Tuesday, 24 December 2013

"Coz 94 changed fokol!"

Outside the African Art Museum

I've noticed this slogan posted on buildings and walls all over Johannesburg, this one outside the African Art Museum. I decided to do some research...Translated it means 'Wake up black person'. I think the article below throws a very interesting light on the underlying feelings of this nation as we move past Mandela's death and into a new year….

In South Africa a radical black youth movement is gaining ground. Blackwash addresses the ruling African National Congress’s failure to improve the condition of black people in South Africa. “Coz ’94 changed fokol!”
By Lindy Mtongana, Johannesburg
Dressed in a pair of jeans and a jersey, a backpack slung over his shoulders, Lubabalo Mgwili doesn’t particularly stand out at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Matrix Centre in Johannesburg. In this busy hub where black, Indian, coloured and white students mingle about, buy food and pause to watch the cricket from blaring television screens, Mgwili is just like any other student. The only difference is that to Mgwili this idyllic picture in which scholars of all races mix happily together is all a lie. “There is nothing to celebrate in this new democracy”.
Mgwili is a proud member and campus organiser for Blackwash, a radical, black consciousness youth movement that defines itself as being by blacks, about blacks and for blacks only. Founded in 2009, the movement addresses the ruling African National Congress’s failure to improve the condition of black people in South Africa. “For me the biggest problem was them accepting the 1994 settlement and the constitution that came with it,” says the 20 year old accounting student. “In truth, there is nothing to celebrate post 1994.”
White country
Ncebekazi Manzi, a founding member of Blackwash, says the ANC largely failed to transform the South African society for the benefit of the country’s black majority. “Our assessment is that black people have accepted that this is a white country,” she says.
“They have accepted that they must live in filth and squalor and yet if they walk just for ten minutes they will arrive in Sandton, the richest suburb on the continent. Blackwash is about the historical advantage that white people have accrued for themselves through violence. And how, in protecting the interests of white people, the ANC allows for this quiet violence to continue.”
Blacks only
Mgwili, like other Blackwash members, bears the responsibility of educating fellow students on campus by showing them the fallacies in the promises made by the ANC government in 1994, while preparing them for the revolution that will one day bring about true change. But this obligation does not extend to the white people of South Africa. “Blackwash is a blacks only movement. We are not interested in organising with whites. They should organise themselves."
The main reason for this, Mgwili explains, is because of the black people’s shared history of suffering. “White people’s suffering, whether it is homophobia or whatever, calls for a crisis, but the suffering of black people has been normalised and that is why black people have to organise on their own. The one thing that black people share, that white people can never have, is their black skin, which has become a cause for their oppression.”
The majority rules
Blackwash’s ultimate goal is to achieve what Manzi refers to as a dictatorship of the masses, in which the people make the decisions through processes of direct democracy and the wealth is transferred to the people. As for white people in this future South Africa, Lubabalo says they would be welcome, but would have to comply with the terms of the new state. “We seek to oppress no-one. So white people would fit in, but since it is going to be a dictatorship of the people, and black people are the majority, they are going to have to go with what the majority says.”
Extreme right wing sentiment
The sentiments expressed by Blackwash resonate with a growing number of black people, as evidenced by frequent service delivery protests throughout the country. Lucy Holborn from the South African Institute of Race Relations says, “They are certainly tapping into that group of disenfranchised young South Africans who are mostly black, unemployed and have been largely let down by government.”
But she adds that the racial ideology is “just as dangerous as extreme right wing sentiment and is based on racial stereotypes that are becoming increasingly irrelevant as racial integration and mixing increases around the world.”
Ready for the revolution
In spite of whatever may be happening in the country as far as racial unity is concerned, Blackwash is beginning to occupy an increasingly relevant space in political and racial discourse in South Africa. What started as a conversation between like-minded and equally frustrated friends is gaining momentum.
The movement is active in four major cities and is represented by student groups throughout the country. Their national meeting last year attracted 400 people; this is expected to double in 2011. Before their Facebook group was shut down, Blackwash had over 2000 members. And after one of their most prominent members, Andile Mngxitama, was interviewed on a national radio station, Blackwash administrators were bombarded with 300 emails within an hour.
Blackwash members say that the moment of change in South Africa could arise at any time. And therefore it is key that the revolutionaries are ready. To this end, Blackwash continues to actively awake the consciousness of young black people in the country with their simple slogan, “Vuka darkie (wake up, black person), coz ’94 changed fokol!”


  1. 400 members!! Wow, that's a small number to start a revolution. But from little acorns mighty oaks can grow!

    Just wondering what percentage of all students 400 represents?

  2. As you say Terry, from little acorns. If it's not 'Vuka Darkie' it will be another vessel that will carry this revolution, but it's coming, I feel it here!