Throughout history we have seen civilizations dominate each other – whether it was Alexander and the Greeks, or Caesar and the Romans, yet what happened approximately 400 years ago (specifically throughout Africa) was that we saw the rise of domination take another form: the domination of one race over another. White bodies began to collectively dominate black bodies, and so for years we have been the proverbial underdogs under the dominance of our white masters. As time has gone on, the methods of domination have changed: from slavery to colonization and finally, in South Africa particularly, the systematic evil of apartheid; yet this pain and domination that we speak of has never been limited to one era or to one type of pain, rather it is vast and expands both history and the globe, and for too long we have been silenced in light of this pain, and our sorrows have been drowned out in the name of ‘unity’ and continuity.
In recent times, perhaps the sharpest reality to black pain in South Africa was the shooting down of 44 miners in Marikana. This was the single most horrific incident to occur in recent memory in our nation and it was treated as yet another moment of black pain within he space of domination and silence: there were no marches and there was no real outcry at the time because these were just black bodies. The question has to be asked: how different would the reaction have been had those been white bodies? We have been desensitized to such an extent that the horror of such tragedies has become the norm for our narrative as black people. Our pain is our daily bread. Yet contrast this to the tears of a white waitress who received over R150 000 because she didn’t receive a tip and one starts to realize the importance of the emergence of voices speaking out for and expressing black pain.
This black pain we speak of is for every black person who has been followed in a supermarket by security for just being black. This black pain is for every person who has been chased out of public spaces for being considered too unruly and loud. This black pain is for every innocent young black person harassed by police for simply walking home. This black pain is every single mother who has had to raise their child alone because fathers we dragged off to mines to enrich the dominant minority. This black pain is for every single young person who has been denied education opportunities due to little or no income. This black pain is for every car door that has been locked as we innocently walk by. This black pain is for every family left to rot in the informal settlements with no hope of their next meal, let alone their future. This black pain is for Marikana. This black pain is for Rhodes Must Fall, for Fees Must Fall, and for Shacksville.
For too long we have suffered in silence, yet now no more. Our country is witnessing a remarkable, powerful reality emerge, from campuses to street corners: black bodies are speaking out, black bodies are expressing their pain. We have found our voice and we want to be heard. We will be heard. This is our pain. This is my pain.
Ntobeko Mzolo – Izwe Lethu