Sicel’amalizo, Nal’ithemba

Last year, I met a guy online who was making and selling very nice, afrocentric jackets. The guy was from the USA, a black guy. We spoke at length, and my aim was to create a market for his product here in South Africa, guided by the idea of #BuyBlack. We ended up discussing wether he would give me rights to manufacture his product locally in South Africa and work out a cost-benefit arrangement between me and himself, or some other party that would have liked to get involved. The reason for this is to import from the USA would mean we sell locally at R2500 per jacket. Considering the socioeconomic condition of black people in my country, I knew that this was not going to work. Anyway, what ended up happening is nothing. The reason is, I had no capital, I had no land, and I had no influence. Now capital and land are the most important means of production, and the current reality is that we, black people, have access to neither.

I again had an idea, an entrepreneurial idea, which I thought was brilliant. I still do. But again, I am black in a system that denies black people access to means of production. I browsed the NEF (National Empowerment Fund) website. I found that they require that, first of all, a person asking for a grant must be free from credit bureau blacklists (interesting name this, blacklist). Strange, considering the fact that South Africa is an economy that promotes debt, an economy that I believe is largely debt driven. In light of this, and also considering the black condition (black tax, landlessness, generational poverty, etc), there is bound to be a significant number of black people who will default on some of their payments, and consequently land themselves on the blacklist. This group of people, those in the blacklist, are automatically excluded from the services of NEF.

The NEF also requires that applicants for funding and assistance draw up financial projections that stretch five years, even for start ups. Now there is nothing wrong in performing financial due diligence which will determine feasibility, except that there is a significant number of people who do not have access to the tools to perform this complex financial work, nor do they have access to money to pay those who do have access to these tools. I know this sounds like some form of dependency complex, but how must a 22 year old from Ezitandini eCala who did not finish matric do financial projections that stretch 5 years for a business idea he or she has? Automatically, he is excluded from the services of the NEF.

These are but two of the requirements at the NEF. This points to a problem with our institutions: they are operating like institutions of a first world country, in a developing country with race and class redress long overdue.

The problem is lack of black participation in the mainstream economy. And that lack of participation stems from the fact that we simply do not possess the means required to produce. Now, one will hear a lot of opinion leaders driving an idea that we are not participating in our economy because we need to fix our minds and mentalities as black people. To me, that is absurd. We have been innovating. We have been creating. Only for those innovations and creations to be stolen and passed off as someone else’s. What we need is not corrected mentalities, what we need is access to means of production, qha.

The day I first went into the NEF website, I was humming a tune to myself. Its an old choral tune that goes: “Sicel’amalizo, nal’ithemba.” In English (because we constantly have to explain ourselves in English) it means “We are asking for donations and empathy, we bring herewith hope.” I saw my business idea as hope, and all I needed was the resources to make this hope come to life.

We cannot continue to talk about radical economic transformation when black people are still denied opportunities because of a socioeconomic condition that was engineered by the very same people who now hold a monopoly over means of production. There are numerous practical business ideas out there, innovated by black people. But without the necessary means to produce that idea and make it come to life, it will remain just that: an idea.

Resourcing black entrepreneurs is an advantage even for the state, because it would mean increased entrepreneurial activity, which translates to an expanded revenue and tax base for the state.

We cannot be begging for these things. The money that NEF and other supposed change angencies administer does not belong to them, it belongs to the people of South Africa. It is the people’s investment in themselves. Yes, granted, NEF et al do give out grants and assistance, but my problem is the framework within which they do so, and that framework is a bit exclusionary and systematically denies access to some, to most.

I once heard somewhere that if it is inaccessible to the poor, it is neither radical nor revolutionary.

Nal’ithemba!

Linda Sidumo is a BCom graduate, a public servant, a social activist, a voice for black business, Chairperson of the Education Access campaign, and an emerging black participant in the South African economy. Views expressed are strictly his individual views, and do not, in any way, represent the views of any organisation or group of persons.

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White People Survive Yet Another Sarafina

40 years, and one day, ago, students in Soweto decided that enough was enough. They decided that they were rejecting Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at schools in Soweto. That is probably the simplistic view that the students took in describing their actions. What they probably did not realise at the time was that they decided to put their bodies on the line in the continent wide fight against colonialism and cultural imperialism, a decision that would cost most these students their lives at the hands of an oppressive white government.

Since 1976, the June 16 date is used as a commemoration and day of rememberance for those young people who selflessly laid down their lives fighting injustice.

And more recently, every year on this date we religiously wear school uniforms at work and on the streets, post the famous Hector Peterson photo on social media, post inspirational messages and articles, and watch Sarafina.

While we willingly take part in these and other activities, which are more sentiment than action, the descendants of those who murdered the class of 76 still own our land.

While we wear school uniforms, our universities are still institutions that cater for the white and the rich. We still have white people who have the liver to demand that universities like Stellenbosch and University of Pretoria must use Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in lectures.We celebrate the revolutionary actions of the class of 76, yet we still have white schools and black schools, and not South African schools with a decolonised South African curriculum. What are we celebrating when we still have schools like Curro, whose modus operandi is racial segregation? What is this, if not a spit on the graves of those who died during the June 16 1976 uprisings?


While we post inspirational messages and articles, white people are posting our land to their next generation. We are a landless generation celebrating a generation that fought against landlessness.

While we watch Sarafina from our shacks in Ndondo Square, the descendants of our colonisers and oppressors are watching profits and gains from our land work for them and their children.

Every year on June 16 we watch Sarafina, get angry, cry, get angry some more, go to sleep, and wake up in the morning still comfortable in our landlessness; still oblivious to the fact that we own nothing in this, the land of our forefathers, the land of us.

Whilst we are being sentimental, some are taking decisive actions to ensure that we remain with nothing but sentiment.

What we should be doing is harnessing the energy and power of black radical youth and student movements such as #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall to bring about change in South Africa. We are too immersed in party political competitions as if black people, as a nation, are liberated. What are we competing for? 

We must watch Sarafina. But we must also understand that Sarafina must awaken something inside of all the wretched of the Earth. The spirit of revolution must be awakened in each and everyone of us evertime we commemorate June 16 and watch Sarafina.

This means that an episode of Sarafina mist be followed by decisive revolutionary action that is aimed at completely overhauling this system of white supremacy that gives rise to white priviledge. People of European descent cannot be proviledged over and above Africans, in Africa.
If we fail to do that, if we fail to change the status qou, white people will be survivors of yet another Sarafina.

Linda Sidumo is a B Comm graduate, a public   servant, and chairperson of the Education Access Campaign. Views expressed are solely his and do not represent the views of any organisations or group of persons.

Much Ado About Land: Identity and Prosperity

“The land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it is the only thing that lasts.” – Margaret Mitchell in her 1939 book Gone With The Wind.

I will say nothing of Mitchell’s words, they speak for themselves. As I write this I am listening to three black women singing a song that is more of a statement than a song. But such is music. I came across this beautiful musical statement on social media, and it sings a statement that says, to singalong, “Basithatha phi isibind’esingaka? Sokuthath’iAfrika bayenze eyabo!”. From whence do they get such a liver? To take Africa and make it theirs! Many things bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I am a cry baby. And this song is one of those things. It not only reminds us that our Afrika is no longer ours, but also it is a call for us to muster the courage to take back what is ours, what was taken from us.

It has been 103 years since the notorious 1913 Native land Act, and 364 years since white settlers, led by Jan van Riebeeck, came to the shores of The Cape. These incidents of history are pre eminent and paramount to black poverty in South Africa, and also to the understanding of why things are as they are. The arrival of Dutch settlers in the cape was the genesis of a black genocide that was to last centuries. The first thing the Dutch settlers took from the indigenous people was their land, and then proceeded with their livestock; their identity, and then proceeded with their prosperity.

The 1913 Land Act further dispossessed Africans of their land by putting into law explicitly what had already been started by the violent and armed land invasions and frontier wars.

So, essentially, the bone of contention between the indigenous peoples and the colonial settlers was the land. That was what our revolution was all about: the land. The fights for rights to vote, franchise, and social inclusivity, etcetera, were ramifications of the fight for what was taken from us. Whites did not come here and take votes. they came, they saw the land, and it is the land that they took.

They took it because they knew that an oppressor oppresses more effectively when he separates the oppressed from their identity. The identity of the African is intrinsically linked to the land. It is in the land that the African buries their ancestor; it is in the land that the African builds iintlanti, the kraal, a place that is extremely sacred in African culture; it is from the land that we get sustenance; it is on top of the land’s surface that we build our shelter; it is land that provides sustenance for our livestock, which were also taken; and to contextualise the importance of land in modern economic terms, land is the only thing that appreciates in value, regardless and irrespective of whether it produces or not. In that light, one cannot deny the nexus between land and liberty.

They took the identity and the prosperity of the African.

Somewhere along the line, we have forgotten that our forefathers, our revolutionaries, died fighting for the return of our land. We have become overly preoccupied with the politics of franchise and voting that we have forgotten that our identity is not complete and our prosperity is perpetually halted.

There are those whites that attempt to absolve white theft of the land by suggesting that they won the land legitimately through warfare. That is a historical lie and it is ridiculous. Firstly, there was no warfare, there was genocide. Secondly, to suggest that is like saying a man who rapes a woman won the woman’s vagina legitimately through the physical violence that takes place when one person rapes another. I will not even mention the arrogance that comes with two groups of European nations, the British and the Dutch, fighting over what is not theirs in the first place.

There is another argument which suggests that the Nguni were not from what is now known as South Africa in the first place. Oh really? Then why did THEY call us the natives? Secondly, it is a matter of the internal geopolitics of Africa whether or not we originated from South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, or East Africa. It is not for any outsider to come and claim moral, political, and social authority and dispossess each and every African in sight. The only people with any authority to decide matters of African geopolitics are Africans themselves. After all, no African has ever even featured in the decisions about matters of European geopolitics.

It is both a travesty and an offensive injustice that the land in South Africa still belongs to the descendants of those who disposed our ancestors in post colonial South Africa. These descendants being a minority, we have a situation where the majority, who happen to be the indigenous people of this land, are congested in small pieces of land where they build shacks so close to one another that when one shack burns, all of them burn.

We must start to realise that the land is not only given by our fathers, but also borrowed from our children. By allowing the status quo to go on, we are stealing from our children.

Basithatha phi isibindi esingaka, sokuthatha iAfrika bayenze eyabo? Thina sisithatha phi isibindi esingaka, sokuba umhlaba wabantwana bethu?

Linda Sidumo is a BCom graduate, a public servant, and chairperson of the Education Access Campaign NPO. Views expressed are strictly his own and do not represent the views of any organisation or group of people.