Dear Mr President

Dear Mr. President

I humbly greet you in the name of peace, love and truth. I write to you today as nothing more than a man, a brother, and a son. The son of a loving mother, a loving people, and a hateful country.

Dear Mr. President

I respectfully request your audience as I divulge my thoughts, and speak the truth as it is known to me. I can only hope that my experiences as a child of this country, a student of our history, and a lover of truth serve me well as I attempt to articulate a reality well known to me, and millions more.

However, if ever I do fall short in my efforts, I would only hope that the undying spirit of those who came before me raise me higher and closer to the truth.

In IsiZulu it is said that “indlela iyaziwa abaphambili” (the path is known by those who are ahead). May my letter then serve as a call to truth, in the hope that you’ll be at the other end of the line. May my words be no more than an echo of the cries to justice made by brothers, and sisters all across this land. Indulge me then for a moment, and allow me to ask this question:

What does it mean to be black in South Africa?

But to be in a constant state of struggle against cultural, social, economic, and psychological annihilation every day.

But surely it must mean more?

If it does, then I owe to myself and those around me to bring to light the true nature of our existence in this country. From 1652, when the first Dutch settlers arrived at the Cape, to 1961, when the Republic was established, to 1994, when the “Rainbow Nation” was born, and all throughout this country’s dynamic evolution I found one perennial truth.

That, to be black in South Africa is necessarily to live on the margin. To exist only as a supplement to the sufficient truth that whiteness is enough. My words alone couldn’t bear to imagine the full extent to which this truth is still propagated, and protected to this day.

Sound then, the screams of those who suffered the ill fate of the massacre that took place in Marikana. Sound the innocent screams of little black girls, and boys who suffer the intellectual slaughter wrought on them by a failing education system in their country. Sound the screams of their older brothers, and sisters who suffer at the hands of cultural assimilation masquerading as integration. Sound the screams of their parents, who are crippled by the economic onslaught of outsourcing. Most importantly, sound loud and clear, the voices of the beautiful black bodies across the country brave enough to call for the fall of this historically violent system.

Sound it loud. Sound it clear, and through their voices may we hear what it means to be black in South Africa.

On the 16th of December every year, we celebrate in this country what is known as Reconciliation Day. A day of coming together, and reflecting on the complex history, and progress of our relationships as citizens of South Africa. A day of celebrating the accomplishment of the “Rainbow Nation”, a seemingly impossible feat when looks back on our history. A day for family, friends, and fallacy.

To speak of reconciliation, is necessarily to presuppose conciliation. Conciliation, in and of itself, tells of a time of compatibility, and collaboration between people. A time, which I found hard to come by when looking back on our history. A task as tall as seeking out a dignified recognition of blackness in this country.

Consequently, I assume ignorance in this regard and ask that my fellow my countrywomen and men indulge me enough to enlighten me to a higher truth. I ask them

What does it mean to be black in South Africa?

If this is a question we cannot answer ourselves, I would ask then that we look to the bright sons and daughters of this land, of times present and past. The Fallist movements across our nation’s universities call for a “Free, Decolonized Education” for all. A concept not far flung from Bantu Biko’s transcendental Black Consciousness philosophy of the ‘70s. Necessarily then, what our brothers and sisters are asking for, is an education that makes the learner conscious of their relationship with their society.

For the black mass in South Africa, and in fact all South Africans, that society is one that upholds, and protects White Patriarchal Supremacist norms systematically, and institutionally. Since 1652 till this day. Although much has changed, not much has changed.

So we too then cannot change our question, so pertinent to the lives of millions upon millions across this country.

Therefore, I ask that you indulge me once more Mr President, as I ask

What does it mean to be black in South Africa?

In the name of peace, love, and truth.


Kukhanya Magubane



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s