Zingy Mkefa: Being South African post-Apartheid
Our guest is Zingi Mkefa, a South African radio host presenting an arts and entertainment radio talk show on Radio Today, South Africa. Zingy joins us to discuss democracy, politics and post apartheid legacy, Art, culture, and the upcoming World Cup in South Africa. This conversation took place on May 1, 2010, with Leon James and Wuyi Jacobs live on WBAI 99.5 FM PACIFICA Radio, NYC.
With eloquence and passion, Zingy shares with us his aspirations for his home country, South Africa, and why he is never too far from home. He talks of the South African preoccupation with “themselves” resulting in the sense of a “certain separateness” from the rest of the continent. South Africans, certainly the artists and culture practitioners, are engaged in “working out” and “forming” new identities for blacks by blacks. A separate identity he says, different from that which was assumed during the struggle against Apartheid. This preoccupation with identity is not new; many newly independent African nations went through this phase immediately pre- and post- independence, as new nation States emerged with new confidence. A new confidence only too often short lived, arrested by dictatorships, wars and a plethora of other issues – a fate South Africa has so far avoided. However, as South Africa evolves new identities, it is indeed contributing to ever growing lists of emerging and new ethnic identities that are in constant formation on the continent and its Diasporas.
In a sense, the “struggle” continues but it take different forms, different attitudes and substance now. It has assumed new dimensions as well, in every sphere of life; the struggle of class consciousness, of poverty- huge economic disparities between minority white and blacks, and between the emerging middle class blacks, also a minority, and majority of poor blacks. Counterpoised with the struggle between cosmopolitanism and chauvinism- the tension between internationalism of the World Cup and the xenophobia of the new breed ANC nationalism.
On a continent where 17 countries are celebrating 50 years of independence this year and with South African, independent now for 17 years, a teenage country, if one could describe a country as such; confident, boisterous but also hesitant. The jury is still out on South Africa and much work is yet to be done. Motsoko Pheko in his article The price of freedom in the South African Mail & Guardian Online sums it up in his reflections on South Africa’s recent celebration of its Freedom Day.
Sixteen years of the post-apartheid period, however, shows that the foundation upon which South Africa is built has dangerous cracks. The negotiated settlement was one-sided. The negotiations did not take into consideration the primary objectives for which the liberation struggle was fought. The fundamental interests of the majority 80% were terribly compromised. The negotiators mistook the beginning of a long journey for arrival at the destination.
In South Africa most unemployed people are Africans. The poorest people are Africans. People who live in squalid inhuman settlements are Africans. These inhuman shelters often burn or flood, destroying lives and property. The least equipped hospitals and clinics are those that serve Africans.
The worst or no roads are where Africans live. The least educated and skilled people in South Africa are Africans. People who have no money for education and are being educated in the lowest numbers are Africans.
People who have the shortest life expectancy are Africans. People with the highest child mortality are Africans. Yet billions of rands are buying land and servicing the apartheid debt.
Zingy Mkefa was a 2006 Fulbright Scholar. He earned an MA in Journalism at New York University and has written on the arts for some of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Sunday Times, the Sunday Independent, Art South Africa and the now-defunct Nigerian-owned enterprise ThisDay (South Africa). While in New York, Zingi also spent time working for America’s oldest weekly political magazine, the left-wing The Nation.
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South African World Cup Stadium pictures were taken from World Cup 2010 South Africa