Decoloniality as an incomplete project in Post-Colonial South Africa. In order to effectively decolonise South Africa we need to understand better the economic and political effects of colonialism in and on South Africa today, writes Floyd Themba Chauke.
Decolonisation is a process that seeks to undo the historical conditions which were created as a results of colonialism and imperialism. It has sparked too many debates accross political and social economic policy circles. As Frantz Fanon said, “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.”
The economic legacy of colonialism will remain unless top-priority action is taken. The struggle must be against the forces of neo-colonialism. As Fanon warned, this struggle will need to be taken up by the people, and must be a bottom up, grassroots led effort to confront deeply inserted institutional interests that continue to frustrate South Africans’ desire for self – determination.
In order to effectively decolonise South Africa, we need to understand better the economic and political effects of colonialism in and on South Africa today. To achieve that understanding we need to look beyond the tired, well-trodden themes in South African historiography and political theory. Liberalism, communism, African and Afrikaner nationalism, localised cultural and social histories and related ideological conflicts of identity have failed to grasp and explain the relations of power that continue to operate at the level of economics, finance, education, war and politics.
These factors have not adequately been thought through theoretically, precisely because they are treated as inevitable material circumstances separate from the longue durée of justifying ideas, enduring practices and relations of power and the persistence of institutions even, in many cases, 26 years of democracy.
It is impossible to address the inequalities in education without considering the economic disparities resulting from the apartheid system. While university is a flashpoint of activism, problems of tenacious post-apartheid white privilege are affecting every area of life in South Africa. The economic structures of apartheid South Africa have not changed, and the result is continued exclusion and intensified poverty of Black South African populations. Kenyan Economist James Shikwati once said that “Africa must take the first steps into modernity on its own. There must be a change in mentality. We have to stop perceiving ourselves as beggars.”
We don’t have firm economic structures that will respond or react to the economic situation of that specific time. We didn’t have time to build the economy, but we deeply much focused on political liberation. So the first generation leaders understood political issues more than economic issues. So now we are being punished by issues of the economy. We need to grow economy. We need to build the economy that can respond adequately to the population’s needs. The post colonial project is facing difficulties and this problem emanated directly from colonialism, and one would so want to blame the first generation leaders for not creating basic economic policies that would grow the economy. They embarked on the model which was crafted by their predecessors. Slight changes were made, which did not radically transform the economy. It was a matter of “Oh! Let us look at how we liberate marginalized people” that led us to give them political power then subsequently issues of the economy arose.
If you look at ANC economic policies right from 1986 from the ‘Ready to Govern’ document you would come to understand that this economic trajectory which we embarked on as a country didn’t radically transform the economy.
We can’t talk about Decolonisation without touching on the issue of land. Why does the land issue matter for economic development? if you have a document that says you own land, that is property. If I have protection from the government that says that land is mine, I am much more likely to invest in that land to clear it and plant on it, or make improvements to it, by building a home or digging a well.
Floyd Themba Chauke is a human rights activist. He writes in his personal capacity.