“As Dr Frantz Omar Fanon would say ‘you are poor because you are black and you are rich because you are white'”

27 MAY 2020

Racism is not a conversation that we can skip anytime soon. Stephen Bantu Biko, father of black consciousness, defines Racism as discrimination by a group against another for the purpose of subjugation or maintaining subjugation. Biko, furthermore, to put meat on the bone, argues that to subjugate involves the Utensils of power. In other words, to have power here unfolds or rather shows abilities of who can control who.

By having power qualifies one the ostensible attainment of a privilege to control and dominate, creating exclusionary relations of superiority and inferiority. 

Now as we allowed Biko to lead us and extricate the philosophy of racism, appendage to apartheid here in South Africa, it was, and is, whites that have control over the majority (blacks), till today. When Biko said “to be poor in South Africa is expensive “, it was after his extensive interrogations of factors that contributes to poverty, which are ultimately given birth by racism.

To say those who have power to subjugate and dominate (inferiority and superiority) in spheres of living (who have the control in terms of the economy, who owns the land, who owns the banks…) in simplistic aura; who lives in dire conditions and who lives better in proximity of CBD (central business districts). Who lives in the outskirts of the town/CBD and consequently they must pay transportation to make their way to town in order to find means of living, who stays in the shack who subsequently have to buy paraffin or charcoal to use it as a means of energy, who’s at the mercy of constant violence and brutal murdering that occur every day, who’s subjected to poor health facilities, I mean all these points to a life of a black man. All these are warranted and birthed by a white man, who has the power to subjugate and to be supreme. A completely set of racism (power and control).

Having the totality of power over the majority who are the natives, further, goes to the argument that “black people cannot be racist”, at least concurrently. We do not have power/ institutionalized power to oppress or rather subjugate another race or group of people with alternative colour of ours. 

Biko teaches us that racism always presuppose that exclusion is for the purpose of subjugation.

That is why racism cannot only be concluded at the level of discrimination or rather be separated from power.  Racism is also a power to control the lives of those excluded .Racism is not a conversation that we can vamoose, not anytime soon as black people in South Africa and in the Diaspora of the world, so long black people across the continent still suffer by the virtue of being black. So long whites inherently and continuously benefit over their skin colour, to be white. As Dr Frantz Omar Fanon would say “you are poor because you are black and you are rich because you are white”, we cannot rush to solve other problem of the world.  Least we would be not doing any justice. 

Having said that it was through a conversation of racism by black student who were redundant of racism and had to react and amalgamate to establish SASO; furtherance to constellation and birth of Black consciousness by Steve Biko who learn extensively how malevolent racism was/is which seek to be a philosophy of identity and liberation to black people (black consciousness).

It was through a robust racism conversation, that Biko saw it to interrogate black ministries (religion, Christianity) when he was invited in a conference at Cape Town, where he fervently and succinctly ventilated and lambasted Christian colonial pedagogies. How irrelevant the preaching of those pastors was since black people found no message In the Bible, in fact even today.

It was through a lived experience of being a victim of racism and a conversation that lead to Dr Fanon to write a very robust, yet societal conscious awakening books, over racism and exposing how the lives of the black people have been annihilated, abused and subjugated.

This is by understanding that our problem as black people are not first and foremost of class struggle or rather contractions as Marxists or Karl Marx stresses the order of the struggles of the world, but as black people ours is to be black to say that “it is not only capitalism that is involved; it is also the whole gamut of white value systems which has been adopted as standard by South Africa, both whites and blacks so far. And that will need attention, even in a post-revolutionary society. Values relating to all the fields—education, religion, culture and so on. So your problems are not solved completely when you alter the economic pattern, to a socialist pattern. You still don’t become what you ought to be. There’s still a lot of dust to be swept off, you know, from the kind of slate we got from white society”- Biko.

Black consciousness, therefore, becomes a solution and a response to a white consciousness that sought to appropriate and dominate the consciousness inclusivity of the freedom of black people. It directly gives identity and liberation. 

Racism is very hideous, it’s very Poisonous. Jettison of our identity as black people for white genetic survival.  It has distorted every echelon of our existence and being. It is has tempered, distorted our way of living, our Religion facet, Our art, our history, societal norms (Ubuntu), and our education system, to name few . Racism has eaten up everything that paramount to significance of the black man.

Till then, Racism must be always interrogated and castigated; we must always speak about it.  How bad, heinous, and hideous it is. We must always lambaste it as soon as we catch its expressions. Any form we find is very malevolent. We must Deal with it.

Sibusiso Mabhola is an analytical chemistry student, at Vaal University of Technology.


It is Karl Marx who said that “philosophers have interpreted the world, the point however is to change it.” As members of the July 26 movement, an organization that prides itself as a Marxist-Leninist and Fanonian organization, ours is not to merely analyze the current conditions that exists in the disjuncture between student activism and mainstream politics but we ought to give clear, coherent and practical direction on how to dislodge it.

Emanating from the previous writing which was about the disjuncture which exists between student activism and mainstream politics, this writing seeks to give direction from a layman point of view on what is to be done to dislodge it.

It is an undisputable fact that most of the time student activism does not translate into mainstream politics. It is scientifically proven that those who were active during their student life years do not necessarily become community activists owing to a lot of issues not limited to dynamics, the space, self-actualization. 

In responding to Vladmir Lenin on What is to be done in the context of dislodging the disjuncture that is there, the fundamental issue is that the EFF should have a rigorous induction on their membership and leadership as adopted by the 2nd National People’s Assembly. What this essentially means is that the rank and file of the EFF should know Marxism, Leninism and the Fanonian school of thought by heart, they must be inducted on the Constitution and Founding Manifesto of the EFF. This means that EFF members will be able to know that they should extend a living branch to student activists in order to ensure that the 4th Cardinal Pillar of the EFF being Free quality education, healthcare, houses and sanitation in particular the free quality education part is implemented.

The EFFSC should equally induct its membership to ensure that they adhere to the founding non-negotiable principles of the SC including the rallying of students behind the banner of Economic in our lifetime as encapsulated in the founding manifesto of the EFF and building relations between students and community struggles. This will mean student activist will have a clearer understanding on the community politics to an extent that they will vote for the EFF in as much as they vote for the EFFSC in their respective campuses, subsequently be active in the community as they are in their respective institution of higher learning.

Taking note that the Students Command is a relatively autonomous structure of the EFF, it does however have a constitutional obligation as per the 1st non-negotiable principle of the EFFSC which is mobilizing the students behind the banner of economic freedom in our lifetime. Members of the Student’s Command should form an integral part of the programs of the EFF and EFF members should form part of the EFFSC programs. In his Book, I Write What I Like, in the chapter Black Campuses and Current Feelings Steve Biko makes an assertion that “. . .  important observation which was the eagerness of the students to wish to relate whatever is done to their situation in the community. There is growing awareness of the role the black students may be called upon to play in the emancipation of their community. The students realize that the isolation of the black intelligentsia from the rest of the black society is a disadvantage to black people as a whole.” In this way student will easily relate with the community and get to fully understand the challenges which they live with. A permanent relation will exist thus dislodge the current disjuncture that exists.

This essentially means that all the programs that the EFF may have, the Students Command should be able to actively participate in it. The Students Command should be treated as a special project, something which the EFF 2ndNPA resolved wherein a Commissar in the EFF has been appointed to deal with EFFSC matters. In line with such, a proposal will be that EFFSC should be able to have a delegation at Regional and Provincial level of the EFF. When the EFF has a Regional or provincial Program, the SC will be able to actively take part fully without any failure and at the same time the EFF will be able to assist the command. The 4th Cardinal pillar of the EFF will be realized by any means including assist the command with whatever program not only SRC elections. Accommodation is land is an integral program both the EFF and Students Command hence the need to have complementary programs which will be able to address both the issue of student’s accommodation and land for the dejected masses of our people.

During recess, holidays the students command should be able to have programs which will close the gap between the challenges faced in the institution and those in the community. This essentially means that the EFFSC branches should be in a position to know where their members come from and where are they located during recess and holidays. The branch leadership of Sol Plaatje University, University of Cape Town, Talesto TVET College, Tshwane University of Technology should break down its membership into places where their members come from such as Giyani, Seshego, Bushbuckridge, Matatiele, Mahikeng, Khayelitsha, Umlazi, Bloemfontein.

After such a break down, that particular information should be submitted to both the EFFSC structures and EFF structures thereafter, the Students Command in collaboration with EFF should have programs across the country wherein students from Wits, SPU, UKZN, who are staying in Christiana will be able to meet together with the branch leadership of the EFF where they are in rolling out such a program. This should also happen in other places such as Taung, Kimberly. These programs include going to high schools to assist learners with applications for admission, guiding them with regards to career choices and which streams to choose when going to Grade 10, assist with visibility programs, door to door campaigns, tutoring, Accommodation is and Water is life programs.

The knowledge and experience which you gained while in the Institution of higher learning including being politically active will be transmitted to the community through assisting other learners to have access to such Institutions and tutoring. The community will in return appreciate the efforts you are undertaking in restoring the dignity of an African child is restored.

This will also assist in ensuring that learners in High School become active in politics. For when they see a Student from a University or a TVET College assisting them, they too will develop an interest to assist others and for obvious reasons that they are not at the Institution of Higher learning, they will become community activist and start attending meetings of the EFF to get a clearer idea on what is EFF actually about, they will then take part in addressing challenges which exists in the community. A University is microcosm of a society so it will be easier for these learners to relate to those challenges in the University such as need for Accommodation, lack of proper infrastructure in the TVETs as they have went through them in the society in a form of land and lack of infrastructure. Activism becomes easier in this regard. Through this program, students will relate and be able to be active in mainstream politics because already there is a relation between students and community members. Mainstream politics will not be foreign to students even when they vote during National General Elections or Local Government Elections, they will be able to vote for the EFF for they will be able to easily relate with it.

We must be in a position to emulate Steve Biko in a sense that he was not only a student activist but he also played a very crucial role in changing the discourse of our people. He did not confine the struggle of emancipating our people into a campus but he went on to also lend his hand in assisting the dejected masses of our people in the community through building a clinic and other progressive programs. He understood that University is indeed a microcosm of a society, that the real struggle is rooted in the community

Unity as captured in the Speeches and Writings of Amical Cabral, is a fundamental issue in ensuring that we dislodge the current existing disjuncture. Yes we do come from different backgrounds, with different ideas, we are of different ages and different goals however what has brought us together is the struggle for the realization of Economic Freedom in our lifetime and we can only attain such through unity and our unity should not be cosmetic but it should indeed be unity of purpose as guided by documents of EFF.

A plan of action is what will ensure that the science of logic becomes the order of the day. Revolutionary theory will be able to guide us into a revolutionary program action in dislodging the disjuncture between student activism and mainstream politics.

Justice Dabampe is the Regional Secretary of the EFF in North West, Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati Region