Sikonathi Mantshantsha Deputy editor: Financial Mail
Afrikaners revere Paul Kruger as a rebel against imperialism, but for black people he is a symbol of the land grabs of the 19th century. Picture: THE TIMES
Afrikaners revere Paul Kruger as a rebel against imperialism, but for black people he is a symbol of the land grabs of the 19th century. Picture: THE TIMES

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Being black. There’s no time as exciting to be black in SA as now. I mean; you could be anything you ever wanted to be. And you could be anything you’ve never wanted to be. All at the same time.

Everybody but yourself, it would seem, knows what you should be doing and thinking, especially about matters of national importance. Others just seem to know what trade you are in. You could be admiring the wares on offer when some pale face interrupts: "Excuse me, where do I find low-fat milk?"

In annoyance, you take a day off work to go hiking with your friends. The very first person you come across asks how long you have been a guide. And you look around and realise that yours is the only black face enjoying the beauty of nature. No sooner had you bid the "racist" farewell than the next group of black people ask how much "these white people pay you for walking such a long distance with them". You give up and go back to work.

You find your colleagues discussing land reform. A black person should only have the same view as the loudest among black people, you quickly find out. Whether that position is well thought out or practical is immaterial. By virtue of being black, you have to fall in with this view: the land must be forcibly taken from all who possess it currently (and this, in the minds of those making the argument, means whites).

Not much thought is given, at least publicly, to what should be done with this land once government has ownership. And don’t be a clever black asking such questions. And don’t complicate the matter by asking what should happen to the land owned by black people — you’re trying to derail the process of restoring land to the indigenous people who were robbed at gunpoint 400 years ago. Sellout!

Then they suddenly notice how nasty those black regulators at the SA Reserve Bank can be
Sikonathi Mantshantsha

To be a good black person, you should fall in line and shout the loudest that you want the land under control of the state, including the piece on which your bonded house stands. Never mind the fact that black people own more bonded houses than other races. And the bonded houses happen to have been built on land that black people bought. As for your debts with the bank that funded your acquisition? We’ll worry about the fact that our pensions are invested with such banks and other white monopoly capital establishments only after they’ve all collapsed.

Best example of being black

But it is blackness that I wish to write about.

Being a black person carries so many benefits in SA today. How many times have you been offered directorships and stakes in business ventures you knew nothing of? You’re made to knock on doors until your knuckles get sore. But you get told you have to help develop new, very important revenue streams.

OK, sorry, bad example. The best example of being black is when a black executive asks you to do something in your line of business "because you are black". And then follows up that request with an offer to cut you in when business starts rolling in, "because we are black, my brother, we have to eat together".

But the really smart black guys are the ones who just go where there is money (even if it’s other black people’s money), and take it all. But then they suddenly notice how nasty those black regulators at the SA Reserve Bank can be, especially to other black people. It reminds me of the black-on-black violence that the apartheid government used to sponsor.

Can’t those guys just see times are tough? All VBS did was take money from municipalities to lend to people who needed it, like friends and surrogates, who then found a way for the money to reach your personal bank account. Did those black regulators have to poke their noses into such a great business?

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