Friday, 14 November 2008

The violence of the colonised soul

Much has been written about the psychological and spiritual violence suffered by the colonised native. I agree wholeheartedly with this but I would like to add all citizens of colonised countries to this list, not only the natives of a country.

This is not to detract from the suffering of the indigenous peoples. That they have had foreign cultures thrust upon them and have suffered as a result is unquestionable. They had no choice but to adopt the new culture and weld and meld it with their own as best they could. They became hybrids in order to survive.

My ancestors came to South Africa at various times. They were white, they chose to come to a new country, but to ignore as much as possible the local ways and culture. They chose to follow only their own ways, and to force those ways upon the locals.

There is nothing I can do about this. I am sorry it happened. But us descendants of the colonisers we are hybrids too. We find ourselves citizens of a country that does not much want us any more. We are told we are Europeans. We go to Europe and they tell us there is no way we are European. We were born on African soil and taught to love that soil with all our hearts, but we are not allowed to be called African.

I believe that all citizens of a colonised country suffer from hybridity, psychological violence, dividedness, a confused sense of self, a crisis of identity.

Will an Indian South African ever be "South African", even if they are 6th generation South African? Or will they always be "Indian South African"? Will a coloured person, the most glaring example of hybridity, ever be allowed to forge an identity that is neither white nor black, but South African? Does a "South African" identity exist at all? Black people have had western ways and ideals thrust upon them, and must choose to adopt them and be called a "coconut", or reject them and battle to fit into a Westernised job market, or weld them into a new hybrid form.

We are all hybrids, and we can fight this or we can embrace it. It makes us who we are, it challenges us. We will always suffer this confusion, this sensation of not quite belonging to anything, but it need not damage us. We should allow it to drive us forward, and while it may never unite us into a common South African identity, we can remember that we all suffer from this fate of existential confusion, whatever our roots.

Monday, 3 November 2008

American sentence

There must be a better way

Communism is Capitalism disguised: we want all your stuff.