South Africa : Black South Africa Rediscovers Itself – Will Black America?


Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2009
by executive editor Glen Ford

South Africa appears poised to reclaim its revolutionary legacy from the clutches of
the African National Congress, which has “devolved into a fat and corrupt partner of
white capital.” As the Age of Obama nears its end, Black America must also awake
from the catastrophe of racial symbolism and self-delusion.

With the death of Mandela, the spell has been broken in South Africa.”

African Americans and Black South Africans have shared a special relationship within
the larger African Diaspora. Both peoples struggled against entrenched white settler
regimes obsessed with racial separation and European supremacy, societies that had
grown fantastically rich on stolen land and labor. Gil Scott-Heron expressed the Black
American-South African affinity in 1976 when he asked, lyrically, What’s the word in
Johannesburg – Detroit’s like Johannesburg, New York’s like Johannesburg, where
“freedom ain’t nothing but a word.”

Of course, Blacks have always been the great majority in South Africa, and a distinct
minority in the United States. But there are many cities in the U.S. where Blacks are
the majority, and yet rich white people still run the place. On both sides of the
Atlantic, we have learned that there is no magic in numbers; that people still have to
fight for power.

It is also true that long-suffering people who are hungry for recognition as human
beings are often vulnerable to the seductions of symbolism. Having no memory of
ever holding actual power, they take pride in beholding the trappings of power among
notables of their own race – just as poor church congregations clothe their ministers
in the finest garments and buy them expensive automobiles.

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