The Johannesburg People’s Pride movement notes with concern the conspicuous wave of violence that has crashed over particularly poor and Black foreign nationals in South Africa, in recent weeks. As we rise together to condemn this egregious violence, and show solidarity with and support for our foreign-born guests, parents, lovers and friends, we would also put it on record that these acts of violence come as no surprise to us but, in fact, index a deeper and more systemic problem of structural, material, psychological and physical violence that we as South Africans have failed to face and address head-on over the last 21 years.
South Africa is routinely celebrated as the land of milk and honey where the rights of all within its artificial borders are protected and promoted. We, South Africans, routinely and arrogantly portray ourselves as exceptional to the continent because our democratic dispensation was not borne of any foundational violence. We reject these claims and characterisations for the brazen brand-building lies that they are. The only things that make South Africa exceptional are that:
- the democratic society we seek to build is borne out of and shared by ongoing and unmitigated foundational violence against queers, against womyn, against foreign nationals, the poor and the landless;
- the State machinery’s natural and routine response to civic unrest for its failure to bring us out of racial, economic, and political oppression is violence and murder instead of listening and delivering;
- we are able to write world-class progressive Constitutions and laws, but fail to live them as a people.
Being so readily available to violence as queer bodies in South Africa, we understand all too well how and why foreign nationals in our borders are victimised such as they are. In our broken heterosexist society, queer bodies are deemed unworthy of dignity, protection and life because of how they transgress sexist rules about how we must present ourselves and who we can fuck. Similarly, the bodies and livelihoods of foreign nationals are the ready targets of violent scapegoating by nationalists, cultural chauvinists and criminal opportunists who are made by an unequal and inequitable society that has its foundations in over three centuries of white supremacist and capitalist violence.
Last year, we marched to demand more than a paltry 16 days of activism against violence against womyn and children but a proactive and year-long systematic programme of action that addressed structural violence in our homes, our communities and the state institutions that we depend on. We did this with a firm understanding and a clarity of purpose that unless all bodies - queer, poor, landless, Black, disabled and foreign-born - are free from all violence, then none of us can ever claim to be free. In a broken society such as ours, we recognise that “stabane" and “kwerekwere” are but synonymous slurs used to establish and maintain the systems of violence and oppression used to sustain our common enemy which is white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy.
Today, we repeat this message again when we say thina izitabane, we the disabled, thina omagosha, we the landless, thina abafazi, we Blacks, thina amakwerekwere are all deserving of life, of dignity, of land and of lives free from violence.
To those who have fallen, we say rest in power!
To those still standing, aluta continua for it is not yet Uhuru!
|Johannesburg Peoples Pride March 2015 (video frame, katty vandenberghe)|
Organising Committee: Johannesburg People’s Pride Movementjhbpeoplespride@gmail.com
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