The now-popular term “Black Excellence” always comes with a certain longing. In as much as accomplishments are celebrated, we lament the fact that such excellence is still the exception and not the norm. We seek a way to raise the standards of black men and women across all disciplines, knowing full well that our legacy as early 21st century Africans depends on the accomplishments we make today.
The growth and development of us Africans will come as a result of self-hatred being eradicated. Particularly here in South Africa. From the arts to the sciences, black faces are aplenty.
Surely Black Excellence should be fairly common? Why isn’t it? Let’s backtrack a bit.
When overhearing conversations between black people, one tends to get a glimpse of the black mindset.
One common feature of most black mindsets is being quick to label errors of judgment as “typical black decisions”.
When we see images of people eating grass or insecticide being sprayed onto their eyes, the shock wears off quickly. It’s easy to digest irrational, stupid decisions made by a black person after all. “Abelungu angeke ubabone benza izinto ezinje!”, many people say.
What does that say about us; those who say all this, but still have the nerve to wax poetic about the origins of “Black Friday” on our Twitter feeds? Some would say its part of an inferiority complex. One cannot know for sure.
Either way, there’s no love for self in projecting superiority. Fundamentally hating those like you is hating a core part of yourself.
It’s no real surprise, as society is built somewhat on where you are on the ladder of Western values. It’s a game we all play. It’s a game none of us can afford not to play, lest we want to be ignorant and unemployed. But the culture of our forefathers is one where we raise each other up rather than laugh at those below us. And when we forego our heritage, it is no surprise that excellence among black people in South Africa is so few and far between. In any case, our culture has come under attack for centuries now.
The axe of white domination bludgeoned African practices into the realms of superstition and myth. The ‘civilised’ Christianity was then imposed upon us, with fear of the unknown in the starring role. Though African cultures now receive better representation, mindsets are harder to change. Especially when they are passed on through generations.
The main role of contemporary religion is to glorify an external force; a force which is often personified and given a specific skin tone, hair and eye colour, which just happens to fall in line with what society defines as perfect (see White Jesus). This is no accident.
On the highest level of essential human needs- Maslow’s pyramid says transcendence and self-actualization- we are sold perfection. But more dangerously, we have been sold the hatred of anything less than said ‘perfection’. This trickles down to how we see ourselves as a race, and distorts the black mindset.
Do I call for atheism? Not necessarily. The church is far from the only place where the status quo is propelled into significance, while bits and scraps are given to minorities (in both the psychological and literal sense), all in the name of incremental progress.
Instead, what is needed is the re-evaluation of every social teaching that subliminally enforced to us that white is right. These teachings can be found in Model-C schools, big business and almost every image-based industry. This is where we start.
In as much as rich white South Africans are (rightfully) given flak for land and wealth monopolies, we ourselves have a monopoly on self-hatred. Once we are conscious of our hatred towards those of our own kind, we are able to cure ourselves of it. Incorporating African values into our broad multicultural lives would be a great start.
Caster Semenya isn’t the only South African capable of excellence (though she is exceptional). Knowing and committing ourselves to it will bring excellence to the fore.
Yet, with the excellence of a nation must first come its consciousness.