Professor Achille Mbembe of the University of the Witwatersrand’s Institute for Social and Economic Research recently co-convened the 2014 Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC). The theme was Archives of the Post Racial.
In his paper for the JWTC, part of which has been reprinted in this week’s Mail & Guardian, Mbembe speaks of the idea of non-racialism as one of South Africa’s most potent contributions to modern political thought and practice. But he shares his sense that South Africans have moved away from the vision of the possibilities of building a truly post racial society in which “structures of racism are dismantled and all forms of racial injury and trauma will be healed.” (See article attached.)
The result has been devastating with the co-option of non-racialism to discredit possibilities for dealing with the still-unaddressed need for reparation, the central mobilising commitment of Khulumani Support Group in its struggles to achieve social and economic justice through measures for healing and repair of thousands of those who were central to the agenda of overthrowing apartheid.
Mbembe asserts that “concentrated racial poverty can only be altered by directly confronting the white privileges that sustain them” along with the restoration of measures of self-agency to redress the crushing of these capacities within South Africans through long centuries of brutality.
While Khulumani focuses on processes of restoring dignity and enhancing agency, South Africa’s political leadership needs to return to a politics of anti-racism and non-racialism.