“To be young, gifted and black,
Oh what a lovely precious dream”
Nina was wrong; it’s a terrible, terrible nightmare!
Oh what a burden it is, to be young
What curse it is to be gifted
And what a terrible nightmare it is to be black
(And for some) what absolute torture it is to be female
We are young. We had parents. But we then come to a different world where we do not have parents. We come to inhabit a world that they have never even imagined. They have no pearls of wisdom for us, no stories to light our way. We come in blindfolded and handcuffed. Kundera claims that the rehearsal of life is life itself. But no. Our forebears’ lives are somewhat rehearsal to our lives; they are the comparative basis upon which decisions are tested. But given that our parents lived outside humanity, and we are temporary passport holders into humanity; we are truly Kundera’s “actor going cold.” Ga gona tlhaku je legologolo.
“The degrees didn’t do it. I was an extra who didn’t get any rehearsal time (no pictures of great granddad in robes and square hat atop the fireplace (what fireplace?)) at the graduation ceremony.”
We find that our youth is compromised. We have no guides. Hence we are lost. We judged harshly when we falter by those who could not prepare us for pitfalls ahead. We are pioneers where all questions have already been asked and thoroughly answered. Re botsa gore go tukang go setse go le molora. Constantly playing catch-up to a world that would rather have us not. But we cannot cry. We are lucky. Apparently.
How can education, the means by which every member of a society needs to function and concomitantly for the society itself to function, ever be considered to be a privilege? Worse still; luck? That society is still able to make some semblance of functioning with so many of us uneducated is in fact luck. Here I give all due respect to the criminal who robs and steals!
Our age, our youth, becomes an albatross. We are cheated, yet we must feel lucky and be appreciative. We cannot have fun without feeling guilty. The thousand rand you spent on a weekend out could’ve have bought groceries for some aunt. My god! When do we get to live? We are children who must head households. Either financially, intellectually or emotionally. To a point where we are turned into monsters; we become demigods in our families and/or communities. And the power we wield, whether malevolently or benevolently, threatens those whom tradition awards this power. Sometimes the very same people who “made” you. Botlhale jwa phalana threatening phala.
We are gifted. In a world that is run by those whose power rests upon suppressing others. In a capitalist society like ours you don’t need ideas, talents, genius, etc. to ‘make it’. You need capital! In fact there is no such thing as an entrepreneur here. Either you have inherited capital (not necessarily economic capital; but social/political capital as well) or you can win favour of those who have. Kiss ass. Suck dick. That’s how you make it. Do not threaten your boss with an idea that might make him irrelevant. In most cases, ideas are stolen. Many have seen their ideas make others rich and famous. The first thing that happens when one gets an idea is how to protect it, which in itself limits the growth of this idea. You’re so worried with it being stolen that you miss the opportunity to think it further and deeper.
What is the use of being gifted in a world run by philistines? Should we not ask the old tired question: is it not folly, to be wise amongst fools? Thinking is dangerous! One must decide between his thinking and his pap. We are cursed with gifts.
We are black. We are fucked. The less said, the worser.
“…my whole life is an insult. I am black…Being nothing but an empty shell, a hole, a heap of stone, what right do I have to claim insult? Or injury? There are no injuries to add insult to. Or wounds to rub salt in. I have no capacity whatsoever to be injured or wounded. I am an injury. I am the wound. My mere existence…is itself an injury unto the world. A wound to an otherwise perfect society. An insult to humanity.”
What does it mean to suffer? What does it mean when your suffering jolts no one into action? When in fact it seems as if your suffering is celebrated. When your suffering is in fact necessary for the world to function.
To be a garden boy, a maid, a miner, a petrol attendant, a teller; is that not suffering?
To be a shack dweller, a township dweller, a villager stuck in the 20th century; is that not suffering?
To be landless, to be voiceless, to be powerless; is that not suffering?
Can the world function without a maid? Where else can she come from but the township? And how can there be a township without massive land theft?
When those who benefit from the exclusion, the exploitation, the killing (physically, socially and psychologically), of people who look like you, who are your family and friends, want to include you, to recognize you, as one of their own; is that not suffering?
And is this inclusion, this (false) recognition, not necessary for the project of exclusion, exploitation, killing, to proceed? Are you not the oil that lubricates the oppressive machine? The lubricant that makes the rape a lot less messy?
When you walk into the executive meeting that will decide on the tender for a new cleaning company, more efficient and modernized, using the latest technology and half the staff complement, and the old cleaning lady, probably a respected member of the church, provider to multiple families, greets you with a proud motherly smile; is that not suffering?
Is it not better to get rid of this suffering that fails words? To reject this false recognition. To be recognized truly as you are. A mere kaffir! Whose sole purpose is to suffer so that the world can function.
“I laughed so hard that I just walked out and laughed all the way to my office. Now I could go back to my office, do my work and shut up. Like a good kaffir. And get on with my life. The absurdity of it all. What I have been running from all along, was after all what I sought. I thought I wanted recognition as a human, but all I needed was recognition from a human for what I truly am. After years of false recognition as one of them, I finally had genuine recognition as a negation of them.”
Some are women. I’m blessed with a dick (in a hetero-patriarchal world where those born with dicks are more valued; it truly is a blessing to possess one). Those who are women will tell of their pain. I have an idea but no clue on the suffering of the lesser valued sex.