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White Madness

BEST OF 2014 | WHITE MADNESS

by Mlilo Mpondo / Illustration by Sasan / 04.01.2015

Originally published on 5 February 2014

What does slavery, colonialism, the Jim Crow laws and apartheid tell us about white folk? That they are afflicted with serious control issues. Much attention is paid to black history; unfortunately it seems our only marketable memoirs begin in the early 1800’s, when we (black folk) were first introduced to white folk. Anything prior to this epoch, doesn’t seem to get the sales going. Black kingdoms, science and academia are never made mention of. I guess the black narrative without the stroke of struggle isn’t as romantic; doesn’t quite pull at the heart strings the way anguish seems to.

But that isn’t my point today, my point is this: much time is spent gazing at the black condition, but not enough is lent to its white counterpart.

I am yet to stumble upon any documentary or film which engages the psyche of white people. We know a lot about the effects of civil rights violations on black masses; it’s a Hollywood favourite. But what I would like to know is this: what are the effects of civil rights violations on its architects and beneficiaries?

I don’t know much about white people but I have come to learn some tendencies. They are either one of four things.

First: apologetic or empathetic (the latter being a lost cause).

Second: not guilty because “it wasn’t their fault”.

Third: very eager to hold hands and sing khumbaya around camp fires with black chomi’s in a rainbow nation they are so proud to be a part of (this group is the keenest to forget, and don’t quite understand why people continue to lament about the past, especially now that black people can shop at Woolworths).

Lastly: indifferent, those who are of the notion that they saved us from ourselves. This category has a quiet superiority complex; although they may not be hanging niggers from trees or raping maids in maize fields, they condescend with ease. They are the ones that keep a pocket book of nicknames in case a vernacular name should be too “difficult” to pronounce, they are incensed when they meet a black person that cannot speak Afrikaans, and reprimand their staff for being too sensitive when said staff fails to laugh at racial jokes.

Recently I watched the cinematic genius of Steven McQueen, 12 Years A Slave, an extraordinary film which I implore anyone reading this to watch. Do not misunderstand me, there was nothing revealing about this film, at least nothing that Amistad, Beloved, Sarafina, Mississippi Burning and a hoard of other films of this genre, alongside my brief module on slavery, had not already taught me. While watching the ghastly condition of slavery, I was not moved by the brutality exerted upon entire generations of black people; I was instead compelled to consider the psyche of white people. I could not for the life of me help but think that white people are truly fanatical, bollocks, psychopaths, crazy. I kept wondering, what on God’s green earth had happened to these people to make them so insatiable, brutal, malevolent, gruesome and just downright hateful. Again, do not misunderstand me, many races are with their faults and atrocities. But none in history compares to the mayhem caused by white folk across the equator, most sorely felt in Africa.

Granted, colonialism is an experience familiar to all races, an undertaking assumed mostly by white Europeans. However, when it comes to Africa, no continent has suffered so much. Whereas in other nations colonialism was mostly concerned with economics by way of appropriating resources to sustain a continent that had fucked up its own, when it came to Africa the mission had more depth. The colonisation of Africa was concerned with more than land conquests. Its ethos was “take the mind but keep the body,” a theory advocated by a pronounced slave owner named Willy Lynch. It emphasised the appropriating of the mind and identity. The institutionalisation of the Christian religion, followed by the disappearance of African names, then African pride and its encompassed identity.

Now you (white folk) may assert that this history 411 is a stifling rhetoric which serves to continuously divide us. My response to this would be that you (white folk) continue to exist in a condition of nonchalance. For some reason unbeknown to me, you (white folk) assume that just because your daughters’ best friend is Naledi, all is well. You may be the type that has a handful of black friends, you may have even felt sorrow at the passing of Mandela, or might sponsor an NGO for black babies with HIV and may have even adopted a few, you may even pay for the school fees of your maids children. Yet still, perhaps unknowingly, you contribute to the dehumanised condition in which black people exist.

Poverty of every dimension (mostly of the psyche) is still a black condition. What you don’t understand is that it is perpetuated by you who remain apathetic. It is made constant by white folk that, although liberal, casually blame the depreciation of the rand on ignorant miners, farmers, and all labourers alike that strike for better pay. Obscene bonuses of mining CEOs don’t perplex you as much as they frustrate the rest of us. Instead you are more concerned with the negative image caused by all the toyi-toying and how blacks just don’t understand economics. Is it that you are delusional or just divorced from reality?

How do you on the one hand, through your passivity and continued comfort, annihilate black masses, whilst, on the other, insist that we all just get along.

I just want to know what it’s like to be, in history and at present, the greatest violators of civil and human rights? What made you this way, unknowingly or otherwise, and how are you this afflicted and so darn crazy?

* Illustration © Sasan

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RESPONSES (29)
  1. Fongkong Tiger says:

    Do you know this book? “The Black People and Whence They Came”

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  2. mlilo says:

    No I have not

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  3. muddebunker says:

    What a refreshingly racist article! I take great comfort in your hatred

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  4. Typical white guy says:

    I assure you I speak for all white males when I say that when I come home after a cushy day at work overseeing my exclusionary empire which I have built on the whip-scarred backs of generations of slaves, I like nothing more than to kick the cat, shout at my children and command my wife to bring me my supper (T-bone, medium rare, potatoes that are crispy on the outside but soft and creamy on the inside, two veg) before settling down with an expensive single malt to listen to Wagner and reminisce about a time when white people ruled over all the land. Of course, it’s not just colonialism that I long for – it’s all forms of repression and genocide. I can’t help it. I’m white. It’s who we are, it’s how we’re born. I’ve been keen to dominate, pillage and oppress other people since I was could crawl. When I played with my Playmobiles, I always had one white guy sitting on a cage full of Others with a beer tankard in one hand and a cat-o-nine-tails in the other. It didn’t really matter what colour the Others were, I just imagined that they were different from who I was and it made me content – truly content, to the depths of my dark and evil soul – to repress the hell out of them. I can’t explain it. Oppression and cruelty is like a breathing and eating for us whites. It’s just what we do. Oh sure, you’ll find some whites who pretend to be nice and kind and good but they are only denying their own true Whiteness. Eventually their heads will explode from keeping all that evil in. And that’s not healthy. I hope this gives you the insight into the white psyche that you seek. It felt really good to share the Truth. I should do it more often. We all should. Or there will be a whole lot of exploding heads out there. And where would that leave us?

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  5. Mr Non Chalant Whyyyte says:

    From the start those white ancestors of mine were at it, fighting and killing each other. We know this from what they wrote down – Romans and Greeks, Norsemen, Saxons – white warring with white, yellow, brown, red, and black people. Slavery of all kinds – not only by white slaveowners. (Incidentally, the ones selling those slaves often weren’twhite). As far as ignoring the black heritage: I would very gladly read about your fabled black kingdoms but sadly there is nothing much published about that (other than what white people wrote). These white men went on, building jets, going to the moon, transplanting hearts, making luxury sedans, cell phones, the Internet and a space station. Crazy shit, I know. People of any colour and gender now take part in this economic world that is inherently very competitive and where excellence and merit is essential. In our country we have labour costing way more than in other countries with productivity sadly lacking. This means that as an economy, we fail compared to others working harder and wasting less. You conflate the striking workers with the slaves. There is a hard limit to the cost of labour in any business – beyond that, it loses money, has to close and everyone is worse off. Even though the CEO gets a lot, it doesn’t compare with the aggregate of all the thousands of miner’s wages, nor of all those workers in supporting industries that will also suffer when the mine closes. I can understand that you’re emotional after watching a slave movie and identifying with the victims. Sadly, that’s not reality but a well-polished media product meant to take your money and press your buttons. Slavery of that kind is all over and past and there is no need to wreak your somewhat racist revenge on the descendants of those slave owners. Not so long ago, ten years to be exact, Hutu’s and Tutsi’s were at it – planning, then hacking over a million people to pieces. How is it that I can not understand the black man’s psyche that can lead to something like this? Or, more topically – people who burn down clinics, libraries and the city hall: are they stupid?

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  6. Oliver says:

    This is really a poor piece of thinking. It’s deeply racist (racism cuts both ways, not only if whites dislike blacks) and doesn’t advance any cause. Unless the previous regime was a cause.

    Btw, you’ll find that Northern African nations tried to enslave white people. They actually did. But then the white people sent their navy to liberate their own people and improve trade in the whole area. The ol’ Africans couldn’t believe that it won’t be a Zuma.Malema style retribution, they were amazed that white folks just wanted to get on with things.

    So African countries did the same, only they were bad at it.

    Also, I feel sorry for people who suffer. I don’t believe in woman’s, gay, black or any other right. I believe in human rights and equality. End of story. And I try to extend dignity and respect to all animals as far as possible. get off your 1980’s high horse. The world has moved on, even the bleeding heart liberals are starting to wonder when you’ll stop whinging.

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  7. Cruella le Blanc says:

    The white race contributed to humanity the concepts of democracy, philosophy, morals, ethics, the legal system, science, medicine and technology. The black race? Apart from the toyi-toyi, voodoo, ancestor worship and the bongo drum? If you read the papers you see that mob justice by necklace and the burning of alleged witches occur on a daily base in this country. President Bokassa of CAR made himself emperor and occasionally feasted on the meat of his political opponents. And you say white people are crazy?

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  8. Malu says:

    Eish….abelungu just being racist by responding to what is (perhaps) a racist article that actually made people uncomfortable….i have almost no faith left in South Africans sometimes, but then I just laugh and get on with my life as a South African, not a white or black person….vukani bo

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  9. SpartaZulu says:

    Eish….abelungu just being racist by responding to what is (perhaps) a racist article that actually made people uncomfortable….i have almost no faith left in South Africans sometimes, but then I just laugh and get on with my life as a South African, not a white or black person….vukani bo

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  10. Sort of white says:

    I think you are spot on. Not all whites are capable of implementing and master-minding those atrocities although they are definitely capable of benefitting and seem largely driven to protect that privilege. My personal theory, which is rather simplistic, is that the White culture is an individualistic based culture system whereas the African culture system is community-based. The African culture is primed to be self-aware and aware of others whereas this consciousness is not a primary focus of the White culture. We could learn much and there is something beautiful about being part of a large communal group – it cuts you down to size. You may be an important and wealthy person, but if you are not a respected community player you are not granted certain privileges that would give one status in terms of the community. We could learn a lot. Perhaps one day the focus will shift to a more humanizing way of thinking, unfortunately it seems as though more Africans are adopting the White cultural lifestyle than visa versa…

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  11. Oliver says:

    @Sort of white

    That is a sweeping generalisation. Humans are deeply social. You may or may not know but solitary confinement is a punishment for both white and black people. But white culturel does value the voice of the individual. We do not believe that because a million people believe in something it must be true. Argumentum ad populum is a white thing. Mob justice on the other hand, well, the poor white areas are not so well known for necklacing and that sort of thing.

    Black culture’s last invention was the human being. DNA points back to Africa. Our ancestors got up on the their hind legs on the open African landscape and over millions of years populated the planet. Or at least that’s what western science tells us. I think African science’s last breakthrough was the Nigerian university that used magnets to disprove homosexuality. But since the invention of the actual human there’s not been a lot of innovation here. If a white kid builds a robot we call it ‘the benefits of apartheid’. If a black kid charges a battery off the sun we demand that he gets free university and the cover of popular mechanics.

    White people are in fact part of a large communal group. Only thing is we do not suffer from the crab mentality (pulling other people down so that we’re all equal). You’re just not white enough to know of it.

    I’m done with white guilt. Black people are having to become far too creative to blame us for the state of the nation. Nkandla is not an example of group life. The poverty in South Africa speaks of how little a black government cares. If you dangle the German (white) three pointed star in front of any black leader he would sell his tribesman and their children if he could just have the car in black with tinted windows. And then they drive people off the road, just to show us how important they are. You know, more equal than the rest. Btw, some of Animal Farm’s lines can be used verbatim as headlines in our newspapers. It’s a disgrace to still blame white people for what’s wrong in South Africa. But it is the story of African democracies.

    Black people are not a minority in this country. After 20 years you are to blame.

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  12. Emma says:

    Love the article, so sad at the tirade of bullshit that it spawned in its wake. Respondents are just proving that your categorizations is correct… and trying to figure out the same thing myself.

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  13. Oliver says:

    @Emma. It’s not really spawning the bullshit, it’s the first bullshit post. It’s a series of inaccurate generalizations, casual observations dressed up as research and some plain racist statements.

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  14. is this shit for real? says:

    What do decades of genocide, civil war, countless kleptocratic regimes decaying in the bile of their own ethnic nepotism, and the most comprehesive continent-wide constraints on basic human freedoms tell us about black folk? That they are afflicted with serious control issues. Much attention is paid to white history; unfortunately it seems their only marketable memoirs begin when they turned their eye to world domination. Anything prior to this epoch, doesn’t seem to get the sales going. The technical skills that led to the invention of pretty much everything practical that you use on a daily basis (from cars to condoms to the archetectural techniques that allow you sit on the third floor in a chair white folks patented smiling smugly behind the apple computer which white folks designed), the economic and political innovations that birthed every single one of the socio-political arrangements that you (yes, all of you, everyone on earth, whether in china or in sweden) currently live under and, finally, the vast majority of the world of ideas that individuals such as the author parasitically live off of don’t seem to make the cut. I guess the white narrative without the stroke of colonialism and slavery isn’t as appealing; doesn’t quite pull at the heart strings the way anguish seems to….

    ENTER:…make ahistorical emotive generalisations….use of the collective “you” to minimize plurality of identity among target group… sprinkle pseudo-philosophical meditations while mobilising cultural tropes regarding witchcraft and homophobia….
    finish with garishness:

    I just want to know what it’s like to be, in history and at present, the greatest violators of civil and human rights? What made you this way, unknowingly or otherwise, and how are you this afflicted and so darn crazy?

    oh but what, unlike me, you don’t have the structural power to be racist, right? its literally sociologically impossible, right?
    read your bullshit again and meditate on that ^ absurdity.

    or does reflexivity only apply to “white folks”?

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  15. Matthew says:

    This article and the comments that it has spawned are exactly what we as a healing nation need. Well not exactly, barring the entrenchment of tired and tested racial segregation, supportive factual and fictional observations and some exceptionally shrewd sarcasm. We ow it to ourselves to embrace this platform and the potential it affords us.

    This publication stands as a testament to the levels of progression we as South Africans have achieved thus far. The various articles that it affords us and their resultant comments show us how much more we must still achieve.

    It is so easy to point the finger and draw the lines of division, whilst backing them up with hard hitting facts and bias opinions. Sure its great entertainment marveling at ones own wit and ability to counter one negative comment with another equally pointless blow to the balls or merely to stand and giggle on the sidelines. However there is no doubt that if we are to move forward and leave as much of this racial bullshit behind us. It is us as individuals that must view ourselves firstly as South Africans and then as whatever imposed racial title we are deemed fit to bear.

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  16. Rofhiwa says:

    Mlilo seems to be pissing everyone off. The folks at Daily Maverick seem to think she’s a cunt and, if some of these comments are anything to go by, so does Mahala.

    Shame.

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  17. Some things I have a hard time understanding which i hope you, as the essentialised representative of your race, can politely help me with: says:

    1) Mfecane

    2) Femal Genital Mutilation

    3) Corrective Rape

    4) Virgin Cleansing Myth

    5) Medicine Murder of Albinos/Ch

    6) Non-chalance Regarding Kleptocracy

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  18. Some things I have a hard time understanding which i hope you, as the essentialised representative of your race, can politely help me with (correction): says:

    *5) Medicine Murder of Albinos/Children

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  19. Oliver says:

    Where is Mlilo?

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  20. tired of the racism bullsh#t... says:

    Yes I am white and yes we white folk sure as hell weren’t right at the things that was done in apartheid, but ffs aren’t we past that already??? Aren’t we trying to MOVE ON, and seriously no offense to all the black people, but the idiots we have in government only know how to steal money and enrich ONLY themselves, WHAT have they done for you??? Please tell me?!? Unless you are immediate family of one of the idiots YOU DON’T GAIN ANYTHING!!! I will well say that yes there was also corruption in the white dominated government, but things GOT DONE!! There was always enough money to keep our roads in tip top condition, our state hospital were still SAFE to go to, there was service delivery in them, which is no NON existent, there was no need for E-TOLL as the high amount of tax that is already applied on the fuel prices and the licensing monies of your vehicle was correctly used to maintain the conditions of the roads, out of order traffic lights, and painted markings on our roads. There wasn’t nearly as much striking then as compared to now, WOW just look back at how strong our currency use to be back then??? I can remember as a child that the rand was almost equal to the dollar if memory serves it was back then at about R1.30 to the dollar and that was just as the white government was stepping down… And we all know the downward spiral to where we are now at R11+ local production was brilliant, now importing with a back hand waiting is the way forward, and where in your life have you seen a country such as us that is apparently freedom of choice denies n spiritual leader (dalih lama) entry to our country, but we socialize with the biggest racist in our continent ( Bob mugabe) oh yeah that’s right he is a black racist and that makes it a correctional movement not racism, and just marvel at how successful that country has blossomed to bankruptcy, the only rich and benefited idiot there is “bob” oh yeah and we controlled the borders so that you may have lots of job opportunities in your own country, look what your government are doing for you, they are so concerned about our neighbors well being that they just have to let open the borders so they too can have jobs, its not like we have a HIGH unemployment rate, and its not like we have high rates of crime and violent crimes may I add, and coming to CRIME it effects US ALL regardless of race!!! I have so much more to say but this is getting tiring people should start using there heads for common sense and not there arses to think up shit to just spore on violent racism and hate speech towards each other, I mean come on don’t we all just want equal opportunities, and a future for our kids, a safe country to live in and a government that WE chose that actually WORKS FOR US!?!?

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  21. Burningcrosses says:

    Evil has no skin colour, its the human mind which does evil acts, its has nothing to do with skin colour. Yes the article is one sided and a little racist, but what’s more interesting is the hateful debate which followed from both sides. Which clearly shows the current mind set of most South Africans, very very far away from the advertised rainbow nation thats being portrayed to the foreign press. An artist is allowed to provoke. Damian Hirst cuts cows in half and calls it art while Mlilio has a quick go at white folks….big deal, I’m white and I wasn’t offended cause I know plenty of black people who are more open minded and don’t share the same views. Maybe her intentions were to provoke a dialogue between blacks and whites so you don’t always have to tip toe around each singing “khumbaya” ?

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  22. Fanele says:

    @ Oliver this thing about black inventing nothing is really misinformed. We fought with spear and they were not made out of sticks but iron do you know how complicated metallurgical extraction is? We had stone buildings in some areas of Africa we had medicine, architecture, town planning, language and other sciences, The way we lived was to be one with nature be sustainable, you people claim everything but most of what you did was to patent whatever inventions from all over your travels in Asia, Europe, Americas etc . You destroyed the world and now we told to go green, we had the vision for the future you had a vision for a century.

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  23. Oliver says:

    @Fanele. Metallurgical extraction in the way that you refer to is actually not that difficult. You could do it. The metallurgy required to drive the industrial revolution is quite a different story. But if African metallurgy and stone buildings are going to be the benchmark for innovation then yes, Africa is just a hub of fresh thinking and new ideas. It’s practically the Googleplex – just bigger. Why is it that when the ships pulled up on African shores, locals have not yet invented the wheel? Would they have if left to their own devices? There’s a lot of legwork between the wheel and sailing – you can’t take credit for that. Then there are handy little inventions like the internet. I think it’s embarrassing to say ‘we didn’t invent nothing, we did things like spears’.

    And you’re welcome to go live as one with nature again, dying of your teeth in your thirties.

    One more thing – innovation made it possible to travel. But by your rationale we only stole inventions. So we traveled to steal inventions to travel. Is that the sort of circle argument that leads to great innovation?

    Nature won’t get you to the moral high ground so don’t even try – it makes you look silly.

    There is nothing wrong with either back or white people. Some nations champion one thing and others another. Africa does not champion innovation. There is evidence for that. And white people are not the only power hungry race out there. There is more than enough evidence for that as well.

    Things are more complex than you would like them to be.

    No one is saying white people are the superior race. It’s just another race. Mlilo here suggests that whites are inferior. That’s unfounded, deeply racist and one could argue hate speech.

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  24. Gazi says:

    Fanele here is some grammar help: “Oliver, this thing about black’s inventing nothing is really misinformed. We fought with spears and they were not made out of sticks but iron. Do you know how complicated metallurgical extraction is? We had stone buildings in some areas of Africa. We had medicine, architecture, town planning, language and sciences. The way we lived was to be one with nature, sustainable. You people claim authorship of everything but most of what you did was to patent the inventions of your travels in Asia, Europe, Americas etc . You destroyed the world and now we are told to go green. We had the vision for the future, you had a vision for a century.”

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  25. RageFace says:

    What is UP with these Internet rants where black people tell white people “your race is bad and you should feel bad?”
    Try to CONTRIBUTE something to the country/the world instead of perpetuate the revenge/entitlement mentality and then we’ll talk. Currently all you’re doing is jumping up and down like a Jack Russell going “teacher teacher the white people took my granddad’s sweetie and it makes me mad!” and that is in NO WAY conducive to growing a productive, successful country.

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  26. Ian says:

    This whole saga really saddens me. Yes I am white – that’s just skin colour, and yes – I was stopped @ roadblocks going into “non- white” areas in the ’80’S and not because I was a bleeding heart liberal nor a card carrying “white” ANC member – I was visiting my friends! People who I chose to associate with because they were good people. Yes I frequented the “indian” cinemas in Durban area because the government I didn’t vote for said I cudnt watch a movie nor buy alcohol on a Sunday. Yes I have an adopted “black” daughter who has been referred to as a coconut by all colours, and has been referred to as my “pet”. I have endured being called a K lover as we walk together on the street. Yes she speaks fluent isiZulu, Afrikaans, & English. Yes I frequent places like the Jamison Bar & Cool Runnings not because I want to “pretend” to be African I like the people I encounter. And they don’t have their heads firmly stuck up their rainbow coloured asses! People grow up & embrace the rich “otherness” that is Africa

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  27. Fuckin' humans says:

    White people, understand this: black people have the right to bitch. 450 years of brutality will give you that right.
    Black people, hear this: your history is not only glorious, but largely untold and unheard – and much of that is not glorious.

    STOP. ATTACKING. HISTORY. YOU. IMBECILES.

    There is a war to be won. The war against the complete annihilation of our planet’s environment.

    Stop breeding. Start reading. Grow your own food. Stop spending money you don’t have.

    WAKE. THE. FUCK. UP.

    Thank you.

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  28. Chris says:

    Yes, yes its all our fault. No mention of the ANC, BEE and their chinese buddies being colonialists of the worst order, or why Asia, also having been colonised, is now flying. Why be honest? God I am so tired of racism in all its forms, especially in the media. Ubuntu, what a farce. What a waste of ten minutes of my life.

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  29. Smiley says:

    “Poverty of every dimension (mostly of the psyche) is still a black condition. What you don’t understand is that it is perpetuated by you who remain apathetic.” Quite a statement where South Africa is the only country in the world where Affirmative Action is in favour of the 90% majority. What more do you want? Writing this kind of article just proves the point that here in South Africa, people believe that they are owed something and that it is their right to take it. Bullshit, you get what you work for… This dead apartheid horse has had enough flogging, its either got to be “look at what we’ve done in 20 years of democracy (which isnt much), or poor us apartheid did this to us… So you decide, if you would like to be the proud black nation that you proclaim to be, stop blaming the inferior 10% white populous… Thanks for writing a profoundly racist and idiotic article.

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