we reported it. We did not fail to provide housing for the people.
The government did and we reported it. We did not make racist statements at public meetings. Some government people did, and we reported them.... Who creates the climate for labor unrest, for school unrest? Why did thousands of kids flee from the country of their birth to take up arms? The government created all this. We will report it. The government suggests there are a great deal of "moderates" who are "embarrassed" by our newspapers. We would suggest that both the government and the commission are out of touch with the situation. We know the hatred. We know the bitterness that this system creates. We are part and parcel of it. We feel it; we sleep it.
I am convinced that nobody will be able to run a black newspaper which serves as a mirror of society without threats from the government. There are too many government-created ills which cannot simply be washed away. The government must stop deluding itself that there are thousands of "moderate" backs who would buy an alternative paper which would dish out the news a la TV 2 and 3"(Black TV channels)
The laws that were administered in an attempt to regulate the press were not theoretically blind, so was their administration not biased and not blind. Even before the State of Emergency, when no one could keep up with the more than eight thousand general detentions (officially admitted by the administration under parliamentary pressure), the number of detentions and arrests among black journalists, relative to all other journalists, was markedly greater. Up to early 1987, no Afrikaner journalist had ever been detained.
From 1976 to 1981, the period immediately before Mr. Latakgomo's editorial, fifty black journalists were detained for up to five hundred days; ten were detained more than once; ten were banned; and one was arrested, tried, and sentenced to seven years on Robben Island(where Mandela was imprisoned), known as the South Africa Devil's Island. In the same period, white journalists suffered suffered one detention, one banning and one six-year jail sentence.
When one realizes that, during the period analyzed, there were fewer than two hundred and fifty mainstream black journalists,but over thirty-five hundred white journalists, the disparity in applied pressure is unmistakably enormous"(William A. Hachten and C. Anthony Giffard, 1984) Black journalists were often assaulted and tortured in their encounters with security forces. Few have escaped this brutality and several have suffered permanent injury as a result of it (Lelyveld, 1985).
The clamping down of African resistance in the sixties crushed black journalism too, and for a while it went into decline. However, it recovered and entered a new phase with the demands of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings. At this time, racial explosion and violence made it impossible for White reporters to enter Black Townships. For months on end, Black reporters risked their lives to get the story. They continued to do so throughout the 1980s State of Emergencies, up to the time when Mandela became President.
In the Area of official information and propaganda, the Nationalist Party has used public communication to persuade and influence pubic opinion and perceptions both in South Africa and abroad. From Daniel Malan, J.G. Strydom, J.B. Vorster, P.W. Botha to F.W. de Klerk, all have been closely linked with Afrikaner newspapers, the government created and information vacuum on Black politics to its White electorate. South Africa was a divided country and it is still a divided country even today.
The political opposition that was silenced was also segregated. Africans were physically removed from the presence of those who had power, except to the extent that they met in their working relationship. 'Thus, the White people, who were voting, did not see the consequences of the policy they kept voting for. They did not see the consequences of the violent repression meted out on black in the Townships, just a stone throw away. Life in their White suburbs was tranquil, orderly and affluent' (Crapanznao, 195)
There was no sense of commitment as the race problem became abstracted into a subject during the evening meal, on the part of Whites. In this vacuum, the government had indoctrinated the White population over time to regard black majority rule as unacceptable.
With TV, the press and radio closed and controlled, blacks could not counter this smear campaign or get themselves heard and judged in their own right. The same is true today, due to poverty and a predatory African-led government, Africans cannot defend themselves adequately because they cannot afford computers nor pay for the Internet so that they can counter the smear that is viscously and heartlessly used with callous vitriol and information to smear them, nor will they be able to be heard and judged in their own right, for a long time to come. Meanwhile, on the Web, contemporaneously, the same campaign used by the Apartheid government to put down Africans in the eyes of the world, is being used by ordinary Whites, on the Internet, to carry on that African Smear Campaign vociferously packed and packaged in hideous and damning vitriol.
Apartheid Was Good For Africans...
Apartheid and Technology
The colonization, gathering, dissemination, spin, and control has been within the purview of the Colonial and Apartheid media from the 1800s to today. The Hub above gives the history of the press and many attempts made to control it then and for 2010 years. The Apartheid rulers upped the ante when they passed a series of laws designed to curb, censor and dictate what could and should be reported. The Apartheid government in South Africa was uncomfortable with both the freedom permitted the independent press and the criticism the government drew from restricting the press.
The cultural shape freedom of expression assumed in the legal structure of South Africa was of unique interest. The South African media system exists within a symbolic Apartheid system of its own. At one hand of the media spectrum was the South African Broadcasting Corporation(SABC), the state monopoly for all television and almost all radio, and served as the arm of the state. On the other hand were the print media and organs of the African labor unions and communities, which focused on particular grievances caused by living under apartheid. In the middle was the establishment press: there was the Afrikaans loyalist press along with its assertive and dissenting wing on the right.
Next came the English newspapers and magazines which ranged from apolitical sex and soccer tabloids, to brave antiApartheid journals mostly from the left. Also, there were student and church publications with political viewpoints; usually from a sharply left or right perspective. Lastly, there were the non-broadcast audiovisual media, from rock to reggae, 'volk' to Mbaqanga music, live theater and movie houses and funeral orations to community-based meetings and rallies, and the like.
The technological communications media ecology was dominated by SABC, which was fiercely loyal to the Apartheid government. It accounted for nine out of ten radio listeners and TV viewers. It was also dominated by a section made up of four commercial media corporations, similar to those that dominated print media. Only three of the country's two dozen racially and linguistically targeted radio stations were not controlled by the Pretoria regime through the SABC. Of the three, two were owned by the Homeland governments: Radio Bop(Bophutatswana) and Capital Radio(Transkei). The third one was owned by the Press Conglomerates and operated from the Bophutatswana Bantustan (Tomaselli R. and Thomaselli K., 1987)
Four of the country's five TV Stations were run by SABC. The fifth was controlled by the four print media groups. With the exception of two Bantustan stations and the press owned M-Net TV Station, which broadcast nondescript content and substance; both radio and TV in South Africa broadcast words and images of the world that were powerfully pro-government and pro-Apartheid. All broadcast media was commercial because they all relied on advertising and consumer revenues. The press barons had not been slow in recognizing that bad new meant bad business.
And South Africa's print media involved first and foremost, business ventures, as has been discussed above. Print media ownership, as stated above in the Hub, was concentrated in the hand of four press groups, and three of these, Argus, Times Limited(TML) and Nasionale Pers were owned and controlled by Anglo American Corporation and Sanlam Giants, respectively of English and Afrikaner Capital. (Giffard, 1980). Anglo and Sanlam also owned or controlled, through their press of subsidiaries, the country's paper cartel, its three print media centers, network and the national news agency wire service(Lacob, 1982). The fourth of the print media giants, Perskor, was equally tied into Afrikaner capital through effective control by the Rembrandt Corporation and the Volkskas Bank (Pogrund, 1976).
Clearly all organs of media companies were white owned and controlled, as is still the case today.
By this time, the Argus newspaper, the biggest of the four, accounted for more than 55 percent of all daily newspapers bought in South Africa. In surveying the media environment in South Africa, it must be borne in mind that most South Africans had limited access on what they read. South Africa, with a largely educated white population - 3 million,(See My Hub on "African South Africans and the June 16 1976 Revolt: Sad Times, Bad Times - Aluta Kontinua, AMANDLA, POWER!), and a middle class of only 4 million Africans who were literate out of 30 million Africans and has a low circulation of print media (Sparks, 1988)
By 1960, twelve years after the Nationalist came to power, the police fired on African demonstrators in Sharpeville, and this came to be known as the 'Sharpeville massacre. The police slaughtered people like cattle; shooting them from behind as they tried to run away, and it was officially estimated that sixty-eight people died from that massacre. The Suppression of Communism Act, passed shortly thereafter, gave the government power and excuse to execute demonstrators. But the violence did not abate after the law was enacted. The hot points on the the calendar of grievances, form the 1960 massacre,to the 1985-1987 States of Emergencies, resulted in thousands of deaths and detention (Spong, 1986)
A sampling of the powers that the government held and has exercised, indicates the scope of the restraints on the freedom of the press:
a. The government had unlimited power to close down newspapers as it did in 1977 with The World and the Weekend World, and the successors, The Post and The Sunday Post(1979), New Nation (1987), Rand daily Mail (1986), etc.
b. A more insidious power, because its exercise was not widely known or understood, was the requirement that a new newspaper register and deposit R40,000.00 ($20,000.00), as a guarantee of 'good behavior' which may be forfeited if the publication errs in the opinion of the government do the day. An untold number of small papers, reflecting African and dissident opinion, had in effect been smothered in the cribs by this extreme form of registration power.
c. Authorities can achieve a measure of press control by banning the journalists themselves -- those whose stories, associations, or activities displease government officials. This power has been exercised with great frequency in the 1980s, particularly against black journalists associated with black trade union, MWASA. Banned persons could not attend meetings, whether political, social, or business. And this was done as an effort to put people under 'house arrest'. The banning of a journalist, black or white, was a harsh action, denying them jobs, livelihood, and severely restricting their personal freedom in general.
d. Even harsher than banning was detention, especially if the dreaded Section Six of the Terrorism Act was invoked. Detention provisions were devoid of due process. They included arbitrary arrest and incarceration without charges of trial for indefinite periods of time. Journalists could and did disappear for long periods, as a number of black reporters did while covering the Soweto Uprisings in June 1976 and in 1984.
e. Further, journalists were subject to prosecution under sweeping laws such as the Official Secrets Act, Terrorism Act, Prison Act, Defense and Police Acts. This were particularly onerous to the press because reporters must in effect get Ministerial permission to publish any story in these important areas (Mathew, 1981)Much of the laws restricting the press and journalists were related to the vas legal and bureaucratic structures that maintained the Apartheid regime.
Understanding press controls in Apartheid South Africa required an understanding of the political system by which the country was governed. Legislative power was, until 1984, vested in a central parliament consisting of a lower house (House of Assembly), the President's Council and the State President. (In 1981, the Upper House [Senate], was replaced by the President's Council.)
Political power was concentrated in the House of Assembly made up of 165 White members, elected by White voters only in single member constituency. The State President was Constitutional ceremonial figure-head with powers similar to the Queen of England or the Governor general.
In the general elections of 1981, the National Party registered its ninth successive victory, scoring the biggest electoral margin since 1910. The party was returned to power with a majority of 97 seats, winning 131 of the Assembly's 165 directly elected seats. On September 9 1983, the Nationalist, with Botha at the Helm, pushed through parliament a new constitutional structure that would dramatically reshape the Westminister parliamentary system. Under the system, segregated chambers were set for Coloreds and Indians, but Africans were left out.
By 1984, the African majority had not yet been represented in the Central Parliament and the Provincial Council which had limited legislative power over the four Provinces(Natal, Transvaal, Orange Free State and the Cape). This was due to the fat that by the 1970s, the state of White rule in South Africa was not democratic, but authoritarian. It could be aptly described as a "pigmentocracy'' in which all political power was vested in the White oligarchy, which was controlled by an Afrikaner elite. This condition remains to this day in some form or another.
The liberal Press was reduced to insecurity and near impotence. It did not have the power to attack Apartheid contradiction. The English dailies were impeded from discovering and reporting critically on Constitutional reforms. The direction of laws over the past forty-plus years had ensured that, to the extent South Africa remains a democracy,it would be a progressively less accountable one. Mathews noted: "When absolute power is versed in the political authorities, a carping press seeks to present fundamental alternatives. Its role becomes subversive in the minds of men who are not accustomed to having their judgement qualified or seriously called into question by others.
The press tends to focus on the moral shortcomings of government policy and actions. It is a kind of moral mirror in which the government sees its own image and the sight was not a frequently pretty one. This explains the irrational outbursts against the newspapers. They produce a discomfort of conscience which is irrationally countered by transforming the press into a traitorous enemy ranking with, if not, beyond the Communist, the ANC, etc. (Mathew, 1981) This is precisely what is happening with the ANC and its coalition partners in its relationship with print media and various other media organs.
Elaine Potter had earlier observed that: "In the Nationalist government's campaign against the independent press, the government had two primary objectives: First, it sought to safeguard its political principles; and second, to ensure its ideology was not merely the policy of a political party which chanced to be in office, but a fundamental 'truth' against which only the press was blasphemous. The importance of this for the press was the growing tendency to identify all opposition to Apartheid with subversion and criticism of it defender with treason.
Thus, in seeking to secure itself in office and to eliminate all serious opposition to its Apartheid ideology, the Nationalist government arrogated to itself very extensive powers. There can be little argument that the government had provided itself with machinery to limit freedom of its institutional opponents(Potter, 1975) The ANC is beginning the baby-steps of arrogating power to itself by proposing the Protection of information Act and have a media tribunal answerable to the Parliament.
The multitude of wide-ranging laws enacted over the past fifty something years, created very immediate and practical problems for reporters and editors attempting to gather and publish news.These laws imposed a sense of self-censorship on the part of the press. Below a review a short summation of the laws that controlled and created an Apartheid Media are Environment are discussed(both Print and Electronic):
1. The Internal Security Act
Enacted in 1950 as the Suppression of Communism Act, this Act made it an offense to advocate, advice, defend, or encourage the achievement of any objective of communism. The Act provided that any newspaper deemed to be 'furthering' the objectives of Communism can be banned. This Act made it an offense to publish anything said or written on any person banned under the Act.
2. Sabotage Act
This Act was dealt with under the General Law Amendment Act of 1962 which required that care be taken to ensure that news reports, articles, or stories could not be construed as incitement, instigation, or aid to endanger, among other things, the maintenance of law and order. Under this law, journalists could be detained incommunicado for up to 180 days or indefinitely. Habeas corpus was specifically rendered impossible. There was also provision for a 14 day detention, renewable indefinitely, for 'interrogation'. Under this provision, the police had to place an affidavit before a judge to justify any detention. The detainee was not allowed or entitled to know the allegations presented to the judge by the police. Again, habeas corpus was excluded.
3. Terrorism Act
This Act regarded terrorism as any action which would endanger the maintenance of law and order; causing general disturbance; furthering any political aims (including social or economic changes) by forcible means or with the aid of any foreign government or body causing feelings of hostility between Whites and Backs; promoting the achievement of any objective by intimidation; prejudicing the operation of industry and commerce.
In this instance, the state had to show that the accused intended to endanger law and order. Thus the onus shifted to the accused to prove that he or she did not have that intention. A finding of guilty under the Terrorism Act meant a compulsory minimum of five years imprisonment; the maximum penalty was death. The impact of this statute was immediately apparent. Letters to the editor, advertisement, political columns, editorials, and news stories containing matter which might be construed as conspiring, procuring to overthrow the state, were prohibited. This law intended to bolster the Apartheid regime, and also posed great dangers to journalists merely trying to report what was happening.
4. Unlawful Organization Act
This Act was enacted in 1960, and it was used to ban the AC and PAC. This Act proscribed newspapers from publishing ANC and PAC views abroad, or their underground material. Related to this legislation was the Affected Organization Act of 1974 which made it illegal or an offense to canvass foreign money for or on behalf of declared to be banned. Newspaper kept lists of such organizations as protection from harassment by the state.
5. Riotous Assemblies Act
This 1956 Act dealt with the area of 'promoting hostility' between races as the Bantu Administration Act of 1927 had made it an offense for anyone to promote hostility between blacks and whites. Secondly, if a person was prohibited from attending a meeting, nothing he or he said wrote, whether it was in the present, past or future, could be reported. Thirdly, a newspaper could be banned it in the government opinion, any cartoon, picture, article or advertisement was deemed to endanger race relations. Fourthly, it was an offense to publish anything that could have the consequences of inciting others to violence.
6. Official Secrets Act
This Act proscribed the communication of anything relating to munitions of war or any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interest of the Republic of South Africa. Penalties were severe -- up to fifteen years imprisonment. In practice, it served to place severe restrictions on reporting anything to do with security. This was put into effect in conjunction with the Defense Act of 1957, which restricted reportage of military matters, including reprinting reports appearing in foreign newspapers. Newspapers were not allowed to publish stories which 'alarm or depress' the public.
7. Prison Act of 1959 and 1965
The key section of this law affecting the press, prohibited publication of any false information about the experiences in prison of any prisoner or ex-prisoner or administration of any prison without taking reasonable steps to verify such information. The burden of proving that such steps were taken, were on the accused. What constituted reasonable steps was not clearly spelled-out. The reporter was expected to first very everything he or she wanted to publish, first with the prison department, and could only publish if the prisons department confirmed the story.
8. Police Amendment Act
The most oppressive was the second Police Amendment Act of 1979, which made it an offense to publish 'any untrue' matter about the police 'without having reasonable ground for believing that the statement was true.' The onus of proof was on the newspaper and the maximum penalty was R10,000.00($1,500) fine or up to five years imprisonment. This Act spawned distrust because it gave immunity to the police from the press and public scrutiny. The Prisons Act affected a relatively small community, but the Police Amendment Act affected very much larger proportion of the population.
9. Advocate General Act
This 1979 law created the office of the Advocate General. Under this law, no person may, without permission of the Advocate General, disclose to any other person (journalists included) the content of any document in the possession of the Advocate General. The Act did not interfere with the traditional freedom of parliamentary debate. However, in practice, government members of parliament may, when confronted with alleged corruption, merely referred the accuser to the Advocate General; this, in effect, replaced the opposition's role as the watchdog over corruption with investigation by the Advocate General.
10. Protection of Information Act
In June 1982, parliament passed the Protection of Information Act which provided for several wide restrictions on the public's right to know. It provided jail sentences of up to ten years for the unauthorized disclosure of information relating 'security matters or the prevention or combating of terrorism'. The onus was on the editor to prove that any facts he published could not be construed as prejudicial to state interests.
11. National Key Points Act
The National Key Points Act was a 1980 law permitting the government to designate certain crisis areas, such as the scene of the terrorist bombing, as off limits for journalists. This bill was keeping within the present legislative policy of suppressing information about hostile acts directed against the state and strategic installation. The intent of the Act was to subject news of an act to sabotage at any 'key' installations (such as the Sasol Coal and gasification project) for approval by the military authority before publication.
12. Petroleum Products Amendment Act
This 1978 Act was another law restricting press coverage. Journalists faced fines of up to R20,000($2,800) and seven years imprisonment for publishing without Ministerial permission, information about the source, manufacture, or storage of any petroleum produced or acquired by South Africa. Similar restriction concerning the stockpiling of strategic commodities were imposed under the National Supplies Procurement Amendment Act of 1979. This Act empowered rather than obscure government officials, The Minister of Industries, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, that whenever they deemed it expedient or necessary, publish a notice in the Government Gazette, prohibiting the disclosure of any information regarding any goods or services.
13. The Atomic Energy Act of 1973
This Act imposed severe penalties for unauthorized publication of information about uranium or thorium, nuclear research, and many activities of the Atomic Energy Board by the press.
14. The Hazardous Substance Act of 1973
This statute made it an offense for anyone, journalists included, to refuse to give information about such material to an inspector who demanded the information or explanation. Broadly speaking, a hazardous substance is one which had toxic, corrosive, radioactive or flammable propertied, or is an electric product.
15. The Radio Act of 1952
This Act made it an offense to intercept and publish radio communication which a person was not authorized to received. News reporters were not allowed to monitor the ambulance, police, the fire department, or army signals to pick up tips.
In short, all the above stated laws fell into three categories:
First, were laws that curtailed individual freedoms in such a manner as to harm press freedom as well. The Internal Security Act provided for the 'banning' of individuals, and preventing them from writing or being quoted by the press. The Unlawful organizations Act made it an offense to publish anything that was construed as 'furthering' the aims of proscribed organizations such as the ANC, PAC, etc., (this law was later scrapped).
Laws of the second type forbid publication of certain information without permission, on topics such as atomic energy and oil supplies. Reporting on the South African Defense Force was drastically limited by the Defense Act. In 1975, this law was used to keep South Africans from knowing the army's full scale war in Angola. The publications Act empowered a government agency to ban 'undesirable' material. Undesirable material was defined quite broadly, and included matter considered prejudicial to the safety of the state, or the general welfare of the society
The third category of laws included those that do not ban sensitive topics outright, but instead, created legal hazards for publishers who might choose to cover them. For example, the Prisons Act made impossible and an offense to publish false information about prisons without taking 'reasonable' steps to ensure it's accuracy. A similar law governed reporting on may areas of activity such as police, defense, prisons, official secrets, key points, oil supply, nuclear energy, the quoting of banned persons, or promoting the aims of banned organizations, or publishing on prisons and prisoners(Stuart, 1982)
From the above laws, the government erected a more rigid mechanism of control. Despite these laws, the South Africa press was able to exploit a wide margin to publish news and comments that were critical of the government. The public had the English press as an alternative to propaganda of the state controlled television, radio and film (Tomaselli R. and Tomaselli K., 1987)
On July 20, President Botha declared the firs State of Emergency. It authorized the police to close off areas in the Townships, and to block the publication of news or comments concerning the State of Emergency or its enforcement. The State of Emergency also barred publishing names of detainees without authorization. These emergency powers buttressed the already existing draconian legislation through enabling the security forces to operate under conditions resembling martial law in thirty-six affected areas. But the State of Emergency did not crush popular insurgency. Ominously, in the firs month after its declaration, the number of deaths attributed to political violence tripled(New York Times, 1985).
In August 1985, the bloodiest moth during the State of Emergency, more than 160 people were killed in politically related violence. By November 2, 1985, Botha clamped down on the media. He decreed that print reporters in unrest areas first seek police permission from the police. He forbade all camera crews, photographers, and radio reporters in the areas covered by the State of Emergency(Christian Science Monitor, 1985) - Also, read my Hub on: "Apartheid Genocide on Children: The Killing of African South African Kids from 1985 to beyond Y2K", and visit the picture gallery of the Hub to see what Botha was trying to avoid to be captured what they were doing in the Townships. In the Comment Section of the Hub I wrote: "Cry the Beloved Peoples: An In-Depth View of How the Apartheidizers Blame the Victims in Contemporary South Africa."
A comment made by "Ike" in the comment box of this Hub has posted links of the whole Apartheid saga and pictures which were not those that were eliminated nor shredded by the Apartheid regime on its ways, needs to be viewed to comprehend fully what apartheid and its minions were up to.
The government blamed the media for being part of the violence syndrome; and claimed that the presence of reporters contributed to the unrest. But the unrest did not subside in the following months: the tally of deaths related to political violence remained high up to mid-December 1986. The government's motives for imposing these restrictions had less to do with 'curtailing bloodshed, but more to do with politics in South Africa, and getting the story off the television screens domestically and internationally'(Sperling and McKenzie, 1990)
In an address to parliament, Botha claimed that from September 1984 to April 1986, an estimated '508 people, mostly blacks, were brutally murdered by radical blacks'. In addition, he affirmed that, 'no less than 1,417 black owned businesses, 4,435 private homes [including 814 homes of black policemen], 28 churches, 54 community centers, several hundred schools and a number of clinics that served the black community were either damaged or badly destroyed or gutted by petrol bombs or other forms of arson'. (New York Times, 1986; Cowel, A., 1985; Rule, 1985).
To curb the violence and ban the cameras on the scene, Botha extended the prohibition of covering unrests throughout the country. Journalists could not quote or publish any statement deemed 'subversive,' a term that was broadly defined and included anything likely to have the effect of promoting civil disobedience, or any objective of an unlawful organization.
Until December 1986, the focus of press restrictions had been to black out news about the political violence and what the security forces were doing in the townships. On December 12, 1986, it became a violation of the emergency restrictions to report on boycotts, 'restricted gatherings', unlawful political structures such as the 'peoples courts', and circumstances of refugees (Weekly Mail, 1986).
The December decree also broadened the definition of banned 'subversive' statements to cover basically anything deemed to encourage resistance to authorities. And, in a step towards prior censorship, the government advised news organ to telex articles to a newly created censor's office if, in the editors judgement, their content might come under the emergency rule restrictions (James, 1987)
In January 1987, the commissioner of Police banned ads and reports it perceived to further the cause of 'unlawful organizations'. In August 1987, other emergency regulations were instituted. This phase encompassed 'promoting of fanning the breaking own of public order' and fomenting feelings of hatred... towards local authorities or security forces' (Sechaba, 1986; Guardian, 1984; ANC News Briefings, 1984)
By 1988, The South African Apartheid regime had placed several key emergency press restrictions
a. No reporters, print or broadcast, local or foreign was to be within sight of the unrest;
b. no unauthorized news or comment concerning the unrest or security forces actions;
c. no making of quoting 'subversive' statements;
d. no systematic or repeated publication of 'revolution-supportive' material;
e. no unauthorized reports on conditions of detainees, or on various forms of non-violent protest activities, and on unlawful local political structures, such as the 'peoples courts.'
Any journalists who violated these emergency decrees were punished by a fine of up to R20,000 or ten years in prison. In some cases, both. These press restrictions were aimed at thwarting one of the essential components of a democracy: the free flow of information and ideas that enabled citizen to make informed political decisions. The government sought to achieve this objective in three ways.
Firstly, these restrictions aimed to calm the White minority by keeping them ignorant o the events in the Townships. Botha's government was politically dependent on appearing firmly in control while pursing is gradual and very limited program of reform.
Secondly, the government wanted to deprive the foreign audiences of information on what was happening in south Africa in order to diffuse international political and economic pressure.
Thirdly, by hampering the abilities of the press to cover most activities of the anti-Apartheid movements, Botha was able to distort political life by denying access to the media of the country''s main political forces.
By purposely making the restrictions vague, and by enforcing them unevenly, the state managed to keep journalists off-balance. Most editors had stopped trying to clear their copy before publication, but erred on the side of caution when running the story, thereby acquiescing de facto in the strictures. Eventually, those restrictions containing loopholes and inviting circumvention, were usually closed-off by the publication of amended executive orders under the State of Emergency.
Finally, it was fact and information more than opinion that were restricted by these regulations. What these media restrictions limited most was the ability of South Africans and the World to know the full story of events that lay behind the editorials of South Africa as dictated by the Apartheid State legislature, capital and military interests, through coercion of Africans. Those who trumpet the virtues of Apartheid and its shenanigans, are mere adding insult to injury on the African people who are still suffering the 'after-effects' of Apartheid.
The whole new thing of Blaming the Victims of Apartheid on the Internet, is another one of the many abuses that Africans have to suffer, and the world, through the World Wide Web, have to listen to. Articles like this one,are written with the History of Apartheid in mind, and the new media under the ANC-led government,and trying very hard to show the differences and progress that has been made thus far, and yet seems to be plodding down the same road as Apartheid's muzzling of the media.
Post Apartheid Democratic Free Media
Between 1950 and 1990, more than 100 laws affecting the media were passed by the apartheid regime. It is important to note that in 2004, South Africa was marking ten years of operation in a free legal environment of democracy. This has had a positive impact on the media, and the media, in a way, has helped to consolidate tis new democracy. But this relationship, that of the press, vis-a-vis government is a very mixed one. The quality of journalism under this new ANC-led government has begun to change. At this juncture,it is important to look at the past 16 years of journalism in south Africa, and what is happening today between the ANC-led Government and the media.
To put this history in perspective, the KAF Democracy Report of 2005, stated that: "South Africa has an adult population (people aged 15 and over) of 26 million about 12 to 13 million had less than a full general education; about 7.4 to 8.5 million have less than grade 7(often used as an education-level indicator of sustainable, functional literacy) and about 2.9 to 4.2 million people are estimated to have had no schooling at all, and are presumably functionally illiterate. These are the leftovers of and affects of the Apartheid rule which created poor educational infrastructures, especially in the rural areas. The Present government has begun to address the backlog by providing adult basic education and training(ABET) and compulsory schooling for all children from grades 1 to 10."
This is important , but if one were to look much more deeper into the newly created Educational system, there seems to be more failures and in schools and chaos as it regards the curriculum. With education being overhauled, we look at the short history of the Media and communication organs in the era of the ANC-led government.
The History of the Media in the Age of ANC-led Democracy
The New Media Structure under Apartheid:
The KAF Democracy Repot of 2005 further informs us thus: South Africa enjoys a great rage of local and national independent media compared to other countries on the continent. The National Broadcaster, The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) owns 21 radio station of which several broadcast in the country's 12 official languages. SABC also own four TV Stations - SABC 123 and SABC Africa, which beams out via satellite company DSTV into the rest of Africa. The independent Communications regulator, ICASA, recently gave SABC two regional television stations that will broadcast local content exclusively in the country's indigenous languages.
There are 80 functional community radio stations operating in the country's 9 provinces; a recently published White Paper has been published which proposes the framework for the establishment of community television in the country. There are 14 private commercial radio operators that broadcast in a range of formats from adult contemporary music, to jazz, classical music, youth and current affairs. The footprint stretches across major metropolitan areas and provinces.
However, no private commercial radio station have been licensed to compete wit the public broadcaster monopoly. Recently, during the past two years leading to 2010, SABC has been embroiled in corruption wherein about R10-billion has been lost and the ANC has decided to insert their Man at the helm of the organization, and this has had some form of chilling affect and the giant monopoly is still facing an uncertain direction in its programing and management, that is, as of the writing of this Hub.
KAF Report continues: "E-TV is the country's only licensed free to air alternative programming to that of SABC. MNET is the country's only terrestrial pay-TV channel, while DSTV is a subscription TV Bouquet, broadcast via satellite to South Africa and several African Countries. Both MNET and DSTV are owned by Media Group Naspers, which is also a major publisher of South Africa Newspapers and Magazines."
This entity will also be given a brief historical look so as to understand its role in contemporary Media environment or ecology within South Africa and elsewhere. Nearly 20 daily independent newspapers titles are published in the country's commercial hubs and provinces. Only a handful of daily and weekly titles are circulated throughout the country , and this is due to the high costs of distribution. In 2001, an estimated 147 free sheets of 'knock and drop' papers became affiliated the now defunct Community Press Association.
These knock and drop titles, have a majority of them now owned by the media group, Caxton, are now being distributed freely to urban dwellers, generally those in affluent neighborhoods and districts. Newspapers are still a source of information for some urban dwellers that the buying and reading of newspaper is still one that is deeply entrenched in the urban readers.
Radio is till a very popular medium amongst South Africans, and it provides news, weather, musical programs, talk shows and religious services and music to a very part of the South African population. The KAF Democracy Report informs us that: "Radio is dominated by the three largest players, Kagiso, Primedia and African Media Enterprises, and newspapers by the print giants, Naspers, Johncom, Independent News and Caxton.
"These companies have diversified their interests into other media areas as well, including outdoor advertising, cinema and film distribution, advertising sales, Internet Publishing and magazines. Several are are looking northwards and intend to expand their empires into the rest of Africa."
The KAF Report continues to add that: "No political party own its own newspaper, except of the Ilanga, a newspaper printed in Zulu in KwaZulu Natal the Mandla Matla Trust, it is owned by the Inkatha Freedom Party. Although it is claimed that the owners do not interfere in the title's editorial independence, but the paper's allegiances are sometimes question due to its political Affiliation " Community ownership of newspapers in South Africa, along with TV and Radio, are still out of the question.
In essence, the structure of the media as it has been crafted under Apartheid, transitioned as it was into the new Age of the ANC-led government for the past 16 years.
When it comes to the Internet, the KAF Democracy Report states: "Political parties have used the Internet as an inexpensive means of disseminating their opinions in the public domain, with the ANC's online newsletter, ANC Today, becoming primary reading material for any political journalists. There is no censorship for online newspapers, the majority of which are shovelware for their print counterparts.
"The South Africa Advertising Research Foundation's All Media Products Survey(AMPS) estimates that almost 28 million people tune in to radio(of this figure, community radio accounts for about 4.5 million listeners) Due to the high costs of access, however, the Internet remains an elite medium.
"Research company, Worldwide Worx estimates that approximately 3.5 million South Africans (about 7.5 per cent of the total population) have access to the internet. The cost of television sets and the limitations of signal distribution means nd access to electircity mean only 14.6 million South Africans have access to television.
"An audience media survey conducted by South African NGO Genderlinks to look at news and current affairs consumption patterns among men and women in South Africa showed that: 49 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men get their main news fix from television [very often: 4], 34 per cent of men and women regard radio as the primary news source [often: 3] and 21 per cent of men and 15 per cent of women use newspapers 9 [occasionally: 2]. The Internet, by contrast is almost never used." (Berger)
Also as distinct from the pre-Apartheid era, the 1990s saw the rise of the Internet as another mass medium. While access in South Africa remans limited only mainly to the middle class white community, this outlet -- with its participative dimension -- has meant another way in which different views can be expressed, debated and disseminated. The state has generally sought to improve access to the use of ICTs through the development of multi-purpose centers in Townships and rural areas.
There is no censorship of the Internet though the Interception and Monitoring Act does allow the government to snoop on people's Internet usage and email among other things. Low internet access (about 3.5 million) is a consequence of poor government planning and a telecommunications monopoly by Telkom that has seen South Africans reportedly pay the highest on average call cost in the world.
Over the decade, there has been a drastic change in the media freedom environment. Government and media have attempted to engage constructively with each other, especially at national level through the South African National Editors Forum. However, tensions between government and the Fourth Estate do persist. Since 2000, a number of positive legislative changes have occurred which strengthen the media. These include the establishment of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) and the promulgation of a Freedom of Information Act.
In broadcasting, the publication of position papers on ownership and control of broadcasting services, local content quotas, regional and community television broadcasting, subscription broadcasting services and convergence legislation should strengthen and guide the sector and bolster South Africa's position as a world class broadcaster. Up to now, there was virtually no fear of repression, but there was trouble for the media looming in the immediate future: Media tribunal....
Hiding Bad Governance Behind Draconian Laws
South Africans, through the financing model at SABC, are inundated with cheap US programming and less indigenous talent, despite the local content quota. In the past few years, SABC wanted to separate itself into commercial and public service wings, with profits from government subsidizing SABC. This complex disentangling has been complicated by the fact that the public service wings will still carry advertising.
Overall, the impact of this funding model on democracy in the narrow sense is not necessarily negative. However, it means insufficient resources for programming in diverse languages, this could have repercussions on the language of empowerment and on the informational divide amongst citizens in South Africa. Another factor that endangers the credibility of journalism in South Africa has been the increasing commercialism of the media industry. Even SABC as a public broadcaster is substantially skewed in its contents due to this dynamic.
Part of this picture has also been an indiscriminate 'dumbing down' of content, and increase in sensationalism. But overall, the subsidized media -- including SABC - are independent and critical towards the government, but to a point. Further, the democratic standing of the media has been undermined by numerous violations of the boundary between advertising and editorial or programming content. Further, to an individual, editors complain about how much they have to concentrate on the business side of the media, such as on sales or on attracting audiences as ends in themselves, at the expense of being able to focus on editorial content and its intrinsic value.
This situation in turn reflects the historical decline in the power of the editors -- who nowadays report to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or to a board. Editing content is now often subservient to commercial agendas, and democratic consideration come second . (KAF Democracy Report 2005) Some now feel that the new government, because of its dysfunctional role as a government, is now using the Media tribunal as a deflection from the malfunctioning of its state policies.
The state that the government is hiding its bad governance behind draconian laws akin to those of the Apartheid era. Joe Thloloe puts it this way: "The started in the early 1960s when the National Party government was threatening to regulate the media in the same way the ANC is doing now. To ward off that threat, the industry decided to create a media council."
Thloloe adds: "It is much of a political game than a real issue. There is no way of strengthening the Ombudsman as it is now functioning. The suggestions that are being thrown in the ANC Alliance at this point do not make sense. The jailing of journalists is absolute rubbish. Fining publications is a possibility, I don't think it will serve to improve the quality of journalism out.
"The sad thing is that if they go ahead, it will mean the taxpayers' money, as well as money from the newspapers, will be spent on lawyers fighting the matter right up to the Constitutional Court. I believe very firmly that the Constitutional Court will not uphold the statutory tribunal for the simple reason that it goes against the principles enshrined in the Constitution."
"The present government is not addressing issues of corruption, cronyism, nepotism and the tenderpreuners scandals that are putting it in a bad light both locally and internationally. This have made the poor Africans and other minorities in a tenuous position." John Porter on the M&G public comment boxes wrote: "The ANC have absolutely no bloody clue how to govern, or what government means, or how it works or what a democracy is."
To say something like 'we to have a right to express ourselves,' (as echoed by Mthembu when addressing the press in Johannesburg), is utterly farcical. This really beggars belief and shows the kind of stupidity we are dealing with since the ANC sees itself as a party, as state, as liberators, as the public -- as running all aspects of South African civil society. This kind of arrogance is bordering on lunacy -- clearly we see the delusional ANC for what it is. The ANC has lost the plot, and there is no hope as long as they are in power.
New Threat To Media Freedom
The Mail and Guardian reports that, "The Law Society of south Africa (LSSA) on Friday expressed concern about the draft Protection of Information Bill and the proposed Media Tribunal, saying they were 'unconstitutionally suspect'." Max Boqwana and Peter Horn said in a joint statement that the two measures threatened to undermine press freedom, which was a fundamental pillar of democracy. They said that the draft Bill and tribunal had the potential to erode transparency, accountability by public officials, and the public's right of access to information and media freedom.
They also saw the Bill as suffering several defects which rendered it Constitutionally suspect and which needed further consideration. The stated that it was so broad that it could potentially cover every aspect of a citizen's life. The thresholds for classification set out in the Bill were unacceptably low and would allow for information to be classified on the basis of harm that was hypothetical and speculative. For example, a document could be deemed as "classified" it "maybe harmful" to the "national interest". Mail and Guardian, 2010)
The Bill allowed classification of commercial information held by the state, including commercial information belonging to private companies. (Maybe this includes Naspers, whose information and connections to the world economy and media, and the ANC will be discussed bellow -- my addition). Boqwana and Horn say that the Bill also did not provide for an independent oversight mechanism to review classification decisions.
It has thus left the final decisions in this regard in the hands of state officials who might well have an interest in continuing to conceal certain information. The Bill would further legislate a number of criminal offenses, without proposing any public interest indemnity or these criminal offenses. The result is that the offenses will inevitably censor the publication of matters of public interest by the media and others.
Whereas the LSSA recognizes the legitimate need for every government to take steps to protect information that is crucial for national security, such legislation should be narrowly tailored and should not be drafted in a manner that fails to take into account the important role played in a democracy by the media, and indeed every citizen who seeks to expose corruption, nepotism,hypocrisy and maladministration," Boqwana and Horn said.
The Mail and Guardian continues quoting Boqwana and Worn who went on to add that they accepted that the media had a duty to report fairly, objectively and responsively. This was so in view of the powerful position the media occupied in society, However, the LSSA was greatly concerned bout the suggestion that the media required external regulation.
They say that what appears to be envisaged is a government-appointed 'independent' tribunal which would serve as a forum for appealing decision made by the press ombudsman, and which would be accountable to parliament. The fact that the tribunal would be accountable to Parliament was cold comfort. Ultimately what this would amount to, was, government oversight over the media, which could not be countenanced in a democratic state.
Looking at the media today, one sees a self-targeting and self-selecting media of the wealthy classes with papers like the Sunday Times, The Argus and the Mail and Guardian. According the David J. Smith:
"They don't speak to ordinary people of this country. You and me may think of ourselves as everyday blokes, the man on the street, but we are not. We have the Internet, we have a street, we have a house and a car and all that.
"I am talking about the guy who walks the street, catches a taxi to work, gets his pay cheque in a manila envelope, has an ID book and not a passport. These are the people who can actually change governments in this country, these are the people who brought down the last government and they can bring down this government.
"But the only newspapers aimed at them are hokey tabloids like the Daily Sun and Die Son. Papers that think a story if a headless chicken possessed by demons is more interesting than a government possessed by demons.
"Even a paper like the Sowetan that does a fairly good job of straddling the middle class and the working class , spends most of its energy covering celebrity news and glitzy bling blah. If the media is going to actually make a dent and fight corruption, it needs to speak to JZ's voter base.
"The people who are NOT reading this blog post on their boss's dime. Tell them why our government is rubbish, talk to them about the corruption that runs through the halls of Parliament. Speaking to people like me and you is like backing the DA. A waste of time.
"If the media is going to actually make a dent and fight corruption, it needs to tell the people why our government is rubbish and what it is not doing and doing that which is right and wrong." The people are smart enough to sort out the information disseminated to them, along with their own personal experiences inserted,by them, in the mix and midst of their analysis of the news, or reportage."
This proposed Information Bill proposed by the ANC has proponents pointing out that this Bill is unconstitutional because freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution. They add that it is essential for any liberal democracy to have a free press and an independent one. They observe that it is against the Constitution for the ruling party to insulate itself into the organ of the state, and in the process distance themselves further away from their constituents. They thus cite:
A Case For African Media Consumers
Financial models also impact on the democratic role of the public broadcaster. The SABC draws most of its revenue from advertising; license fees just yields 13%. This is not only unpopular with commercial broadcasters, who resent amongst other things the power of the corporation to bulk market its outlets to advertisers. It has also attracted severe criticism from civil society, and even from the ANC, for what is seen as a commercial agenda that compromises public service programming -- especially in regard to transmission in the minority languages of news presentation and programming, this doe to the country's 12 official tongues, and the people who speak this language.
This in a way creates a chasm of news dissemination, distribution and consumption of information (news , etc.) between the minority language speakers who are targeted by the press, and the majority 9 language speakers of the country. Some accuse the majority in their news dissemination, of incidents, true or false, that might happen(as in the case of Xenophobia) and other accusatory news or information, to sell papers, and misinform their minority consumers(A legacy of news presentation and reportage acquired during the Apartheid Era). Unathi, below, presents the African side of media dissemination, consumption and analysis as it pertain to the Africans in South Africa.
Unathi Qondile, after question the media's dissemination of Xenophobia stories that the press had been trying to spread post-World Cup, addresses the question of the media and its ignoring of Africa people and painting a picture that does not exist about them:
"It takes a sick soul to conjure up xenophobia rumors; it takes even a sicker media to spread such news without taking into account the foreseeable impact. I have long held the view that the media in South Africa has no bearing or relation to the majority of this country. It serves a minority and whenever it does attempt to serve the majority,it is to relay moral panic and instill fear for or against the actual majority(Africans-my addition). For example, there is this overriding perception that there is more crime in the suburbs and white people are targeted in the cities.
And as such, one will find that most crime reporting tends to lean towards Rolex gangs, drive-way shootings, etc. Yet, I can for a fact state that there is more crime in the rural areas and townships than there is in cities regardless of proportions or relativity theories. You just do not find those day-to-day stories in the media. They are insignificant. No 'public-worthy' [public- minorities]. So, why the particular fascination with xenophobic attacks? For as long as 1997, I have known foreign nationals to be not welcome in townships.
Terms such as 'makwerekwere' were even in Boom Shaka(and Brendas's my addition) songs in the 1990s discussing the matter of foreign nationals in black communities. But get this: "In 2000 or thereabout, a South African general dealer and bar owner I knew was hijacked, dragged in his store, robbed, tied up and burnt together with his store. In Centane, Ngqamakwe and surrounds black South Africa shop owners or farmers carry 9mm pistols under the 'bakkie' seats.
They tend to buy 'bakkies' that are similar in color - white or cream to avoid being easily targeted. "Amakhwenkwe aselalini abhokile" is what they say. By day the perpetrators are drugged out shy boys loitering the streets of townships. By night, none dare cross their path - ask the local men, who are shot dead by kids no older than 14 years, on weekends, in Butterworth and its surrounds - they are dead."
Unathi further adds: "Ask a few local bottle store owners how many times their patrons have been shot dead or told to lie down as teir bars and shops are looted in broad daylight. I know of one that's been looted more than ten times and the owner won't budge. Still there, in Msobomvu township. Ask a few houses how many times they've been robbed this year alone. Ask how many children and grandmothers have been raped. Ask many young men have been ripped apart for their internal organs. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask,
"These are the stories of African South Africans, which are untold and largely irrelevant to the media's agenda. So, when foreign nationals enter these already ill communities, what do they expect? The matter is exacerbated by non-South African-ness. Your outsider status becomes a convenient excuse. And any form of ascending towards self sustenance, beyond the locals, in the midst of their poverty is what gets you targeted. It's not about where you come from; it's about what you have. The 'haves' versus the 'have-nots.
"And various senseless indiscriminate crimes driven by a sense of moral degeneration and decay also occur[From the days of Grand apartheid, to now-my addition]. This is the daily hustle of the Township and rural dwellers regardless of media categorizations of victims. These are the realities of those communities. Some have less, some have more. So, I ask again, why is the media particularly engrossed with reporting on xenophobia as just plainly xenophobic in it's manifestations?"
Unathi concludes: "I have also come to the conclusion that recent reports on the looming xenophobic attacks after the World Cup are dangerously misguided. It is understandable that xenophobic behavior is ongoing in townships. It is also understandable, in my terms, that the media stokes them. The concept of a media is something that was let behind when democracy was snatched in 1994. It was overlooked and left largely untransformed in 'ownership' and 'agenda setting'. Therein lies the problem.
"People who run these 'things' do not understand how black rural South Africans consume the media. If they do, they have a wry way of showing it. I have, through research in days bygone, naturalistically as possible observed how in our culture,which is rich in narrative and story-telling techniques, nothing is as awe-inspiring as 'Indaba'(News) or Amabali. The Daily Sun's sales prove this over and over. Let alone the word-of-mouth added coverage Public service broadcaster news prove this over and over.
"In the process of consumption there is a lot of discussion, story telling and over-analyzing. Go sit in a train and you'll be amazed at the intense manner in which media subjects are handled in vernacular(local indigenous languages) I just don't know how African journalists cannot articulate this? Are they trapped and contained in rigid Western inverted-triangle ways of telling"
Unathi finally clarifies: "There is a different pattern of transmission and of understanding catchy headlines for such markets. 'Here comes Xenophobia!' -- literally means, it's coming and we must therefore unite and align ourselves with whomever is pursuing it. New literally set their agenda. So when newspapers start the liturgy of 'Xenophobia Attacks After World Cup,' I am quite sure many of the prospective perpetrators weren't aware of such, but took it as a fact. Yes, there was always xenophobic tension and post 2008 nostalgia."
Such headlines, thereafter, get discussed in trains,emotions run high and Bobs-your-uncle you have hate. Yes, I blame the media. The media sees this agenda based on their expectations of post World Cup drama(strikes, violence, etc.), because there was a guiding mentality of lets-behave-until-the-end-of-the-world-cup, which was sadly set by the government in its pronunciations against BRT and Taxi strikes, you name them. It is sad that after the unifying experience of the World Cup, these people now have to sit in trains discussing xenophobic headlines.
"'Shit stirrers,' at best, is how one can define this day's media. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying ours is a dumb consumer market. But I am saying ours is a culture that is initiated to destructive, cynical and Western notions of relaying news in vapid angles. Such that in isi-Xhosa, one could go as far as say, at first glance, "indima yeMedia kukuthelekisa* -- sadly value will be lost in translation, so I won't translate, it's along the lines of the 'media fuels fight'*. All I am saying is that "Xenophobia attacks" headlines give people a vocabulary and psyches them up. Careful, the power of a world is a culture whose words are littered with ambiguity."
Unathi in the end observes: "The media, in its powerful role, is operating on an oblivious plane in this country and is not mindful to the difference and ways of relaying news. As such, you will, without fail, constantly find politicians of the 'new dispensation' blaming the media, but unable to pin-point the exact nature of the problem. Well, let me tell you that the problem lies in the wording, tone and underlying suppressed ideologies[and 'memes'-my addition]. The facts might be correct, but the toe and wording is what breaks it down.
African culture of uBuntu does not espouse the subtle unpatriotic vitriolic ways of address. This might all seem glaringly anti-textbook journalism, it is. The media, its codes of conduct and general guidelines are not cast in stone and as such we need to work on ways that are all-inclusive and not necessarily civic in its duty, but striving towards the restoration of unity in south Africa. We are a healing nation, sensitive to long-standing shrewd media ways of the West.
For as long as we have demons of typing R2.00 per word articles/scripts, we are still far from the ideals of an African media renaissance (Unathi Kondile, Media Flaws, July 2010) Unathi is in total agreement with David Smith. The media needs to change its ways of news gathering and information dissemination to the majority poor, without any prejudices and biases. In so doing, the media will be well on the way towards helping South Africans more informed and equipped better to deal with their present situation
The Real Beginning: Media Tribunal
It is a bit clearer now that the history of the press and contemporary media organs that not much not changed. The new government is in cahoots, also in service of the past Apartheid media in using the African majorities through suggestive 'memes', and follow up that one two punch by blaming the victims they lured and manipulated using commercial media techniques. Helga Jansen says that we did not guard our democratic freedom jealously and vigorously. She goes on to say that:
"Beyond the activism of media workers and NGOS, all of these entities allowed political interests and political actors do it for us by letting them stand guards at the gates of a metaphorical constitutional hill, and watch out for those who will trample the hallowed grounds of democracy." Then she plunges in to this pitch: "Throughout this has been an 'independent' media, free to take up the baton for our responsibility towards our democracy. We allowed the media to become the "unofficial" opposition. The "serious journalism" of the 'trashy tabloids' and the "acres of middle-class whingeing" confirmed our worst nightmares, a black ruling party would degenerate into a banana kleptocracy.
"The trashy tabloids dulled any reporting or portrayal of working-class political opposition, while the English-speaking dailies entrenched racial fears of 'the other' through horror stories of black criminals violating innocent middle-class victims. Service-delivery failures, HIV/Aids denialism, the rape trials, and corruption tribulations of Zuma and other in the black government, and the imminent failure of the First African World Cup - these 'true' stories sold the newspapers." They also enticed the new government into assessing its increased chances of clamping-down on the media.
Helga Jansen talks about the interplay between the Government and the Commercial Media Moguls as follows: "The anti-government trend is not new in South African mainstream print media. This does not mean that genuine media investigative journalism into the irregular use of state resources is not needed, and necessary. But what passes as good journalism? Are our news rooms a healthy balance between journalistic experience and youthful enthusiasm or is it just youthful arrogance passing itself off as political journalism? However, as Jeremy Cronin calls it" '
"The oppositionist inclination is the media's view that it is the watchdog over those in power [usually those in political rather than economic power].' As deep disappointment and growing anger towards the African National Congress, seethed and settled, so the "independent" media fed this anger. And as they uncovered one 'truth' after another about the ANC, in the name of media freedom, they also sold newspapers by the ton loads, and helped shape our political and national identities, and perhaps also reinforced our prejudices, our Afro-pessimism. We brought this threat of the media on ourselves."
The core issue revolves around whether media people should behave as journalists first and foremost, and political beings second, and indeed what kind of journalists they should be -- watchdogs or development journalists. Most media, today, out of their own volition, support the government, though there are a number of exceptions to the support. For example, reportage on government policy on HIV-Aids and Zimbabwe had been almost universally negative. I contrast, there has been almost no critical debate about the government's orientation on economics. Instead, criticism of the latter has been about the implementation of policy rather than its intrinsic nature.
This is not to say that journalists' limited coverage of this issue means that they have become ideologues for the government as the commercial press has been like throughout apartheid rule. Coverage of issues such as government race-related redress policies is often robust. There are regular instigations into corruption or cronyism. There is thus in general no love lost between the media and the government, and there remains enormous suspicion amongst the ruling party politicians about the motives of what is still often seen as a "white-orientated and controlled media". This is what Mthembu talked about below, the overwhelming white ownership of print media which needs to be discussed as they will be talking about the media tribunal in September.
However, there are four areas of social life and identity that color journalism was not always conducive to democracy These are race, nationality, class and gender. In one sense the media can be said to be part of a broad thrust of nation building, in its effort to help construct a sense of a democratic and unitary South Africanism, notwithstanding, rifts and conflicts framed in racial terms. Three specific issues of social prejudice, however, continue to challenge the media's role in mediating, if not exacerbating(as discussed in Unathi's article above), social tensions.
The first is xenophobia against foreigners from other African countries, using language that tarnishes entire nations in the process. The second challenge is that a major continuing factor underpinning racial division in the society is economic inequality, and there the media have done little to help address the stark disparities in income between racial groups. While the small black middle class is indeed reported upon, poor people remain almost entirely out of the media loop[one asp recalls Unathi's article above at this point].
A third challenge is that despite the county's progress in advancing the position of women in all areas of life, women are still grossly under-represented in coverage. A study in 2002 revealed that only 19 per cent of news sources were women, and even worse, that black women (who constitute 45 per cent of the population) made up only 7 per cent of the total. Black men jade up 27 per cent f news sources and white men 32 per cent. Although there is some improvement, there's still a long way to go ensuring that the media do a better job in representing both quantitatively and qualitatively the social demographics of race, language, nationality, class and gender.
The ANC Throws Down The Gauntlet
Ineptitude; Inconsistencies; Inexperience
According to Guy Berger: "When the ANC looks at the media, it sees a reality that's quite different to fine-sounding rhetoric about the role of the press. Likewise, when the media looks at the tribunal proposal, it is similarly skeptical about whether the ANC's motives are honorable. At the same time, both perspectives also have telling blind spots:
* The media's critique of the ANC discussion document has, quite symptomatically, largely ignored the proposal around ownership change. (Which the ANC is now raising now of late)
* Meanwhile, the ANC document has absolutely nothing to say about the political and economic crises which have wrecked the SABC for the past three years.
In his article, "Taking the ANC Media Tribunal at Face Value" Guy Berger goes on to say: "
To start with, the discussion document says that the ANC respects media freedom. It calls for journalism that reflects on "how our souls are being poisoned by the spirit of conspicuous consumption in a socio-economic formation that encourages greed(..eh! The pot calling the kettle black! Uh-oh! -- my addition) One would have therefore thought that the exposes of high living would have been welcomed. Instead, however, the document motivates for the tribunal by proposing that "many who find themselves 'in the news' are unhappy about the way their story has been presented or the way journalists have obtained information."
It adds that "people need recourse when media freedom trampled their rights to dignity and privacy". (So, does "people", in this case maybe means ANC executives or what?"- my insertion) Berger continues to press on ahead: "Yet, supposing the document's authors genuinely see the tribunal as being in the broad public (rather than the narrow party("allegiance?"-interests, what is their reasoning? Here are the key assumptions embedded in their case:
* Unlike broadcasting, print media remains untransformed in terms of ownership and hence the newspapers retain an ideological outlook contrary to the ANC's within the "battle of ideas".
* This situation,combined with commercialization and ethical corruption, produce negative journalism. According to the discussion document, to date any journalist who "dared to acknowledge progress in the service delivery and government performance was condemned by peers as a lapdog".
*The masses do not have access to, or redress from, newspapers, hence diversity is limited. In particular, the existing self-regulation system is simply a self-serving gimmick by the press. My italics - Refer back to the citation I offered of Unathi Kondile)
* Contrary to all this, newspapers should be "instruments of transformation" in building a better South Africa.
* The ANC is a united political force guided by progressive values, enjoys a popular mandate and can be trusted to set things right. (?!) (Guy Berger, Mail & Guardian, 2010)
Helga Jansen quips: "The ANC too, however, played its part in creating the kind of media we have. We watched as our economy swayed from serving the people to serving "the ANC's embrace of neoliberal policies in the late 1990s -- the ANC pursued a largely market-led approach to media transformation". The foreign and largely white-owned print media reconsolidated after the mid-1990s and regained an entrenched foothold as the only kids on the print media bloc.
Black print ownership was edged out of the market though enormous costs of printing, and their own debt-funded equity -- think the rise, and quick demise of This Day. Over the years the ANC has pursued an anti-media diversity path, despite paying lip-service to the contrary. According to Media activist, Jane Duncan, there are several instances when the ANC rejected legislated levy fund for the Media Development and Diversity Agency, which was designed to ensure media diversity, was left powerless and underfunded.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation has been known to 'dump uneconomic audiences' in favor of those who attracted 'Ad Spend'. Community radio stations, instead of serving communities, chased the government and commercial advertising [cash]? -- To remain afloat. So far, the ANC has been in the same boat as the paper moguls and the Ad agencies and so on.
The ANC Pushes Back
The ANC posted on its Website: "ANC Condemns Attack on Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers Staying in Hotels":
The African National Congress (ANC) condemns as sensationalism of the highest order the perpetuation by some sections of the mainstream, that some Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers were wasting taxpayers' money by staying in "luxury" hotels while their State allocated houses were being refurbished by the Department of Public Works. This Media obsession with the so-called "luxury" as seen in reports about several ministers and deputy ministers, among other Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda, Deputy Communications Minister Dina Pule, who have stayed in hotels while their state allocated homes were being refurbished, reflects a dangerous trend in news reporting without establishing facts to back up the "wasteful expenditure" charge. The Facts are:
1. In line with the Ministerial Handbook and prescripts governing public representatives, Cabinet Ministers, Member of Parliament (MPs), provincial MECs and Members of Provincial Legislatures [MPLs] are entitled to stay in hotels while their permanent accommodation is not yet ready for occupation.
2. Ministers, MPs, MECs and MPLs are entitled to accommodation to be able to effectively carry out their public duties wherever they are.
3. There is nothing immoral, illegal or unconstitutional in public representatives staying in hotels as this is no breach of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) or the provisions of the Ministerial Handbook.
4. Regardless of political affiliation, MPs and MPLs have stayed in hotels when their State allocated accommodation was either being refurbished or not readily available.
The question that we should be asking is what informs this kind of reporting is merely meant to tarnish the public image of ANC representatives and the Ruling ANC. We can only conclude that this confirms our long-held suspicion that there exists a targeted campaign aimed at vilifying ANC ministers and deputy minsters. To stoop as low as to write about what ANC Ministers and Deputy ministers eat when the same cannot be said about members of the opposition parties, smacks of gross bias and abuse of Press Freedom.
This kind of journalism is not only mischievous, but disingenuous due to failure to properly inform the South African society about laws governing accommodation of public representatives.No luxury can be derived in staying and working from a hotel environment where you have no total privacy than staying in a proper home. The ANC appeals to members of the media to educate themselves about legislation governing accommodation of public representatives before jumping into dangerous conclusions. This unbalanced and sensational reporting without fact can only serve to give journalism a bad name, an issue the ANC will certainly take up with the press Ombudsman and other authorities. This excerpt was issued by Jackson Mthembu, National Spokesman on July 18 2010.
Gwede Mantashe posted on the ANC's official website an "ANC Media Statement" on 24 July 2010, which stated the following:
"The National Executive Committee [NEC] of the African National Congress [ANC] met over two days from 22-23 July 2010. The NEAC mainly focused on the preparations for the September National General Council (NGC) and examined urgent issues that required decisions.
The NEC thanked all South Africans,the various structures and formations in society for making the 2010 FIFA World Cup a success. We congratulate Bafana-Bafana(This sounds like stretching the issue further than need be-My addition), the FIFA Local organizing Committee(Still mired in tender scandals?) , SAFA(Was out of the picture, under FIFA), and all South Africans for the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Tournament.
South Africans should be encouraged to make more success in preserving the legacy of the World Cup. Members of the NEC were reminded that before the competition started, a national prayer was held in the Free State and it would therefore be appropriate to organize a thanksgiving prayer(Sounds like an American cultural Holiday from the Red Men-my insertion) for the 'incident-free' and successful world cup competition.
The NEC acknowledged that Bafana-Bafana were ranked 90(no, it was ranked 83, and 66 is still low-no pride here-my addition).It was also agreed that a celebration festival would add the necessary flavor to our celebrations, giving an opportunity to artists[Which? From Where?] and other key stakeholders[Those with Tenders, only to participate?]. The NEC also congratulated Louis Oosthuizen for taking the British Open(Hey, what about Caster Semenya, huh?)
Fienie Grobler reports: "The ruling African National congress [ANC] on Tuesday insisted that it did not want to curtail press freedom with a proposed media appeals tribunal, but warned that print media did not seem committed to transformation. "It is us who can gloat and say the freedom you enjoy is as a result of what we fought for, led by the ANC ... We are not about to reverse our legacy in that area," said Jackson Mthembu, ANC national spokesman.
According to Grobler, Mthembu was briefing the media about ANC's discussion document to set up a media appeals tribunal for the print media, saying the current self-regulatory system of the press ombudsman did not allow for punitive measures. Mthembu continues to add: "The media should not deny the ANC the right to 'put a view to the public'. Does that not amount to messing with our freedom of expression as the ANC? There's a lot of dishonesty ... you can't enter an argument by saying stop an argument.
You are defender of your space. The tribunal would be set up to "assist" editors and the ANC values media freedom. Which part [of the proposal] is unconstitutional? Which part wants to cap media freedom" None of our commas, none of our sentences, none of our wording has that ... it would not be allowed in South Africa. We are the people who fought for the freedom you enjoy today ... some of us died for it. We have put our view before you, and it is our right."
Mthembu, according to Grobler, said that the discussion document did not evolve around the proposed tribunal, but also looked at media ownership. Mthembu said: "Print media does not have, nor is in a process of developing a transformational charter, despite the the regrettable degree of transformation. Media24 had a 15% historically disadvantaged individual(HDI) ownership and AVUSA 25.5%."
We(the ANC) have proposed the Competition Commission 'investigate the anti-competitive dynamics' in the print-media value chain, that is paper, printing,publishing, distribution and advertising. (But what Mthembu is not saying is the relation of Naspers, with its ownership of Media 24 were in cahoots and it is explained below how this was happening)The ANC believes a media appeal tribunal was necessary to regulate the media, and would be similar to how broadcast media was regulated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.
The NEC came to the conclusion that there an exaggeration and sensationalism on the possibility of Xenophobic attacks. Security forces were commended for the intervention in containing the threat(Which one? Where? How? Any perpetrators?). The ANC branches were directed to be part of all the efforts to fight xenophobia(This is what Unathi Kondile was talking about. It was not only the press that was fomenting these xenophobic issues, but the government too) Mantashe goes on to discuss the Chikane files and says: "The NEC has noted the articles written by Rev.Chikane that appeared in the Independent Newspapers recently. It is in the character of the ANC to promote freedom of speech and free circulation of ideas and information within the ANC and broader society.
However, the publication of the Chikane files, especially aspects that purport to report in a distorted fashion NEC meetings when Rev. Chikane was not even present, is viewed in a very serious light(Meaning? Is this part of those who will fall under the media tribunal?) We therefore, call on our members and our people to be cautious in reading the Chikane files as they are not a gospel truth(this is vague, and not saying much) of the events that have unfolded in the recent past. As an ANC leader and member, the officials of the ANC, we will seek an audience with him(will the outcome be reported)? It seems like the ANC is saying that if you write something that we do not like, we will tell you what we want you to write that we like.
Repeat After Me......
According to Staff Reporter of M&G and SAPA, The South African Communist Party General Secretary, Blade Nzimande, "South Africa's media posed a threat to democracy" speaking at the party's 89th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg in Northwest on Sunday. Blade Nzimande, who holds the post of Minister of Higher Education and Training, described the self regulatory press Ombudsman as "toothless and useless" said: We know the importance of free media because it was the communist that went to jail for that. But we want a media tribunal that will hold journalists accountable. If there is one serious threat to our democracy, it is the media that is accountable to itself.
Does this mean that the media will have to repeat what they official prattle was about According to the Staff reporter, Joe Thloloe, the Ombudsman, warned on Friday that a tribunal would be an "imposition" on media freedom Joe added: "Any system imposed from outside the press itself will be an imposition and in violation of the Constitution. I was saying we were getting two different positions.
"The one, from Polokwane, that there will be an investigation into the possibility of a media tribunal ... But also, another position or is it [the tribunal] going ahead. I was told they are going to recommend that Parliament will do an investigation, and I would be happy to participate in the investigation, but what worries us are people who have already made up their minds."
According to the M&G, Business Day's Editor Peter Bruce, who said he will not be attending the meeting scheduled for Tuesday with the ANC, wrote, I just don't want to be part of any meetings whose object is make my country less of a democracy. If I go, and if other editors go, it will merely legitimize the ANC wants to do anyway -- they will be able to say they 'consulted' with the media. But not, at least, with me. This is not Vichy," Wrote Bruce.
The way the media gobbles up African newspapers, it is in the same manner as described above in the History of Apartheid Media. Not much has really changed if one were to rewind the facts presented above about how the media was put into the service Apartheid during the rule of the Nats, as the press is now be made to kow-tow to the whims of a self-aggrandizing and greedy predatory government ruling South Africa today.
As noted from Berger above, the document of the ANC says that it was voted into power on a platform of services that the government should deliver: job creation, rural development, land reform, better education and health, and combating crime and corruption. It observes: "It's not the stuff that sells newspapers and make news, but they are what people want. What is not highlighted is that people do not read 'pro-government "good news" newspapers, which makes for a problematic business model."
More generally, the document proposes that because the ANC stands for progressive change, "We must take change to ensure they dominate the national discourse and that our voice is heard clearly above the rest". This admission is made unashamed, because it assumes the correctness of the self-regarding view that the ANC is singular and that it intrinsically represents the public interests. Albert Camus wrote: "The slave begins by demanding justice and end by wanting to wear a crown. We must dominate in his turn." George Orwell in Animal farm stated:
"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." In the final analysis, the new government seems to e headed in the direction of telling the media what to print, show or say, or face the consequences of a media tribunal. We should not forget that in every case, throughout history, once power has been obtained,the ideals used to gain power fall away"
Media Police and Policing
The Hawks, who have replaced the Scorpions, arrested a Sunday Times Journalist called Mzilikazi wa Africa, dubbed a "very shady journalist". Sunday Times Editor, Hartley, say that was Africa was arrested by a large number of policemen in an operation which was clearly designed to intimidate the media. Mandy Rossouw of M&G writes: "The media appeals tribunal mooted by the ANC could include measures to imprison journalists of force them to pay millions of Rands in fines," said the party's national spokesman.
"If you have to go to prison, let it be. If you have to pay millions for defamation, let it be. If journalists have to be fired because they contribute to the South Africa we want, let it be," retorted Mthembu. He said they have no intentions of they won't change the constitution, thus changing the international perception of their government. "We are the authors of that Constitution. We have no intention of changing it," he said(M&G, 2010).
He intones: "Our impression is that the media has more freedom than all the freedoms that all of us enjoy. Media freedom superceeds all other freedoms." Mthembu felt that the current system of self-regulation by the Ombudsman was insufficient because it did not provide for sanctions. Mthembu pointed out that, "There are people who go out to smear other people and you have no way of sanctioning that," he said. "Some media reports don't go down well."
Some point out to the fact that the press has behaved irresponsibly on several levels:
- South African paparazzi journalists are free to hound law abiding citizens Brenda Fassie even made a song about them
- Slander Public officials at will, especially during the elections
- Concoct fake interviews to create Hysteria with total impunity(See Unathi's excerpt above)
- Journalistic standards are cast aside because there is no oversight by the media watchdog groups
- Pursue partisan agendas at the expense of broader public interest since South African media is owned and controlled by a single media conglomerate(Nasper, maybe?)
Following the reports on the hotel stays of the communications minister, Siphiwe Nyanda, the police minister, Nathi Mthetwa, and the higher education minister and communist Party boss, Blade Nzimande, the ANC released a statement lambasting the media for reporting on such matters. According to Mthembu, "The ANC had merely noted the initial reports, thinking that the media would see the folly in their ways. But we saw it was becoming a pattern and certain ministers are being singled out and we had to say something." The fire eating and breathing Malema said:
"There will be no debate over establishing a Media Appeals Tribunal. "We have already decided. We want Parliament to appoint a tribunal and make it law," stated Malema. Malema said that the Press Ombudsman could not be a player and a referee at the same time. Malema said that media should be regulated, in front of 500 delegates at the Free State ANCYL conference in Bloemfontein wherein he stated: "These people are dangerous. They write gossip and present it as facts." He said that the media destroyed the political career of ANC treasurer general, Mathews Phosa, on a rumor.
He argued that the press must "respect" the decision of the Conference, and anyone who disrespected and disrupted any Youth League conferences should be expelled from the party."(M&G) One has to start wondering who is the "Youth in the ANC Youth League". I guess that since its formation, the Youth League, still has the original members, who are now in the National Executive Council(Old Men), considered to be "Youth," To me, Malema and his cabal are not "Youth in the strictest sense of the word and meaning. It smacks of a cover for something else.
This can be gleaned in what he has been saying in regard to the proposed Tribunal. I think the youth have a lot on their minds and life to be worried about the Press Council; how about jobs, better education, housing, security, libraries, labs, better teachers, better curriculum, better and well organized sporting associations and teams, cultural and customary practices for the youth, drug rehabilitation enclaves and mentoring the youth on government and local governance, and so forth. Whilst the ANC and its supporters are busy chasing the Media around and trying to clamp it down, it would be fitting at this juncture to talk about the Case of Naspers and its national and international holdings, along with its relationship with ANC, and try to figure-out who is fooling who here.
Interrogating Naspers: Apartheid Inc.
We have already touched up on the that in 1914, J. B. M. Hertzog who formed the National Party, also formed Nasionale Pers the following year, along with a daily newspaper, De Burger, later known as Die Burger. In 1916 they formed their first magazined, Die Huisgenoot. In 1918, expanding further its book publishing operations, founded Die Burger Boekhandel. D. F. Malan was the one of the driving forces behind the exclusive Afrikaner secret society known as Die Afrikaner Broederbond which stated that: "The Afrikaner shall reach it ultimate destiny of domination in South Africa ... Brothers, our solution for South Africa's troubles is not that this o that party shall gain the upper hand, but that the Afrikaner Broederbond shall rule South Africa."
Medialternatives reports that: "In 1973-1977 The National Government under Vorster tried to purchase the Washington Star, and also set up a slush fund to acquire the Citizen and other English language papers. The Rand Daily Mail exposed this secret operation as the "Information Scandal". In 1984, Naspers acquired the Drum Publications, with titles consisting of City Press, Drum and True Love & Family. As well as a 50% interest in Jane Raphaely & Associates. In 1985, under P. W. Botha, Nasionale Pers entered into an arrangement with Perskor, the media group founded by HF Verwoerd and Publisher of Die Vaderland from an all-white, Afrikaner-owned electronic pay-television media business, called M-Net, the new entity eventually listed on the JSE Securities Exchange (JSE). In 1987, Naspers introduced the English Family magazine, 'You'.
The Underground Government in South Africa
The Case of Naspers:
According to the article by Medialternatives, The Truth And Reconciliation Committee(TRC) set up terms of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, No. 34 of 1995, based in Cape Town. The Commission's mandate was to bear witness to, record and in some cases grant amnesty to the perpetrators of crimes relating to Human rights violations, reparation and rehabilitation. Naspers publications published cartoons depicting Botha as the only man able to stand to the TRC. In 1997, the TRC held a special hearing into the media, comprising four sessions in Johannesburg, (15-17 September 1997). The Afrikaans press declines to make a submission to the Commission. Instead, it provides the commission with a copy of "Oor Grense Heen" the official history of Nasionale Pers(Naspers)This is what Medialternatives has to say about the TRC and Naspers:
"Volume 4 of the Final TRC report [pg. 180] observes: The history conceded that Die Burger, for instance, promoted Verwoerd's ideals of Bantustans from an early stage and that, after Sharpeville, the same newspaper advised that all positive aspects be speeded up. Occasionally, doubts about Apartheid surfaced, but in the main, the book reflects a total lack of concern for the company's support of the racist system. In the TRC's investigation into the role of the Afrikaner Press under Apartheid. Prof. Arrie de Beer appears in his personal capacity as "a former full-time journalist in the Afrikaans Press" and as a university media lecturer and media researcher(session 4) Media alternatives offers some nuggets from the Professor:
"There are many pseudo-legalistic and particularly sarcastically spiteful arguments in the Afrikaans media and elsewhere,why people or institutions should appear before the TRC. These are almost as cynically brutal as the friendly open faces of the people who testified in the Vlakplas and Hani cases as the perpetrators of these deeds, where they chose their words with great circumspection to condone the deeds before the TV and the public. The one point of view which was maintained in the Afrikaans Press, is that everything could be said about this matter has already been said in the Afrikaans language Press, and that adequate writing has taken place on this matter.
This is a question which everybody has to reply to for himself. But I am convinced that everything which the Afrikaner Press did during the apartheid years, collectively or individually, has been adequately answered. If one looks at the collective issue, whether the Afrikaner Press collectively had been keeping mum for too long about [crimes under Apartheid], it is a fact in the heyday of Apartheid years, at least three Afrikaans papers existed which were official mouthpieces of the Nationalist Party, and were involved in the Press group in leading positions and exercised their effect very carefully, and they criticized many people for points of view which are now commonly accepted by the Afrikaans Press as facts of life."(The TRC excerpts on Prof. de Beer's comments as cited by Medialternatives)
In the TRC's final report, Desmond Tutu asks the pertinent question wit Naspers failure to make proper submissions: "Is silence from that to be construed as consent, conceding that it was a sycophantic handmaiden of Apartheid?" However, after the hearing the Commission received some 150 affidavits from individual Afrikaans-speaking journalists:-These acknowledged the important role of the Commission and expressed disappointment at the Naspers decision not to appear:
"They believed that the Afrikaans Press has been an integral part of the structure that had kept Apartheid in place, particularly the way Afrikaans papers had lent their support to the NP during elections.The submissions maintained that, although the papers may not have ben directly involved in violations, they should accept responsibility for what happened because they had helped support the system in which gross human violations occurred."
They said that, "Many Afrikaans journalists were deaf and blind to the political aspirations and sufferings of black fellow South Africans" and did not inform their readers about the injustices of Apartheid. When knowledge about gross human rights violations became public, the journalists felt they had too readily accepted the denials and disingenuous explanations of the NP.
Those who made submissions also sought forgiveness for their lack of action and committed themselves to ensuring that history will not repeat itself." According to the TRC Final report: "Professor Ari de Beer echoed the general tone of these submissions. He said he had felt compelled to approach the Commission because of the revelations at earlier Commission hearings, particularly those of Vlakplaas. Professor de Beer felt that he and may "God-fearing" Afrikaners could not accept personal responsibility for specific gross human rights violations.
Nevertheless, he did feel that there should be an acceptance of individual and collective responsibility for those violations committed under the ideological veil of apartheid, in the name of the Christian religion and Afrikanerdom. He expressed regret for keeping quiet about Apartheid when he knew he should have actively protested it. He challenged those who claim
The TRC, in its final report, condemned the Afrikaans Press as an extension and willing propaganda organ of Apartheid, that the Afrikaans press had nothing to answer for.(Media Alternatives) The Afrikaans Press was condemned in the TRC's Final report for being an extension and willing propaganda organ of Apartheid. By not reporting honestly on the human rights abuses of the NP government, the Afrikaans Press as a whole stands condemned for promoting the superiority of Whites and displaying an indifference to the sufferings of people of color.
Despite a limited number of individuals who rejected the system, and despite examples of resistance to the policy of slavish reporting on government and race related issue to the long history of actively promoting the former state and its policies were minor ones. A Naspers journalist expressed the general antipathy in the following manner: "We must neither deny nor accept the responsibility for Apartheid, since the company's history under Apartheid is public record, there is no need to make a submission, and business continues as usual. Apartheid did not die, it lives on and did its apparatuses morphed into the Mandela government, unscathed. The press continued to carry on business as before the Mandela rule: Blame the Victims and make huge profits selling papers.
The Innards of Naspers
Medialternatives gives us a breakdown of the guts of Naspers as follows:
- In 1997, shortly after the hearings, MIH Lt.., created a highly successful Internet provider, M-Web Holdings, which because of its market capitalization and access to the local loop via contacts within the ANC-NP alliance was able to undercut and drown out the competition. (This is one way the ANC is in cahoots with the past media organs of Apartheid rule-My addition).
- Naspers merged its existing private education activities such as City Varsity and Damelyn College to form Educator Holdings limited -- "one of the" leading education providers in South Africa. During the same year, Naspers re-organizes the brands its local print media business as its "Media24" division. The original company stated by JB Hertzog was reorganized into a holding company with five subsidiaries: MIH Holdings. MWEB, Media 24, Nasboek and Educor.
- 1999 - Former UWC vice-chancellor and director in the president's office, Jakes Gerwel was appointed to the Media24 board. *His close association with the cabinet of Thabo Mbeki, and the Nelson Mandela Rhodes Foundation, played a key role in whitewashing the companies egregious history by recasting Naspers' Media24 division as a "blameless and transforming entity."
- After 2000, Naspers rapidly expanded its operations around the globe with a series of acquisitions,mergers and complex listings on various stock markets and international exchanges.
- In May 2001, Naspers acquired a 46.5% interest in Tencent Holdings Limited, the operator of an instant messaging platform in China called QQ, which subsequently developed into the "leading business of its kind in China".
- In a quest to further expands its business in China, the company Acquired a 9.9% interest in Beijing Media Corporation, the , the Publisher of various newspapers such as Beijing Youth Daily and print-related materials. Which included advertising.
- In2002, the First Edition of Daily Sun was Published.
MIH Holdings and MIHL became two wholly owned subsidiaries of Naspers through a series of highly secretive listings/delistings and complex share scheme on the JSE, Nasdaq and elsewhere.
- Naspers created a secondary listing in Nasdaq.
- In subsequent company reports and especially the groups' annual South African report, Media24 sought to portray itself as a "modern, forward looking company which has transformed".
- In February 2005, Naspers acquired the South African Internet interests of service provider Tiscalli. On 31 March of the same year, Naspers prepared for a limited unbundling of its South African operation.
- Naspers Beijing Partner, Beijing Media Corporation Ltd., has been under investigation for alleged corruption and its trading of its shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange was suspended. The Beijing government launched a high-level investigations int alleged briery and corruption in the company.
- In June 2005, the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down its verdict in a sexual harassment case brought by Sonja Grober against the company in 2003. The court found that the company had a duty to protect the trainee manager from harassment.
- The 2006 Media 24 annual report cynically refers to the group's "chain of integrity". In submissions made before South Africa's Labor court with regard to a case of discrimination filed at the CCMA that same year, community journalist David Robert Lewis made the following observation -- "considering what we have been told by the TRC and what we know now, this "chain of integrity" is in all reality a "chain of shame."
- Print media, book publishing and private education assets are consolidated in the "Media24 division" apparently "in order to simplify the groups relatively complex structure". The result was the creation of a parallel entity which allows Black Empowerment Groups Welkom Yizani to buy a 15% stake in the Naspers subsidiary "Media24" (a total of 14.6-million shares), while Phuthuma Nathi buys a 15% stake in pay-TV operator "MultiChoice SA" (about 45-million shares)" These share schemes are noting less than dilutions of the company's local subsidiaries in South Africa and do not affect the holding company or its overseas operations in any way.
- In May 2006, Naspers acquired, for US$ 422 million, a 30% interest in the Brazilian media group Editora Abril, publishers of dozens of titles the most important of which being Revista Veja
- In January2007, Naspers acquired a 30% interest in popular mobile chat platform Mxit. Also, in 2007, Noseweek publishers articles critical of Naspers division Educor. In "Degree of Deception" and "Diploma Circus" the magazine questions "Dodgy practices, plagiarism and cover-ups with the help of political influence", and whether journalism degrees from Educor amount to anything more than brainwashing.
- Naspers acquired a 30% interest in a Russian instant messaging service for desktop PCs and mobiles.In November 2007 the company acquired a further 2.6% ofMail.ru
- In March 2008, Kobus Faasen objected to the use of the term 'Bushman' by Die Burger to describe people of mixed race. He lost his case after South Africa's legal system upheld the Apartheid-era system of race classification. (The more things change, the more they stay the same-My observation).
- Naspers acquired Tradus(Listed on the London Stock Exchange), which provided an online auction platform and Internet portals in Eastern Europe. The company also owns Allegro.pl, which was considered the leading online auction site in Poland.
- In august 2008, Naspers acquired a 25% stake in mobile media company BuzzCity through MIH, which was now considered Naspers "Investment arm". BuzzCity network was made up of publishers worldwide and BuzzCity's own mobile media properties, included the myGamma social networking platform which was aimed at regions with low fixed-line Internet penetration.
- Media24 attempted to sue photographer Geof Kirby for defamation after he questioned the legality of the company's reliance on dubious freelance contracts in particular, its syndication without permission of content under South Africa's Apartheid-era Copyright Law which granted publishers first rights over written material but not over photographic images.
- A gay protest rally was held against Media24 after John Qwelane's homophobic equation of gay sex with bestiality in the Sunday Sun.
- In September 2009, Naspers acquired a 91% interest in BuscaPe, provider of comparison shopping systems for more than 100 portals and Web sites in Latin America, including Microsoft, Globo and Abril.
2010, The Bildergurger Group, which included Napser Officials, met in Spain to discuss control of the world's financial institutions.
Press council Warns Against Media Tribunal
It is important to get the media council's side of the story for the South African Press.It was reported on August 2 by the Mail Guardian Reporter that: "The Chairperson of the Press Council of South Africa, Raymond Louw, on Monday took issue with a call by the South African National Congress(ANC) and South African Communist Party [SACP] for a statuary media appeals tribunal. The Press Council decried the manner in which this proposal as a clear violation of the Constitution in relation to the promotion of freedom of expression and media freedom.
The stated that such a press tribunal has nothing to do with promoting press freedom but everything to do with the way the press reported the conduct of governance, including the conduct of Cabinet ministers and other senior officials of the Party. It seems that official reaction was to how the press was reporting about government officials and their corrupt shenanigans, thus the Media Tribunal proposals, which made the Press Council, represented by Raymond Louw issue the following statement, as printed in the Mail & Guardian on August 2 2010:
"As Chairman of the South African Press Council which administers the Press Ombudsman system of press self-regulation, I am appalled that the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress are calling for the institution of a statutory 'media appeals tribunal' to 'strengthen media freedom and accountability.' The manner in which this call is being made and the indication, as far as they go, that have been given of the objectives appear to be a clear violation of the constitution in relation to the promotion of freedom of expression and media freedom.
The various reasons for setting up the tribunal offered by office bearers of the two parties and contained in the document put out by the ANC for discussion at its national general council in September - 'Media transformation, ownership and diversity' are quiet clear why they want to impose it on the press. It has nothing to do with promoting press freedom but everything to do with the way the press reports on the conduct of governance including the conduct of cabinet ministers and other senior officials of the party. They do not want the public to be told of their poor performance, corruption by "tenderpreneurs" and lavish life-styles. They want the press to report the African National Congress's version of what is happening..."
Louw, of the Press Council continues: "This emerges clearly in the discussion document. It states: "Our objectives therefore are to vigorously communicate the ANC's outlook and values [developmental state, collective rights, values of caring and sharing community, solidarity, ubuntu, non-sexism, working together] versus the current mainstream media's ideological outlook [neo-liberalism, a weak and passive state, and overemphasis on individual rights, marker fundamentalism, etc.] The statement also displays a startling ignorance about what goes on in the Press Ombudsman's office. The Communist Party states that the ombudsman's office is made up of people from the media, who decide on complaints.
Indeed, the ombudsman is a senior journalist. It is an essential requirement for a person adjudicating on the conduct of the media and journalism to be well versed in the methods and practice of journalism and a senior journalist fills that role. But there is strong public representation in that office. When the ombudsman conducts a hearing, he sits with two people, one a journalist and the other a public representative Indeed, there are six public representatives and six journalists available for hearings by the ombudsman and the Appeals Panel.
The Appeals Panel - which is engaged when either the complainant or the defending newspaper appeals against the ombudsman finding -- is chaired by a non-journalist. He is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal and when he holds a hearing, he sits with one public and one press representative. Thus, to suggest that the office and proceedings are conducted by "people from the media" - is false and one is being propagated mischievously.
Louw, of the Press Council presses on: "Another complaint by the politicians is that the ombudsman's office is 'inadequate without explaining what they mean by that, except to imply in some of their statements that they want punitive prison sentences and fines be meted out to journalists and publishers. In regard to penalties, the Ombudsman imposes at is regarded by the media as one embodying serious sanctions.
"I found wanting, a paper can be called upon to publish a correction and an apology prominently as well as the strictures of the ombudsman or appeals panel. This punishment strikes at the heart of a newspapers operations. It tells the readers that the newspaper was not only inaccurate but that it behaved unprofessionally or even dishonestly. Nothing damages a newspaper more than a finding against its credibility and trustworthiness. If the public loses its trust in a newspaper in regard to its method of operation and accuracy, it can go out of business, thus enduring the ultimate sanction."
Louw counsels: "The SACP talks of accountability. The Public accountability described above is what publishers ad journalists fear most -- that which results in the withdrawal of support from the paper. The ANC and the Communist Party, despite their having voted for the Films and Publications Act, also forget that the ombudsman's office has been given legislative recognition. This Act exempts mainstream newspapers that subscribe to the Press Code from some of the provisions of the legislation.
"The irresponsibility of the ANC in its castigation of the Press Council is breathtaking in its reliance on fiction. On several occasions it complained -- and the complainant on one occasion was no less than Kgalema Motlantle, now Deputy President - that the Press Ombudsman did not respond to its complaints. The ANC was asked to provide a list of the complaints that had been treated in that way."
Finally, after much badgering, the ANC produced one complaint. However, the party did not apologize when it was told that not only had the complaint been dealt with, but that the finding was in favor of the ANC(what a comedy of errors!- my addition). Some of the ANC's minsters and leading personalities - including ANCYL's President, Julius Malema, the league's spokesman Floyd Shivambu, Kwa-Zulu Natal Premier Dr. Kweli Mkhize, and ANC Treasurer-General Dr. Mathews Phosa, -- are using the Press Ombudsman to voice their complaints and at least one former minister, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi (Public Service and Administration), expressed her entire satisfaction with the manner in which her complaint had been articulate n branding the Ombudsman's office ineffectual has laid complaints and in one case a newspaper apologized to her.
Even Deputy President Motlanthe has laid a complaint, though he later withdrew it. Several of these cases, and others, have resulted in ruling in favor of the state institutions or ANC politicians.
The Chairman of the Press Council adds some reminders and mild admonishing: "In 2007 the New Zealand Press Council conducted a world-wide survey and listed 87 countries with press councils. One of its major findings was that 86% of them adopted the self-regulatory method which has been adopted in South Africa. The same percentage believed the most effective punishment for newspapers when they breached professional and ethical codes was to order them to publish a correction and/or an apology with the prominence of positioning decided by the council. And 82% conducted their operation on the basis of a code and a complaint process.
South Africa's press Council operates in similar fashion and journalists believe that with such a large number of other Press Councils in the world adopting these standards, South Africa's current practice of dealing with breaches of ethical and professional standards appear to have majority approval among the democratic states(Chairman of the Press Council, Raymond Louw, (Quoted by Mail and Guardian - 2010).
Installing Petty Laws(Petty Apartheid?) The Death of Freedom of speech
Emulating the Way of the Masters
One thing about colonialism, Apartheid or otherwise did affect its subject in various ways to emulate their masters. When the oppressor slave were under the boot of segregation, some harbored feelings of envy of their masters accumulation of wealth, culture and other intellectual and academic trappings. In the course of the displacement of colonialism as whites only to black rule or empowerment, we see a petit bourgeoisie, in post segregation America and post-colonial Africa, escape into what Franklin Frazier calls "escape into delusions". And I add "of grandeur" about their role and purpose in society(especially the poor African society in all cases). Franklin Frazier reminds us of another time period in America which is the same as we are seeing in South Africa when he writes in this excerpt:
"The self-hatred of middle-class Negroes is often revealed in the keen competition which exists among them for status and recognition. This keen competition is the result of the frustrations which they experienced in attempting to obtain acceptance and recognition by whites. Middle-class Blacks are constantly criticizing and belittling Negroes who achieve some recognition or who acquire status above them. They prefer to submit to the authority of whites than be subordinate to other A Blacks.
"For example,Negro scholars generally refuse to seek the advice and criticism of competent African scholars and prefer to turn to white scholars for such co-operation. In fact,it is difficult for middle-class Blacks to co-operate in any field of endeavor. This failure in social relation is, as indicated in an important study, because "in every Negro he encounters his own self-contempt. It is as if he said, "You are only an African like myself; so why should you be in a position above me?"
Franklin Adds: "This self-hatred often results in guilt feeling on the part of the Negro who succeeds in elevating himself above his fellows. He feels unconsciously that in rising above other Negroes he is committing an act of aggression which will result in hatred and revenge on their part. The act of aggression my be imagined, but very often it is real. This is the case when middle-class Blacks oppose the economic and social welfare of Blacks because of their own interests.
In some American cities, it has been the black bourgeoisie and not whites who have opposed public housing projects for black workers. In one city two wealthy black doctors, who have opposed the building of low-cost public housing for Black workers workers,own some of the worst slums in the United States. While their wives, who wear mink coats, 'drip with diamonds' and re written up in the 'society' columns of Black newspapers, ride in Cadillacs, their black tenants sleep on the dirt floors of hovels unfit for human habitation. The guilt feelings of the middle-class Blacks are not always unconscious. Some even go on the radio and proclaimed that the Black people did not want social equity.
The blacks were conscious of their guilt feelings and their self-hatred in playing such a role, for they sent word privately to the writer that they never hated so much to do anything in their life, but it was necessary because of their position as head of a state college with was under white supervision. The self-hatred of the middle-class black arises, then, not only from the fact that he does not want to be black but also because of his sorry role in American history.
The black bourgeoisie, has created a world of make-believe to shield itself from the harsh economic and social realities of American life. This world of make-believe was created out of a myth of black business, the reports of the black press on the achievements and wealth of blacks, the recognition accorded them by whites, ant the fabulous life on black "society". Some of the black middle-class intellectuals were not deceived by the world of make-believe.
They would have nothing to do with the black "society" and refused to waste their time with frivolities. They took their work seriously and lived in relative obscurity so far as the black world was concerned. Others sought an escape from their frustrations by developing, for example, a serious interest in black music -- which the respectable black bourgeoisie often pretended to despise. In this way, these intellectuals achieve some identification with the black masses and with the traditions of black life.
But many more middle-class blacks, who were satisfied to live in the world of make-believe, but must find a solution to the real economic and social problems which they face, seek an escape in delusions"(Franklin)
The state of the ANC governance in South Africa is that of dependency on the Imperial Multi-Corporations. Kwame Nkrumah aptly summed it this way: "A State in the grip of neocolonialism is not master of its own destiny." To which Julius Nyerere further elaborated: "What we have in common is that we are all, in relation to the developed world, dependent not interdependent -- nations. Each of our economies has developed as a by-product and a subsidiary of development in the industrialized North, and is extremely orientated. We are not prime movers in our destiny. We are ashamed to admit it. But economically, we are dependencies -- semi-colonies at best -- not sovereign states."
On this issue of the local intelligentsia no doing their best to help and grasp their people's realities, Thomas Sankara put it this way: "There are these leaders who have natural roots, and then there are those who have artificially created them. By artificial I mean those leaders who were created by erecting a wall around themselves. Such people are definitely cut-off from the popular masses. They can be generous to a point, but that doesn't make them revolutionaries. You'll run into officials at all levels who are unhappy because no one understands them, even though they have proven their commitment to their work. Though they are making honest sacrifices, no one understands what they are doing."
Sankara elaborates further: "Some of the international aid volunteers who came here from Europe are a bit like this; they have the same kind of experience. They too are sincere, but their ignorance about Africa leads them to make mistakes, blunders, that are sometimes insignificant, but that become decisive in the future. So, after a stay of several years, they go back home completely disgusted with Africa. Yet, it's not for lack of a noble heart. It's just that they came here with a patronizing attitude. They were lesson givers."
As I have stated above, the envy and pining for things European has affected Africa's present-day rulers. Some ANC exiles alway s prefaced their dialogue with anyone like, "When we take over..." which brings back the point I have been making about the official African leaders make-believe world and escape into "delusion" and the "make-believe" world emanates from the period of long-suffering and wanting what white people have and doing things like they did them, but if 'they'(Africans' take-over, would do that and then some...; that is why what is being done in South Africa, by the ruling Africans is being done with such verve and nerve, that one cannot be escaped by that reality as aforementioned.
Doing thing the way the 'master' was doing, is part of the long-term planning of the existing ANC. Thomas Sankara was asked if he has ever experienced inequality firsthand himself or observed its impact on other people? He gave this narrative:
"I have experienced it personally. When I was little, I went to primary school in Gaoua. The school principal there was European and his children had a bicycle. We other children dreamed about this bicycle for months and moths. We woke up thinking about it; we drew pictures of it; we tried to suppress the longing that kept surging up inside us. We did just about everything to try to persuade them to lend it to us. If the school principal's children wanted sand to build sand castles, we fetched them sand. If it was some other favor they wanted, we fell all over ourselves to do it, and all that just in the hope of having a ride -- taking a ride, as we say here.
"We were all the same age, but there was nothing to be done. One day, I realized that all our efforts were in vain. I grabbed the bike and said to myself: "Too bad, I am going to treat myself to this pleasure no matter what the consequences." They arrested my father and threw him in prison. I was thrown out of school. My brothers and sisters didn't dare go back to the school. It was really terrifying. How could this possibly fail to create profound feelings of injustice among children of the same age?"
Sankara continued: "They put my father in prison another time, too, because one of my sisters had gathered some wild fruit by throwing stones up at them. Some of the stones fell on the roof of the principal's house. This disturbed his wife's siesta. I understood that after a wonderful, refreshing meal she wanted to rest, and it was irritating to be disturbed like this. But we needed to eat. They didn't stop at putting my father in prison. They issued a notice forbidding anyone to pick this fruit."
The colonial master used many dirty tricks and teaching mannerisms that conditioned the present leaders as we see them. This was from the time when the colonial master were in control of the country and everything that went with it. Na'im Akbar gives us a historical background on the creation of our leaders as we see them today: Akbar offers this narrative:
"One of the things that was systematically done during slavery was the elimination of control of any emerging 'head' or leader. Slave narratives and historical accounts are full of descriptions of atrocities brought against anyone who exemplified real leadership capability. The slave holders realized that their power and control over the slaves was dependent upon the absence of any indigenous leadership amongst the slaves.
"Any slave who began to emerge as a natural head,that is, one orientated toward survival of the whole body, was identified early and was either eliminated,isolated, killed,or ridiculed. In his or her place was put a leader who had been carefully picked, trained, and tested to stand only for the master's welfare. In other words, unnatural head were attached to the slave communities. They furthered the cause of the master and frustrated the cause of the slave."
Akbar further notes: "The slaves were taught to view with suspicion natural leaders who emerged from among themselves. Such heads were identified as "uppity" or "arrogant" and were branded as the kind of trouble-makers who were destined to bring trouble to the entire slave community. This idea was reinforced by the public punishment of such indigenous leadership and any of his/her associates or sympathizers.
"The entire slave community was often required to carry an extra burden or be deprived of some small privilege, primarily because of such 'uppity' slaves. Such practices rather firmly entrenched the opposition to natural leaders. They were often isolated by their own community, and were usually victims of fellow slave "snitches" who reported to the master that someone was brewing trouble.
"The 'snitches,' having demonstrated their loyalty to the master, were usually promoted to the position of slave leader, and another grafted leader was born-i.e., with a slave body and master's head. The slave community was encouraged to view the greater power given to the master-trained leader as an indication of his superior worth as a leader. The master-trained leader was rewarded, praised and given privileges as an inducement for the slaves to follow this manufactured leadership."(Na'im Akbar)
The ANC feels that, "The media is too critical of all the good they are doing for their International and local masters, that, they want the press to concentrate on the good they are doing, and less of the corruption, ineptitude, poor governance and the super gravy train reportage, also, praise them for all the public and government good they are doing". In order to make sense of the latest move by the present government in South African it is important to pay attention to the leaders and writers on the subject of the effects and affects of colonialism on the psyches and consciousness.
The leaders of the present-day ANC led government were, most of them, educated within South Africa, and if one were to study the imposition of and the falsified miseducation and consciousness by colonial education, one might begin to understand and get a glimpse of the modus operandi of the government in power today. Chinweizu gives a brief on this issue of colonial rule and colonial education and their effects on the intended populace:
"Thus did all the colonial institutions contribute to fashion a breed of Euro-Africans, and to refashion Africa in some debased image of Europe. To look upon this colonial order as a purely African entity and ignore its links to Europe is to find an African class of chiefs, minor bureaucrats and traders tying the toil and lives of the populace to the interests of the ruling white administrators, businessmen, missionaries and settlers. But to look upon it as part of that global system to which it belongs, that is, as part of an extended Europe, is to discover its true character.
Visible is a white colonial administration protecting white businessmen, missionaries and settlers who link the toiling Africans to the service of the European ruling classes. And what are the tendons,visible and invisible, which bind the appendage society to Europe? In the economic sphere they are the roads and railways connecting farms, mines and markets to the ships in the ports; the banks, the mining and trading companies bound by legal and financial threads to their parent organizations in Europe; the currencies pegged to the franc or the pound/(even the dollar, in this day and age -- my addition); and last but far from least, the commodity prices set in London, Paris, Brussels and New York, that determine prices in Africa.
In the political sphere these links are the district officer,the commandant and the resident, the police, the courts, the army and other arm of the colonial bureaucracy, all headed by the governor , and all under the control and guidance of the colonial office of the European national government which sent them out to Africa. In the cultural sphere, the links are the colonial schools and the religious and secular organizations which operate as field agencies for nurturing Euro-Africans. such was the structure of the colonial order."(Chinweizu)
The ANC took power of a vibrant Apartheid colonial order which had the social, political, economical and cultural trappings of those described by Chinweizu above. Nothing was changed, in fact, it was a replacement of African faces to the past white faces in many areas of governance and somewhat in the economy. This is then true to say that the present-day ANC-led government is a government that came into the era of neo-Apartheid colonial order, and serviced that system as they found it, and in the process affecting their own people, who are now more poorer that they were before their coming in/back from their exiled existence as a 'liberation' movement, then subsequently as the present 'negotiated' government.
When the ANC "took over...," as noted above, "they negotiated a lot of deals which ensured that the system of government they were inheriting should be left as is". The press and other capitalist and Apartheid institutions transitioned into the orb of the new Mandela government with all what they entailed without any alteration of any kind. The ANC went on to pass some of the most praised Press laws given free-flow of information and freedom of speech to the citizens and the press.
As already noted, those who elected the ANC into power are the ones that have been ignored. In order to get a better picture of what I am talking about, it is important to read my Hub titled: "South Africa and The 2010 World Cup: In the Eye of the Storm," wherein I touch up on a great deal of the mistreatment of the poor by the present ANC-led government in preparation for the 2010 Tournament. This was all done in 'service of the FIFA and all the Multi-Media and various other Multi-corporations,' at the expense of the poor and suffering masses in South Africa.
The ANC has done its job very well in preserving the economical structure which supported and was propping-up the Apartheid regime. As the structure that was described by Chinweizu above, the ANC saw to it that nothing was changed right up to the Parliamentary, the army and the economical infrastructure intact and well serviced and supported.
Now that the same Media institutions are exposing the corruption, ineptitude, sloppy service deliveries, and the opulence resulting from the super gravy trains, and the wives and families of the government official living large, and this gleaned by the media , making the poor aware of what their government, the ANC has decided to create a media tribunal with threats of up to 25 years imprisonment for those found guilty of reporting falsehoods about the ministers and their deputies, families acquaintances and so on.
This is not a government trying to clean-up a biased and one-sided press, but a government which has become tired of the reportage which puts them in a bad light to its poor and hungry voting majority, and the world at large. Also, they feel like what they achieved during the World Cup should be bringing in accolades from the press; and all the good things, albeit they are half-done.
Housing, and other weak efforts at taking care of their constituencies. In one way, it is convenient for the ANC to attack the media and have a new blackout(one can look at the lousy SABC TV programming and some dreadful radio programming to the masses to understand this point), to the listening and reading public, so that they can even hide more of the hideous deals that have gone down and are still going down(read the story of the Zuma's sons and their mining deals and corruption in the Mail and Guardian) and the other terrible corruptions which have now become a culture and way of life for the present government and their 'tendepreneurs' scandals and the life of high living and jet-setting that has come to characterize all the government official, ministers and their deputies, families and shameless nepotism and aggressive cronyism.
It is the Africans and poor whites and other racial minorities that are really feeling the brut of the new rule and government. So far, as we have seen, Apartheid media , was draconian and enforced a 'type' of the news blackout, chiefly amongst the Africans. This also had an effect of affecting white news-readers and radio listeners and TV watchers. What was beamed, talked about on the radio and beamed on televisions, was to omit news about the suffering of Africans, unless it had to do with crime, riots, rebellion and semi-revolution, about Africans.
The white public was misled and misinformed in the process because of the news diet and presentation to the white media consuming public. In the process, blaming the victims of Apartheid was paramount in the dissemination of news throughout the country during Apartheid time. Today, after 16-years of an ANC-led governance, the same is true for the poor of South Africa. It is true that the ANC has done some good things for the poor Africans in South Africa, but in so doing, they did less to give the people security, better basic needs and accountability for their hogging the wealth and distributing unequally, the wealth of the land, and curbed the free-flow of information to their voting bloc.
The Press didd cover and is still covering the corruption, ineptitude, poor service deliveries and the flamboyant life-styles of the rich and powerful ministers and their deputies in government. As has been shown in this hub, the present rulers are in cahoots with big international corporations and cartels at the expense of the Africans. One can see this in the way the government that is in place took over old structures of Apartheid and kept them in place and made private deals with both local and international Potentates.
One can also get a better idea when one looks deeper into the relationship of FIFA with the present government in distancing themselves away from the interests of the Africans and poor whites in South Africa. It is important to note these issues and see them for what they are: The present government is a neocolonial 'type' of government which is in service of the neocolonial Apartheid government pitied against the poor. This came to a much more clearer light during the Word Cup when the local government protected the tourist and soccer fans assiduously more than they did the local citizens.
In Athlone, Cape Town, people were moved from the path that was going to be used by the tourists and the soccer fans and were deposited in desolate and tin-shacks townships heavily policed. During the matches, in Johannesburg, tourists and soccer fans were barred and discouraged from going into the Townships of Soweto (some went, out of curiosity and dare). Local traders and others who wanted to benefit from the stadium were kept a distance away and the big companies like Coca Cola, McDonalds and the like were given preference over and above the local African and other nation's merchants, who were paddling local wares.
The Press contributed to the negative picture painted about the people of the Townships and the crime and poverty and diseases they were wallowing in. We also saw the partnership between, as described above, of Naspers and the ANC, showing that what the ANC is proposing to be launched, a Media tribunal, is not only flexing, but it is also one way to deflect attention on the reportage that is being done by some newspapers, and that the reading pubic should be kept ignorant of their shenanigans.
The poor, who are seeing and being pounded by being given the last status and attention in the land of birth are very disappointed and bamboozled by the carrying-on of their government in opposing and ignoring their interests and complaints. Also, the privileged and internet savvy white populace in South Africa, most of them, are using the Internet to inform the world about Africans who they do not even know. Apartheid oppressed and ignored the poor, sick, poverty stricken, crime-ridden and shoddy ramshackle habitats, which are rodden-ridden and infested with insects creepy-crawling all over the place, and cold filled environments of the poor Africans domiciles.
The new government better serviced the requests and businesses of their International and local rich business entities to the max. Colonized Information, technology and Technique have been used and are still being used by the present government in service of colonialism and neocolonialism to subjugate, control, manipulate, impose news-blackout and to keep the South African populace ignorant and at logger-heads with itself. This is being done easily and deliberately because Apartheid never died, and the new government is some partly modified version of the old order of Apartheid.
Since these leaders were concerned with acquiring for the class privileges within a neocolonial society, the freedom they sought had to be freedom within the imperial system, not outside it. Without a fight for liberation, instead of a negotiated settlement, they would have had to construct a new African society within which to practice African liberties, and not the for the African petit-bourgeoisie within disguised enclaves of European empires.
As they have campaigned for African self-rule, they were granted political power but not sovereignty, since the country which they were now going to lord over was still part of the European and American Imperial structure. They still are not in control of the economy of the country. The colonization of Africa, and the emergence of an African petit bourgeoisie indoctrinated into liberal capitalist beliefs of a "universalist" nature -- beliefs that did not sufficiently define their African domain of operation -- were some factors that determined the nature of the autonomy South Africa would acquire post-apartheid: they got political power, but did not come near towards get into controlling the economic sphere of the country they were ruling politically, only. This is the paradox and conundrum which South Africa African-led government faces today.
The Same Old Tunes: Repression, Depression and Oppression
Yet, political liberation has done nothing to hg their lives of Africans in south Africa. After sixteen years of ANC-led government rule, poor delivery in basic need services for the poor has been nothing, to say the least, horrendous. The South African African petit bourgeoisie is egged-on by the ANC-led government to acquire western accouterments and manner to the 'T,' that some people who observe this, fall into the trap of blaming African in South Africa as "being Xenophobic" and so forth. Whereas the reality and social life facts on the ground, amongst the people, is something different
It is also interesting that Africans from north Africa like Adejumobi, from Nigeria and others play the 'blaming the victim game without paying attention to the history of South Arica. Said Adejumobi conjures these thoughts in their battle(from the University of Caper Town which he says was the 'hotbed of the struggle to restructure knowledge production in South Africa." For Who? By Who? And to what Effect?): "But we lost the battle; South Africa was 'unprepared for change.' In the absence of change, apartheid will another shape and form(How? Why? My questions); black on black violence will deepen; and the psychology of domination will recreate itself. This is the whole talk about xenophobia in South Africa.
Adejumobi continued to wryly observe: "For any discerning mind[Maybe there are no such minds in South Africa among 50 million Africans! My observations], what is happening now in South Africa is predictable(Is It? - I question?). I saw it coming, and I left South Africa when I did. I recall informing students, "South Africa is a country on the edge; it may implode from within". Without reshaping the Curriculum on Africa; without decolonizing the minds of the people; without owning up and admitting the historical role played by other African countries in South Africa's liberation struggle, South Africans rarely know who they are and where they are coming from [That is a lot to say about so many millions of people, and it is erroneous to use one's ignorance of a people as if it's a fact, whatever one shallowly observe from a class room in Cape Town University].
African South African were never liberated from Apartheid since ANC rule-- ANC is in cahoots with the past and present Apartheid bib business and the Boer's political entourage) One may maybe aver whatever about the ANC cliques and cabals, but should not about the majority of South Africans, without even 'walking in their moccasins for six moons', at least... I guess Nigerians know themselves well and know where came from, eh!. "Beyond mere cliches of the leadership of the african National Congress, and some cadres in the South African liberation movement [Adejumobi the post-doctorate students analyst stresses on] majority of South Africans, especially the blacks, do not see themselves as Africans."
How strange it is that Africans use the African names to refer themselves to as Africans, 'Abomdamdabu' [Zulu for Indigenous], 'Batala,' Sotho for indigenous; Manguni(Zulu) or 'Bakone',(Sotho), that's what Africans in South Africa call themselves. One should begin to write the history of Nigeria and flesh out some colonial and post colonial facts about that country. No, Africans in South Africa know and practice their culture and customs as do all Africans throughout Africa(See my Hub, "Restoration of African South African Historical Consciousness: Culture, Custom, Traditions & Practices" published on Hub pages on 02/27/10 for starters).
Lest we forget how tightly locked up the South African refugees were tightly controlled throughout the different countries in Africa, people should begin to do their research academic work more seriously before casting aspersions about a people. I wish Mr. Adejumobi had stepped out of the marble halls of Cape Town University, working hard to impress those hard line Verkrampte professors, and did some interviews with the returning guerrillas within South Africa and how they were treated as refugees in different African countries, he might not carelessly write about how 'Africa helped South Africans and were involved in the struggle, only if he knew how scared those states were of the Boers, they were very hard and harsh in containing the South African refugees, lest they be air-raided and attacked also by the mercenaries and South African White commandos.
One can see from the comments made by the critics of Africans, in the case of South Africa, that this perception is observed by those who are in South African as foreign scholars and visitors, but the very selfsame people never bother to go and live with africans in the traditional rural enclaves and in the ghettoes sprawling throughout the land. But passing through and not living with the poor in Mzantsi, does not qualify anyone to be judgmental and an analyst about a people who most foreigners can hardly speak any of their languages, nine(9) of them, by the way... nor shack with them in their hovels for a night[Paltry few do].
That is why articles published by this author assiduously work hard towards putting a historiography of the history of Africans in South Africa form their own narrow and ill-informed knowledge/perspectives. There will be further articles about African South Africans, their lives, custom, cultures, and languages, so that we can safely dispatch off with those who write about a people they do not know nor lived with, and can neither talk their languages.
Chinweizu talks much more clearly on the issue above when he wrote: "One of the most devastating legacies of our satellization to the West is that our culture has become eccentric. Instead of being Afrocentric in our thoughts and actions, we are Eurocentric. What Europe does we automatically assume as the standard we must imitate in order to appear civilized"(This view applies to all Africans who were colonized by Europe, including Adejumobi and where he comes from, Nigeria)
As a result, we have lost our ability to define ourselves. We gladly accept every ridiculous definition of what we are supposed to be, so long as it is proffered by the West. Without a strong sense of ourselves, we accept whatever the West wants us to believe about our past. We even refuse to define our cultural and political constituency for what it is - African Africa. But that is indeed our pan-African constituency, a constituency defined by our separate history, our separate historical situation. People like Adejumobi and his ilk, are ahistorical clowns who really do not even understand the ramifications of studying in the University of Cape Town, in South Africa, and what that means whenever they start talking about upgrading South African history to the whole continent's history.
The very University, whose city he so adores, is not in the business of teaching anyone how to reform South African African education, but is interested in educating him into 'ignorance' which, from his writings, he seems to have been thoroughly indoctrinated and made dumb, to the extent that he blames Africans for their state of being at the point he sees or meets them-outside his comfort zone in the UniversityOf Cape Town. So far as I can tell, he has learned nothing...
Exclusive Retailers Oppressive Business Techniques in the Black Community
Shopping Malls in the "new South Africa" that are being built in the poor slums and ghettoes, oppress and exploit African peoples. The White South African entrepreneurs, in a manner similar to American entrepreneurs, after having suddenly discovered that shopping malls in Black Townships are good business(Post-Present Apartheid dogma), decided that they by using their wealth and other advantages they gained from their prior exploitation of blacks to further subjugate and suppress Africans.
As in the case of proposed Harlem malls,white South African entrepreneurs, after years of benign and malignant neglect of black commercial needs have now decided to atone for their DSTV Installation Johannesburg past poor judgement and 'racist inclinations-to say the least,' by returning to the Black Townships in order to more thoroughly exploit them in the name of the "new South Africa". In typical white supremacist fashion, they make elaborate claims of helping African peoples while greedily helping themselves to their god-given and hard-earned resources/finances.
While claiming that they are meeting the commercial needs and advancing the economic development of the African peoples, these white owned corporate Leviathans are in reality concerned with attempting to satisfy their own insatiable appetites and advancing their own exclusive economic agendas. The New York Times (10/26/94) describes the South African situation in this way:
"A MALL COMES TO A BLACK TOWNSHIP":
Soweto, South Africa, Oct. 23 - Late last year, a group of white executives from Sanlam Properties. A leading South African development company, piled into a mini-van and rode into terra incognito, the sprawling black metropolis of Soweto. As Jacobus A. Swanepoel, Sanlam's regional manager, recounts that journey, it is tempting to imagine a carload of cartoon capitalists with dollar signs ringing in their eyes -- ka-Chung, ka-Chung. Soweto, impoverished alien, oppressed, battle-torn - Soweto, suddenly seemed a land of untapped opportunity.
The first result of that trip materialized here on Sept. 29; the biggest and most modern shopping center any black Township has ever seen, complete with a family steakhouse, a triplex cinema., automated teller machines, an appliance store, clothiers new-plus ultra of suburban life in south Africa, a gun shop. At the mall's heart is a vast air-conditioned Shoprite supermarket that has brought some Soweto shoppers close to joyous tears.
After years of commuting to stores on the periphery of the black enclave, or paying the inflated prices of tiny township convenience shops, they have discovered in the wide aisles and sale prices of Shoprite an equality nearly as satisfying as the one conferred by last April's elections. Soweto, which once appeared to white business as a ghetto teeming with squatters and bristling with political upheaval all at once acquired a more alluring identity; a city of more than three million consumers without a grocery store, appliance dealer of clothing of national stature.
The New York Times continues: "Until now, most white business have shunned black townships.Whites were prohibited by Apartheid law from owning township property. Then, after, the repeal of that barrier in June 1991, the townships seemed too turbulent to be worth the risk. Instead, Sanlam and other developers built huge indoor Malls on the outskirts of Soweto(a la East Gate Mall, South Gate Mall Bara Mall and recently Maponya Mall and Jabulani Mall - My addition), forcing township residents to come to them.
A mini-van taxi ride from Soweto to one of these Malls cost the price of a half-gallon of milk or two loaves of bread, and it ate up most of a morning, but as Alfred Hlatshwayo observed over his basket of groceries in the new Shoprite, "it was that or do without out." Now that the April elections have restored political peace, developers have turned to the townships with more open min. Following the lead of gasoline stations and fast-food chains, which moved earlier with franchise outlets, banks, developers and retailers are now scouting hungrily.
If you look at the strategic plans of most of the larger firms, you see that they have their eye on the townships," said Johan Jacobs, marketing director of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Business. Soweto's shopping malls were developed with capital from Sanlam, which historically catered to white Afrikaners, but the mall's success suggest that foreign investments could follow into the neglected townships. Mr. Swanepoel said Soweto had grown ripe for business at a time when most white suburbs are already saturated with retail stores."
The white capitalists enterprises returned to or entered those communities to exploit them all the more. The return or entry of these gluttonous entrepreneurs is obviously self-serving in that they demonstrate little concern for the true economic well-being and self-determination of the Black community. Their entry into Black Township markets merely reflects their search for new markets after having saturated their traditional (White) markets.It also reflects their unrelenting intention to economically and politically dominate African peoples all over the world with impunity.
Social Segregation, Neo-racial Segregation, Domination and Exploitation
For White Supremacists, the more things changed the more they remained the same. They changed the economical and the political Black sphere to maintain their sameness. Despite changes in society from Apartheid colonialism to African independence(for Africans)(i.e., from supposed segregation during Apartheid, to integration,during Mandela's rule or co-option), the motive of white supremacists and capitalists remained the same -- the unending domination and exploitation of Black peoples by White peoples and to profit therefrom.
Just as Whites in America and Whites in South Africa profited from apartheid, the legal racial segregation of Blacks, they now profit from so-called racial equality, the legal desegregation of Blacks. The amount and rate of profits that Whites gain under desegregation are even greater than under segregation. In either case, Blacks were and continue to be relatively poor and every which way dependent as well as politically powerless. White-owned chain stores and their investors plan to open and have as of the writing of this Hub opened malls in more than 14 townships and neighborhoods, and Sanlam Properties pan to be involved in the opening of some of these malls in Black townships, too.
According to the New York Times, Sanlam has "two other townships projects near announcements, including a mammoth 'Hyper Mall' in another part of Soweto(today know as the Maponya Mall), and another half a dozen on the drawing board." The Times points out that Sanlam entered Soweto on political tiptoes . It assembled a committee of 40 local organizations to review its plans."
In perpetrating the charade that it is truly interested in advancing Black economic development and in order to ease its entry into the Black economic development and in order to ease its entry into Black township markets, Sanlam makes use of a familiar White American entrepreneurial tactic -- that of promising more than it is actually going to deliver.
Sanlam claims it has created a trust fund to train local entrepreneurs. It also intimates that it plans to sell 49 percent of the project as shares to local investors. (Note that it did not offer to sell 49 percent of the projects as shares to local investors.) Sanlam has permitted three small Black-owned businesses to occupy spaces in its new 68-store mall. The clincher in Sanlam's package for the Black township is a promise of 600 permanent jobs for local residents. The attitude towards these deals has been captured by a comment made by Max Legodi, a South African Businessman as follows:
"Mr. Legodi of the Soweto Chamber of Commerce applauded Sanlam for its diplomacy, but said black business resented the fact that the Shoprite supermarket chain, which has no connection with the American supermarket chain of the same name, had not enlisted black partners in the store that is the centerpiece of the project. "We feel that appointing a few black faces in Shoprite doesn't give you a passport to come in and exploit the emerging black market," he said." (Times)
The promise of jobs in return for the right to greedily exploit the Black community is business as usual for White entrepreneurs and White politcoeconomic establishment whose true intention is to maintain Blacks as servants, wage earners, and general subordinates, not owners and managers, in their own neighborhoods and nations Some prominent African South African business people and organizations, much to their credit -- in contrast to their Black American counterparts -- have seen through the deceptive games being played by white entrepreneurs and the White Supremacist establishment. The Times reports that:
"The new interest of white retailers has generated a bitter outcry from some black businessmen in the townships. They complain that after decades of weathering the strains of an apartheid ghetto, black entrepreneurs are being bullied aside by the economic power of white outsiders who have discovered gold in the black townships. "I feel like a man on a bicycle ho's been overtaken by a jet," said Paul Gama,chairman of the black-controlled Blackchain Ltd., which owns three modest and struggling grocery stores in black townships. Max Legodi, head of the Greater Soweto Chamber of Commerce and Industries, which speaks for hundreds of small retailers in the township, was sympathetic.
"All these years we had no access to capital, no access to credit," he said. "We were not able to gain expertise in business management. We did not have relationships with suppliers to buy in bulk. We could not do business in white areas." These men argue that white entrepreneurs moving into the 'emerging markets' of black townships should be obliged -- by political pressure, if not by law -- to take local partners, as do many foreign companies that come to South Africa."
Gama describes the typical pattern of White entrepreneurial strangulation and impairment of Black entrepreneurial growth and development opportunistically followed by White entrepreneurial oppression and exploitation of Black peoples. Typically, with the legal approval of the government and the support of traditional White racist practices, White entrepreneurs and financial institutions deny equal goods and services as well as credit and capital to the Black community during long periods of White racist political and economic oppression of Blacks, sometimes lasting for centuries, followed by continued denial of finance, credit, training, and economic opportunity to Blacks during periods of so-called Black political liberation and independence.
The tremendous financial and human resources White entrepreneurs and capitalist have accumulated during the former Apartheid period, are used to enter into overwhelmingly unequal competition with Black entrepreneurs during the rule of an ANC-led government. Any attempt on the part of Blacks to even the "entrepreneurial playing field" by asking and demanding that compensatory considerations, preferences and advantages be awarded them for past racist practices in favor of wWhites, is loudly hooted down by conservative Whites and ignorant, self-serving Backs as "reverse racism". This is an interesting response in light of the obvious fact that "reverse racism" would be a just solution to "forward racism" which permitted Whites to gain almost irreversible advantages over Blacks.
According to the Times, Paul Gama underlined this point by explaining that, "his Black Chain stores had remained in business, without laying off workers, despite political violence that scared away customers and drove the company repeatedly to the brink of bankruptcy." He fumed at the thought of white companies now reaping the dividends of the struggle. "White businesses know the devastation of Apartheid won't leave them any competition," he said. "It is a walkover for them."The future and well-being of the Black community requires that Black peoples own and control their community and national markets, and not act as mere workers and consumers in them.
Blacks, like any other ethnic group and nation, should be first to profit and benefit from their markets and resources. To do otherwise would be tantamount to willfully giving away the commonwealth of the group to others and consequently impoverishing themselves as well as denying their future generations the right to inherit the god-given traditional and accumulated wealth of their ancestors. It is disconcerting to see and read what lame analysts like that johnny-come-latelies like Adejumobi rail against African South Africans, who will never get the type of Cape Town University education, then turn around and assail the very African Taxpayers and African folks in South Africa s being unaware that they are Africa, that South African Africans are blaming foreigners of taking their jobs.
Well, the last time I checked, Africans in South Africa owe nobody anything, there was no liberation for Africans in South Africa, and they are still suffering all sorts of degrading intellectual and other types of abuses without let down. I guess he needed to think the way he did to get his doctorate and good grades. But, Africans in South Africa are cognizant of the birthright. Land and resources, and this issue was demonstrated by the Times when it reported the following:
"Whether business should be required to team up with black capitalists when tapping black markets is now a topic of heated negotiation in business groups and within the government. Major business groups generally favor such joint ventures, although they are opposed to enforcing them by law. African South Africans and African Americans have endured all manner of indignities, sufferings, deprivations,losses and impairments under the reign of White supremacy in its various historical and contemporary forms.
"The negative effects and aftereffects of White domination shall last for generation among all Black peoples, its primary subjects. The central function of White-commandeered Apartheid was to forcibly and exploitatively extract the material, human and productive wealth of Black peoples and redistribute them to their White overlords. The wealth, power and influence Whites expropriated through their coercive domination and exploitation of Black land. Labor and productivity have continued to exponentially expand and perpetuate themselves by compounding the interest on their original and concurrent principal.
"White domination of Blacks, even if confined to the past, allowed Whites to accumulate astronomical wealth. Moreover,it has allowed Whites to capitalized that wealth by developing socio-economic technologies and sociopolitical advantages which will facilitate their continuing economic and political domination of Blacks in the present and into the future even under governmental regimes which do not legally or politically sanction racial discrimination of any kind,whether of the forward or reverse variety."
Therefore, "Apartheid did not die," it morphed into a more gluttonous and oppressive monster riding the fake independence that Blacks in south Africa thought they have earned and now control.
Absence of Black Ownership Social malaise and Malady
Therefore, it is not enough that Africans in South Africa forgive Whites their past sins; that they merely "forget the past"; that they "forgive and forget". It is not enough that Whites cease and desist their prior injustices and racially discriminatory practices afford them. For even under a color-blind political and economic regime they will use their previously accumulated and unredistributed wealth and power to continue to invest to their advantage and to their advantage and to the disadvantage of Africans in South Africa.
Africans have to remain aware of the fact that when they let Whites purchase and gain control of their resources by means of the wealth and the other advantages they acquired through the perpetration of prior racial injustices, they will continue to be victimized by White-instigated racial inequalities and exploitation even though such ends may not be consciously intended by Whites.
Whites will plea that they are not only taking advantage of market opportunities equally available to all without regard to race. It is imperative that if Blacks are to acquire true equality and power relative to Whites, then, they must demand and get reparations from Whites or that Whites, through committed long-term affirmative action, compensate them for their loses due to their prior oppression by whites.
If tis cannot be accomplishes then it is necessary that Blacks, by any means necessary, prevent Which by no means a substitute for Black ownership of those facilities and the ancillary goods and services they require. Social problems in the Black communities from further investing in their territories where Blacks themselves are not included as equal or predominant partners
Crime, family instability,social disorganization, poverty and disease in the Black community are all related to the absence of Black ownership of important and vital resources. The mere convenience provided by White-owned retail facilities placed in Black community is by no means a substitute for Black ownership of those facilities and the ancillary goods and services they require.
Social problems in the Black community will not be prevented because shopping will be more convenient for Black consumers. These problems will be solved through the Black ownership and equitable distribution of the Black commonwealth and through the Black community's empowering itself relative to other communities to protect and advance its interests.
This cannot happen if other communities own and control all that is vital to the Black community, no matter how convenient or inexpensive to Black consumers. Ultimately, the convenience provided by such arrangements will become much too inconvenient and the cheap prices they afford will become too much to pay.
New Media for African-Americans and Africa in the 21st Century
For the whole of Africa, having lost clear and detailed sense of our identity, we have naturally lost our ability to create a point of view originally and strictly our own. With our scrambled sense of reality, we have forgotten how to see things in terms of our separate and concrete interests. We behave, throughout Africa, as if the interest of the West were necessarily our own, as if the western point of view were the one and only valid one.
Worse still, we behave as if it were some sort of betrayal to discover and insist on our own point of viewing the world. We allowed ourselves to be persuaded that African Unity was utopian hen it was advocated by Kwame Nkrumah; but as soon as the western powers took a hand in the matter and cracked the whip, we created an Organization of African Unity they the West controlled.
We allowed ourselves to be persuaded that the economic unification of Africa was utopian, but gladly took associate status in the Common Market of an economically Unifying Europe. We permitted ourselves to believe that we should be nonaligned, primarily because we had been told that communist aid and contact would be bad for us. without making our own independent observations and calculations we believed such western advice for many years, denying ourselves whatever aid we might have gotten from China and the USSR We must wipe from our eyes all delusions of freedom if we are to see clearly our way to real freedom.
How can Black people see clearly and know how to apply themselves and utilize the new technologies in this Technological Society(as described by Jacques Ellul in his book Technological Society). Jajj Flemings writes that "People of color may consume a lot of technology, but oftentimes we fail to use it in a way that moves us forward."
Chances are you've all heard about the 'digital divide' but not everyone is exactly sure as to what that actually is.. Wikipedia defines it as the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socio-economic levels with regard both to their opportunities too access information and Communication Technologies (CTs) and to their use of the Internet for a wide variety of activities.
Basically, as the Internet and digital technology continues to mature, these technologies will become more integrated into every aspect of our business and personal lives; as communication platforms, mediums for business commerce, and news source. But are African Americans being left behind in the digital age?
If so, mobile technology may help bridge the gap. According to the Pew Pol (July 2010), 51% of Hispanics and 46% of African Americans use their cell phones to access the Internet, compared to 33% of White Americans. Forty-seven percent of Latinos and 41% of African Americans use their phones for e-mail, compared with 30% of White Americans.
HAjj continues to write in his article that: "The African American community must take personal responsibility to ensure that we cannot stay current as it relates to digital media literacy. Just to be clear. The digital divide is greater than having access to Facebook or sending personal text messages. It's being able to use the Internet and digital technology to communicate access to information, and create commerce. Here are 8 mobile Apps to increase your informationMobile Apps (See 8 Apps on the Picture Gallery on the right of the Article and explanations as to what they do). Here are some tech areas that lack diversity:
1) Tech Startups: One percent of tech startups have Black founders (87% White Americans and 12% Asians). There's a new frontier of Black tech entrepreneurs that are being birthed through the New Me Accelerator. You can follow the process this summer on NewMeConference.com.
2) Social Media/Digital Conferences: How many African-Americans attend social/digital media conferences to stay current on the trends of digital technology? There's a lot of debate over the lack of diversity of the speakers and participants at these conferences. Our community needs to be challenged to create a pipeline of qualified people and companies that demand attention of the tech community and provide access and opportunities to close the digital divide.
"How should African-Americans use technology?" Hajj asks and answers in the following manner: "Technology and the Internet are tools that can be the great equalizers.Let's focus on the areas we can control by educating ourselves on the latest digital technology, mobile devices, and application to expand our presence in business and in the digital space. Here are some resources to identify African American offered by Hajj:
New Me Accelerator: The first Accelerator for minority-led tech startups launching in the summer of 2011 in Silicon Valley
Black Enterprise's Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo: This year's Black Enterprise Entrepreneur's conference will include a lot of useful social/digital media.
Brand Camp University: One of the most diversified social media conferences.
Black Web 2.0: A great destination for African-Americans in Technology and New Media.
Quora: A great resource to query who some notable founders, entrepreneurs, and executives in Silicon Valley are.
28-Days of Diversity: 28-Days of Diversity is a list generated by Wayne Sutton highlighting quality minorities in the tech space
The information above was culled from an article written by Hajj Flemings.
Social Media and Diversity
Here is another article written by Jay Baer: "At South by Southwest in Austin, I was at several events attended by the 'social media mafia'-the 300 or so folks that create much of the content around social media nationally. Bloggers, consultants, community managers, et al. There are of course many excellent social media practitioners that do not attend SXSW, but there is definitely a high concentration of social media pros at these taco-fuelled events. One of the events was even produced by Amber Naslund and me, as a launch party for The NOW Revolution. As I looked around at these events. I noticed that, 'the vast majority of attendees appeared to be 25-39 years old, and the vast majority were White.,
The fact is, most social media pros can easily name the handful people in the business. Excellent professionals like Wayne Sutton,Stanford Smith, Shashi Bellamknonda, Shama Kabani, and Rohit Bhargava, are the exceptions that prove the rule. In Louisville a few days before SXSW, Amber and I presented to a group of social media and business leaders at a terrific event produced by Jason Falls.
During the questions, an attendee asked whether companies should be thinking about increasing diversity in the social media ranks. It was the first time I'd been asked about diversity in a social media context. The premise of The Now Revolution is that business success is increasingly about reaction time, and that to be fast, your company need to operate with one head, and one heart.
Decentralizing social responsibilities and empowering employees to make the right decision now, is the hallmark of social evolution. The best way to move fast and with authenticity is to innately understand the perspective of the person on the other end of the social telephone. That's why ThinkGeek is so effective socially. They sell to geeks. But more importantly, their employees ARE geeks. If social media is going to be a public "face" of organizations, and drive kinship with the populace, we have to do more than rely on a bunch of 30 year-old White people to do so.
As an industry, we cannot fall into the same trap that the advertising business did, whereby they continue to struggle with attracting and retaining a diverse workforce 30+ years after it was first identified as a shortcoming, Let's make sure social media practitioners look like the people with whom they are supposed to interact: our customers.(Jay Baer)
It was the pressure of communications which brought about the downfall of traditional societies. And in the future, it will be the creation of new channels of communication and the ready acceptance of new content of communications which will be decisive in determining the prospects of nation-building (Pye, 1963)It did not take long, however, for communication scholars and world leaders to realize that the link between mass media presence and socioeconomic development could also often be negative, especially in developing countries.
According to Lerner and Schramm: "Throughout the less developed regions, people have been led to want more than they can get. This can be attributed in part to the spread of mass media, which inevitably show and tell people about the good things of life that are available elsewhere.
"... As people in the poor countries were being shown and told about 'goodies' available in developed countries, they were also being taught about their own inferiority -- at least in terms of wealth and well-being.
"Recognition of the disparities between the rich and poor countries produced among some a sense of hopelessness, among others a sense of aggressiveness. Both apathy and aggression usually are counterproductive to genuine development efforts."
Ideologies, Ideas and Colonized Information
To further elaborate on this issues discussed above, Wilson informs us that:
"... In the past we have discussed a number of sources of bases of power, e.g., economic resources, authority, class membership, family, culture, organization, and the like. However, a source of power more fundamental than these, in fact the ultimate base of power for the other power sources, is the power of ideas.The power of mind, of thought, imagination and vision; the power if ideation and the transition of ideation into action, are manifested in a multitude of personal, social, cultural and physical forms.
"For ideas are actualized and incarnated in patterns of social attitudes, relations and organization; in social and physical products; in abilities and inabilities, superordinations and subordinations. Knowledge is idea, the production of ideation reciprocally interacting with reality. Therefore, if knowledge is power, ideas have power. Ideas can be coercive and compelling. Beliefs, symbols, doctrines, and idea systems can enable or empower men through their capacity to induce then into states of consciousness conducive to the achievement of certain personal and social goals which would not be achievable by other means.
"Indeed," as Thomas Dye asserts, "whole societies are shaped by systems of ideas that we frequently refer to as ideologies." He goes on to define an ideology as "an integrated system of ideas that provides society and its member with rationalizations for a way of life, guides for evaluating 'rightness' and 'wrongness,' and emotional impulses to action."
"The relationship between socioeconomic power systems and social ideology is an intimate one. For ideology legitimates power systems, hierarchical structures and social relations through its provision for rationales and justifications. If ideology successfully justifies the distribution and exercise of power within social relation, then it represents itself as a potent source of control over the consciousness and behavior of the participants. Thomas Dye informs us that:
"Ideologies control people's behavior in several ways:-
1) Ideologies affect perception. Ideas influence what people "see" in the world around them. Ideologies frequently describe the character of human beings in society; they help us become aware of certain aspects of society but often impair our ability to see other aspects. Ideologies may distort and oversimplify in their effort to provide a unified and coherent account of society.
2) Ideologies rationalize and justify a way of life and hence provide legitimacy for the structure of society. An ideology may satisfy the status quo, or it may provide a rationale for change, or even for revolution.
3) Ideologies provide normative standards to determine 'rightness" and "wrongness" in the affairs of society. Ideologies generally have a strong moral component. Occasionally, they even function as 'religions" -- completer with prophets(Marx), scriptures (the Communist Manifesto), saints(Lenin, Stalin, Mao), and visions of utopia (a Communist society)
4) Ideologies provide motivation for social and political action. They give their followers a motive to act to improve world conditions. Ideologies can "convert" individuals to a particular social or political movement and arouse them to action.
So that,we are then learning about ideas in terms of their use by the ruling class or dominant groups to justify the existing social order. In this sense we learn from Jeffrey Reiman (1990) who asserted that:
"When ideas, however unintentionally, distort reality in a way that justifies the prevailing distribution of wealth and power, hides society's injustices, and thus secures uncritical allegiance to the existing social order, we have what Marx called 'ideology.' So to the naive but acute observer of the American political and economic system it is amazingly baffling that in the face of gross and rapidly increasing inequities in wealth and power, social status and influence, social health and welfare, the vast majority of the population who bare the burden of these inequities do not utilize their vaunted freedom of speech and assembly to engage in fundamental questioning the political-economic-legal institutions of the system and organize to transform them so that they produce more equitable and salutary outcomes.
"The fact that this system has not been transformed toward such outcomes implies that despite its gross inequities and inadequacies a critical mass of the populace much accept the ideology used to rationalize and justify its existence. Obviously, those most interested and active in inculcating and sustaining such an ideology would be those who are the chief beneficiaries of the socioeconomic status and those who believe they stand to gain in the future fro its continuance and/or who fear losing what they have, though it may be less than they need if the system were to reconstituted.
"It should be apparent that in such a system the 'rich and powerful' have an especially strong interests on promulgating and elaborating the prevailing ideology which legitimates their socioeconomic status. The rich and powerful, in this context, of all the groups which compose America/south Africa societies, have the greatest need for ideology and to see that the other groups are well-indoctrinated with it."
This is the nub of the issues when it comes to race relations within contemporary societies. There are those who have more than others, and they are the ones who rule and determine life as we live it. Here is an interesting take on this by J. Reiman:
"A simple persuasive argument can be made for the claim that the rich and powerful in America/[Africa] have an interest in conveying an ideological message to the rest of the nation(s). The 'have-nots' and 'have littles fa outnumber the 'have plenties'. This means, to put it rather crudely, the 'have-nots and the 'have-littles' could have more if they decided to take it from the 'have-plenties'.
This , in turn, means that the 'heave-plenties' need the cooperation of the 'have-nots' and the 'have-littles'. Because the 'have-plenties' are such a small minority that they could never force this cooperation on the 'have-nots' and 'have-littles', this cooperation must be voluntary.
"For the cooperation to be voluntary, the 'have-nots' and the 'have-littles' must believe that for all its problems the present social, political and economic order, with its disparities of wealth and power and privilege, is about the best that human beings can do. More specifically, the 'have-nots' and 'have-little' must believe that they are not being exploited by the 'have-plenties'.
Now, this seems to me to add up to an extremely plausible argument that ours is a social system that requires for its continued operation a set of beliefs necessary to secure the allegiance of the less well-off majority. These beliefs must be in some considerable degree false, because the distribution of wealth and power in the United States/African and South Africa is so evidently arbitrary and unjust. Ergo, the need for ideology."
Professor Clarke could not have put it any better, and I have not known anyone to have encapsulated all the above information as Clarke did. Just to paraphrase him, Clarke said that, 'the Europeans not only colonized information, they also colonized information about the world.'
In Africa and elsewhere, arguments as to whether the continent should acquire the new communication technologies have assumed robust dimension. The major issues revolve around the questions of priorities. ... In a world in which the developed and developing countries pursue different goals and priorities based on the different levels of their technological endowments, the new communication technologies are bound to be viewed with both optimism and suspicion.
Indeed, it was the former President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania painted a grim picture of the African scene when he reportedly said that, 'while the industrialized world may be traveling to the moon with ease -- as a result of their technological advancement - African leaders are still grappling with the problem of how to reach their people in the villages.' Taking the Internet and other emerging electronic networks as an example, Jegede doubts their ability to accelerate Africa's development even as he recognizes the need for Africa to share information and ideas with the rest of the world.
African PeopleBlamed And Victimized By Their Own Leaders
It is also worth checking-out the ideas of other writers about the victimization of Africans since European enslavement of Africans and colonizing/Imperializing over them, has been all about and is still all about. We read from Hamilton Odunze that:
"When a f�ted scholar like Chinua Achebe says something, it is merely natural that the rest of us pay attention and respect. To embellish or remove from the insightful observation of such an intellectual is something I will not encourage anybody to do, just for the heck of it. However, from time to time, one feels compelled to share an opinion. Having said the above, I respectfully want to discuss an issue raised by our esteemed scholar far away in Jamaica a few weeks ago and published by Vanguard Newspapers.
The occasion was the ongoing 200th anniversary of the end of the transatlantic slave trade of Africans to the Caribbean. Achebe said: "we have not been lucky with the leadership we have had since independence ... no one else suffered the huge compulsory movement of people and the destruction of the continent that followed it. It is that destruction that we are seeing in Darfur, Somalia and Nigeria..."
Chinua Achebe is right. Anybody with a good sense of history knows that the unabated destruction we are seeing in Africa today has some elements of Western influence engraved in them. We are victims of one of the most horrendous crimes in human history by way of colonization and slavery.
Yet, Africans are divided as to how we have been affected by slavery and colonization. Many believe that these events bunged the pace of African civilization. I credit this point of view with brilliant scholastic values. But history has shown that many great civilizations were at one time or another colonized.
Therefore, the problem in Africa may not be directly linked to these horrendous crimes. The problem may be with the nature of African independence. Stay with me as I make the supporting argument.
Take Nigeria for instance. Our fight for independence was not spirited enough to warrant the need for a common purpose within the elements of survival and nation building. With profound apologies to those who struggled for our freedom, independence came on a round table over coffee and lunch. Right from then on, those who would later rule Nigeria were instantly separated from those they would rule. There was no common ground for the masses and their leaders.
This trend has survived in today's Nigeria. In fighting for our independence, we did not sacrifice enough for our freedom; therefore, we lack any basis for patriotism. To a large extent, this lack of patriotism is the difference between nations who fought and died for freedom and those whose freedom came over coffee and lunch like ours. For instance, America fought a long and hard war with the British for their freedom. Consequently, they were united by the need to survive, regardless of their differences. South Africa is on the right track today because the nature of its independence was rough and bloody.
So far, I am arguing that our path to independence should have been violent, even bloody. Colonization and slavery, bad as they may have been, are not at the root of Africa's problem. However, regardless of which side of the argument you are on, one question stands out: Is it really pragmatic to discuss Africa's and Nigeria's problem in the context of colonization and slavery? As a Nigerian who anguishes over the situation of things in our country, I fear that not pointing out the dangers in continuing to blame the West for our woes is wrong.
Since Chinua Achebe's insightful observations, I have labored to link the extent of destruction going on in Nigeria with colonization and slavery. I could not find the moral courage to join in blaming America, Europe and France for our woes. For one reason, it is unprogressive because it makes excuses for what we have failed to do for ourselves.
Second, it makes excuses for the perpetuation of the abuse and destruction which has been going on unabated in Africa. One thing is clear: these abuses and destructions are malicious acts of people committing against their own. Therefore, blaming the West for our problems is a futile academic exercise not consistent with the realities of our existence in Nigeria.
The realities of life in Nigeria are grim, as many as 99% of Nigerians live with less than $1 a day in the midst of affluence. Our infrastructure is under colossal decay. In case we have forgotten, let us go down memory lane in order of profundity: as close as 1982, Nigerians were enjoying a booming economy. Our hospitals were among the best in the world. We had world-class education. Again, how do we explain this retrogression in terms of colonization and slavery? If anything, the effect of colonization should have been more apparent then than now.
I am not trying to weaken the effects of colonization and slavery, but given the world around us and the impact that Nigerians have made, we should have been half-way down the road to self realization. Like Nigeria, many African nations have been liberated for more than 40 years now. Can somebody please hoot me when do we take a step in the right direction? Our problems in Africa and Nigeria go beyond colonization and slavery.
Many Nigerians believe the West perpetuated our problems by intentionally creating a montage nation called Nigeria. For instance, they argue that the nature of Nigeria's diversity is not manageable under a national umbrella. In a world where many nations crave the kind of diversity we have, it is preposterous to argue that this same condition is our weakness. If anything, Nigeria's obscured strength is its diversity.
My honest conclusion is that we are victims of an ethical dilemma of our own creation manifested in the kinds of leadership we have gotten in the past 40 years.
Below we read from an article in the New York Times of 1998, A Story Of The Atlantic Slave Trade:
In the New York Times Howard W. French writes of The Atlantic Slave Trade: On Both Sides, Reason for Remorse
The New York Times April 5, 1998
The Atlantic Slave Trade: On Both Sides, Reason for Remorse
By HOWARD W. FRENCH
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- From the moment the White House announced that President Clinton would stop at Senegal's Goree Island, one of this continent's most famous monuments to the Atlantic slave trade, a polemic was re-launched in the United States and in much of Africa over how and indeed whether Clinton should apologize for the centuries-long capture and sale into bondage of millions of Africans.
For some, the very idea of an apology was offensive. Weren't Africans engaging in slavery themselves well before the first Europeans came and carried off their first human cargoes? Didn't African chiefs themselves conduct razzias, or slaving raids, on neighboring tribes and march their harvest to the shores for sale?
For others, though, the Atlantic trade in Africans was one of the greatest crimes humanity has known, and remains one that has never been properly acknowledged.
"The Holocaust was certainly a great tragedy, but it only lasted a few short years," said Joseph Ndiaye, the curator of the Maison des Esclaves, the featured stop on Clinton's trip to Goree. "We never stop hearing about the Holocaust, but how often do we dwell on the tragedy that took place here over 350 years; a tragedy that consumed tens of millions of lives?"
In the end, an appropriately solemn Clinton stopped short of an outright apology for America's part in the slave trade, finding other ways to express his regret as he focused on the future.
That Clinton so artfully chose to sidestep African slavery's long history should have come as no surprise to anyone familiar with its cruel and complicated details.
Even today, few subjects are so prone to passionate disagreement. As ever, people from each leg of the triangular Atlantic trade -- Europe, Africa and the Americas -- still use the slave experience as a vacant screen upon which they project their own misperceptions and justifications.
The Colonial View
In the United States, conservative columnist Patrick Buchanan recently echoed a sentiment heard often from whites who resent attempts to make them feel guilty for slavery:
"When Europeans arrived in sub-Saharan Africa, the inhabitants had no machinery and no written language. When the Europeans departed, most of them by 1960, they left behind power stations, telephones, telegraphs, railroads, mines, plantations, schools, a civil service, a police force and a treasury."
Even disregarding the wildly benign view of Europe's colonial legacy, many historians say Buchanan's assumptions -- of a savage continent being blessed with the gift of European civilization -- are as erroneous as they are widespread.
Early European travelers to West Africa, in fact, found societies that by many measures, from commonly available technology to general living standards, were not so different from home.
"The smelting of iron and steel in West Africa was similar to that in Europe in the 13th century, before the advent of power driven by the water wheel," wrote Hugh Thomas, the author of "The Slave Trade" (Simon & Schuster, 1997). "Senegambia had iron and copper industries, and the quality of African steel approached that of Toledo before the 15 century."
It would be dishonest to lay all of Africa's subsequent problems on the slave trade. But most experts do not doubt that the forces unleashed by Europe's demand for slaves, gold and other African goods radically destabilized societies that were embarking on their own path toward development, and laid waste to whole regions of this continent.
"The discussion of how Africa became what it did subsequent to 1500 very quickly becomes an argument over what the slave trade did to the continent," said John Reader, a fellow of the British Royal Anthropological Institute and author of "Africa, a Biography of the Continent."
"Africa clearly would not have had an easy time even if there had not been an Atlantic slave trade," he wrote. "But one can easily imagine entirely different trajectories for the continent."
A cold look at the nature of the Atlantic slave trade makes it very difficult to overstate its impact.
Until recently, Africa's economic development has always been hindered by low population densities. Africa's population in 1500 has been estimated by some at 47 million. Over the next 350 years, between 10 and 15 million Africans were landed in chains in the New World, and 4 to 6 million more are thought to have died during their capture or the Atlantic crossing -- a total of between 14 and 21 million people. History has seen few social disruptions on that scale.
In the end, however, many specialists in African history consider the process by which slavery worked to be as destructive as the sheer numbers involved.
Few African slaves were enchained by Europeans themselves. Instead, massive slave raids, huge marches of captives from inland areas and continuous rivalries between coastal kingdoms and local ethnic groups were driven by demand for Europe's coveted goods -- cloth and candles, grain, horses, spiced wine, pots and pans.
For centuries in Africa, ethical conventions had governed the taking and use of slaves, who in most cases resembled the serfs of Europe more than the chattel of the Americas. These suddenly dissolved.
"The trans-Atlantic slave trade vastly devalued human life compared to what existed virtually anywhere on the continent before," said historian Basil Davidson. "Things were not a peaceful Garden of Eden in Africa beforehand. But all of the evidence combines to show that the level of civilization in pre-colonial Africa was degraded and depressed by the onset of widespread violence related to the slave trade."
And here one begins to touch upon one of the cruelest ironies of the slave trade and enter into an area that many Africans and African-Americans are often unaware of or uncomfortable confronting directly.
African slavery, albeit of a very different kind, began long before the arrival of Europeans, and continued well after slavery's abolition in the West. And the slavery of the Americas could never have approached the scale it attained without the active and widespread collaboration of Africans. Most troubling, perhaps, are how European perceptions of Africans and their behavior lent seeming moral acceptability to the commerce.
The free-for-all among African societies to capture slaves from their neighbors and rivals for sale to whites was deliberately stimulated by the Europeans who anchored offshore with their cloth and trinkets. And this same state of chaos comforted whites in their view of Africans as ignoble savages.
Today Africans and African-Americans may often share a common view of slavery as the evil work of whites. But the very notion of shared Africanness so commonplace today existed only in the minds of foreigners during the time of this trade. To Africans, their own divisions on ethnic and linguistic lines mattered far more. The lack of solidarity served, in the European mind, as another easy rationale for enslaving them.
Contrast this to the attitude Europeans took toward the New World's Indians. Recorded instances of Indians selling each other into plantation slavery are rare. Less than 100 years into the colonization of the New World, calls were spreading for the abolition of Indian slavery.
"The Indians were seen by and large as a people unknown to the ancients who had somehow remained innocent and noble," said David Brion Davis, the Sterling Professor of History at Yale University." At the very same time, mariners going up and down the African coast spread tales of Africans as savage barbarians who sold slaves themselves.
What Is Africa To Me?(ala John Hendrick Clarke)
"Ibrahim Sundiata, wrote an article on the Slave Trade and the Wonders of the African world:
"The discussion over 'The Wonders of the African World' has produced a vigorous and, perhaps, much needed debate. Having finally seen the entire film series and having bought the accompanying book, I have a few thoughts on one issue dealt with in both the text and in the film - Slavery.
"What is Africa to me"? This too oft quoted line by a New World Black man still interrogates. To many the continent signifies as the home of the Black Race, the iconic antipode of Europe, the home of the White. Indeed, Africa in the American popular perception continues to be either an Edenic Mother/Fatherland or the barbarous home of famine, disease and civil war. Two constructs-"The Image of Africa" and "The Image of Slavery"-have molded, and continue to mold, the Black Diaspora. "Wonders of the African World" gingerly attempts to walk the line between the two.
We may begin by asking: What is the "essential" relationship to ancestral Africa? We do know, of course, that, from the fifteenth century onward, millions of forced migrants left the African continent to people both of the Americas and the islands of the Caribbean. At embarkation, captured women and men were phenotypically and culturally African, but much has happened since then. Yet, Africa continues to operate as a fixed point, the loadstone of ethnic identity, an identity often analyzed so as to diffuse issues of hybridization and creolization. Whether the locus of collective origin is in ancient Egypt or among the Yoruba, a core Africanity is posited because societal constructs so clearly set off the "Black" community from the "White," in a Manichaeans worldview which governs everything from politics to the music industry.
In early 1998, President Bill Clinton visited Africa. To many, the trip was a triumphal one, focused on trade, international security and the ties that bind Africa and African Americans. Howard French, an African-American writer in the New York Times mused over whether the United States should apologize for the Atlantic Slave Trade. He noted that, "In the end, appropriately solemn Mr. Clinton stopped short of an outright apology for America's part in the slave trade, finding other ways to express his regret as he focused on the future." When the president did express regret, he spoke at school in Uganda. The act was perhaps unintentionally symbolic, the equivalent of apologizing for the Irish Potato Famine in Slovakia. Interestingly, nothing was said of contemporary bondage across the border in neighboring Sudan.
The silence reflects the vagaries of the last century's abolitionist debates. Commenting on President Clinton's decision to express official regret for the historic slave trade, French mentioned what we may call The Slaver's Canard: "Weren't Africans engaging in slavery themselves well before the first Europeans came and carried off their first human cargoes? Didn't African chiefs themselves conduct...slaving raids on neighboring tribes and march their harvest to the shores for sale?" The charge is an old one. Beginning in the eighteenth century, defenders of Atlantic slavery maintained that Africa itself was rife with slavery; Europeans only took away the surplus produced by semi-permanent warfare. Nineteenth century abolitionists countered by painting an image of a bucolic Africa in which slaves were part of the family, a status hardly comparable to chattel status in the American South.
From the other end of the political spectrum, polemicists continued and continue to hammer away at the particular evil of "African slavery." For instance, the conservative ideologue Dinesh D'Souza decries what he perceives as liberal attempts to "downplay African slavery." He notes that "Any claims of the benign quality of African slavery are hard to square with such reports as slaves being tortured at the discretion of their owners, or executed en masse to publicly commemorate the deaths of the kings of Dahomey. . . "
Given the geographical size of Africa and the number and complexity of societies found there, any broad generalization is bound to be false. One could argue that there is no benign slavery. Some time ago, in comparing slavery in the Americas, the anthropologist Marvin Harris, comparing slavery in the United States and Latin America, discounted the "Myth of the Kindly Master," in which "Latin" slavery was envisioned as somehow innately less harsh and burdensome than the Anglo-Saxon variety. In the Harris thesis, if some African societies seemed to offer slaves more leeway than others, it is because their intensity of economic production was less. It would be very hard to argue that the slave salt miners of Taodeni or the laborers in the Asante gold mines participated in any form of "familial" slavery. Even when the kinship idiom is used, we must realize that folks can be awfully hard on their kin (for example, Roman fathers had the legal right to kill or sell their spouses and children). Also, gender cannot be overlooked. The majority of slaves in Africa were women and in many places the major agriculturalists. Their status put them at a complex juncture; under patriarchy all women are subordinate, but some are more subordinate than others.
If Africa is simply the metonym for "Black Man's Land," a place without nations, ethnicities or languages, the charge of slavery and slaving is devastating. Zora Neale Hurston lamented, "But the inescapable fact that stuck in my craw was: my people had sold me...My own people had exterminated whole nations and torn families apart for profit before the strangers got their chance at a cut." Richard Wright was bedeviled by similar thoughts. "Had some of my ancestors," he mused, "sold their relatives to white men?" The writer wondered: "What would my feelings be when I looked into the black face of an African, feeling that maybe his great-great-great-grandfather had sold my great-great-great-grandfather into slavery?" Skip Gates continues in the same vein: "The image of slavery we had when I was a kid was that the Europeans showed up with these fish nets and swept all the Africans away." He is startled: "Rubbish. It's like they went to a shopping mall. Without the Africans there wouldn't have been a slave trade."
The indictment is particularly blistering:
. . . For African Americans the most painful-truth concerning the extraordinary complex phenomenon that was the African slave trade is the role of black Africans themselves in its origins, its operation, and its perpetuation. It was an uneasiness and anger about this truth that fueled Richard Wright's barely concealed contempt for his Ghanaian kinsman in Black Power and that led many African Americans to view their New World culture as sui generis, connected only tenuously to its African antecedents, if at all. Western images of African barbarism and savagery, of course, did not endear us to our native land [sic]. But for many of my countrymen, the African role in the slave trade of other Africans is both a horrific surprise and the ultimate betrayal, something akin to fratricide and sororicide. Imagine the impact of a revelation that Sephardic Jews had served as the middlemen in the capture or incarceration of Askenazi Jews during the Holocaust, and you can perhaps begin to understand Richard Wright's disgust.
This raises the question of what a "brother" and a "kinsman" is. If a continent is the "Nation," an equivalent would be to view the Holocaust as a Mittel-Europaische family feud of particular ferocity -- Europeans exterminating their own people, while in league with an alien race at the other end of the world. Indeed, thousands of Askenazim did die at the hands of their Polish, Ukrainian and Baltic neighbors. And, strangely, the Germans killed a far greater percentage of their European Jewish captives than they did of their North and West African prisoners of war. Although some nineteenth century thinkers may have seen Jews and Arabs as "Orientals" sharing a bundle of common characteristics, only the most Utopian of present-day prognosticators would predict the rise of a political "Pan Semitism" in the Middle East. The comparisons of Jews and Africans is a strained one. Kwame Appiah notes "that Judaism - the religion and the wider body of Jewish practice through which the various communities of the Diaspora have defined themselves allow for a cultural conception of Jewish identity that cannot be made plausible in the case of Pan Africanism." Appiah points to "the way that the fifty or so rather disparate African nationalities in our present world seem to have met the nationalist impulses of many Africans, while Zionism has, of necessity, been satisfied by the creation of a single state."
Unfortunately, in the popular American imagination, the fifty African states remain an irrelevant hodgepodge. The continent remains largely featureless; languages are dialects and ethnicities are tribes. If Africa, three times the size of the United States and containing 748 million people speaking some 1,500 languages, is reduced to simply a mythic homeland, confusion is sure to follow. And worse than confusion, a basic lack of understanding or sympathy for Africans as they exist is bound to follow.
The image of slavery in Africa has historically stood as a distortion, either a magnification or diminution of the image of American slavery. TransAtlantic bondage is the absolute before which all other manifestations are held to be relative. Slavery is the cause of the essential national fissure. The national (white) image of the institution has gone through various permutations, without questioning basic assumptions. Early in the twentieth century Southern historians like Ulrich B. Phillips painted a rosy picture of bondage in Dixie; indeed, slavery was a benign "school" for blacks. D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation contained images of both "faithful darkies" and "ferocious bucks." The popular image of kindly slavery perhaps reached its apogee in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.
As the white vision of slavery changed, so did the black. The African American view of slavery has changed drastically in the years since emancipation. Various nineteenth-century black thinkers, among them Martin Delany, Henry M. Turner, Alexander Crummell, and Edward Blyden, saw the Middle Passage as providential, even if highly painful. By the time of the Civil Rights Movement a Providential Slavery had all but disappeared from most African American discourse on slavery and the slave trade. The image of slavery emerged not so much as a labor system, but as a systematic torture of millions rooted in innate racial antagonism. In this scenario, sexual exploitation and gross barbarity fueled by raging hatred characterized everyday of slave existence. The plantation resembled not so much Booker T. Washington's "school" as it did Stanley Elkins' later comparison with a concentration camp.
An "Old Dixie Narrative" had emerged. Simply, stated this view of history says: Slavery was confined to Dixie and slaves grew cotton. Nowhere else in the history of humanity has slavery existed and nowhere else were human beings chattel. In this scenario, Africans were selected to be slaves because they were black. Racism drove a slave trade and slavery which existed as the ultimate form of psychosexual torture. The numbers immolated in the horror of the "Middle Passage" and in the cotton fields ran into the millions. At the popular level, the Old Dixie Narrative floats in the American collective consciousness, even among those who have never given it much thought.
For many African Americans, looking back through the prism of Jim Crow and lynch law, a view of slavery as the ultimate horror provides ample proof of the ultimate fixity of human nature. Racism was as alive in fifteenth-century Lisbon as it was in nineteenth-century Mobile. History is one long version of Up from Slavery and always a struggle against the Manichean "Other." Blacks remain the ultimate Outgroup, one which erases European division and suffering. In the Old Dixie Narrative, there is agreement from both sides of the racial divide that Blacks have always been drawers of water and hewers of wood. Class is eternally "raced."
If slavery is about race, then Africans could not have engaged in a slave traffic. Indeed, the charge itself is racial calumny. However, a cautionary note was sounded long ago by the Trinidadian historian Eric Williams. Best known for maintaining that white humanitarianism did not abolish the slave trade, the scholar made a subsidiary, and often overlooked, point: capitalism and slavery are no great respecters of persons. Writing from beyond the confines of the Dixie Narrative, he observed that, "The `horrors' of the Middle Passage have been exaggerated. For this the British abolitionists are in large part responsible." Furthermore, "A racial twist has ...been given to what is basically an economic phenomenon. Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery. Unfree labor in the New World was brown, white, black, and yellow; Catholic, Protestant and pagan." Slavery need not be raced. It could exist in ancient Rome, medieval Kosovo, nineteenth-century Korea and in the Liberia of the 1930s. Unfortunately, few could think in terms of C. L. R. James dictum: "The race question is subsidiary to the class question in politics....But to neglect the racial factor as merely incidental is an error only less grave than to make it fundamental."
If we heed these caveats, we end up with somewhat different conclusions than those contained in the "The Wonders of the African World." Slavery, like marriage, is a fairly universal institution. Most societies have had some form of it. Slavery, at base, rests on the ability to coerce labor and/or sexual reproduction. Probing for a peculiar "Black" guilt for slavery is an ahistorical and presentist trap.
We might as well ask why the "brothers" have fought and killed each other in places as disparate as Biafra and Rwanda. The answer is obvious. Africa is a continent full of proud, diverse and often contentious peoples. It also has social cleavages within societies, something a scholar like Walter Rodney clearly recognized twenty years ago. Recently, Joe Miller has pointed out that, "Africa [still] looms integrally in the background of African-American history as a unified ancestry reflecting the racial sense of community forced by American prejudice on African Americans. . ."
The "Wonders of the African World" did little to go beyond this view. The positing of a Black "Volksgemeinschaft" is soothingly mythopoeic, but it is not history. As Pearle-Alice Marsh, executive director of the Africa Policy Information laments: "There are millions of Americans who still think Africa is a country, not a continent." Sadly, in spite of its kaleidoscopic race around the continent, "Wonders of the African World" will do little to change this perception.