Striking up a conversation about politics in this country will always give rise to tension, especially because the touchy subject of race will always be waiting on the sidelines ready to grenade its way into the discourse.
With voters registration this weekend and the upcoming elections, I have been thrust into many conversations with my friends (who are mostly white) about ANC vs. DA political dynamics and the reason why many black people in this country are reluctant to vote for the DA.
I actually find it quite funny that they enter conversation automatically assuming that I am a DA supporter due to my post-1994ness and my well spoken demeanor. The confused look on their faces when I tell them that A) There’s a possibility I will not vote for the DA (we’ll leave that for another time) and B) My mother will NEVER vote for the DA is quite priceless.
Usually the focus shifts towards the issue of my mother, an extremely educated, intelligent civil engineer who has studied at top universities in the USA and has done substantial service to the people of this country. Her reasoning for not wanting to vote for the DA? “I cannot bring myself to justify voting for a white president.”
Here’s where the slight condescension and frustration become evident on the faces of my friends as they go on to say something along the lines of “I understand where she’s coming from but I wish black people in this country would realise that the DA is not a white party and that they’re awesome because look at what they’re doing in the Western Cape.”
Yes, the DA are a great party, yes they’re doing great things in the Western Cape, however my biggest issue is the understanding part. No, you actually don’t FULLY understand the thinking behind that, because you’re white and you’ve never been oppressed.
Granted I’ve never been oppressed either, however my parents have, my older cousins have, my grandparents, great grandparents, my parents friends have been. White people have never been the victims of oppression, for centuries they have been conquering other lands and exploiting many of the world’s populations for their own benefit. As a white person, you cannot fully know the psychological impact that centuries of oppression can have on people. You have always been the ones reaping the benefits and living comfortable lives while others had to fight to survive.
Now hold on two seconds, I’m not saying that you or your families ever agreed with what went down in this country. Neither am I trying to justify your assumption that some black people (whether they are educated or not) will not vote for the DA because they’re “scared that Apartheid will happen again”. We have one of the most intricate constitutions in the world, it won’t happen again.
What I am saying though, it goes a lot deeper than that. It sort of goes along with Black consciousness. Black people didn’t fight this hard for their rights to then give up control to someone white. With today’s progressive society, it’s finally our turn to attempt to oversee our own well-being as a country and as a people after centuries of other people depriving us of our basic human rights.
Not wanting to vote for a white president is not about fear, it’s more about pride. We need to prove to ourselves that we are indeed capable of making our own lives better and that all the things about being incompetent, lazy and inferior are not true.
Okay so the ANC is extremely corrupt, and current leadership is pretty much robbing the people by spending copious amounts of money on fast food and building an entire village or whatever, but these things take time. I mean from what the ANC had to work with at the end of Apartheid (I mean the foreign debt accumulated by the National Party and the shambles that they left our economy in was deep), we’ve come a long way.
Also, some the negative connotations attached to the DA probably come from the fact that National Party members at the end of Apartheid dissolved into the DA. How is someone like my mom going justify voting a party that may or may not still have previous National Party supporters within its power structure? (Calm down, I’m not trying to say that the DA are racist either)
What this country needs is a formidable black opposition to the ANC. I was quite excited at the prospect of Dr. Ramphele becoming the presidential candidate for the DA. Dr. Ramphele is a great and educated woman (like my mom) and this merger could have signified the change that we’re all waiting to happen…until it died out. Not only do we need a black opposition, but we need progressive educated thinkers free from the poison that is the Apartheid mindset and free from a raging inner inferiority complex.
So please think twice before you use the words “irrational” and “frustrating” while you sip on your coffee, typing on your iPhone making plans to get wasted that evening and sitting on your high horse pitying the clearly uninformed black people like my mother or maybe the domestic who cleans your house about how great the DA is. Your only point of reference is the private school you were educated at and the big house you grew up in.