In case you missed it, the EFF’s fourth birthday bash was quite the headline grabber.
One of the big talking points was Julius Malema’s verbal assault on Indians in South Africa, and more particularly the KZN region.
Speaking to a rowdy crowd in Durban, some of what he had to say via the Mail & Guardian:
“We also want to call upon our fellow Indians here in Natal to respect Africans. They are ill-treating them worse than Afrikaners will do. We don’t want that to continue here in Natal. This is not anti-Indian statement, it is the truth.”
The backlash was pretty swift, but we know Juju isn’t big on apologies. Video of him delivering that speech:
Juju’s statements led to a mudslinging match between himself and Schabir Shaik, but that’s a story for another day.
According to the Mail & Guardian, perhaps we shouldn’t be dismissing Malema’s statements as mere bluster to satisfy his supporters:
What Malema has done is raise an uncomfortable point that happens to be a reality for some, and – while inflammatory for sure – his comments deserve further engagement.
He isn’t the first to raise these issues. Back in 2002, playwright Mbongeni Ngema’s song ‘AmaNdiya’ (‘Indian’) raised many of the same criticisms of Indians as Malema – that they do not accept Africans as equals, are only interested in money, and are exploitative. The Broadcasting Complaints Commission banned the song from being publicly aired, saying it “promoted hate in sweeping, emotive language against Indians as a race”.
Historians Goolam Vahed and Ashwin Desai note in a 2010 study that despite the majority of Indian South Africans having indentured roots and shopkeepers making up a tenth of working Indians at present, “the stereotype of the exploitative trader remains strong.”
Tension between black South Africans and Indian South Africans in KZN is nothing new, with violent clashes between the two groups in 1949 resulting in 142 deaths and over 1 000 injuries.
It appears not even Mahatma Gandhi was above a little hate:
In a separate study, Vahed and Desai also highlighted how history often conceals the fact that even Mahatma Gandhi held rather racist views towards black people. “Gandhi believed in the Aryan brotherhood. This involved whites and Indians higher up than Africans on the civilised scale. To that extent he was a racist. To the extent that he wrote Africans out of history or was keen to join with whites in their subjugation he was a racist,” Desai told the BBC in 2015.
What next, Mother Teresa is a fraud?
The article ends as follows:
Post-apartheid, there are countless uncomfortable questions of race and class that South Africans have to deal with. Perhaps by making the comments that he has on the platform that he has, Julius Malema has further paved the way for Indian people to confront some uncomfortable truths. Instead of outright rejecting his statements and typecasting him as a fool – which can also be seen as racist – let’s hear him out. He may just have a point.
Some spicy food for thought.
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