The young "Black" Lady who made a Tik-Tok video entitled, "The Hierarchy of our Blackness"

The Indian Citizen of South Africa is your compatriot - not your enemy


My initial reaction after watching the video you made on Tik-Tok entitled, "The hierarchy of blackness" was to unleash a tirade at what I perceived as both ignorance and lack of cogent thought.

But on sober reflection, I realized that it would be futile and would only deepen an already growing perception, misguided as it might be, particularly amongst a sector of our young black compatriots as to how they view a very valuable and contributory community of South Africa, the Indian community who are equal compatriots as any other.

Historically, the machinery of apartheid was as heinous as it was despicable.

There can be no palliation or praise for such a system whatsoever.

Admittedly, as a result of of such a system, there were glaring disceprancies in the so-called "food chain".

In other words, there was a pecking order in which some groups were a tad more privileged than others, racially speaking.

But the essence of discrimination and suppression of rights of those not classified "white" was across the board, without exception.

The granting of such privileges still did not diminish the fact that Indians, coloureds and blacks were in the same boat of oppression.

That should and must be the point of departure upon which any critique is levelled against the progress of one group over another pre and post apartheid.

You take umbrage at the number of "doctors" and "lawyers" that the Indian community has produced based on some unintelligible perception based on past privilege.

You are wholly wrong.

Many Indian doctors and lawyers have paid the ultimate price in their fight against apartheid and to this day, many Indian doctors, for example, serve many poor black communities in rural areas across the country - as they have served for so many decades.

Let me elaborate with my own personal circumstances.

My father, who grew up in poverty and hardship, also struggled against many odds, not least being Indian in apartheid South Africa.

His elder brother had to leave school early to seek employment only for the purpose of survival of the family - thereby giving my father an opportunity to complete school, having excelled in matric.

This situation resonates with countless Indian families in the days of yore, who have similar tales to tell.

He qualified to enter medical school but lack of finances prevented that and he chose one of the few other options available at the time - the noble profession of teaching.

With his meagre earnings at the time he raised a family, bought a piece of land and built his humble abode.

Through the years, and through much sacrifice upon the family he studied to further his education to a Masters level - only as a weapon of advancement - and paid for by his own hard-earned salary.

I say this with pride - he reached the top of his profession until his retirement with great credibility and acknowledgement and indeed, deserved aplomb.

However, what was more important was that he, like many in the Indian community, knew that the only weapon for success and advancement in the down-trodden Indian community was education.

It was going to be a tool that no one could break or destroy but was going to be the legacy upon which many people have progressed and passed on successes to the generations ahead.

In that belief, my mum and him made tremendous sacrifices for their three children, ensuring that the weapon of life was going to be a solid education.

Suffice to say, between my brother, sister and I, we today boast nine university degrees amongst us - all because of parents who chose to believe, notwithstanding the odds of oppression, that education was going to be the true liberator.

You chose to create some kind of aspersion when it came to merit - invoking the analogies that you did between a black child obtaining six distinctions through horrendous conditions and a child from Sandton basking in opulence and privilege.

There may be arguments for both but the fundamental idea is that any compromise on the quality and calibre of education dispensed must not be delineated in racial terms.

We then lose sight of many things, not least the state of our nation currently.

For example, I was admitted to medical school at the height of apartheid, not based on colour but merit, like countless other Indian students.

Further, we chose, whenever we disagreed with university authorities, not to burn and destroy the institutions that were the hands that would lead us to be fed one day.

The Indian community, as a historical fact, chose to build schools - not burn, loot and destroy them - which has reached almost endemic proportions in this era of freedom and democracy.

You are wrong - the Indian community are not advantaged by BEE - on the contrary they are severely handicapped by such a system.

The first letter "B" in that acronym says it all.

Merit or fit-for-purpose positions are usurped by a racial ideology - ironically in an era of freedom.

Of course, imbalances of the past need attention - but the governors of this country have become so consumed with same, that merit has long been forfeited in lieu of race, however damning it is to the country and her future.

What we are actually doing currently is exacerbating the woes for future generations.

They will join the world on a platform of entitlement for some, as others will be discriminated against simply by the accident of their birth.

This spells disaster for those myopic enough not to see the bigger picture.

After all, just simply look at the horrific corruption that is engulfing this country on every level.

We compete on a global theatre in this new world of technology - we do not live in a cocoon or in isolation - and every effort to produce the best must be the prime objective.

And merit becomes the great leveller.

When all is said and done, the truth of where we once were and the reality of where we are currently cannot be viewed through rose-tinted glasses.

Pragmatism must supercede any bias we may harbour, all because we want this country to work for all that live within her borders- in equal, fair and just purpose - defaulting constantly into the past only delays us leaving the starting blocks.

Finally, it would be prudent for you to delve into the history of the Indian community in South Africa since their arrival upon these shores and perhaps you may better understand their progress and development as bona fide citizens of a land that is equally theirs as it is yours.

I trust we can engage in discourse that will enable all of us to see a common picture of compatriotship rather than to view each other in differences.

Disclaimer : I use racial classifcation ( black, white, Indian Coloured) only to illustrate and enhance my rebuttal, as I am opposed to such u terms as dictated by our constitution based on the premise that we are a "non-racial" society.

By Narendh Ganesh

Global Indian Correspondent to South Africa


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