For South Africa to dismantle its colonial economic structures it will have to urgently address the knowledge and resources impasse. Through equitable distribution of wealth and resources, free decolonial education should be implemented to cater for the financially excluded Black majority now.
In 1885, European countries held the Berlin Conference in the city of Berlin, Germany. The goal of the conference was to divide Africa amongst themselves wherein its mineral riches would be shipped to Europe for industrial development. This would, in the long run, ensure Africa – even though it is the richest continent on earth – remained economically marginalized and underdeveloped and as such couldn’t afford proper and decent education for its people. Hence countries like Germany, being the economic powerhouse of Europe, could afford free education for its citizens using Africa’s wealth.
In 1948 the Afrikaners, fearing competition from black people after taking over the government from the British, implemented an inferior and under-resourced Bantu Education system meant for Black people. This was to prepare Black people to serve whites as garden boys, domestic workers and mine labourers. Whites, though, by virtue of superior education, held top class jobs driving the economy. Perpetually, this would later on explain why whites, individually so, even to this day, on average have four actual, part-time, business and inheritance income streams. This is due to their having monopoly over wealth, knowledge and resources equivalent to roughly 5 million people having wealth 5 times the size of Britain’s land mass.
The Apartheid architects, having realised they could no longer sustain the system due to economic sanctions imposed by the United Nation, initiated negotiation with the Black-led ANC liberation movement in the 1994 negotiation settlement. The purpose was to protect ill-gotten wealth accrued during Apartheid in exchange to Black people having access to tax wealth collected by the government. This ensured whites remained economically empowered hiding behind the Black face of the new government.
Having struck the deal, the white elites no longer needed the National Party (NP), a party that enforced Apartheid. It was dissolved into the ANC having served its purpose. A few Black ANC leaders were absorbed into the “upper class” white business structure to act as a buffer layer in stamping out demands of economic redress from the black majority. In doing so, white strategists would rely on Apartheid manufactured tactics to ensure the status quo remained intact and unchallenged.
The Bantu Education system was to be continued under the Black government in order to damage knowledge development of the Black majority learners in the elementary and secondary schooling years. A few Black learners were accommodated and assimilated into former white Model C and private schools to create another buffer zone to diffuse efforts made by the underprivileged Black people in overhauling the inferior township schooling system. Some top performing Black learners from “previously disadvantaged backgrounds” a.k.a “The Robbed” were to be absorbed into former white universities and certificated only to be relegated to the back seat of companies with no control over budgets, employment powers and decision-making. Black people were to continue being settled in uninspiring camps called townships, to ferociously murder the creative imagination of learners wherein schooling infrastructure is so poor compared to the eye-catching architectural marvels in suburban schools.
Any education system not teaching conceptualisation and application of knowledge principles in solving current Black problems and intelligently advancing Black progress should not be endorsed and as such deserves parting ways with. The creation of white-cultured Black people in former white schools was to prevent Black self-actualisation. Such learners, being loyal and subservient to white people by virtue of being educated in their schools, will choose to diffuse any attempts on improving the schooling system across the board.
To cement the relationship further, the assimilated learners would be given first preference when hired in affluent multinational companies for sounding and walking the part. This would be too strong a temptation to withstand for unsuspecting Black parents and as such they would be forced to fly children to white schools if ever they wanted to escape the harsh realities of Back life. This they would do at the expense of not developing their own schools, through locking limited resources within their communities. No doubt, this would strain the much-needed resources out of townships and the last penny out of Black parent’s pockets in paying the overly prized suburban fees where poor Black learners are financially discriminated against.
In townships, the most painful part is when Black people, unaware of the subconscious implications, internalize Bantustanism as something to hold dear, to be proud of and not to be shunned. Every now and then songs like “Kasi Lami” and “Lokshin Culture” will spring out in appraising these giant Apartheid monuments, with the singers not knowing that the dull infrastructure kills the mental imagination of the mind, the outcome that Apartheid designers intended.
One has to mention that the devastating poor education system makes Black people heavily reliant on a white skills base to effectively continue running the economy and the country through the back door. Actually, this is the reason why South Africa’s economy has been undesirably growing on 1% growth rates the past years. This is because the vast majority of the Black population is economically marginalised and as such intentionally denied participation into the mainstream economy.
For South Africa to regain economic posture as a “developing nation”, it surely needs properly educated Black majority. If South Africa is to attain economic growth comparable to other developing countries we need to roll out free quality decolonial education for everyone.
One envisages keenly that the biggest losers of Black access to free quality education will be white people themselves. Hence the consistent and rigorous opposition to the call for free education. Free education will ensure collapsing their monopoly over knowledge and resources. This will break the stubborn and trusted white created financial barrier practices to accessing education based on affordability and not merit. Conversely, the country will surely benefit from massive industrial development as the much anticipated highly specialised Black workforce will ensure newly invented products the markets, setting the country to compete economically on the global stage.
Nobody will deny that the hard-headed highly skilled white racist old guard responsible for throttling Black progress through controlling universities and capital access is about to retire soon. One must remember whites are jittery for not being in direct control of government right now and will do everything in their power to regain it and hence the sudden and not so strange efforts in recreating colour blind Black leaders loyal to their cause. The incoming trained Black workers will elevate the country’s economic progress to new heights.
Indeed, for South Africa to survive its colonial economic misfortunes it will have to urgently address its knowledge and resources impasse. Through equitable distribution of wealth and resources, free decolonial education can be implemented to cater for the financially excluded Black majority now. This will hit the nail on the right spot in ensuring the problem of under-education and subsequently underdevelopment ripping the country, gets addressed for all to benefit.
* Mzuziwezulu Zuzo Gegana is a Computational Fluid Dynamics Engineer, President and CEO, Azania Dreams and Kilombo Revolutionary Activist. This article previously appeared in Black Opinion.
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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