Kô ôs Staan Saam


Monday saw the release of a multi-racial, multi-cultural version of Lean On Me by C-Voices Unite (SA Version) an initiative birthed by Emo Adams, a Mitchell’s Plain born actor and singer.

Watching the video and listening to the lyrics encouraging unity and reminding us of the power we have as a nation united, made me somewhat emotional.

However, I fail to understand how the same day saw the arrival of a widely anticipated “Cape Town Shutdown” protest by the Gatvol Capetonians, a movement that appears to be adamant to reinforce the separation and segregation planted in our country by the apartheid regime. A movement dead set on an independent Western Cape.

I am by no means here to nullify their concerns and their experiences but I am not in support of their anti-black undertone.

I am all for previously disadvantaged communities standing up for themselves and fighting for what they believe they deserve but we don’t need to be fighting against each other based on race.

Instead of pointing out the differences we have in skin colour to form a barrier between Coloured Africans and Black Africans; why not point out the cultural differences among us and see how best joining them could benefit people of colour as a collective.

It is imperative to remember that the idea of internal passports (which is what an independent Western Cape would result in) is one that stems from apartheid pass laws which limited the freedom of movement for people of colour. Why would a movement that claims it wants to see a racist free South Africa latch onto an apartheid ideology?

Saying that people from the Eastern Cape need to be “evicted” as it were, back to the Eastern Cape, makes me wonder what a South Africa without an Eastern Cape-born Nelson Mandela would look like.

“Give us our land and we will build our own houses,” says Fadiel Adams, a leader in the Gatvol Capetonians movement.

Is it really as simple as that? Is that all we need in order to eradicate the wrongs of the past and to change the generation of the future? If they get the land now, who will benefit from it immediately?

Who will ensure that the land, in fact, does go to the people who “deserve” it? Will this land eradicate the gang violence that is so rife in these very communities? Who will ensure that the inhabitants of this land are able to sustain themselves and the generations to come?

I think it’s time to change the narrative. It’s time that children from previously disadvantaged communities are told to dream bigger; to want more and to look beyond their immediate circumstances.

How do we do that? By giving them role models outside of the gang members. By looking to the brilliance we have in the teachers in our schools; limitations in resources does not include the drive, brilliance and passion of a teacher who makes a child believe that he or she can be anything they want to be.

With a statement like that, surely this movement must have the resources to build the houses for the people or have the ability to mobilise the resources. If that’s the case, then why aren’t they using this power and resource to change the narrative.

Surely our coloured people and the many other races who are held back by the effects of apartheid are more than just victims.

There are so many examples of success stories from these communities who have overcome against all odds. Why do we not show “our future” as Fadiel refers to the children of our communities, that it is possible to be someone beyond what your circumstances expect you to be?

Why not create a higher education fund in the name of Gatvol Capetonians, so that “our brightest” have access to more than just working in a retail store? The options are plenty with the kind of resources a statement like “give us the land and we will build our own house” implies.

Nelson Mandela, someone Fadiel refers to with much affection in a Facebook video, once said: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

As the lyrics of SA’s version of Lean On Me by C-Voices Unite says:

Nkosi Sikekel’ iAfrika
Saam Mekaar Awê Hier Move Ons Hand In Hand
En Die Plan Is Om Jou Lig Te Laat Skyn
Cause United We Stand No Matter Our Skin Colour Soe.

Kô ôs staan saam beyond race.

*These are the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Vannie Kaap News.