Ayanda Kota on South Africa 2012



In March this year, WBAI AfrobeatRadio spoke to Ayanda Kota, Chair of the Unemployed People's Union in Grahamstown, South Africa about South Africa as it is now, in 2012.  In this excerpt, he described it as the realization of what slain South African writer and activist Stephen Biko had predicted.  His description resonates with news of the police massacre of striking mine workers, on 08.16.2012, at the Lonmin Mining Corporation's Marikana platinum mine.

Ayanda Kota had, in March, spoken of almost daily land evictions and, after the Marikana massacre, University of Capetown Professor Gavin Capps told Democracy Now that its context was land loss, and the destruction of rural communities caused by a platinum mining boom that began in the late 1990s.



Ayanda Kota, in his earlier activist days, holds a photo of Steve Biko, founder of the South African Black Consciousness Movement and author of “I Write What I Like,” who died in police custody in 1977, at age 30. WBAI AfrobeatRadio (March 2012): What would you most like an American audience to understand about South Africa as it is now?

Ayanda Kota: I think it's important to mention Steve Biko. When he wrote his book, Biko said: If the apartheid government was intelligent enough, it would convene elections, and let the members of the liberation movement become the premiers, become the president, become the ministers. Don't hold on. And it would be the responsibility of the new government to portray to the world a very glossy and rosy picture, that there's freedom, that there's democracy.

While they'll be portraying such a convincing picture to the world, 70% of the population will be oppressed. Biko said this, I think, in 1972. And now, 2012, what Biko said then - it's something that we're witnessing today, where our government through the celebration, our government through the World Cup, was able to  present to the world this "rainbow nation," peaceful nation, democracy. Meanwhile, 70% of our population are oppressed. They are being removed from farms, evicted. 

We don't have access to clean water. We don't have adequate sanitation. Forty percent of the population is unemployed. There's an excessive amount of poverty. Our townships are just broken. And the world is not aware of these struggles, of our oppression, of the socio-economic conditions of our people.






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