In early 2013, when the South African government introduced toll fees on N-1: the main Jo-Burg-Pretoria Highway, it was trying to address two official problem, and an unofficial one.
The official problems were:
– To reduce carbon foot-print and save mother earth: Very nice; and
– To encourage people to use the Go-train and help one of the world cup era, multi-billion dollar investments to start making returns; also very nice!
The unsaid reason was to encourage white folks to rub shoulders with their black fellow countrymen every morning and evening in the tube, or at least be penalized for racism.
As expected, drivers in general and that type of white folks in particular were not happy with the measure and thought it fit to exercise their constitutional right to resist it.
But they did not have time to go out and protest; they had busy schedules at work all day. What they did? They paid 100 Rand (8USD) to every beggar and homeless in Johannesburg and gave them signs saying: WE DO NOT WANT TOLL FEES!
They went back to their work, while the black poor folks exercised, on their behalf, their ‘democratic right’.
When that happened, I was in Pretoria studying ‘Human Rights’ and ‘Democratization’; Which meant that I spent long days listening to the same ‘white folks’ who drove every morning from Jo-burg, singing to me the virtues of ‘free demonstration’, ‘free expression’, yare, yare… Do you see; My problem?!!
None of them thought it was a problem that citizens were exercising democracy to directly undermine their own rights. They refused to admit that these rights were elitist, because it would have undermined their business; which was to teach me democracy and human rights. My answer to them: Democracy is a Bitch!
Democracy is defined as the ‘power by the people and for the people’. But the people hardly have any. They are always indoctrinated, influenced, paid off, threatened or mislead by someone.
The same professors would criticise the Gacaca in Rwanda, questioning how a person can be put on trial without an attorney. They said it was against human rights. To my explanation that the Gacaca was merely an African way of addressing conflict; the good old model of African parlays under a Baobab or in this case, in the grass. They said I was backward.
I told them, they were wrong – I was never popular in grad school – Proceedings under a baobab happen in calm. Those who do not understand the gist of the matter at stake are given an opportunity to ask questions and receive explanations. People do not shout, they discuss. There are no experts; eloquent, cunning oracles such as my law lecturers; there are wise men, eyewitnesses, eager, not to win the argument, but to find the truth, achieve peace and reprieve.
‘Let’s stop parroting ‘democracy’ here, ‘democracy’ there, for we were not there when it was created. Look, I finally graduated in that ‘democratisation’ class, and I can tell you this much: Democracy is an abstract concept at best. And at worst, it is a meaningless mantra, repeated by western powers, to justify their injustice towards Blacks and Arabs.’ (Borrowed from another post: http://gateteviews.blogspot.com/2015/04/whatever-happens-this-term-limit-debate.html
Don’t get me wrong: democracy maybe good; provided all the ingredients for exercising it are in place: knowledge and equality of arms, being two major ones. But they hardly are, which makes it another tool of oppression, used more often than not, by ill-willed agitators for personal gain and to the detriment of the mass; a monster rather than an angel
Posted 22nd April