Walls, and Racism in South African Society | Mr. Bob Says

“Tyrants always promise safety; their apologist warn of chaos if and when the soul-numbing order is challenged.” ~ Phil Rockstroh

I believe Walls are evidence of paranoia and racism in South African society. As I argued in the Legacy of Apartheid, the culture of expectation, fear, prejudice and social interaction in South Africa can only be explained from the teaching of the National Party. When are we, and I include all South Africans, going to be able to release ourselves from this tyranny? Seventeen years on and we are still living with and by the “truths” of Apartheid.

The Apartheid regime taught us — propagandized us for 50 years — that  Blacks are dangerous, vicious, untrustworthy people. If we are not vigilant and forever on guard our women will be raped in their beds and we will all have our  throats cut. Now that statement may be a little strong, but I ask you to honestly examine your concerns about security and protection and see if they are not based on that “truth” about the Black population.

Think of what this country would be like if we could cast off this Apartheid truth and see the Black population as caring, giving, concerned people. Like any population there is a criminal element, but the criminals are the exception not the rule.

There is a great deal of evidence for this radical vision of Black Africans. It is generally accepted that the Black Ubuntu philosophy  is an African ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other. Desmond Tutu andNelson Mandela have both spoken about the teachings of, and place of, this philosophy in South African culture. One could argue that Ubuntu is the belief system that made the transition from Apartheid to democracy possible without the feared bloodshed — Apartheid propaganda again — that a vengeful people would have extracted.

Here is some further anecdotal evidence. I recently flew to Cape Town with a team that included about 30 Black athletes ranging in age from 16-year-old Juniors to 50-year-old Master athletes. Some of these athletes live in the Townships. We all stayed in a very nice hotel together and we all ate our meals together in the hotel dining room. We were there for two nights and two days, before we flew back together. I can report that there was never one untoward incident. No violence, no thief, no rowdyism,  no damage to property, in fact every person on the team, both Black and White conducted themselves as perfect Ladies and Gentlemen. Now I ask you, is it reasonable to claim that we were just lucky, that we had the 30 Black people who are an exception to the Apartheid truth? No of course not. So when are we going to get over our fear and paranoia?

Further anecdotal evidence. I know a very Christian man who does multi-day long distance walks around the country. He related to me recently how he had arrived at night deep into one of the Townships. He pitched his pup tent and settled down to sleep for the night. At about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning the wind came up very strongly and there was danger that his tent would blow away. To his amazement he heard and saw people come out of their huts and shacks concerned for him and wanting to make sure that he was alright. The truth is that the vast majority of Black South Africans are caring, giving, gentle, concerned people. So when are we going to get over our fear and paranoia? When are we finally going to rise up and forever shed the Legacy of Apartheid?

I want to write further about the financial burden of walls and security in South Africa. Think of the good that could be done with that money. Think of the time that is lost and wasted forever waiting for gates and otherwise filling out forms and complying with so-called security regulations and requirements. You can look for this in future articles.


Several people who have read this article have commented that they thought my view of endemic racism, and the influence of Apartheid, was “spot on”. However they had never viewed the use of, or necessity for, walls as being a function of this racism. I believe that I need to explain what I see as the connection more clearly.

We seem to take the need for Walls for granted in South Africa. In fairness this is also the case in other African countries, all of which have been governed and ruled by Colonial powers at some time. In the vast majority of the rest of the World people live and thrive without Walls. There is still crime in these countries, but the people are not frighten enough — paranoid enough — to enclose everything in Walls.

So here is my thesis; the colonial powers, of which the National Party and Apartheid was an extreme example, have been telling us– all the citizens of South Africa — for the last 300 years that the indigenous Black people are so dangerous, blood thirsty, criminally minded, that we must build walls and hire watchmen to protect ourselves.  Voila, walls are evidence of the paranoia instilled in us by our colonial masters. Walls are evidence of the prejudgment — racism — instilled in all of us by the Apartheid regime.


Reblogged from:  Walls, and Racism in South African Society | Mr. Bob Says.


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