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Ironically, one of the most progressive developments in post-capture South Africa has been the sudden, unplanned pulling together by South Africans of all colours and creeds against racism by multilateral global power structures.
We saw it a few weeks ago, when South Africans united against the unjust treatment of our national rugby team, the Springboks, by the global administrators of the sport, World Rugby. This followed a double standard that saw the coach of a team from a black nation banned from rugby for months, while the coach of the team from Australia faced no censure – for the same “crime”, of railing against refereeing failures.
Now it happens once again, mere days later. Almost confirming that global leaders’ treatment of our country – a nation of largely black people – does have a racial component.
This national unity has happened all of a sudden, and it has not been billed as a “War Against Racism”, which is perhaps why it has been so effective. But make no mistake, we are still fighting racism today.
It simply manifests in new ways, and its race component is concealed beneath a bunch of other considerations, so it’s not always so easy to identify.
For instance, the recent travel ban imposed on South Africa following our scientists’ identifying the new strain of the coronavirus. That’s racism, pure and simple.
The placing of South Africa on the UK’s red list was portrayed as a public health intervention, protecting the British populace from the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) first identified in South Africa.
Of course, it then emerged that the variant had been present in dozens of territories around the world, well before it appeared here SA. None of those other countries had their tourist industries crippled by a travel ban, though. And most are white countries.
Global authorities later went out of their way to thank our scientists for their stellar work in identifying the variant, but the travel bans only spread more widely. It’s pretty clear that the rich nations of the world had done a racism – and enlisted a bunch of other client nations to do the same.
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The outrage has been palpable across the various social media that function as a modern town square. How dare the western power bloc destroy one nation’s economy, simply for having the scientific nous to sequence a new coronavirus variant! And then stick to its guns long after it becomes obvious that the virus is everywhere!
Clearly because, to them, the livelihoods of a handful of nations on the southern tip of Africa are worth sacrificing in order for them to look decisive.
There has, as yet, been no travel ban on flights to Belgium, Germany and Hong Kong. Racism – either, conscious, subconscious or structural – seems the only explanation. And South Africans of all colours and cultures appear united in this conviction.
A similar righteous unanimity greeted the treatment of Rassie Erasmus and the Springbok rugby team by World Rugby.
Podbros, rugby boets, health authorities, the woke twitterati, the media, the president… all of us feel similarly. We are coming to realise that the marginalising of smaller nations by the global north is a macro manifestation of the same abuse of the weak by the strong that underpins all abuse.
The only difference is that on a larger scale, more people are affected. For white South Africans, there lies a further realisation. While we cannot fully grasp the pain of racism against our black compatriots, we are citizens of a country that is seen as black by the rest of the world, and treated accordingly.
The black communities and black nations of the world have consistently been marginalised, enslaved and exploited by the rich nations through all the centuries of the modern era. The struggle for justice includes the struggle for fair treatment for black people.
Therefore, if we are forced to take sides – and often we are – we must choose the black side.