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Seeing it from all angles

August 14, 2013

Dear editor:

I am responding to Alvin Williams blog to my article, his quote: “The trouble with the so-called black conservative is that their views are often at odds with the viewpoint of the black community and in their quest to identify themselves as conservative, they find it hard to break away in this case; the conservative white world view, which is often anti-black and anti-non-white generally”

Unfortunately it seems Alvin has no belief in black selfhood and that anything of black accomplishment unless a repudiation of the perceived white world is not black accomplishment, but rather an attempt to assimilate and be accepted in the white world.

Alvin's thought underscores why it is that most of our black activism recognises what happened in 1959 with the Theatre Boycott and the protest that led to desegregation, but have no memory of what happened on the second day of that boycott. The concrete block plant at Hill Top Farm owned by Edward Simons was blown up with two mighty blasts of dynamite, destroying what was the most popular block plant on the Island at the time. We remember the gains of protest but forget the loss of entrepreneurship. Most of the black activists and historians celebrate the Theatre Boycott and have no recall of the fact that an important part of the black economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship was destroyed in that blast. From then, who dominated the concrete block industry? Any protesters come to his rescue?

We celebrate our civil rights and labour protest but have had little or no value for those soldiers who fought and lost the battle for economic progress. From the 1960s our militancy leaned toward the left and demonised black businessman as Uncle Toms etc. It was not until recent years that a group of avaricious politicians began to fill the gap by stealing back the role they destroyed up to that point.

Even the non-government activist followed the same protest route, for example. Back during the anti-Apartheid days there was a group protesting heavily to ban the import and use of South African goods. I was sympathetic to that strategy, but was engaged at the time with other groups raising money to kill locust which destroyed crops and causing starvation, by spraying breeding ponds and lakes. We were also raising money for the HIV/AIDS programme and raised the issue that the most potent threat against the survival of South Africans at that time was AIDS. Also I was trying to raise the idea internationally, on the possibility of industrialising Namibia which was next door, to challenge South Africa and create jobs for migration from South Africa as we fought to the regime (just as they did it with Israel).

My efforts were seen by the local protest group as against them. I was touted as a capitalist etc. Right now the biggest challenge to South African self-sufficiency, are the very things we were fighting for back in the early eighties, creation of industry and jobs for the people and the Aids programme. In 1977 after the riots I was advocating the development of Dockyard — my slogan was instead of H Rap Brown's “Burn Baby Burn” we need to “Build Baby Build”. Unfortunately Mr Williams doesn't see the effects of our own negative positions and only recognises the oppressive stratagems of the white oligarchy.


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Published August 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 21, 2013 at 10:16 am)

Seeing it from all angles

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