“No one is more insensitive than sentimental folk. Remember: “Heartlessness masked by a style overflowing with feeling.”” ~ Milan Kundera, Testaments Betrayed
Akere jaanong re palwa ke go bua ka mokete wa batho ba dibuka ka re tshaba go nyela didiba, mme sediba sa AfroPunk sone ga re tlhoke go se sikologa:
Me I am general liker of things, this year I did Zakifo, Macufe, Poetry Africa and closing it off with Afro Punk. There are many more things that happened that I could not do. Next year I am confirmed for Spirit Fest, gunning for NAF, Bushfire and Abantu. On my bucketlist somewhere there’s Moria, Mecca and the Vatican. I am a sucker for experiences, the newer the better.
But if there’s one thing I hate, is kak stories. Now the world is on this tip of it is not the product that they’re selling, but the story. Even beer, they sell some story. My problem comes in when this story plays with ntho tse halalelang: taking on a political project you can’t pursue, or pursue in bad faith.
I remember at work sometime they spun some story that we “men” must be mentors to black boys to guide them away from underage drinking. Me I asked instead of weaving this elaborate sentimental fairy-tale why not stop supplying alcohol to outlets near schools and in residential areas – that’d surely curb underage drinking, as kids do what they see.
Then also a couple of months back I heard comrades in the arts talk about a massive music festival they were organizing, I was super excited and wanted to get on board until I heard they were running on an anti-Macufe pro-local anti-Joburg ticket. Me I am no regionalists, first of all, and secondly I understand why there is Joburg and the struggle for moving the centre is not a struggle against Joburgers but rather also for them. Then there’s the little issue of fighting a massively funded, successful and popular festival on a zero budget; many will know that I am in the same WhatsApp group as the famed “ye of little faith.” I don’t live by the David vs Goliath motif.
Ke ise ke kgale mathe ganong; a ke tsene kgannyeng. Mongwe gona fa o buile about how books published by #BlackMonday people was the fire around which thousands of blacks gathered. Now there is no issue with that, generally. We live in a world of #ZumaMustGooOOOoooOOoo; everytime we gather it is around their things – be it a braai or ulwaluku.
The problem here comes when comrades want to sell us this otherwise commendable and brilliant gathering as an act of decoloniality. Because then we must ask – did we at the very least do what Mngxitama did to Kaganof and keep all the proceeds of the sales in black hands?
Now we have to scrutinize the content of the discussions, the books, the performances etc. The power relations, flow of resources, impact to the #Loftus4Jesus power structure. Because to be honest comrades, blacks gather to do black things all the time, it’s our thing this gathering thing. The gathering alone cannot qualify as decoloniality.
Now onto my favourite people, the black middle class hippies with a nostalgia for real suffering. Me I like all hippies, generally. And I think the experiences of Woodstock etc. have taught hippies the world over that they really don’t matter in the realpolitik.
At best they keep our minds from burning a fuse when the world gets too much, providing a safe haven to imagine a world anew. But it all stays in the imagination. After the orgies and kumbaya we go back to the real world.
Frank Gallagher teaches his son Liam: “Those rich, white, liberal parents at your school were once radicals. Rebels. Renegades. At some point, they fell in step with societal expectations and became robots. So when they look at us, loudmouthed, anti-establishment, unafraid to confront the power structures, they feel alive.”
At worst, to quote Cornell West, they make us “well-adjusted to injustice.” Y’know, coz we spoke up and shit. I have often dismissed comrades who asked me why I don’t write “revolutionary” literature (that is; regurgitate woke platitudes that’ll make them feel better when their nigger spider sense gnaws at them at night) by telling them that I know where the offices of EFF, BLF, SWEAT, 1in9, etc. are and if I really wanted to make a difference I’d long be an active member of one if not all.
But seemingly black middle class hippies, the young wild and free, the magical people of sauce – so called millennials – have missed this lesson. They seem to be really convinced that all their “woke” music and art and hashtags are making some impact to the world. Most of them are already working for the machine they’re pretending to be raging against. Some already run this machine. And AfroPunk is their mecca.
And me because I like things, I will be boarding the Zion train for my Hajj. I have already eyed a bottle of Singleton in a brown leather sling bag, a funky bun on my head with some crazy colours, maybe some henna tattoos on my skin, and I have plenty of woke t-shirts to grab some roving eyes.
But, like Moses here I am at the mountain top, telling all who will listen that I Mphoentleyalehatshe Irvin ooRraMatsitle am not part of this decadence (although I will also be throwing my hand in the air shouting AMANDLA! instead of at the face of the man who molests a fellow reveller or any of #ThePresidentsKeepers people).
I am only going there because it promises to be fun and my friend texted me at 4am while I was on over 30 hours without sleep asking me if I am going and to avoid her bullying I deposited money for my ticket.
But I reject its mooted bad faith political project in toto! Including but not limited to #BlackExcellence.
Also published on Medium.