Bound by shacks and shackles of the past

While we’re on the land question, the question that lingers in my mind is whether land expropriation without compensation will be the solution to poor, landless, oppressed and rural people? One day as we were jogging along the V&A Waterfront, one guy made a comment that has stuck with me for a while. He pointed to a space and said after we have taken the land back that’s the spot he will build his shack on.

Surely, I thought, he made this call with a clear mind, a mind that has been oppressed for years, and does he not realise that he can still have a proper house and not a shack? But I don’t blame him for thinking that way I blame the damage done to his brain on the past government, and I partly blame the current government for not releasing people from the shackles of apartheid.

It is a pity that we have only moved a few inches from the past and our thinking is still in the bondage of apartheid. There is still no solution for the landless and the oppressed. Unemployed, rural people and women are still uncared for, therefore they are oppressed by our deeds.

Land expropriation without compensation in this country sounds like a fallacy to me. Indeed injustices should be reversed but in a mannerly way and these things should not only benefit the small group of people who are now leading but the entire nation of oppressed.

The truth is under apartheid, land benefited white people exclusively. The question then is, should we expropriate land to benefit black people (coloureds, Chinese and Indians included) only? I have no answer on that.

I have few wishes should we succeed in taking the land back. I am lucky to have been to many parts of my country. The land is lying fallow at places where my people live. At home in the Eastern Cape where the land is wide open, the land is bare.

It seems that people have abandoned agriculture and farming. But all this does not mean we should shy away from the land issue. We should not entertain those who ask for proof that the land was stolen from Africans.

Those who ask such questions are just insulting people’s intelligence.

The clever people who dissolved agricultural colleges should reopen those.

The former Transkei used to be the ploughing ground for tea, growing Magwa Tea.

What happened to that? Farming in the former Ciskei was key until our own government thought everyone should go to university and study science and technology.

I so wish these things can be revived to give unemployed people jobs. It is a fact that the land remains in the hands of the minority. You cannot tell me the big stretch of land from Beaufort West to Graaff Reinet is not owned by a few individuals.

That is criminal and should not be allowed. From Graaff Reinet, Crackdock, Tarkastad to Komani is the same. When you go up north on the N1, Three Sisters, Hanover up to Bloemfontein and beyond, is the same. But should we take the land we should not allow it to remain fallow.

We need not take the land for some sort of revenge – let’s claim back the land to use it.

We should not repeat the mistakes of other countries like Zimbabwe.

Land is the most important tool to fix some of the burning issues like unemployment and the growth of the economy.