HOW WE ALL PARTICIPATED IN THE DEATH OF JULIUS MALEMA, A SON OF THE SOIL by MALAIKA WA AZANIA
by Malaika Wa Azania on Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 5:29am ·
HOW WE ALL PARTICIPATED IN THE DEATH OF JULIUS MALEMA, A SON OF THE SOIL
At the risk of seeming like a lunatic, I want to challenge young people to view the ANC situation outside the cemented axis of interpretation that has been created by the media as well as the leadership and membership of both the ANC and the ANCYL. There is an axis of interpretation that insists that Malema is reaping that which he is responsible for sowing. This axis argues that for a while, Malema has been wrecking havoc within the Alliance, projecting “reckless” behaviour that seeks to undermine the ANC leadership and obliterate a culture of revolutionary discipline that is allegedly cemented in the oldest liberation movement in the Afrikan continent. The opposite axis argues differently; that Malema is the fall guy in a savage game of politicking, where dog-eats-dog is a constant. It is alleged that Malema is paying the price for raising legitimate questions by those who benefit from having these questions out of public discourse, namely, the leadership of the ANC. Each axis has its own corroboration of its interpretation. However, for those of us who are not privy to internal matters of the ANC and its Youth League, and equally reject the often sensationalist interpretations of the media, the responsibility of dissecting the ANC crisis is left to our individual consciousness, which is birthed by an understanding of the society that we are located within, the same society that Malema himself is located within. And so, this article seeks to answer questions not from the angle of politicking, but from a sociological perspective that views Malema as a person located within our society, but with a political home within that society. To understand the nucleus of this article, it is important that i bring to your attention a less known story of Victoria Climbie, an 8 year old Ivorian girl who died in England in the February of 2000.
Victoria Climbie was born into a poor family at a village in Cote d’Ivoire, also known as Ivory Coast, in 1992. When she was 7 years old, a distant relative of hers, Marie Therese Kouao, approached her parents with a proposition that very few working-class parents can turn down. Kouao was living in England at the time. She proposed that she be allowed to take Victoria with her to England, so that she could receive a good education which, in the poverty-stricken village of her birth, Victoria would never have received. Excited at the prospect of having their oldest daughter being educated in a developed country, Victoria’s parents gave their consent, with the understanding that she would return home at some point and plough back to her community. But upon arriving in Europe, Victoria's life took a turn so savage that to date, it is humanly impossible to comprehend. Victoria was brutalised by her aunt, beaten and starved. She barely attended school, because more often than not, she was covered in painful bruises and scars all over her little body. In February 2000, no longer able to fight for her life, the little girl died in the Intensive Care Unit of St Mary’s Hospital in London. Her body carried 128 injuries. She had spent her final weeks lying in a bath, freezing and bound head and foot inside a bin bag.
The tragic thing about Victoria’s death is that it could have been easily prevented. Prior to her death, and at the height of the abuse, Victoria was seen to by TWELVE agencies, which included childcare services, doctors and social workers. All of them could have halted the abuse, but they failed to intervene. At one point, she was taken to Middlesex Hospital by a concerned adult, who was worried about the bruises that were covering the child’s fragile body. But the doctors there refused to assess Victoria, diagnosing scabies as the cause of the bruises, despite cigarette burns and other glaring human-inflicted injuries protruding from every part of her flesh. In another incident, a social worker who was tasked with visiting Victoria’s home to assess the living conditions of the child opted to not fulfil that duty, for fear of “catching scabies” (Victoria Climbie Inquiry Report). Because of this neglect and failure to act when there was sufficient time to do so, Victoria Climbie died and the Afrikan continent was robbed of a potential contributor to its think-tank.
The story of Malema, though not identical in context, is disturbingly similar to the story of Victoria Climbie. Like Victoria, Malema could have been saved by many people at many points in is political journey, but the chances were deliberately missed. The result of this is that a person who had immense potential to help Azania re-write its narrative has been dealt a political death, making it virtually impossible to communicate with a wider audience that not only listened, but NEEDED to listen, to most of what he had to say.
The charges that were brought against Malema by the ANC NDC as well as the accusations that are hurled by ANC leadership, membership and the general population, have a common denominator: they all attribute ill-discipline to Malema’s political burial. Some, who obviously are suffering from extreme amnesia, even go as far as to claim that Malema alone is the cause of the state of decay in the ANC. He is accused of being the cancer that has infected and paralysed the Mass Democratic Movement. The most insane of people even claim that the decrease in the number of votes that the ANC received at the previous elections is a result of Malema’s radical pronouncements over the past few years. These preposterous assertions are, of course, an attempt to use Malema as a scapegoat for a problem that is of our collective creation and one that could and should have been addressed at its infancy.
In 2008, that year when the country was thrown into a dark abyss, Julius Malema emerged as a hero of a faction that was hell-bent on utilising any means necessary to remove what it deemed a problem in the ANC. In fact, at one particular event attended by ANC and YL leaders and members, Julius Malema had this to say: “The problem in this country is Thabo Mbeki and his people”. By this, Malema meant that the then president of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Mbeki, and his administration, was the cause of the problems that the country was facing, socio-economical and otherwise. Malema, as a leader of the ANCYL, led a vicious campaign to unseat a constitutionally elected president, using very uncomradedly methods that ought to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of authentic patriots. Interestingly, at this point, the zenith of his vulgarism, Malema was not seen to be ill-disciplined or reckless. He was defined as a militant young person who spoke truth to power. We all clapped hands when he spoke, whether or not he was vividly insulting elders. Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said: “When you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”. This statement is most apt in capturing the response of our society to Malema’s behaviour. We either justified his actions as being those of “a radical young person” or we simply dismissed him with a shrug, never analysing the implications of our apathetic reaction to his uncouth behaviour.
Today, Malema is walking in the valley of the shadow of is political death. He is facing an expulsion from his political home, an organisation that he has dedicated years of his life to, an organisation that he poignantly calls “my home”. And like a lamb to the slaughter, he knows that the end is nigh. Many people are sitting comfortably in their corners with smirks on their faces, saying, “He is ill-disciplined and he must go!!” Few are using this opportunity to reflect upon THEIR role in Malema’s demise, which they do not realise has implications beyond the settling of political vendettas. The implications will be felt especially by the Black majority, to which Malema appealed.
It cannot be debated that under him, the ANCYL re-introduced the one issue that this country has perfected the art of ostracising from political discourse: the race question. At a time when the collective soporification of our people was threatening to render them in a permanent state of defeatism, the ANCYL, under Malema, came out with guns blazing, guns pointed at the enemy: the system that survives on the subjugation of Black people, the system that has not only institutionalised, but has also constitutionalised Afrophobia. The rapture that was created by the ANCYL under Malema was necessary, because it forced all of us to re-introspect our location within an Azania that cunningly buries truths in favour of one-way reconciliatory approaches to solving urgent matters. That rapture is the reason for the slow build-up of confidence that is evident in a people who had almost forgotten that they have a place in this anti-Black world.
Indeed, Malema is not innocent in all this. But NONE of us is. We must, as a people, synthesise the causes and ramifications of this occurring disaster. It is our responsibility to put an end to convenient politicking, which is rapidly manifesting in the Afrikan continent. As a people, whether as activists or as the general populace, we must begin to condemn ill-discipline in its elementary stages, whether or not it benefits our objectives. Because ill=discipline FOR us soon becomes ill-discipline AGAINST us, the result of our failure to address it in its infancy is that at some point, it is going to threaten revolutionary gains.
Student organisations, as factories where future leaders are manufactures, must lead the revolution of the annihilation of ill-discipline. It begins with fighting against SRC corruption and misappropriation of resources. It begins with ceasing the culture of electing leaders on the basis of popularity as opposed to electing them on the basis of capacity to deliver. But more than that, it begins with all of us standing united in the struggle for Socialism, which is a quest for the cleansing of a society that we want our own children to grow up in. We cannot continue to let problems manifest and only at the height of their development, want to react to them. In Sesotho we say: THUPA E KOJOA E SALE METSI.
Malaika Lesego Samora Mahlatsi
Minister of Land Affairs 2033