The need to deconstruct and redefined “Black Manhood”

As a people that came under colonialism and endured cultural distortions and consequently a definition of ourselves as a people, we find ourselves lost of a sense of who we are and how we should behave, we find ourselves emulating the ways of the oppressor in our daily lives. This is a problem in our society as it has contaminated our social relations with one another. One of the things that have been influenced is our perceptions of gender, how we view both genders and how they ought to operate, this being very much influenced by the belief, which Mama Oyeronke Oyewumi has critically challenged that, “Gender categories are universal and timeless and have been present in every society at all times. This idea is often expressed in a biblical tone, as if to suggest that in the beginning there was gender”. Mama Oyewumi challenges this narrative and says the in Pre-colonial Yoruba(African) society the body was not used to classify society, social hierarchy was was not dependent on gender.

This beautiful narration by Mother Oyewumi helps us to understand and further analyse that the lens we are today using to view the our social structure is gendered or is westernised, this means that social classification is based on gender, social roles and responsibilities are based on gender, even our inner feelings are defined within this ambit of gender. This becomes self-distructive for black men and women, women are defined to be soft-hearted and must be submissive to men and on the other hand men must provide for their women and must be strong, and never be emotional or atleast control their emotions, this is all because of the enduring legacy of patriarchy. These western defined convictions are a problematic to black lives, for example if we go with the belief that men provide for their families, how do we expect the black man to provide for his family when he is faced by an arrogant white man at the door while looking for work, how do we expect the same black man to keep his dignity in a society that defines manhood based on accumulation of wealth while he has nothing. How do we expect the black woman who has suffered and endured disgrace under this state of racism and patriarchy than anybody else, how do we expect them to be submissive when they suffer abuse, when they suffer dehumanization, it is thus important that we re-look and re-define ourselves outside of the model of patriarchy, as a people.

The reason i chose to write this passage and give a historic analyses is because of witters and thinkers such as Bell Hooks who say “i have


hoped that, along with radical black women comrades, that individual black men who care about the plight of black males and who are themselves advocates of feminist thinking would do more to reach out to black males as a group.” This is very important because it is not too many times that we see black man fighting for a new image of themselves, more black men constructing a new open and free space in order to deconstruct and reconstruct Black Masculinity. More black man need to come out and say its okay for man to be vulnerable, it’s okay for man to feel, to fear, to not know how to be violent (which has become a more defining part of black malehood). Black man associate their masculinity with being able to fight or being violent, this has a historic influence as many black men during slavery were forced to fight one another for the entertainment of the “massa” and they would often kill each other for survival, it is time we teach each other to let go of the colonial definitions of ourselves.

Often man are told that a man does not cry, which means that men must not express their feelings or must not be able to talk about anything that concerns their lives especially to their wives or mothers because that is a sign of weakness, this is a conviction that emanates from the very patriarchal nature of the society, these narratives are the reason now we hear black man killing themselves, or hurting the ones they love(often black women) and if black man do not see this or understand that it is a burden on our women we are still going to see more black men in self-distruct. This is in no way an apologetic of the plight black women face in the hands of the black men, but it is an analysis of black manhood and the need to re-define black masculinity and it starts with us black man, we can never be men if we are not human.

By: Lufefe Benbella Sopazi.

Lufefe Sopazi is a students at the University Currently Known As “Fort Hare” at E.L. Campus, is a final year Bachelor of Economics student. Sopazi is a Pan-africanist/Black-Consciousness activist. Sopazi believes that there is no liberation if the black woman is still oppressed.


African Nationalism and Pan-Africanism at Fort Hare


The University of Fort Hare is celebrating its centenary this year as the cradle of African thought and it is of paramount importance that this institution be a place where the young minds of future African leaders are shaped with African knowledge and epistemology in order to solve the African problem and recreate the African reality. The institution has in the past produced leaders such as Kenneth Kaunda, Julius Nyerere, Robert Mugabe, Mangaliso Sobukwe and Oliver Tambo; who have come out to restore the dignity of Africa and liberated Africa; it therefore becomes clear that the university has played a role in the struggle for democracy and the ending of colonialism in the African continent as whole, but what is the relevance of these two ideologies and philosophies at Fort Hare from now onwards? What role must they play and how? Are they there anymore? If not, why?

The role of African Nationalism and Pan-Africanism at Fort Hare

The doctrine of Nationalism is founded with the vision of the unification of Africa and all Africans, and it is thus difficult to talk about African Nationalism without Pan-Africanism. African Nationalism places “thought” at the centre of the movement and in the process of this unification of Africa and Africans ask the question; whose thoughts are we using to unify Africa? Ali Mazrui says “we can imagine intellectuals without Pan-Africanism, but it is difficult to imagine Pan-Africanism without intellectuals” (Mkandawire, 2005, p.2). This argument is true in the sense that it again questions the knowledge structure and form of the education advocated at African institutions where the minds and Characters are shaped.

Mangaliso Sobukhwe the founder of the Pan-Africanist Congress says “I said last that Fort Hare must be to the African what Stellenbosch is to the Afrikaner. It must be a barometer of African thought” (Pogrund, 1990, p. 34). It is interesting to note how much this speech has been quoted but yet we miss the crux of what Sobukhwe was talking about and the question he was posing about the structure and form of the education system in the country at the time (and still relevant today), the centring of the African within the system of education, the question of cultural information. These are very important in a university such as Fort Hare that has African minds in its hands, according to Molefi Kete Asante (1991) to centre a student in the process of education is to empower and provide self-esteem to that student.

It is important to note that Fort Hare is the home of the revolution of Africa and that it has to get the credit due to it. It is however important that we collectively evaluate our place and role in intelligentsia; as an institution that has a rich history what is our role in society today? How does African Nationalism guide our curriculum arrangement and how do we provide space for this ideology and philosophy in our advocacy for modernity. As an African institution we must push for modernity and a technological society but that must be defined within the cultural orientation and on grounds that do not undermine inhabitant, and that is of course the African.

The Question of centring

To be a “barometer of African thought” and “to be cradle of African thought” as Fort Hare has been coined, is to be a place where ancient African history is studied, ancient African knowledge and epistemological system and analysed and utilised to the benefit of the African continent. Fort Hare has done a lot to produce leaders who have played an extraordinary role in the struggle for democracy in Africa but the question of the legacy of colonialism vis-à-vis de-colonialism is yet to be the fundamental question in the idea of learning. The process by which a Pan-Africanist society is achieved is through African Nationalism and it is impossible to achieve this in an educational system that is Eurocentric (Eurocentric here being not only does it originate and based in European thought but advances a European agenda of domination).

In his book Consciencism Kwame Nkrumah says “A colonial student does not by origin belong to the intellectual history in which the university philosophers are such impressive landmarks. The colonial student can be so seduced by these attempts to give a philosophical account of the universe, that surrenders his whole personality to them. When he does this, he loses sight of the fundamental social fact, that he is a colonial subject” (Nkrumah, 1970, p. 3). The above statement by Dr Nkrumah brings forth the result caused by foreign/colonial education on the minds of the African student: self-alienation. Self-Alienation is a distortion of reality as much as it is a distortion of the self; any educational system that denies or refuses to teach about the great ancient civilizations of Africa is distorting reality and denies the contribution of Africa to world civilization. It further, as Molefi Asante assert, decentres the African child and miseducates the other nationalities.

The author of this document hereby brings up this argument of centring because the ideology of African Nationalism is unachievable if the education provided at the institution is not decolonised firstly and African centred. It is vitally important that African Nationalism and Pan-Africanism at Fort Hare be the guiding ideologies and philosophies at lecture halls in particular so that we not only produce African leaders but African leaders vested in African thought.

Fort Hare after democracy

It is of course notable that the author did not give a detailed history of the institution and the role of African Nationalism and Pan-Africanism within that history, this because if one analyses the above ‘agitation’ from Sobukhwe, one finds the obvious truth that these ideologies hadn’t fully (if not at all) been absolved into the university’s curriculum at the time the speech was made, the curriculum was to make of the African a servant of the European, a propellant of the colonial establishment. It is however important that we pose the question, what has changed since then? It is of course an obvious truth that the curriculum of all institutions in Africa including Fort Hare is suffering from ‘coloniality’, this is to say that the legacies of colonialism are still evident in the social orders and forms of knowledge, advanced in postcolonial studies of African universities and schools.

It is futile therefore to analyse the concept Africanism outside of decolonisation because in the process of decolonisation we therefore ought to build a new society, a new life,  a new reality and that starts in universities like Fort Hare (where the name itself gives an indication of the colonial memory). In his book decolonising the mind (1981), Ngugi wa thiong’o asserts that when you erase a people’s language, you erase their memory. This is also evident on the language policy of the university where the majority of the students are Africans but students are compelled to speak in the language of their former oppressors (if not still). The question of cultural education is vital in African institutions knowing that the imperialist does not only take away our mineral wealth but our cultural wealth as well, the ways of life, the ways of production, social relations and most importantly language. It is this reason that again the author goes back to Prof Ngugi’s argument that by removing their native language from their education they are separated from their history which is replaced by European history in European languages. This puts the lives of Africans more firmly in the control of the colonists.


One can say that African Nationalism and Pan-Africanism have a space to occupy at the university of Fort Hare but this is not very easy to say, as long as the institution does not make sure that it puts the African first. To put the African first is certainly not to provide an “education” for an African student but contextualize that education and make sure that engraved in that education is the culture of that student, in order to re-unite the African student with firstly herself and to re-unite her with her cultural systems. This helps the student in answering some of the pertinent questions about life such as: Who am I? Where do I come from? What is my purpose in life? These are but some of the questions each and every student want answered in order for her self-esteem to be elevated. One therefore sees that if Fort Hare is to be truly the cradle of African thought then it must make sure that it firstly decolonises the education and then centres the African student in the education system. It is therefore true that intellectuals have a responsibility of advancing the ideology and philosophy of African Nationalism in the education system in order for South Africa as a country to arrive at a Pan- Africanist society.





Reference List

Asante, K. M. (1991). Afrocentric Currculum. Philadelphia: Temple University.

Mkandawire, T. (2005). African Intellectuals: Rethinking Politics, Language, Gender and Development. Pretoria: Unisa Press.

Nkrumah, K. (1970). Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonisation. USA: Paperback Edition.

Pogrund, B. (1990). How Can A Man Die Better:  The Life Of Robert Sobukwe. London: Peter Halban Publishers.

Wa Thiong’o, N. (1981). Decolonising the mind. Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House.


“Damage to Property” v “Fallism” The Hypocrisy within the movement

In the wake of the riots in society fueled by the anger and disappointment from that have given up hope on the current system and are angry at the failure of our leaders to eradicate the presence of colonialism and its symbolism. We have witnessed a series of students uprisings in the past two years,  these students, because of discontent have rejected the idea of a rainbow nation and the notion of a ‘born free’ claiming to be in chained and constantly having to explain their (black) arrested development, enslavement, subjugation, inferiority, this has led to riots and at most times the burning of buildings and other facilities.

It must however be said that this has brought a dichotomy in the “falling” of the society as we know it, it has somehow brought the differences in the definition of the methods within the movement, some saying the society as we know it must fall, land must be returned by any means necessary, some saying that we cannot burn buildings we will need later, but want this society to fall, this has brought some to a crossroads,  What does “Fallism entail?” does it seek to dismantle the system of white supremacy and at the same time preserve the ‘Property’ (property here drawing its meaning from the constitution of the republic of south africa-lower case**) What is this property? How do we make this society die without its symbols?  Why should these symbols fall in the first place? Why do is it that we “think” we will need them when we arrive in the new society?

As things stand in south africa at the moment the presence of white supremacy over shadows the black experience each and everyday, the majority of black people wake up everyday at 3:00am leaving their families to go and be undermine by white people because they have to put food on the table for their families, black families face the evil challenge of family feuds and divorces each and everyday because of the inhuman treatment the dirty, evil society they live in, black children grow up watching their fathers drunk and helpless their mothers trying so hard to be the pillar in the homes, black teenagers are subjected to inhuman behaviors, these are not contextualized so as to give a reason to why black people reach a ceiling so fast in life, for an example we are constantly  told (StatsSa) that the majority of the youth in prisons are black youth but they will not say why that is the case, defending whiteness, defending destructive presence it has on poor, dispossessed, black people.

What does fallism seek to do with regards to the white presence black absence or better yet with white life and black death, Fallism entails that in order for the black people to have autonomy over their bodies they have to be “Free”, they have to be free of foreign domination, they have to take back their “life” as Father Sobukhwe puts it they have to call their souls theirs. This would mean then that they have to reject the identity given to them (that of blackness) and take up a new identity that of being human, that of life, that of freedom, that of being present, the consciousness of being or the state of mind of loving yourself.

But how is this to be achieved knowing very well that the forces that undermine the black people are omnipresent, black people are educated by an anti-black white system, black people are constantly and on a continuing basis indoctrinated by a white media, black people work for white people, black people live with whiteness. How then do we say we want this society (as we know it) to fall, what is to fall? This is the bifurcation point, some pointing at name change, decolonization of curricular and knowledge etc (through peaceful marches , picketing, sit-ins, stay aways, and more social non-compliance methods) and some saying “BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY”. it becomes clear then that there is agreement on the diagnosis of the sickness but the difference is the cure and the arrival thereto.

The notion of “by any means necessary” entails within itself that should the enemy resist to retreat then force will be the only option available for the masses. Fanon teaches us that “As soon as the native begins to pull on his moorings, and to cause anxiety to the settler, he is handed over to well-meaning souls who in cultural congresses point out to him the specificity and wealth of Western values. But every time Western values are mentioned they produce in the native a sort of stiffening or muscular lockjaw. During the period of decolonization, the natives’s reason is appealed to. He is offered definite values, he is told frequently that decolonization need not mean regression, and that he must put his trust in qualities which are welltried, solid, and highly esteemed. But it so happens that when the native hears a speech about Western culture he pulls out his knife–or at least he makes sure it is within reach. The violence with which the supremacy of white values is affirmed and the aggressiveness which has permeated the victory of these values over the ways of life and of thought of the native mean that, in revenge, the native laughs in mockery when Western values are mentioned in front of him. In the colonial context the settler only ends his work of breaking in the native when the latter admits loudly and intelligibly the supremacy of the white man’s values. In the period of decolonization, the colonized masses mock at these very values, insult them, and vomit them up.

The above simply put means that when the process of decolonization comes, the colonized(here being black) looks upon the values that are and have been imposed on him contemptuously and with the intent of doing away with those values (e.g Societal corporatism), these values entails in the core that the colonized should be willing to solve his issues with the colonist at the table, and he must strive to work with the colonist and that he must be willing to share everything equally with the colonist, which then implies that the colonist and the colonized are at the same point or the same level, which is not the case. The black people and the white people are not at the same level, in fact the white man is on top of the black man, if therefore the development of the black man to a human being is undermined and repressed by the white man this brings forth the analysis that the presence of the white man ( together with all his agents, his law, his “property” that is built on black land, his thoughts, his value system, his knowledge system) needs to be dealt with before the black man can develop to a human being.

In conclusion it is of paramount importance that we note the notion of “we will need them later”. I must say that what i read out of this cautious approach to the revolution is the dependency on institutions built on black pain, blood and tears, to me this is but one of the notions that undermine the declaration of “black man, you are on your own” from black consciousness, why love and depend on the same institutions that have dehumanized us as black people instead of focusing on building black institutions, why feel this sense of affection and attachment to the same institutions that have passed laws that have stripped us of our autonomy, passed laws that have taken us from being human to the level of an animal, but we have the audacity to look the same institutions with awe what does that say about us in the revolution against white supremacy, these institutions are a reflection of black pain and suffering, if we really are revolutionaries then we would be geared at building new black institutions that counter or are not at all engaged in any competition with white supremacy knowing that, morally, the development of black people cannot be compared to the development or “developedness” of white people. Therefore black people who engage in the struggle for Fallism must be engaged as well in the re-development of African knowledge systems, institutions, legal system, economic systems, and properties, so that when we BURN ,which inevitably will happen, these white institutions we will have our own institutions ready to take over and secure the new order of the day.0-53



Imbokotho Mama Nomzamo: “i am the product of the masses of my country and the product of my enemy”


“So what does a woman do in the absence of her husband…”

I have tasked myself with the responsibility of writing an essay about an extraordinary woman referred by those that love her as the “Mother of the nation” (uMama weSizwe) who i believe has been taken away from us by this “peaceful” white supremacist society because of her radicalism against the apartheid regime, as i was growing up i used to listen to my mother talking highly about this woman who was the pillar of the movement for over two decades and who was the voice of black women, but i couldn’t help but notice that she could not talk about this woman without identifying her to the former president Nelson Mandela. I have always wanted to know why this woman was presented as a controversial leader in the post apartheid South Africa but celebrated as a struggle stalwart, it is in this spirit that i wish to fulfill this duty that has followed me over my teenage years and adult life. Who is Mama Nomzamo?

Mama Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe  Madikizela was on the 26th of September 1936, she was born in the village of eMbongweni in Bizana, Pondoland today Eastern Cape. Mama Nomzamo was the fifth of nine children, Her father, Columbus, headmaster and minister of the Transkei Governments’ Forestry and Agriculture Department during Kaizer Matanzima’s rule. Her mother, Nomathamsanqa Mzaidume (Gertrude), a domestic science teacher, died when Winnie was only eight years old . She did her primary and high schooling at Bizana where she was a head-girl, and it is where she proved her extraordinary abilities and excellence as a student with potential. She completed her degree in social work in 1955 at the age of 19 years and was offered a scholarship to study at the USA, but she chose to turn it down and instead wanted to practice as the first black social worker at the Baragwanath hospital, doing something that many at the time would not even think of.

According to Bedzrob (2003: 54), this young woman who chose people over carrier was touched by a research she had carried out in Alexandra Township to establish the rate of infantile mortality, which stood at 10 deaths for every 1,000 births as a result of migrant men who had wives back home but had babies with women outside marriage, these women would abandon their babies at the Baragwanath hospital. She and a friend Matthew Nkoane helped unite many babies with their mothers and elderly patients unite with relatives, she also visited new mothers in a quest to make sure that babies were receiving proper nutrition and making sure that the conditions of life were conducive for growing new born babies, doing all this she was only 20 years but cared so much about people around her than herself, this must have been a well taught and generous woman, indeed she was the product of the masses. A brilliant woman.

At the time of meeting Tata Nelson Mandela, she had already taken interest in politics and would often attend many ANC (African National Congress) meetings with her friend Mama Adelaide Sisulu, and continued to be part of the resistance against apartheid through the short number of years she had spent with the man she loved and had just married. When she married this man she was warned by her family that if she marries this man she would not only be marrying him but the struggle against apartheid, and she understood that, in fact that was what she wanted too, a democratic, non-racial South Africa. This woman as young, as she was, was full of fire and the spirit for liberation and the creation of a new society, a society where woman and children were cared for and treated with love, a society where black people had human dignity and could have equal opportunities.

A strong woman who spent 491 days at a solitary confinement and became sick due to poor diet and inhuman conditions she was subjected to. She describes the feeling and says “You are imprisoned in this little cell. When you stretch your hands you touch the walls. You are reduced to a nobody, a non-value. It is like killing you alive. You are alive because you breathe. You are deprived of everything – your dignity, your everything”; this  was after a series of harassment, police raids in her house while with kids, and many arrests, how can we forget this heroic woman, how can we let whiteness make our mother so absent in our memories, how is it that South Africa has not stood up and asked has she ever found any peace inside after the torture and horror that that woman and her children were subjected to.

A writer Carolyn Moon writes an  essay on Mama Nomzamo  in 2009 and says “I feel that she’s been the most misunderstood and demonized of the leaders during the years that led to and after Nelson Mandela’s release. In fact, once he was released, seemingly, she was no longer needed and became a liability to the movement. It’s my contention that The Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings made a hero out of F.W. deKlerk (who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela) and relegated her efforts and painful struggles to an abyss that she cannot escape. At 73, she still addresses the issues that are unresolved in South Africa — especially the treatment of women — and continues to encounter resistance over what she says or doesn’t say”. This noble daughter of the soil was described by Activist Maya Angelou as “a woman and a strong woman and an intelligent and loving woman”. What more can i say about this woman.

Shireen Haasim (A life of refusal: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and violence in South Africa)  brings up a point about the idea of violence and women in the struggle for democracy and says “the imagery of women as the mothers of the nation deploys essentialist ideas of women as caring and nurturing,reluctantly dragged into politics as a result of the attacks on their men by a cruel system” it therefore follows that if women are seen not to be violent as Mama was the violence that this woman was subjected to with no one by her side and with her children to think of must have had some psychological effects, that led her to resort to violent measures of resistance, this must have brought darkness and rage on a woman as quiet and shy as Mama was said to be, surely this woman was torn apart inside. South Africans especially black South Africans need to be very considerable in their inconsistent celebrations of their struggle heroes and heroins.

In closing let me afford myself a chance to applaud Mama Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela on her love for the nation, her commitment to the struggle, let me ask all South Africans to pray for her that she will get well after undergoing back surgery earlier this month. Women in South Africa must fight for the celebration of our female leaders, i am asking myself even now why is there no school named after this woman no bursary named after this glorious name, she truly was a remarkable woman, a woman that the former president (referring to struggle years) describes as “a pillar of the movement”, she will always be the Mother of the nation, the president of the women’s league, the face of the struggle against not only the apartheid policy but against injustice as she portrayed at the age of 20 years, walking house to house visiting new mothers in conditions that were not safe for her to carry out her duties but she would adamantly make sure that these mothers got the support they needed, you will forever remained an example Mama. A warrior! A Queen! Your pain is felt by many Get Well Soon!!!




Is it “Black-Tax” or is it the outcome of Racism: interrogating the norm.

I have been hearing a lot of people using the word the “black-tax” especially among graduates and varsity students lately since the description of the word by Mail & Guardian writer Mosibudi Ratlebjane. Although this term is a legitimate term and portrays the right image of the hardships faced by young black graduates and the degree to which black people are indebted. Let’s agree with the truth carried by this term and the feeling around  it, but there are questions around this term namely; why it is referred to as a “tax”in instead of a responsibility for young black graduates (the structure of the term), we have to bear in mind when answering these questions what constitutes tax and how is this black responsibility  a form of tax. Another question that we have to ask is how does this “black tax” come into effect and why is it only in the context of black people.

As pointed out above the question is structural first  and a historical one, for the purposes of the discussion let’s start with the historical question, how does “black tax”come into effect? In the context of South Africa we all know that the settlers came for black people in 1652 and imposed violent techniques to subjugated and take the means of production from the black hands to the white hands. We all know that the 1913 Land Act that left native areas with less than 10% of the entire land mass of the Union of South Africa, later expanded to 13%. We understand the effects of apartheid that deepened racial and economic inequalities, the outcomes of the negotiations of the post-democratic South Africa that also left the black people still impoverished and landless.

These are the causes of this well populated term that puts black people as seen by Frantz Fanon that the colonist is not content with making the colonized hate themselves he turns them to see themselves as the exact reflection of the devils. i would not like to call this responsibility that has been imposed on us black people a “black tax” on the above basis, one must understand that when we start to put it in the form of a tax and not articulate clearly its transcendence into the black reality we will find ourselves in feuds with another and not understanding why. Black tax (as commonly known), like xenophobia, is induced by historical dispossession and systemic racism of the black majority in South Africa, and it therefore cannot take the form of a tax by black people themselves because i am very careful in using terms that may lead to divisions in the black family, it can take the form of a responsibility that black children have within the family setting.

To the structural questions namely; Why refer to it as tax? What constitute tax? How is the so-called “black tax” in reality a form of tax? Tax as commonly understood is defined as a financial charge or other levy “imposed”  upon a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a state or the functional equivalent of a state to fund various public expenditures. A failure to pay, or evasion of or resistance to taxation, is usually punishable by law. It is clear from the definition that the charge that constitute tax is “imposed” upon a particular person and not out of the conscience of that being, because in the setting of the black family there is not imposed levy but it is out of the conscience of that person to give back and assist where you can. There is even an IsiXhosa saying back home where i come from eNcerha that “Asifuni mali mntanam sifuna nje ubona wena” which means that our parents love us no matter if we do give them money or not as long as we assist where we can out of our conscience.

From this above finding and interrogation one finds that the black people are not aware of such a tax (and yes I am speaking for all black people and for those who have accepted the term), the black people are a marginalized people and because of that they can only depend on those people that have jobs as it is not common that every people work in one family, therefore one must take careful considerations when articulating the black problem, because t draws its form not from black people themselves  but an outsider who imposed himself on us, stripped and subjugated the black nation.