Colonial and Post-Colonial/Apartheid Mental Disorders and Dysfunctional Decrepit Social Existence In Mzantsi
Wilson captured the essence of what this hub is going to be about succinctly when he stated: "People who manipulate the past and present manipulate one's mentality, sanity,contact with reality and the ability to deal with reality. In other words, the manipulation of history creates real effects in the individual personality. Our history by not being taught to us correctly ensures that our potential will be forever undeveloped as a people and that we will not challenge those who rule over us. Intellectual structures and powers are undeveloped when we suffer from Amnesia; they are restricted and alienated.
Some of my black students say, "Hey, I know nothing about Black History; but I know math, I know Computer Science, and I know this and that. So apparently it didn't do me much harm. Being cut off from your past only means that you have gained knowledge at the cost of being alienated, you have gained alienated knowledge. alienated knowledge can only be used in the interest those who taught you that knowledge. Look at who you work for once you know Computer Science and don't know your history!
That's one of the unwritten rules. they will teach you Math and Science and so forth to the degree that you forget what and who you are - your History - and forget your connectedness with our people. Because it's only when you are unconnected that you can be of use to your Master. You cannot use alienated knowledge for yourself. Knowledge must be connected and contained in a historical structure, in a cultural structure, it is to work for a particular people.
That's why you can get degrees in Business Administration and build no business. You can be a CEO of Xerox yet you won't build your own.." Ignorance of ones' history leads to one being a slave of the others' manipulations forever. (Wilson) If one stands for nothing, one is bound to fall for anything', as someone once wryly observed.
Colonial Mental Disorders
By being able to trace and look much deeper into the health and and health institutions in South, we have now begun to become aware that working conditions in South Africa are a serious health hazard. But the factors that make them so are rarely seen, thoroughly investigated and clarified. What one sees are the physical results of the long term injury incurred over the centuries by African society. These are individual, medical problems, which appear to result from each individual's carelessness, or a society that cannot cope and is backward,t that coming from the victimizers and African people's detractors.
Focusing on the individual medical problem draws our attention away from the more important social and economic determinations of health. In this hub, I took time to trace the health of Africans under colonial rule and what these institutions are doing with their personnel and technical know how, or are not doing. It can be clearly seen that since since TB hit the health scene in South Africa, industrialization and International Capital has made Africans ill, crazy and slavishly depended on their Masters; mining, socio-economical Apartheid and environmental apartheid and an Apartheidized parliamentary system with its Apartheid laws, and the use of 'fear' dealt a deadly blow onto the African Community.
The creation of the migratory labor system and overcrowded ghettoes and 'Homelands or National States", although the stats are hard to come by, the little that we have gleaned help us realize the extent and extant of the different diseases affecting Africans historically have weakened and sickened Africans; and in this Hub we are viewing the African society and the causes of mental health from an inadequate health system, and the infusion of different drugs and other serious attacks made by military 'special forces' and 'death squads' who brutally tortured, killed and distributed drugs like, Ecstasy, Mandrax, cocaine within the African committees, which has resulted a large number of youth and some adults being addicted and others going crazy and so on. We will also delve a little deeper into the continuation of the Apartheid operation as carried-out by the Present ANC government to its own people.
"Sociopathology precedes Psychopathology", writes Wilson. "Collective pathology precedes individual pathology. That is, diseased social interactions between groups generate diseased social interaction within groups, and furthermore, diseased social interactions within groups generate diseased psychological interactions within individuals who are their constituents. The discontents of individuals reflect the the discontents of groups; and these, the discontents of the societies and and cultures they constitute. The Great Chain of Discontents inextricably binds together individual, group society and culture." (Wilson) Everything in south Africa is diseased for the oppressed, depressed, suppressed and stressed-out African multitudes.
The character and conduct of groups and individuals however labeled and categorized, whether judged to be good or evil,superior or inferior, are the products of historic inter group, intragroup, and interpersonal relations, and can only be meaningfully understood in terms of these relations.
The character and behavior of Africans individuals, whether labelled 'normal' or 'abnormal,l' can only be fully and accurately comprehended, along with the process and purpose of labeling itself, in terms of the historic power relations between dominant Whites and the subordinate Africans which mediate the White socioeconomic, sociopolitical, sociopsychological manipulation and construction of African consciousness and behavior. Under White Supremacy, African Consciousness and behavior are socially manufactured. labelled and judged by Whites in ways consonant to their social control and expropriation of African natural and acquired human resources.
The "normality" and "abnormality" of African Consciousness and behavior are so classified with reference to the degree to which they supportive or opposed to the continuity of White supremacy. Under different regimes of White dominance, African Consciousness is characterized by habitual thought patterns and behavioral tendencies which render them pliable to White authoritarian/authoritative social control with minimal resistance; which induce Africans to accept their subordinate status as natural, perhaps actually to misperceive their oppression as freedom.
"Abnormal" African consciousness and behavior under White supremacy involve habitual thought patterns and behavioral tendencies in Africans which make their social control by Whites intolerably difficult or ineffective; which induces them to protest, resist and reject their subordinate status as destined or natural, to perceive the oppression as unfreedom.
In continuing a vantage point from the stance of a White supremacist, the basis of labeling African consciousness and behavior by white as normal or abnormal depends not on the discovery by Whites of discrete states of consciousness and their correlated behavioral tendencies in Africans, but on the discovery of the degree to which African consciousness/behavioral tendencies are perceived as serving or not serving their(White peoples') hegemonic interests.
Disturbance of thought, emotions, motivational and values priorities, and psychological processes in Africans are the unavoidable outcomes of their oppressions by Whites. To be oppressed is by definition to have one's thought processes ; emotions impaired; motives and values inverted; and one's body functions imbalanced. There can be no "normality" of consciousness and conduct for Africans as long as they remain dominated by Whites - merely socially acceptable or unacceptable adjustments to the ever-changing demand characteristics of 'white supremacy.
The normality of Africans under White domination is by that circumstance,above all, a "pathological normalcy" - disturbances in African consciousness and behavior which are deemed serviceable and beneficial to the needs of their White Oppressors.
There are White people who are obviously not included as part of the Apartheid machinery, but in this case, we are referring more to the White-run Apartheid government. In the Hub, "Apartheid's Colonial Mental Disorders:Fractured Consciousness and Shattered Identities" we traced the origins of TB and the effects of Industrialization, Mining and Apartheidized environment, and how these contributed to illnesses, dissolution of families, communities and society through the migrant labor system and the influx control laws, and Apartheidized Medical practices and institutions; in another angle, we were also looking at the collusion between Big Business(bot internally and externally) and the Apartheid law -makers, in that, Big business made it possible for the expansion the Apartheid economy, army and White society' and, and they also profited from the Cheap Labor and, by not paying for medical health for the affected African in the mines and their domicile. These practices, we interrogate in in this Hub, have created Mental disorders that are still affecting Africans today.
Blaming the Victim
Consciousness in Perspective
It is therefore my contention that the true history and culture of African peoples must be rediscovered, reexamined, and reintegrated by African peoples. These approaches to African history and culture must conjointly become the vehicles which facilitate the collective and cooperative action Africans with a realistic supportive vision of reality; with self-knowledge, self-esteem, self-confidence, self acceptance and self-control'; with the ability to form empowering affectionate relationships and the ability to engage in proactive, self-interested productive activity; and with a self-enhancing sense of purpose and existential meaningfulness.
It also important that other races in South Africa respect the African perspective and learn about them than try to distort and attack historians as if they saying bad about other races in South Africa, either than Africans. No. These Hubs relate and narrate the events that affected Africans form their own point of view, untainted by any form of jingoism or any form of alienation of other culture.
They too have the right to narrate their history as they see fit. Africans have the same right as everyone else to tell about their historical experiences as they fit, without 'fear' or 'intimidation' from anyone or any race.
Biko on Rebuilding African Consciousness
We just discussed African Consciousness as it had been preset and implanted by the White people in the African psyche and consciousness. Steven Bantu Biko puts all what we have been discussing above more succinctly and to the point:
"One needs to understand the basics before setting up a remedy. A number of the organizations now currently "fighting against Apartheid"" are working on an over simplified premise. They have taken a brief look at what is, , and have diagnosed the problem incorrectly. They have almost completely forgotten about the side-effects and they have not even considered the root cause. Hence, whatever is improvised as a remedy will hardly cure the condition. Apartheid - both 'petty' and 'grand' - is obviously evil.
Nothing can justify the arrogant assumption that a clique of foreigners has the right to decide on the lives of a majority. Hence, even carried out faithfully ad fairly, the policy of Apartheid merited the condemnation and vigorous opposition from the indigenous peoples as well as those who see the problem in its correct perspective. The fact that Apartheid has been tied up with White Supremacy, capitalist exploitation, and deliberate oppression makes the problem much more complex. Material want is bad enough, but coupled with spiritual poverty, it kills
And this latter effect is probably the one that creates mountains of obstacles in the normal course of emancipation of the African people. One should not waste time here with manifestations of material want of the African people. A vast literature has been written on this problem. Possibly a little should be said about spiritual poverty. What makes the black man fail to tick? Is he convinced of his own accord of his inabilities? Does he lack in his genetic make-up that rare quality that makes a man willing to die for the realization of his aspirations? Or is he simply a defeated person?
The answer to this is not a clear-cut one. It is, however, nearer to the last suggestion than anything else. The logic behind White domination is to prepare the Black man for the subservient role in this country. Not so long ago this used to be freely said in parliament even about the educational system of the Black people. It is still said even today, although in a much more sophisticated language. T
o a large extent the evil-doers have succeeded in producing at the output end of their machine a kind of a Black man who is only in form. This is the extent to which the process of dehumanization has advanced."
Biko Continued: "Black people under the Smuts government were oppressed but they were still men. They failed to change the system for may reasons which we shall not consider here. But the type of Black man we have today has lost his manhood. Reduced to an obliging shell, he looks with awe at the White power structure and accepts what he reads as the "inevitable position".
"Deep inside his anger mounts at the accumulating insults, but he vents it in the wrong direction - on his fellow man in the Townships, on the property of Black people. No longer does he trust leadership, for the 1963 mass arrests were blamable on bungling leadership, nor is there any trust.
In the privacy of his toilet his face twists in silent condemnation of White society, but brightens up in sheepish obedience as he comes out hurrying in response to his master's impatient call. In the home-bound bus or train he joins the chorus that roundly condemns the White man but is first to praise the government in the presence of the police or his employers. His heart yearns for the comfort of White society and makes him blame himself for not having been "educated" enough to warrant such luxury.
Celebrated achievements by Whites in the field of Science - which he understands only hazily -serve to make him rather convinced of the futility of resistance and to throw away any hopes that change may ever come. All in all, the Black man has become a shell, a shadow of a man, completely defeated, drowning in his own misery, a slave, an ox bearing the yoke of oppression with sheepish timidity."
Biko observed: "This is the first truth, bitter as it may seem, that we have to acknowledge before we can start on any program designed to change the status quo. It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realize that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality. the first step therefore is to make the Black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.
This is what we mean by the inward-looking process[italics mine]. This is the definition of Black Consciousness. One writer makes the point that in an effort to destroy completely the structures that had been built up in the African Society and to impose their imperialism with an unnerving totality, the colonialist were not satisfied merely holding a people in their grip and emptying the Native's brain of all form and content, they turned to the past of the oppressed people and distorted, disfigured and destroyed ]italics mine].
No longer was reference made to African Culture, it became barbarism[savagery -my addition]. Africa was the "Dark Continent". Religious practices and Customs were referred to as 'Superstition'. The history of African society was reduced to "tribal" battles and "internecine" wars. There was no conscious migration by the people from one tyrant who wanted to defeat the "tribe" not for any positive reason but merely to wipe them out of the face of the earth." Everything which was everything as is in the African cultural vibe, became all nothing and meaningless "childish gibberish" in some quarters, when it came to African culture and customs.
Biko Adds some more: "No wonder the African child learns to hate his heritage in his days at school. So negative was the image presented to him that he tended to find solace only in close identification with White society. No doubt, therefore,part of the approach envisaged in bringing about 'Black Consciousness" has to be directed to the past, to seek to rewrite the history of the Black man and to produce in it the heroes who form the core of the African background. To the extent that a vast literature about Gandhi in South Africa is accumulating, and it can be said that the Indian Community already started in this direction.
But only scant reference is made to African Heroes. A people without a positive history is like a vehicle without an engine. Their emotions cannot be easily controlled and channelled in a recognizable direction. They always live in the shadow of a more successful society. Hence,in a country like ours, they are forced to celebrate holidays like Paul Kruger's Day, Heroes Day, Republic Day, Day of the Covenant(During Apartheid era it was held on December 16th, commemorating the Slaughter of the Zulus by the Boers in the Battle of "Blood River[my addition]"), and so on, - all of which are occasions during which the humiliation of defeat is at once revived."
Biko's words were published in 1972, and now it is 2009, after he was brutally murdered as the autopsy report by Chief State Pathologist, Dr. J D. Loubser who stated categorically that "Steven Bantu Biko had died of 'extensive brain injury' resulting from the centralization of the blood circulation to such an extent that there had been intravasal blood coagulation, acute kidney failure and uremia. The report mentioned the abrasion to the left forehead, injuries on the chest wall and other "numerous but superficial" injuries.
What emerged from the Killing Of Steven Bantu Biko, is the savage force used by the the Security police in Port Elizabeth. The security policemen stripped Biko Naked, handcuffed him with his hands on the back and put his legs in iron shackles and five of them, led by Snyman and van Vurren on the night of the 6th, killed Biko, and left him for dead on a cold cell floor.
They made sure he died when they transported him 700 miles to Pretoria in a police van shackled in the back, naked and with no windows. Biko's death was brutal and humiliating, and this, in a nut-shell gives a picture of what happened and is still happening to all those who dare challenge the Apartheid or former Apartheid regime, or dared tell the truth about the atrocities committed upon people of African descent in South Africa. Donald Wood's book, "Biko" is worth reading because in it we begin to see how the security state with its operatives functioned.
Biko was covering a very large area of the mental abuses that Africans have gone through and are still going through. His work was an effort on his part to re-connect Africans with the reality and history in the 1972, when Apartheid ruled supreme and seemed invincible, Now that he has been murdered, what he was saying is slowly revealing itself today as Apartheid's colonial mental disorder within the African population. There are a lot of people who have been tortured, maimed, drugged, killed, an families terrorized, beaten to pulp, made scared through Fear and Intimidation and Death.
Even today in Rainbowstan united Free South Africa, it is till "Inappropriate for Africans to reclaim their history, culture that will support them with a realistic and supportive vision of reality; it is viewed as casting aspersions against the "minorities" in South African for Africans to try and acquire self-knowledge, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-acceptance and self control; it is incorrect that they should have the ability to form empowering affectionate relationships and to engage in proactive, self-interested productive activity with one another; and finally, be able to do all this with self-enhancing sense of purpose and existential meaningfulness because of fear of the unknown lurking in the shadows of the ghettoes and townhouses."
An Appropriate understanding of African History and Culture will provide Africans with an honest, accurate appraisal of their strengths and needs as well as those of their European counterparts, who might begin to understand and respect Africans. Such an understanding by both africans and the oppressor Whites will allow them to both discover the strategic and tactical means of liberating themselves from White Supremacy, of the past and Neo-apartheid rulers of today.
The former apartheid operatives today attack anyone who speaks or writes about the past of Africans with serious venom and slightly, but not completely concealed rhetoric. It is not their fault, according to the Apartheidizers, that Africans were 'tribes' who were in conflict amongst themselves; or, that there is crime and "Black on Black" violence amongst the Africans in South Africa, that the blame should be lain on the door of the African society. There is some truth in what they are saying, but overall, the "Blame the Victim" game is one old technique the colonizers of South Africa have been using for hundreds of years.
Coping and Speaking Truth To Power
"Coping for Africans in South Africa has optimized African mental and social health, and not their liberation as a free and democratic nation. It is important to note that the economic organization of Africans more so that its alleged economical impoverishment and dependency, in tandem with the repression of its African-centered consciousness and identity, are principally responsible for its vulnerability to the stresses placed on it by the Dominant White Supremacist establishment.
Because its economic institutions and resources are primarily owned, controlled, and exploited by former Afrikaners and their proxy new African government today, these have a tendency and effect that undermines their growth and reinforces oppression more . these remain compressed in position and over the centuries they become part of the 'stressors".
Institutional racism as described in South Africa generates stressors - such as inadequate family incomes, health care, education, job training, housing, employment, economic development(The much lauded and criticized) B.E.E. Black Economic Empowerment not withstanding), of which it currently very equitable in South Africa, and restricted, stereotypically-biased information and entertainment services - are some of the issues which strain the African community's coping mechanisms.
The effects of these stressors are amplified by the relatively dependent and reactive orientation of the African community. The virtual absence of a robust, independent movement in the community leaves it vulnerable to being exploited and victimized by predatory aliens, the present government[it's still to be seen what Zuma does] further increasing its vulnerability to stresses of all types. This finally leads to complications in the health of the people which manifest and presents in many ways.
To be free, the African community must continue and strengthen its tradition of truth-seeking. The omissions from the final TRC(Truth and Reconciliation Commission) report highlighted the fact that there were many more questions raised than answers provided by the report and by the whole TRC process. The TRC presented a watered-down version of the in its original intent, and the reports it presented,s some secretive and others have a blanked-out page, as in the case demanded by the Former President de Klerk and enforced by a legal injunction that threatened to sabotage the timing of the the carefully orchestrate commission objectives.
The TRC never took advantage of the powers it had to delve into these allegations of abuse and gross impropriety. But then there were many areas that were opened up and, for one reason or another, and the atrocities committed b the Apartheid machine' that and many other issues were never examined by the TRC. Individuals from lowly spies to assassins, blackmailers and the blackmailed, compromised teachers, judges, lawyers and civil servants, lie hidden within the fabric of a society where many of those who manipulated them, and know and can use their secrets, also remain at large.
This nearly crippled the TRC, which in its form as a compromise entity, at least revealed something of the horrors of the hidden past.(Bell and Ntsebeza) An opportunity was missed here whereby these people who formed the cog and operators of the machine, to have had a chance to reach out to the African people and some form of 'reconciliation' , born out of mutual trust, truth and respect of people as equals, would have advanced the healing that is sorely needed in South Africa.
People would have been able to deal better with knowing what happened them, why it did, why they are in the condition that they are in, and with this understanding and knowledge what is they could and should do so that they do for the 'common good' of all races in South Africa, thus moving ahead as a Nation.
Torture as a Cause of Mental Illness
At this juncture it is very important to begin to look at those ugly features of oppression which might be unpalatable to ordinary sensibilities. There is an urgency to quench the 'need to know' what took place throughout the country, but looking and extensively know about the action of the security forces in their efforts contain a 'perceived' threat inside and outside the country, and how they went about doling out their brand of justice and executions.
This is done in order for the people in South Africa to know what happened to a large section of the population, and maybe if both sides know what happened, might have a common ground of knowing, understanding and respecting one another.
When Botha ascended to power, the military took overall control of security and the plans for an internal "Dirty War" had already been laid down, as noted in the Hubs about "Cry The beloved Peoples" and "Apartheid Genocide Against Children". These hubs only touch on the few strategies promulgated by the security forces in their Total onslaught and using Total War against the people of African descent and how has this affected them and has done to them.
Mac Maharaj put it this way: "To shroud the horrors of the past in a collective Amnesia would leave posterity with a legacy of festering guilt and unrelieved pain." To remember and recall these events is important because some of those in this self imposed 'amnesic', the recounting of this history will sharpen and help shape the history of South Africa as it churns into the 21st century.
The pattern was set in September 1979 at a conference of security chiefs, held at a naval base of Simonstown, Known as the 'Simonstown Raad'(Simonstown Council), and it was chaired by Botha. specific tasks were allocated, areas of responsibility defined, and broad outline given of the tactics to be employed in 'taking off the gloves' in defense of Apartheid State. Here lay the origins not only of the police death squads such as that at Vlakplaas, which was exposed through TRC Hearings, but also of the 'military killer units' and their ultimate evolution into "Civil Cooperation Bureau(CCB).
It was only during the criminal trial in the year 2000 of chemical and biological warfare expert Wouter Basson that something of the scale of CCB killing was exposed. Two of the founding members of what started out as "section pseudo operations" and then became, in quick succession, D40 , Project Barnacle and finally CCB were proven responsible for the murder of perhaps hundreds of Namibian prisoners and the disposal of their bodies.
Major Neil Kriel, a pilot and former Selous Scouts, was the founding commander of the 'death squad, many of its members recruited from Rhodesian Special forces fleeing retribution in liberated Zimbabwe, were incorporated into the Defense Force. Seconded to the unit was Sergeant Trevor Floyd, a founding member of South Africa's "Dirty War" specialists, the Recce.(Bell/Ntsebeza)
The Electrician, CCB, Vlakplaas and Terrorism
The Information in the article written by Jacques Pauw is based on an interview with Paul van Vuuren. This is a very revealing interview and it puts in proper context what African people, ordinary human beings, were face-to-face with the in the CCB, Selous Scouts, Recce and some other death squad cliques who refused to give up their accounts to the TRC and thus, even today, throughout the Ghetto of Soweto, there are Swastika signs scrawled in many place in the Townships.
One thing one cannot pin on African people, is the glorification of Swastika signs because African people have never cared, nor been privy like that in their culture of using that dreaded sign; meanwhile, presently, there are many people who are dying from AIDS and other diseases already listed above; there is some growing awareness amongst the resident of Soweto that the youth is dying mysterious deaths; i.e., whenever their children step out of the house and they start missing for a night, most of those interviewed as to what caused the death of their loved ones, most shrug shoulders, and simply stated that the only other time they saw of their son, daughter, brother or sister was when they found their body in a morgue.
There are those who say the death of the youth in the Townships is due to the crime in the Ghettoes. To an extend that has a ring of truth in it, but what is not known about the conditions in the townships, ho w the people live and socialize and how the security forces operated, and what this meant to the victims, might be inclined to endorse that sentiment that the inhabitants of the Ghetto are criminal, and it is "black-n-black" violence, or in the days of apartheid, 'terrorists'.
Usually these issues are more easily understood if we glean on some history of the genesis of the Apartheid crime on the humanity of Africans in the 1980s. The article by Jacques Pauw gives us a hint and opportunity to better understand what the "Dirty Tricks Department" was up to: what was their 'modus operandi' in the Townships throughout South Africa?
The Ways of the Death Squads
Paul Jacobus Jansen van Vuuren joined the Northern Transvaal Security Branch in 1985. Section B was the Unit dealing with African activists, and it had a network of about 100 informants in the Townships who would provide the security police with information about the movement, activities and strategies of ANC and United Democratic Front(UDF) activists, student activists and comrades. Files were compiled on activists and "troublemakers" who needed the Unit's "attention". By the time van Vuuren arrived at the Security Branch, a formal 'Death Squad' had not yet been founded.
But there was a great deal of talk about a 'special unit' was needed to counter the 'unrest' in the Townships. Some, like Captain Flip Loots just wanted to "kill the bastards, and the unrest would stop". The security Branch headquarters had the same idea. One gleans from the TRC documents how Jack Cronje described the creation of the 'Death Squad' which came into being in the region: "The ANC,UDF and other black organizations were waging a war against us, and it became necessary to eliminate terrorists and activists. The legal system could not handle the situation and detention under the State of Emergency proved not to be effective," said Cronje.
Cronje said that early in 1986 he had a meeting with Gen. Johan Viktor, who was second-in-command of the police counter-insurgency unit. "He said we had to bring the situation in Pretoria area under control. It did not matter how. He said that Pretoria was burning and the country was burning. Activists had to be eliminated before they could commit acts of terror. From that point on, we waged a full-scale guerrilla war against the activists." The same methods were applied by security branches in other regions.
It was done everywhere and we were never repudiated by the Commissioner of Police, the State Security Council, the Cabinet or the government," Cronje said. Cronje also revealed the existence of a secret security police unit called the "Counter Revolutionary Information Target Center, better known by its Afrikaans acronym of "TREWITS". It was founded in 1985 to identify human target fro removal. Each month, representatives of the Security Police, Military Intelligence, Special Forces, and National Intelligence Service would hold meetings at which intelligence information would be exchanged and targets identified.
According to Cronje, "All our actions were contained in 'situation reports' that were sent to the 'Security Branch Headquarters. Further reports about our actions were sent to the State Security Council, and therefore, the Council had to know about the actions of my men," Cronje asserted.
Dirty Tricks Squads and Terrorism
F.W. de Klerk said of 'TREWITS': "What they were doing, if they actually did it, would definitely have been unauthorized. It was never part of the policy and I totally distanced myself from that. They were not acting within the framework or anything that comes near a reasonable interpretation of the policies of the government." But de Klerk could not shake-off his involvement in the North Crest Massacre, even as he went to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the issue of his authorizing the massacres was is achilles heel.
In any event, van Vuuren tells a different story: "In the beginning we only intimidated people. If activists burnt down a house, we would get reports from informants who they were. We would go that night and burn their houses. If they burn, we burn. After a while, the 'comrades' were not sleeping in their houses anymore. we would throw petrol bombs through windows (That is why the residents of Soweto and other Townships slept away from windows, and used wet Blankets as curtains, during this time in the night period).
I suppose people, maybe women and children, could have died in the attacks. In the beginning I was scared, but after a while I couldn't wait to go out at night. It was like sleeping with a woman," reminisced van Vuuren. It is important for all South Africans to begin learning the truth from African People and how this affected them during the days of 'Death Squads Terrorism' than what they have been told by their government, and other senior government officials.
Also, it is important to take note what kind of people the African people had to deal with everyday of those horrible years. Most of the South African White Afrikaners and other Whites who share their world view, have a different take on the events of that Africans went through in the deadly hands of the 'Death Squads' Some White people did not even know that these 'Death squads' even existed or operated because they were sitting comfortably in their areas, and got their news from TV, Apartheid radio and Newspapers. But that does not mean that this never happened.
Van Vuuren said a typical day would start at half past seven in the morning, when they would go out for a cup of coffee. Later the same morning, they would ask Flip Loots which names had surfaced in the information reports. He would tell them who was politically "active and who needed attention". They would read through the files and have to decide: did he only "need a hiding"? Or "did they need to steal him"?
They had complete access to "terrorist" weapons such as AK-47s and Makarovs and could obtain explosives whenever they needed them. They had a .22 pistol with a silencer that they used to shoot noisy and aggressive dogs. "We went on operations about every second night. We would use stolen cars and would sometimes wear "Balaclavas". (See the pictures in the picture gallery of the police next to dead bodies in the Hub, and some still had their "balaclavas" on or rolled back on their heads in the "Apartheid's Genocide Against Children" Hub) Van Vuuren added: "I must have conducted at least 200 operations, but it could have been 500."
The Death Squads usually recruited informants from activists they abducted. They would drive him around in a minibus and when they came alongside an activist, they would grab him, and pull him in. In other cases, Masemela would infiltrate activist cells or units and lure activists into van Vuuren and Hechter's waiting hands. (In the Hub on Genocide Against Children, scores of children were coerced to 'sell out ' members of COSAS or other activist; others were pointed in the morning in their homes preparing to go to school, and were pointed out by hooded persons).
During interrogations, the men would evaluate the activist and decide if he might be worth recruiting as an informant. They would offer him money, up to R1,000($136) a month. Once he had given his first report, he was hooked. Interrogation and torture went hand in hand. Van Vuuren said they would always take a suspect to a remote place where he knew nobody could hear him. "We were very good at torturing people. I quickly learned that if you don't hit him half-dead, he's not going to tell you everything."
Paul van Vuuren was a master at his craft. He is one of the men who represents the 'banality of the evil' that was South Africa's Apartheid culture, as much as it had been the country's system of government since the National Party took power in 1948 and legalized what we now know as apartheid. He and others like him were Apartheid's ultimate and most secret weapon. When all else had failed - detention without trial, harassment and 'dirty tricks', State of Emergency' regulations, and criminal prosecution - the 'death-squads' were sent out to finally 'solve the problem'.
They acquired the power to decide life and death. In the process, they not only abandoned their police or South African Defense Force(SADF) oaths to serve and uphold Law and Oder, but some were also forced to abandon their morality. The system they preserved and served rewarded them richly.
Vlakplaas and Torture
The police Counter Insurgency unit based at Vlakplaas, a Farm outside Pretoria where death squads trained, stole hundreds of thousands of Rands fro the police secret fund - with the connivance of the Generals. Members of the SADF death squads paid themselves "production bonuses" for successful operations. The more The more they killed, the more they were honored, these men based at Vlakplaas, these killer policemen of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch, operatives of an SADF Death Squad blandly called the Civil Cooperation Bureau(CCB), and military Intelligence and Security Police agents.
The Death Squads culture in South Africa - it techniques, skills and methods - had much in common with those of a gang of ordinary thugs. What distinguished the squad's members from common criminals was that they believed themselves to be fighting a secret twilight war against an evil enemy. Any method that could lead to the destruction and disruption of the enemy was permitted and tacitly condoned.
In committing these atrocities, there was one golden rule: never get caught. They referred to it as the "Eleventh Commandment." Each unit and every security policeman had his own method of torturing people. Vlakplaas, for example, was fond of "tubing" people: pulling the inner tube of a car tire over a detainee's face to smother him. I "found that to 'tube' a person was not always effective," van Vuuren continued. "You got tired because you had to use both hands an pull hard. We had various methods. we would tie a detainee very tightly to a chair. we had a gas mask which we would put over his face. We would close the air supply with a plug. While the activist would struggle and gasp for air, we could sit back and have coffee(!?) It was much easier than tubbing."
Torture, Kidnapping and Murder by Death Squads
Advice for the methodology of torture, murder by the "Dirty War" by the "Dirty Tricks" Departments was sought form the Argentinean Military,which provided specialist lecturers, including a General D'Almeida and the and the notorious torturer Lieutenant Alfredo Ignacio Astiz. One of the Argentinean navy's death-squad killers, Jorge Enrique Perren, accused of murders, kidnapping and torture, was based at the Marine War School in the Muizenberg suburb of Cape town from October 1979 to February 1982.
Chile's murderous military also advised and assisted. Major Neil Kriel and Sergeant Trevor Floyd, already mentioned above along with John Theron were effective executioners and undertakers based at a remote airstrip in Namibia. working at night, they specialized in disposing of people deemed undesirable who were delivered to them as prisoners. Floyd, who had some medical training,would either poison the prisoners with a spiked drink or inject a lethal drug.
On one occasion when Kriel - who was never publicly named- had forgotten to bring the poison, the three Zimbabwean prisoners were done to death with hammers. In all cases, the bodies were stripped and loaded into an aircraft with is rear door removed. Kriel, borrowing a technique popular in 1973 with the Chilean Military, would fly straight out over the Atlantic, where Floyd would throw the bodies into the sea. They would then return to the airstrip and burn the clothes taken from the prisoners. Similar flights also apparently too place from Lanseria Airport, North of Johannesburg, which was a major undercover base.(Bell/Ntsebeza)
In July 1987, in a deserted stretch of open 'veld'(open land space), North of Pretoria, three men were lying on the ground, their hands and feet tied. Hours before, they had mysteriously disappeared from their homes in Townships around Pretoria and Witbank. They were activists, members of the then-banned African National Congress(ANC- today's ruling party and government in South africa).
According to the security files, they were all trained guerillas and deeply involved in the wave of unrest in the Township. Three members of a security 'death squad' within the Northern Transvaal Security Branch. Night after night, the three men, sometimes wearing dark ski-masks, roamed the townships around Pretoria, killing, bombing and kidnapping activists they regarded as a threat to the security of the Apartheid State.
Next to the manacled activists stood a power generator intended to pump water for cattle, but that day, it was used to extract information from the captured men. "We put wire on on his hands and feet and shocked it until his body went rigid. We only did it for a second or two," said Warrant Officer van Vuuren, one of the three security policeman on the the scene. The other two were Captain Jacques Hechter and warrant officer Joe Mamasela, the killer Askari (ANC partisans turned informer or collaborator) who had been transferred from Vlakplaas to the Northern Transvaal security police at the end of 1985.
The men of the death squad were playing prosecutor, judge, and executioner of the three men and they had decided that Andrew Makupe, Jackson Maake and Harold Sefola had to die. But they were worried that they might leave traces of blood behind if they shot them. Another method had to be found. The generator.
The previous day, Maake had been the first captured. According to van Vuuren, he was a security police informant, perhaps a double agent planning an attack against them. The policemen took the 19-year-old Mamelodi Township scholar to the stretch of open veld. "For three hour we used the generator to send shocks through him to persuade him to talk. He admitted that he was a double agent.
He had instructions to eliminate us because we were seen as a danger to the ANC. He told us that the other member of his cell was Andrew Makupe in Mamelodi, who was a courier for the ANC. Late that same night, Andrew Makupe was kidnapped as he got into his car. He was taken to the same spot, where his hands and feet were tied and a cloth stuffed in his mouth. The two men, guarded by two black policemen, were left in the open veld on a winter's night.
At dawn, the security policemen returned and questioned Makupe by starting up the generator and shocking him. Makupe spoke immediately and told the men his commander in Witbank was code named "Bra(short for Brother) H." The policemen rushed back to security police headquarters where they discovered that "Bra H" was Harold Sefola, a trained guerrilla and, according to the informants, the mastermind behind several bomb explosions, but there had never been enough thorough information to arrest and prosecute him.
That same night, van Vuuren, Hechter, and Mamasela went to Witbank, trapped Sefola, and took him to the open veld where his up and awaiting their fate. The generator was started up. He admitted that he was a trained guerrilla and that he was involved in bomb explosions and planted land mines and limpet mines. We had to force him to talk by shocking him with the generator. At one time Mamasela pushed a knife up his nose, after which he gave even more information. He pleaded for his life.
Van Vuuren said that there was something about Sefola. He was stronger than the other two and believed deeply in his cause. He asked his interrogators whether he could say anything before he died. Mamasela untied him. He stood and sang 'Nkosi Sikelel i'Afrika. " Van Vuuren went on: "He said we can kill him, but the ANC would rule one day. He said that Apartheid cannot survive and that democracy would be the end of the Boers." (J. Pauw) As usual, hindsight is 20/20...
As Sefola sang the anthem of the anti-Apartheid movement, Mamasela draped an ANC flag over the corpse of Jackson Maake. As the final notes faded, the wires of the generator were attached to Andrew Makupe, and he was electrocuted. Mamasela said in an affidavit[to the TRC] that van Vuuren ordered Sefola to pray for the other two. He went on his knees, but put his fist in the air and saluted his comrades in the name of the struggle. Shortly after, Sefola was also shocked to death.
Mamasela said he was shocked until foam and blood came out of his mouth and ears. "We had to kill them. We had to destroy the whole cell," said van Vuuren. The three hit men loaded the bodies into a minibus and took them to a dirt road in the "homeland of Bophutatswana. "We placed the land mine on the ground, put them on top of the land mine, we stood back and detonated the mine," said van Vuuren. They did this in order to make it look like the three activists tried to plant the mine, and accidentally activated the device.
When Sefola stood in the veld singing "Nkosi Sikelel i'Afrika" and told the police that the ANC would one day rule the country, van Vuuren had thought he was mad. Van Vuuren believed that the security police were winning the war. He and his death squad roamed the townships, killed and tortured activists, and bombed their houses with little thought of consequences. That is the side many White people never got to see, hear and really know its impact on the African Community.
That is why whenever Hubs like these are written, Some White people feel as if it's their right to vilify and demonize the necklacing of Africans by Africans(Putting a tire filled with petrol around the neck of a person accused of being a "sell-out", rightly or wrongly), that these same White people who either committed or were reporting or read, seen or heard about "terrorism" by Africans, tend to come out too strong against such researches.
These researches are in part to help Africans understand what happened to them from a historical perspective, and how history written from an African Perspective will help them deal with those issues they had no answers about whatever and whenever these atrocities were committed against them. And for once, they have a written record that reflects their historical experience and perspectives.
Van Vuuren stated: "I would never have done this under normal circumstances. I did it for my country and people. I was fighting communism." Magnus Malan who approved the formation of the CCB, told parliament in september 1981 put it this way: "As point of departure, we have to accept that the onslaught here in Southern Africa is communist inspired, Communist planned and Communist supported.
They want to establish a dictatorial state for elite black black Marxist in the Republic of South Africa. ... The security of the Republic of South Africa must be maintained by every possible means at our disposal." My take on this point is that the security of South Africa is in the hands of South Africans who see the nation as made up of different races but working in harmony for a Rainbow united South Africa, whose primary concern and interest is the Nation of South Africa.
An Addendum to the African Agenda
The intention of this hub is be useful as a tool for social engineering and in a small way, assist All South Africans heal some sore wounds and see some different ways of knowing, not necessarily attached to the past, and an inner belief in the possibility of change and and acquire a new way of knowing. But the African people who are victims, have to blame themselves for allowing themselves to be used in the way they have bee.
This was echoed by Biko, wherein he pointed out to the fact that poverty and oppression brought stress upon African people that they end up believing in their oppression, and see it as normal. The toxic social relations that were engendered by Apartheid, in the end, do not normalize African social relations and self realization and actualization if, even after having so much in-depth affects have been revealed, African people continue in the same mode of behavior which does not advance the African Society. A less biased approach in writing african History is a better approach towards building the new South African history of the 21st century.
.Aime Cesaire advices: "We Colored men, in this specific moment of historical evolution, the notion of our peculiar uniqueness, the notion of just who we are and what, and that we are ready, on every plane and in every department, to assume the responsibilities which proceed from this coming into consciousness. The peculiarity of our place in the world is not to be confused with anyone else's. The peculiarity of our problems which aren't to be reduced to subordinate forms of any other problem. The peculiarity of our history, laced with terrible misfortunes which belong to no other history. The peculiarity of our culture, which we intend to live and to make live in an ever realler manner."
By looking at the history of the African people, is one of the new ways to acknowledge and appreciate and respect their path of discovery. But the coming of the new African guard into power in South Africa, has made the victims of Apartheid wonder if their plight will ever be ameliorated, and if there any difference between African rulers and the past Apartheid government.
"Incidentally, there is no Black problem. There is a problem of class conflict to which the Black man lends the color of the contempt inherent in his condition; one should remember his history and see the tensions of today with objectivity." J.F.A. Ajayi observed thus: "Leaders who plan for an African future but consider the knowledge of the past irrelevant can only be presumed to be harboring the colonialist view of the African past. It was the wisdom of our fathers to emphasize that each present generation owes obligations and responsibilities to both the ancestors and the generations yet unborn.
The African elite, since independence have proclaimed in their aim to foster the economic and cultural development of Africa. The record of stasis is disappointing enough; still, we have other causes for alarm. There is a strange quisling quality about their actions which should force us to ask whether they are primarily African Nationalists or modern Black slavers serving the West just as the laving elite did centuries ago. They seem to be victims of a voluntary cultural servitude and of an economic insecurity which predispose them to serve the West rather than Africa." This seems to be the case in South Africa today.
To call them neocolonial administrators is not to say that they, like the former white colonial administrators, receive direct orders or mandatory guidelines form their masters overseas, with detailed or discretionary instructions on what to do, and when and how to do it. Maybe some do. But it is rather to say that, though they advertise themselves as serving Africa, they operate in an environment, with a mentality, and under conditioned attitudes and direct advice that all tend to yield policies that primarily serve the neocolonial power or former colonial masters, policies that often are in direct opposition to the genuine interests of the African peoples Senghor said in 1962:
"The weakness of the Nation is neither at the level of the highest state official nor at the level of the lower intermediary civil servants, many of whom are not yet decolonized, and then there are those who are still aware of the fact that independence requires an increased effort of work, discipline and also politeness."
On the negotiation for a unified government with the Nationalist Party, ANC agreed to a "Trickle-Down" theory or economics of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. The opted to not prosecute the leaders of Apartheid nor anyone associated with Apartheid in order to acquire some semblance of political power. Most of the Apartheid functionaries were retained in key position of the military, economy and society. So that, as some power was being consolidated, the ANC had negotiated form a point of weakness.
As I have shown in the Hub Cry The Beloved Peoples, even in the military, Mkhonto and APLA were integrated into the SADF, to become the SANDF(South African NAtional Defense Force, and a chart was shown in the picture gallery of the aforementioned Hub as to the military breakdown form top to bottom,that in essence, ANC was in the service of their former masters at the expense of their constituency, and they 'negotiated' from a point of weakness with the ruling Afrikaner Elite.
(Sekwanele(Enough Is Enough
The trouble with todays' leadership is that it uses the country's bounty to enrich themselves. The have been and continues to be countless governmental corruption scandals that the present government is responsible for. From the days of the formation of the Government for National Unity(even today),there has been the Gravy train, which has left many African peoples embittered as to what kind of government have they put in place.
There has been a steady rise if strikes(doctors, cops, workers and many organizations that were opposed to the Apartheid government, now are rebelling against the ANC's Rainbowstan. The effect these shenanigans that the new government has indulged in, has left many filled with despair, that at times, as weird as it may sound, some , not all the people, think that and state it openly that they were better-off under "Amabunu/Boers, comparatively speaking. The point out to services, although shabby, they concede were better.
The people suffer in hospitals when they have to wake up at four and be at the clinic earlier so as to be attended to. In most cases, they are not seen at all, on top of that, they are not given medicines but are handed prescriptions to go and buy the medicine in the expensive pharmacies in the suburbs.
Some of the main killers amongst the African peoples today are, AIDS, TB, Hypertension, sugar diabetes, malnutrition, cholera and many other debilitating diseases. Lack of good food is paramount, followed by the environment, unemployment, Alcoholism, car accidents, mental and physical stress, broken homes, families, marriages, crime, and a host of other problems and ailments too numerous to list here.
The state of health in South Africa is in dire need for improved health facilities(although Baragwanath(Chris Hani) Hospital has been upgraded, the locals are telling that it has been done so for the super rich Africans and other people either than for locals. Transportation in areas where the World Cup is being played are being upgraded; the new President, Zuma, has improved and still in the process of reforming the whole bureaucracy, but the conditions for African masses have not radically changed.
The ANC did build some RDP houses and removed corrugated iron houses from the yards in some townships, and has replaced these with concrete and zinc buildings; Roads throughout Soweto have been improved(but not all roads in the Sowetos have been worked on). People now have water meters placed on the taps and have their water rations in some Townships around Soweto and so forth. Electricity now has to be bought from electrical outlets and is limited for several days. The city of Johannesburg, for example, does not cater for places like Soweto and so forth. Water is shut-off during some of the weekdays, and most times on weekends.
The Townships around the formerly known as the "Vaal Triangle Areas" have been invaded by huge rodents which eat their doors and bite the children at night. Many residents have been and are still being terrorized by these rodents and there seems to be no end in sight. Resident s have been trying to fight off these rodents, but they are running wild in the ghettoes around the country. In some cases, there are some accounts which point a finger at the police abuses, and has been noted in the Hub of "Cry the Beloved People", police are under siege from men armed in some heavy military ware of which ANC has been accused of, not long ago trafficking in.
Many Government Officials, who have had more than enough of junkets, caviar and exotic foods and life-styles, have lost their posts. Many engage is draping themselves with "Ubuchwephe"(bling-bling) from their front teeth to adorning themselves with silver, gold and diamonds over their torsos, houses and cars. Some Africans make more millions in half or full week and some brag to their poor brethren about it.
There has been some recklessness in the treatment of African by the current government, of which, some members pulled out and tried to morph into a party called COPE, which now is labelled to some who are perceived as being its members, that some acts are now termed 'coping', to designate, subtly, one is against the 'People". The very people who say so, are cruising around in the latest custom-made American, British French and Italian cars, living in mansions all over South Africa and overseas: they are having walk in the sun and good and golden time to themselves.
Their subjects are in rags, poor, sick, poverty stricken, mentally disturbed(in very large numbers). Poverty stinks in many African households and communities; schools are barren of books, computers and properly qualified teachers. Those who can upgrade their living conditions, do so. The masses, the youth is drugged and drunk, women(raped and abused), anyone of any race who is poor is doomed. The African people's message to the government is: "Sekwanele!"(Enough is enough!")
J.A. Hobson. that early twentieth century critic of British Imperialism, said that he endorses a sensible task such as he describes below: "The test of a people's prosperity is not the extension of exports, the multiplication of manufacturers or other industries, the construction of cities. No. A prosperous country is one in which the 'great mass' of the inhabitants are able to procure, with moderate toil, what is necessary for living human lives, lives of frugal and assured comfort.
But what we are seeing in South Africa is a system of world trade that pillages the African people,allowed by the present government to fester; a system of aid that puts in the hands of others the ability to dislocate or wreck the South African economy, that enables them(both Parties: ANC/International-national imperialists and the local White elite), to restructure the South African society to their advantage and make it safe for their plundering investments, even if they call such political interference names like "Democratization,' "Modernization," or "Institution Building," or what other galvanizing euphemisms they dream up; a system of foreign enterprise, foreign bandit enterprise, that gives them total control over South Africa's vital resources, gives them the "right" to cart them away or leave them unused, or burn them if they so choose."
This is not, and cannot be in the African people's interests. African people will also be held liable if the allow this to continue, just as Biko pointed out that African people are liable for allowing themselves to be abused and used in the manner they have been under Apartheid. Ironically, the Present African-government South Africa is in cahoots with International Capital and Corporations in looting the Wealth of the country, and not really caring very well for the people who put them in power 16 years ago.
"Abahlali baseMjondolo", a homegrown indigenous social movement is working hard to draw attention to persistent governmental indifference towards the plight of Durban shack dwellers. These people are plagued and endure shack fires and the "Abahlali baseMjondolo" set these fires suffered by the people who live in these shacks in their political context. They directly equate the absence of water and electricity with the early 1990s informal negotiations between the ANC and Corporate leaders, and the shack dwellers' marginalization is a direct consequence of South Africa's post-Apartheid neoliberal leanings and the unwillingness of the ANC to make good on its original aims of equitable social redistribution, but instead, as pointed out above, opted for trickle-down economics of Thatcher and Reagan. Here is a chorus of a contemporary protest sung sung in Xhosa"
[The Black Capitalists
Are making us worry].
The people in the shacks have one water tap serving nearly 8,000 tightly packed residents. Far from a rarity, shack fires in these slums burn on average of 10 a day. The residents refused to accept the city's offer to resettle them, instead opted to rebuild their shacks using whatever material they could salvage from the ruins.
The "Abahlali baseMjondolo"(Zulu for Shack-dwellers"), the social movement which is based in more than 40 shack settlements,helped the residents to put out a press statement calling for food emergency, temporary shelter and building materials. They also called out for a destruction of 70% of their settlements in a broader political context: "Shack fires are a crisis and they are not something normal. The government must stop blaming the victims every time there is a fire. We have to treat fire as a crisis.
We have to act against the real causes of fire. The main cause is that people do not have electricity. Other causes are that people do not have enough taps or any fire hydrants to fight the fires. The short-term solution is to upgrade the settlement with proper brick houses.(In my hub, "The world Is a Ghetto: Global Slums - Out of Sight and out of Mind: Deterioration of the Human Condition", I made mention and observation about the conditions of the slum dwellers and their problems, plight and downgraded life- these are similar to those in many of South Africa's shack settlements. When the people of the slums were threatened with forced removals, they said: "We are urbanites. We live and work and school here. We will not be moved. If the city will not give us building material, we will rebuild the settlement ourselves. This land is ours.."
On 22 September 2008, at a fire summit, ABM, AEC, LPM, and the Rural Network formed a Poor People's Alliance called for coordinated joint action. This summit was attended by shack dwellers from All over Durban, as well s delegates from AEC, the LPM's of Gauteng(Johannesburg) and KwaZulu-Natal branches, the Rural Network, and the eThekwini region of the South African National Civic Organizations(SANCO).
In July 2008 these two movements joined together to help launch an AbM Western Cape Movement to directly address the concerns f the residents of Cape Town's numerous settlements. "We are calling it the Poor People's Alliance so our people can identify with it," explained AEC Chairman Ashraf Cassiem. "It's a solidarity alliance. If there is an action in one place, [we] will carry it forward in another area. It must be people-orientated. It must be action-based, as opposed to an NGO that sits in the office."
ANC's neoliberal agenda(along with ANC Youth League, The South African Communist Party and the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions(COSATU) still collude together to maintain a cohesive government, but the feelings of betrayal within the poor communities are looming large, as has been discussed above and within the Hub, and the government, through its recklessness has wrongly rubbed and touched into the tangible feelings of betrayal within poor communities.
Throughout the different communities there are local movements who are calling for the resignation of the sloppy and corrupt councilors to be replaced. In the 2006 municipal elections, they let out a cry: "No Land! No House! No Vote!(Toussaint Losier), and with South Africa's hosting of the 2010 World Cup serving as further pretext for the creation of cities that meet the desires of the rich(as noted above about the Baragwanath(Chris Hani) Hospital remodeling fiasco and farce as noted by the locals), the need for the popular struggles grows greater each day.
Synthesis and Synergy
At the beginning of the hub I have stated that those who control the past and the present manipulate ones mentality, sanity contact with reality and the ability to deal with that reality. What Apartheid did, has been carried on with some fervor by the present African ANC government. Looking at the picture gallery is like looking through the prism of Apartheid heinous deeds, but this time, it is being done by a government the people elected democratically.
These are the growing pains and learning steps about Democracy for the "Free" people of South Africa, who are apparently are not so free, and the police are still acting like it was yesteryear Apartheid era; the elected officials are in cahoots with big business, and are ignoring the signs that are all around them, there is a lot of unrest and displeasure amongst the army of poor in the country.
The environment, which is a health hazard along with the disease that the African people came down with the end of White rule, have not been fully upgraded. The depression, stress and feelings of being betrayed are gaining traction, and it seems like it is the days of protest and arresting and detaining of people without trial - apartheid-redux. The police lie about the abuses they are carrying out in trying to break these protests.
The people are seeing their hospitals being renovated for those who have money for top health care. The effects and affects of apartheid torture still fresh in the lives, the diseases like TB, HIV/AIDS are killing thousands along with Alcoholism and Sugar Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, poverty and unemployment continue to plague the masses of poor African people and the poor of other races within South Africa, and there seems to be no end in sight.
The ghetto and slum environment within which the poor masses live as they watch their rich brothers flaunt all the wealth and fat, is itself causing tensions and stress on the poor. The history of the African people has been bypassed and ignored by the present rulers who have had been ruling now for 16 years, but continue to be corrupt, greedy, inept, and inefficient in delivering equity as they have promised, and deaf and blind to hurting masses and their woes.
On the political level, The AFrican people's present reality, however fine and attractive the reality of others may be, can only be transformed by detailed knowledge of it, by their own efforts, and by their own self sacrifices. This quality we can see in organization like "Abahlali baseMjondolo" social organization, and those like the "Soweto Concerned Residence" headed and led by women who are making things better for their inhabitants of the ghettoes and, slums and shack settlements.
Fanon said: "Each generation must out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it." These organizations have become a thorn on the neck for the ANC cadre, and they are a bit flummoxed a s to hoe to act. The do detain some without charging them and send the police to disperse and arrest some, but that has not deterred the women and youth protesters one bit
In his book "Nigeria: The prospect for a Democracy", H.O. Davies advices are excerpted as follows: "When we say that parliamentary democracy has failed in a newly independent state and that an authoritarian regime has taken over the government, we are taking a sort-term view. the events which we have been considering carry with them no necessary implication that democracy has permanently failed. ...
Authoritarian regimes may be a process of adjustment whereby parliamentary democracy is arrested, pending a higher evolution or development of complementary institutions.... The new African states have to devote themselves to studying the art of democratic government and not just take hold of the steering-wheel of the parliamentary machine. ... All the materials required for building sound foundations for parliamentary democracy are to be found in the ethnic composition of the country .
This is also relevant and true for South Africa, where, from the historical perspective as laid out in this Hub, the present government is merely holding the steering wheel and driving its constituents even more crazier and distraught-full, and left with a heavy feeling of being betrayed.
Davies insists on telling us that: "All peoples can achieve and practice democracy, if they have enough faith and conviction in it values. It is not for the European only, it has a moral language which is universal. Those who have the courage and enough respect for the African to point out the shortcomings of contemporary political experiments, as measured against the accepted and avowed standards, perform a valuable service for the democracy as well as for Africa; those who fall backwards, whether out of desire to please, or fear to give offense, or contempt for the African, to defend the shortcomings and represent them as the best that can be achieved are being pernicious both to the freedom and welfare of African societies and to international relations and world peace."
Even as we blame the apartheid business, one should not fail to lay the bulk of the blame on the doorstep of big business, or transnational companies, for their part in perpetuating the Apartheid order. These entities who have helped and sustained a system that was slavery and committed crimes against humanity(Africans), owes the Victims, overwhelmingly Africans), reparations. They scoffed at the idea when required to do so by the TRC as 'a waste of time'.
The present government, in its quest to create equality amongst the races, and disburse the economic bounty fairly, should also compensate the Africans for the suffering they underwent when Apartheid was in charge. Clearly this is not the case today, in fact, the present government has gone even deeper into the financial pockets of International Capital with zest and zeal. Those who created an environment of 'gross human rights abuses' in South Africa, among them internally and externally based companies, and the countries that supported them, are liable for the reconstruction of the South African Society.
In a program of reconstruction and development, reparations should include amounts that should be paid by big business both in and outside South Africa. It is also essential to uncover the level of complicity of these corporate supra-Capitalists in the crime of Apartheid[they have left their finger-prints all over the crime-scene]. This was somehow a convoluted and weak response from an impotent government when Mbeki said about the TRC: "There shall be no general Amnesty'. Amnesty, yes, reconciliation yes, but Amnesia, no!"
Well, Amnesia is what is the agenda and strategy of the present government which is now facing many forms of uprisings, the environmental tragedy that is happening now in South Africa, upgrading the country's infrastructure to make South Africa hospitable to tourist(including soccer fans) and the nouveau rich, lack of efficiency and medicines in hospital, the AIDS pandemic, TB and other debilitating diseases; have also forgotten about the people's history and look askance with the bourgeoning the booming crack cocaine drug sales and usage amidst the poor.
They ignore the increased abuse and use of mandrax tablets mixed with marijuana amongst all ages of the African population; abuse of alcohol and lack of active and aggressive detoxification institutions for all the drug and alcohol abuse victims for whom clinics are urgently required; poverty, unemployment; lack of proper and efficient social services add more to the overly stressed-out community; malnutrition as witnessed amongst the hoards of African beggars milling along traffic lights and wherever they can beg; the thriving prostitution trade; armed robberies, local and national crime; general social tension, environmental hazards and social frustration and stress manifest themselves in many forms and ways; the latter has given rise to TB rates rising, sugar diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers of all forms, gout, eye problem(for the people of Soweto this is most of the time caused by the dust from the mine dumps blowing South-wards into the Soweto throughout the land in the August-September season).
Considering all historical sundry, mental problems persist to this day; there are scores people who have been affected by torture, beatings, electrocuted, and permanently demented, disfigured and rendered useless, and the [African]society with meagre resources has to look after them. There has been slums built to harbor the poor hordes, high child and infant mortality rate, use of skin lightening creams, blaming the victims of apartheid health system onto a people who for generations of Apartheid rule bore the brunt of "kragdadheid" of the mighty Apartheid regime.
These people, who have been subjected to all these abuses, are supposed to have overcome these centuries old abuses in just 16 years of neo-post partheid rule, and those who oppressed them are now pointing fingers at the rest of africans and coloreds as if they are not doing anything to overcome the 'little pain' caused to them by apartheid. Some Boers even go to the extend of saying that only 20,000 Africans have been killed by apartheid since 1948, therefore, why are Africans whining as if many have killed. It is disconcerting to hear those who piled the crimes against the humanity of the apartheid victims belittle what happened to Africans' mindset and health during the apartheid rule.
A Case In Point(Blaming The Victim)
A sick individual is regarded as a set of physical symptoms, rather than a a person who belongs to a social class in a particular society. This process turns our attention away fro the political roots of disease, and conceals these roots by providing us with an alternative explanation. By and large, said this explanation,people are responsible for their own health. If they get sick it is a chance occurrence, no-one is to blame, and it is their own fault. If people get cholera, it is because the did not use 'safe, chlorinated water'.
If children are malnourished, their parents did not feed them properly, and they have ore children than they can look after properly. Illness was seen as nature's revenge on people who live unhygienically and do not observe proper rules of cleanliness.
This belief was reinforced in South Africa by the racism that permeated ll aspects of the society. African people bore the overwhelming burden of diseases. This fact linked up all to o easily to the opinion, widely held amongst whites, that African people were ignorant, backward and uneducated.
From this position,it was only one step to saying that African people suffered from ill-health because of these alleged racial characteristics. The other side of the coin was that whites were 'known' to be intelligent,civilized and educated. For the racial bigots. the comparatively low level of disease amongst whites proved this 'fact'.
This argument that people were to blame for the own illnesses was widely held by Dr. C.S. Garbers, president of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, blamed the cholera outbreak on the fact that may rural Africans 'preferred drinking dirty water out of the muddy pools rather that the safe and chlorinated water supplied by the authorities'. But people did not chose to live in unhygienic conditions. They are condemned by political and economic factors to live in areas where living is impossible.
A similar point can made about malnutrition. I a survey done in Nqutu in Kwazulu, it was found that 62% of others of malnourished children knew what was necessary for a balanced diet for their children. They simply could not provide for it. It was also found that 13% of mothers of well-nourished children could not describe adequate diet.
The only conclusion that could be drawn was that nutritional knowledge was not that important in determining the level of malnutrition in a society. What was crucial, was that people should have been able to afford or produce on a wide range of food. Where this was the case, mothers would fed their children adequately without knowing exactly what proportion of protein, fat, energy, vitamins and trace elements should be in the diet.
One strand of the victim blaming argument was the one used to justify population control programs. The argument was seductive and apparently logical. It said that there are only limited resources to go around, particularly in the Homelands/Bantustans. The only way to make sure that these resources are able to meet everyone's needs, was to limit the size of the population.
In the imagery of family planning propaganda, this truth was represented by pictures of prosperous looking families with one or two children contrasted with poor, sickly looking families with five or ore children in ragged clothes, obviously underfed. The message was simple: big families cased poverty. This kind of overpopulation theory provided ample scope for stereotyped racial cliches. African people were portrayed as the cause of their own poverty by breeding hordes of unkempt children.
This belief was reinforced in South Africa by the racism that permeated all aspects of society. African people bore the overwhelming burden of disease. This fact linked up al to easily with the opinion, widely held amongst whites, that African people were ignorant, backward and uneducated. From this position, it was only one step to saying that African people suffered from ill-health because of these alleged racial characteristics. The other side of the coin was that whites were 'known' to be intelligent, civilized and educated. For the racial bigots, the comparatively low level of disease amongst whites proved this fact.
The idea that population control was an important weapon in the battle against diseases was reflected by the emphasis placed on 'family planning' in state health policy. It was the one program where both the training of personnel, and the budget available for projects had expanded rapidly despite the department of health's cost cutting exercises of the last few decades. In addition, family planning was listed as top priority for the health centers in the Health Service Facility Plan, and was the subject of a major, nationwide propaganda campaign. The "overpopulation" argument may have a kind of attractive internal logic, but it was wrong.
The Awareness of Oppressed Consciouness
There is also another aspect of mental disturbances that needs to be noted thoroughly in order to understand the African state of min in South Africa. We need to understand that from the vantage point of the continuity of White supremacy, the basis for the labeling of Black Consciousness and behavior by Whites as normal or abnormal depends not on the discovery by Whites of discrete states of consciousness and their correlated behavioral tendencies in Africans, but on the discovery of the degree to which Black Consciousness/behavioral tendencies are perceived as serving or dis-serving their hegemonic interests.
Disturbances of thought, emotions, motivational and values priorities, and psychological processes in Africans are the unavoidable outcomes of their oppression by Whites. To be oppressed is by definition to have one's thought processes disturbed; emotions impaired; motives and values inverted; nd one's body functions imbalanced. There can be no "normality" of consciousness and conduct for Africans as long as they remain dominated by Whites - merely socially acceptable or unacceptable adjustments to the ever-changing demand characteristics of White supremacy.
The normality of Africans under White domination is by that circumstances,above all, a "pathological normalcy"- disturbances in Black Consciousness and behavior which are deemed serviceable and beneficial to the needs of their white oppressors.
The alleged normality or abnormality of Black Consciousness under White Supremacy requires that Africans involuntarily and obsessively deceive themselves. This collective self-deception, which is the benchmark or oppressed Black Consciousness, is the main product of White-African social power relations in South Africa - motivated by anxiety and ignorance, founded on the denial and distortion of reality.
Both the normality and abnormality of Black Consciousness and behavior are reproduced by the power relations of White supremacy, also require that they operate against their own best interests of their White oppressors; that they be self-denying, self-defeating, and oft-times self-destructing, while convincing themselves that the opposite is true. Normality is as much a political-economic concept as a psychological-social concept.
As a political/economic construct it is the result, in large part, of the interplay of intergroup, intragroup and primary group social-economic power relations and practices which have been exercised on the bodies of persons. Normality is born of fairly systematic methods of rewarding and punishing behavior, ritual practices and indoctrination, training, correction, supervision and constraint. As societies change so do their fields of power relations,methods of rewarding, methods of socialization, and concepts of normalcy.
To paraphrase Foucault: "the normality" which inhabits a person and brings him into existence is itself a factor in the in the mastery that those in power exercise over that person's consciousness and behavior."
Normality as a functional state of being, as a circumscribed set of states of consciousness and their correlated behavioral tendencies, is the effect and instrument of dynamic political-economic relations. The "norm" is in essence a principle of coercion; a constraint of behavior, a rule to be followed. It involves the establishment of a set of values or standards, a range of behaviors to be respected which must be achieved through conformity, reinforced by social sanctions, rewards, , and punishments.
Normalizing, the process of using the values of the norm to compare, differentiate, hierarchize,homogenize, to determine the level and value of abilities and the "nature" of persons and groups; to exclude; to mark the frontier of the abnormal - and thereby ration power, wielded by those who rule and dominate others. Hence, under White supremacy, the "normality" of Africans is to a significant extent both the effect and the instrument of White power. For the subordinated African, "normality" is the prison of his mind and body.
Sociopathology Precedes Psychopathology
Wislon writes and informs us thusly: "Collective pathology precededs individual pathology. That is, diseased social interactions between groups generate diseased social interactions within groups, and furthermore, diseased social interactions within groups generate diseased psychological interactions within individuals who are their constituents. The discontents of individuals reflect the discontents of groups; and these, the discontents of the societies and cultures they constitute. the Great Chain of ?Discontents inextricably binds together individuals, group, society, and culture."
Will adds: "The character and conduct of groups and individuals however labeled and categorized, whether judged to be good or evil, superior or inferior, are the products of historic intergroup, intragroup, and interpersonal relations, and can only be meaningfully understood in terms of these relations. The character and behavior of Africans American(Africans in general), whether labeled "normal" or "abnormal," can only be fully and accurately comprehended, along with the process and purpose of labeling itself, in terms the historic power relations between dominant European and subordinate African groups."
White domination and Black(African) subordination involve special types of social power relations constructed predominantly by White in order that they might receive certain material and non-material benefits thereby. these social power relations involve social practices and processes which mediate the White American socioeconomic, sociopolitical, sociopsychological manipulation and construction for Black(African) consciousness and behavior.
Under White supremacy Black(African) Consciousness and behavior are socially manufactured, labeled, and judged by Whites in ways consonant with their social control and expropriation of Black(African) natural and acquired human resources. The "normality" or "abnormality" of Black(African) consciousness and behavior are so classified with reference to the degree to which they support or oppose to the continuity of White supremacy. (Wilson)
"Disturbances of thought, emotions, motivational and values priorities, and psychological processes in Blacks(Africans) are unavoidable outcomes of the oppression by Whites. to be oppressed is by definition to have one's thought processes disturbed; emotions impaired; motives and values inverted; and one's body functions imbalanced. There can be no "normality" of consciousness and conduct for Blacks as long as they remain dominated by Whites - merely socially acceptable or unacceptable adjustments to the ever-changing demanding characteristics of White Supremacy.
The normality of Blacks(Africans) under White domination is by that circumstance, above all, a "pathological normalcy" - disturbances in Black(African) consciousness and behavior which are deemed serviceable and beneficial to the needs of their White oppressors.
The alleged normality or abnormality of Black(African) consciousness under white supremacy requires that Blacks(Africans) involuntarily and obsessively deceive themselves.this collective self-deception, which is the benchmark of oppressed Black(African) Consciousness, is motivated by anxiety and ignorance, founded on the denial and distortions of reality. Both the normality and abnormality of Black(African) Consciousness and behavior as produced by the power relations of White supremacy, also require that they operate against their own best interests in the interests of their White oppressors; that they be self-denying, self-defeating, and ofttimes self-destructing, while convincing themselves that the opposite is true.(Wilson)
Wilson wraps this for us by stating that, "Normalization, the process of using the values of the norm to compare, differentiate, hierarchize, homogenize; to determine the level and value of abilities and the "nature" of persons and groups; to exclude; to mark the frontier of the abnormal - and thereby ration power, privilege and favor - is one of the great instruments of power wielded by those who rule and dominate others. Hence, under White supremacy the "normality" of Blacks(Africans) is to a significant extent both the effect and the instrument of White Power. for the subordinated African, "normality" is the prison of his mind and body."
If in this day and age we trumpet modernity and technological and medical advances, it would be worth it to take a second look at the soul, spirit, condition and history of the Affected Africans masses, more specifically, those in South Africa. If history is capable of repeating itself, it would be worthwhile to study the history of South Africa in the past and present, in order to get a sense of where it's headed in the further future.' Fear' is another serious hazard in the lives of Poor African people that still grips the being and souls of African people. This is one aspect that needs a whole Hub to discuss because if it is full issues that continue as part of social relations in South Africa.
There is a dire need to begin to look, learn and listen to African people on their road towards recovery, and as for the procrastinating government officials, they risk facing the wrath of the poor armies of poor Africans joined by the poor of other races. Maya Angelou sums the issues raised in this Hub nicely: "History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived. But if faced with courage, need not be lived again." Addressing the social and all sorts of stressors can alleviating the suffering of the toiling, sick and tired masses who are hungering for equitable distribution of wealth and comfort in the land of their birth, this will be one of the many steps that can be utilized to move on with the rest of the World.
Mental Health in The Post-Apartheid South Africa
For this part on the Post Apartheid Mental Disorders, I will defer to some notes from a Masters Thesis written by David Wilding John in 2010:
"In the post-apartheid society, race relations are frequently framed within the discourse of a ‘rainbow nation’ – a term first used by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in reference to the development of a cohesive and multi-cultural South African society. Though originally invoked with good intent, as Valji warns (2003: 26), the myth of the ‘rainbow nation’ has created a national identity that has been primarily top-down in its delivery. Here the political few may be seen as exercising control over the collective majority. Through political rhetoric and appeal to a united national identity, the rainbow nation discourse has been actively promoted as the ‘political economy of truth’ within the new South Africa.
Ironically, though the rainbow nation discourse has historically aimed to enhance racial tolerance and national harmony, it may also contribute to the marginalization and subsuming of other linguistic, cultural or ethnic individualities under an “umbrella identity” (Norris et al. 2008: 53). This naturally has consequences for the realization of a plurality of knowledges within South Africa. As Cronin (1999: 20) cautions, “allowing ourselves to sink into a smug rainbowism will prove to be a terrible betrayal of the possibilities for real transformation, real reconciliation, and real national unity that are still at play in our contemporary South African reality”.
Together with societal transformation, as well as evolving national and racial identities, the attitudes of young South Africans are also in flux. Research examining the future outlook of adolescents provides a glimpse into the multiple and heterogeneous ways in which young South Africans grow up and develop their identity. In a birth cohort study entitled ‘Birth to Twenty’, researchers found that black and coloured adolescents tend to be more certain about their South African-ness, have a more collective identity, and have more positive expectations about South Africa than both white and Indian youth (Norris et al. 2008).
In contrast, white adolescents place greater importance on personal identities, and compared to blacks, coloured and Indians, place relatively less importance on unified racial, cultural and national identities (ibid 2008: 51, 56). These findings may be explained in part by the pervasive concept of Ubuntu, a humanist philosophy common in South Africa that emphasizes the value of community spirit, shared ancestry and existential interconnectedness. Though as Yen and Wilbraham caution, the holistic approach of Ubuntu should not be over-romanticized in its care for marginalized peoples, used as evidence of a homogenous African culture, nor pitted against constructions of Western individual is characterized as selfish and competitive by comparison (2003b: 567). Other research examining the future expectations of South African adolescents from
various socio-economic backgrounds found that among black and brown respondents freedom of speech and human rights figured as South Africa’s strongest assets, while HIV/AIDS, poverty and unemployment were identified as its most serious problems. In contrast white respondents identified beautiful scenery as South Africa’s biggest advantage and violent crime as its major disadvantage (Steyn et al. 2010: 184). These finding suggests that for black and brown adolescents their identities and expectations of the future may be more closely tied to conditions of adversity that affect them disproportionately relative to whites.
While conditions of poverty, crime, unemployment and HIV/AIDS have no doubt taken their toll the psyche of some adolescents, the willingness of young people to endure hardship and persevere in spite of these obstacles stresses the fact that South African adolescents are, in general, highly resilient individuals. Accounts of adolescents are not “stories of ‘failure’ or of a ‘descent’ into marginality” – rather they are narratives of success in confronting challenges of past and present (Bray et al. 2010: 22). Adolescents today, regardless of cultural background, are positive about the future expectations of South Africa (Steyn et al. 2010: 179). They remain active in social and political development, engaged in the process of constructing and reconstructing their own identities, and crucially, in cultivating their social, psychological and emotional health.