I have had this blog for sometime now, but I have not published anything until today. One of the reasons I had not published anything it is because I did not know where to begin. There are so many things I would like to talk about, I have so many issues with the world as […]
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Last year when I heard, and saw in the news how Philando Castile was killed infront of his 4 year old. I was so upset that I had to write on my blog for the first time. I was asking myself how cruel you have to be that you shoot someone in front of his child? Are you not afraid of what kind of message you are sending to that child about the police or about human beings. But then a thought came into my mind, animals are shot like that. The policemen had to see the family as nothing but human beings. To be able to do that someone had to absolutely see you as not a human being. And that is the only way Philando Castile can happen. Oh my God, I can still hear the child, saying to her mom, I am here, I am here mom. This made me so upset last year that I had to ask ” Who am I?Am I a human being in the eyes of the world?”
Last week, I received my answer. When they decided to let Philando Castile’s killer free, I realised, the world thinks of nothing about of me. The world thinks I am undeserving of justice, undeserving of peace. Diamond Reynolds, Philando Castile’s in one of the interviews she did last year, she said ” I need justice, I need peace”,she said this three times and it broke my heart.
As a Black person in South Africa I knew exactly what she meant when she said she needed justice, she needed peace. Everyone would think after such a heart breaking plea Reynolds will get justice. Well I got news for you, she did not. The American justice system decided to let the killer go. One my of friends tagged me on twitter, and she was worried about how this will upset me this time.
After I heard these news, I had to listen to Simphiwe Dana “Mayine” I had to cry for Philando Castile’s family. I had to weep for the so many black people who continue to be a sacrificed in this world. When is the year of Jubilee coming? Is it ever going to rain for us? I had to listen to Nina Simone’s Missippi goddam:
Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last
And I asked myself, Shall we keep on screeming We Human Beings? Or what? Surely they agree amongst each other there is nothing Human about us. But we look on the other hand at the things they have done to us, and we ask Where is their Humanity? Have they lost all that is to Be a Human? Surely both do not see how they can be so inhumane and still be human, But surely we cannot also be this dark skinned and be human, surely they see our ways as not human. But one thing for sure both these people do not agree on who is human or what it is to be human. Then if they do not agree surely a third person needs to answer everyone. Surely God has to answer this question? WHAT IT IS TO BE HUMAN BEING? God has to answer this question. What makes one a human being? I mean what it is to be HUMAN surely God you have to answer.
One of my friends on facebook wrote, “We can not have answers to this question Lerato Kobe until we realise that our humanity does not need to be defined through another people’s insecurity. Our focus should be on expanding the dialogue to define our own terms of means being Black.” And I replied and said:
Yes, I was listening to Lewis Gordon three weeeks ago saying our humanity as black people does not have to be defined through another people. But my question is directed at so many who have left this world like Philando Castile, the Marikana mine workers,the Congo’s… the so many of our people who are shot by police in broad daylight with no particular reason. Should we then continue to let them kill us in broad day light? People speak about Mississippi as an old town that used to hang black people in America…aren’t black people hanged today? Is it not happening now? How can they find the killer of Phillando Castile not guilty? This man killed a father infront of his 4 year old?
And what is God saying about this? Is he God with us? Or is he God not with Us? Is he racists as the systems of this world? The question is really, do we have God on our side?
Black theologians believe that God is on the side of the poor, the marginalised, the wretched of this earth. Black theologians believe God is with the suffering in theirfight forjustice? Is God in our fight? Or is God soaked in our suffering that he is not letting us go? Letting us leave our suffering? or Is God trapped with us in our suffering? Why things are not changing? Where is the justice he promised us? Or maybe, really maybe, we are we worshiping a wrong God?
I have had this blog for sometime now, but I have not published anything until today. One of the reasons I had not published anything it is because I did not know where to begin. There are so many things I would like to talk about, I have so many issues with the world as it is, with myself, but most importantly I have issues with God. Do not get me wrong I am a believer, and I believe in God. However, I have issues with God or perhaps let me say questions that I would love God to answer. As an African and a Christian we refer to God as both a mother and a father, therefore I believe I have a right to ask questions when I do not understand. And when I am not clear on something, especially when it is an issue that affect me directly, as a human being. The questions I have for God are about being human or being a black person both in South Africa and in the global world.
I have become so interested in existential questions such as what does it mean to be alive or to live as a black person? What is the true meaning and purpose of black people in the world? Am I an unwanted being in the world? or an unwelcomed being? Are black people considered human beings? Can we truly say we are Beings?
Yesterday, I watched a video footage of a young black woman who witnessed the death of her boyfriend by a police officer. Her boyfriend was shot in front of her and her four year old child. That her four year old daughter knew her father was gone before Reynolds knew…Her daughter said “mom the police are bad guys, they killed him, his never coming back.” Now tell me what kind of a human being shoots another human being in front of a four year old child?
Before Reynold moving, heart-breaking experience, and inhumane experience, I had asked one of my South African white friends few questions about being black. I asked him what do you think makes white people want to treat black people as animals, as slaves, unimportant etc. What do you think makes white people want to think that it is their right to take the lives of black people? Is it the hair, the lips, or pigmentation? What is it that white people despise so much about black people? Obviously, my friend could not answer this question, he can only refer me to some sources and try to make me understand he does not think that way, and apologise about crimes committed by white people against black people. Apologise for the nasty things that he grew up hearing from his white friends about black people. But to answer me, he could not. But I have thought to myself that there is one person who needs to answer this question and that is God.
What is it in us black people that makes it easy for so many white people to want to kill us, enslave us, mistreat us, see us as less human? And the follow up question is what has God done about the death of black people throughout history? Yesterday, I woke up from my bed and I opened my laptop as usual to listen to the news. And the first story I heard on the news was about two black men shot dead in the US again. Hearing black people dying all over the world is not something new so I went on with my daily work. But throughout the day I asked myself why are we so easy to kill, why is it that our lives do not matter to the world?
Black people die everyday whether from crossing the Mediterranean sea or killed by police in the US, or by terrorist in Africa. Black people have been dying since colonialism, slavery, since the new global world, there is no end to it. King Leopold II of Belgium butchered 10 million of black people but still today in our history no one dares to talk about it. Adolf Hitler killed millions of Jews in Germany just after that but the world has never forgotten. We remember it like yesterday, the Holocaust never leaves our lips. We even justify occupation and killing of Palestinians by referencing the suffering the Jews endured under Hitler.
In the same century, in South Africa, under the apartheid system many black people lost their lives because of their land. And just before apartheid ended, the whole world urged South Africa to forgive and reconcile. We are known for forgiveness and reconciliation in the whole entire world but not for justice. The whole world does not even care that “we” black people are still dying because of a structure that dates back to colonialism and apartheid which came with dispossession of our land. In South Africa black people are still dying because of their land, and their labour (and you can take this as both literal and figuratively).
In the so called “Rainbow Nation” we have witnessed the Marikana massacre in 2012, that took from us our bothers. Shot dead because they refused to work for peanuts (Interesting enough those who own the company that led to the killing of our people do not want immigrants and refugees in their country). Lomnin, a British Company with South African police killed 34 young men, husbands, brothers just less than 5 years ago ( And people in this world still think that Africa’s problem is Africa).
In the new South Africa death still surrounds us. We are surrounded by violence, we wake up in a violent society, we sleep in a violent society, we breathe violent air, treated violently, work in violent places, we sleep with violent stomachs. For at the end poverty is violent, and millions of black South Africans live in poverty. But everyday though we wake in violence, we are told to forgive and let bygone be bygones. We wake in praises of the past, and of the apartheid system, and we are told not to be angry, we should forgive. But no one dares to speak about justice.
I have heard them black people in the slums in Cape Town asking… what has God to do with our struggle? What have we done as black people in this world to deserve such brutality. I have heard the survivors of the Marikana massacre saying “the blood of a black person does not matter.” And today I have heard Diamond Reynolds say ‘black people in the US are assassinating because they are black, black people are taken away from their loved ones, their communities and killed because of the colour of their skin.’ I have heard her say “I need justice, I need peace; I want justice, I want peace; I want justice… and even after justice this will never go away.” When she said these words I could not help myself but weep because as a black South African I knew what she meant when she said “I need justice, I need peace.” I knew as a black South African how deep these words are. Justice and peace are the most important words that a black person can ever utter in this day and time. For we not know what peace and justice is, and God is our witness.
I love the fact that Reynolds said “I need justice, I need peace” as if she was saying a prayer to God, as if she was addressing God asking him… how long should I wait for justice and peace God? How long should I wait for justice to come because I need it. How many times should I turn the other chick, so you hear my prayers oh God. When she said these words I thought of Jan van Riebeeck. Since the Dutch ships stopped at the Cape in 1652, Black South Africans lost any sort of connection with peace and justice. God knows that peace and justice was lost to us and has never returned since the Dutch decided to settle in South Africa.
Today we live in a country where ’12 million of black South Africans live in extreme poverty, simple not knowing where their next meal will come from. 79% of the land remaining in white private hands, with a conservative of 27,9% of black people unemployed in comparison to only 7% of white people. White families in South Africa earning an average of R365,134 annually while black families earn a mere R60, 6 13. White South Africans earning five and half times more than black people. 70% of top management positions held by white South Africans with only 13% held by black South Africans.’ If this reality does not want one to scream justice, then I do not know what would make one scream justice.
I hear the words of Diamond Reynolds, I hear them clear and loud as she said them. “I need justice, I need peace; I want justice, and I want peace. And I remember that also when those slaves ships sailed out of Africa with Africans to America. Those black people in those ships never knew any peace or justice again. They have been abused, enslaved, raped, hanged, killed, and now are being shot dead by American police in front of the whole entire world. Martin Luther King, Junior died for peace and justice in America, Malcolm X died for justice for black in America. Still today, black people in America are searching for justice and peace. So God, the question that I, Reynolds and many other black people in this world are asking you is when will the day of reckoning come? We need reckoning oh God. You gave it to the Jews, when they walked out of Egypt. It is recorded in the bible. We need justice and peace. After 400 years, the Jews walked out…in South Africa its more than 300 years now, the slaves in America have been slaving for a long time now. That now the American justice system has decided to shoot them like dogs and make us witness this.
The question is do black people’s lives matter to you oh God? In the world you have put us in, our lives do not matter!!!So now the question do we matter to you God? Why are we here on earth God, and why God did you create us in the first place? Are you racist God? and if you are not racist… then what do you have to say about the suffering of black people? What do you have to say about our peace, and justice? Or are you just looking down on us from heaven and saying oh look another nigger, kaffir has died today?