Blacks Don’t Need White People

By Gcobisa Silwana

On the 19th of April 2013, Azania Matiwane’s article “Blacks need white people” was published on the times live. The following is my response to him.

Matiwane wrote: “On the May 20, 2013, African Union (AU) will be celebrating 50 years of Africa’s independence, alas albeit there would be no reason for celebration for Africa’s people as they continue to experience violent civil wars, corruption, poverty and neglect at the hands of weak leadership by African politicians. Therefore, celebrating the independence of Africa will only be confined to the elite, the African politicians who continue to loot resources of African nations for their respective families and friends under guise of their respective people.”

Mr. Matiwane, while this is true, it is important to keep mindful of what happened in Africa. Remember, white people came to Africa without invitation and as Africans, our natural response was to welcome them. They then abused our ubuntu and took away everything we had, including our self-respect; and then turned us against each other.

Slowly, they forced their ways onto us, and ridiculed our belief in Qamata. We then became known as kaffirs, non-believers. They killed our spirit. As if that was not enough, they made us beg for what was originally ours. We became their slaves. They instilled so much fear in us that we had to accept their dictatorship to survive.

In their eyes we were less human; the saddest part is that we ended up believing this, and some of us still do.
You speak about our attachment to white philosophy. Do you not know of Steve Biko? He was a South African philosopher whose message was that African people should not see themselves inferior or superior to white people. His message was that, even though we may be different, we are all people and we are all equal.

He was killed by the same people that you think we need, because they wouldn’t accept this truth.

I will not pretend that I know what happens in the Prime Minister of Britain’s office – so I will not compare it with Zuma’s office. Anyway, it would almost be the same as asking a pear why it does not taste like a banana. What I can say, however, is that colonialism was the perfect recipe for creating greedy, selfish people. If you deprive somebody of food long enough, the moment they get it, they will want to keep everything to themselves because they do not want to be deprived again. I am not applauding this behaviour – I am only saying that it is something that should be expected.

There are many things that need to be considered. And one of them is that we fought for freedom without properly defining what it is. The circumstances that we were under made us believe that freedom meant walking around without a dompas, and dining in white people’s restaurants etc. We were desperate!

We now walk around without a dompas and we eat in white people’s restaurants. But are we free?
To be honest, to some extent I understand why people like Mogabe and Malema do what they do. They feel Africa’s pain, deeply. But we cannot fight fire with fire. History has taught us that.
You say black people need white people to teach them to care for the environment. Whose factories dump waste products into the ocean?

Don’t forget that while white people got ‘education’ black people got ‘Bantu education’. This was the colonialist’s plan to keep black people dependent on them. And my brother, you fell for it!

I agree that practices such as Ukuthwala are harmful and should not be accepted – but you seem to forget that all cultures (including white people’s culture) have practices that are rather harmful, but some things are not spoken about. I have spent many years amongst white people and I learnt that they do not make a habit of mocking themselves in the presence of black people. They know that they do not have to please us, and we need to know this too.

We could never erase what happened in the past, nor can we forget it. But we have cried for too long, and if we don’t stop, we may never heal!

It would be silly of us to destroy white suburbs and build huts. But we should be able to enjoy what was created on African soil because colonialism did not allow us to develop Africa our own way. Who knows what we would have come up with? I get the feeling it would have been beautiful and free of toxic chemicals!

We do not need physical change; we need a change in consciousness!

I think what our forefathers really wanted was a country where all people are respected and treated equally regardless of their race. A country where an architect values the ‘uneducated’ bricklayer and the bricklayer knows his value. We all know that they are both necessary to making the project a reality.

Sadly, in 2013, the bricklayer still thinks he is nothing without the architect – and the architect benefits from this. We need a country that encourages the bricklayer to constantly aim to improve himself. He should know his value, and not be satisfied with doing the same work for 20 years. It was not by chance that we were all given a brain!

As long as people like you keep saying things like these, white people will never respect black people, and black people will keep on believing that they are inferior. You might get a pat on the back from your white colleagues (who, by the way, see you as a black man on their leash) but your kind of thinking is not beneficial to our people.

Vuka mntakwethu!

This article was first published by Times Live. Please find the original article at

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