In the Mail & Guardian of 15 March 2019 Eusebius McKaiser, a regular contributor to the Mail & Guardian wrote an article with the headline, “Not a racist? Then do something.” I think McKaiser means well in the issues he raises about racism and patriarchy. It is his understanding of these issues that must be interrogated. After reading his article, one gets the impression that he thinks racism will be resolved through dialogue, patriarchy is almost the same as racism and that patriarchy has been or is a permanent feature in African societies.
Racism (white supremacy)
“Racism (White Supremacy) is the local and global power system and dynamic, structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as white, whether consciously or subconsciously determined, which consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action and emotional response, as conducted simultaneously in all areas of people activity (economics, education, entertainment, labour, law, politics, religion, sex and war)… The system of Racism (White Supremacy) utilises deceit and violence (inclusive of chemical warfare, biological warfare and psychological warfare), indeed any means necessary, to achieve its ultimate goal objective of white genetic survival and to prevent white genetic annihilation on planet Earth.
In the existing system of Racism (White Supremacy) when the term is undefined and poorly understood, there is general confusion and chaos on the part of the victims of that system (local, national and global). It then becomes impossible for the victims of Racism (White Supremacy) to effectively counter the global system of Racism (White Supremacy). The African enslavement, imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, fascism, etc., are all dimensions and aspects of Racism (White Supremacy). (Dr Frances Cress Welsing).
White supremacy is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, and nations and peoples of colour by white people and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of establishing, maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege. (Mickey Ellinger and Sharon Martinas).
Racism (white supremacy) is the local and global power system. It is white people’s survival technique and dynamic. It cannot be destroyed or done away with through dialogue or the waving of a magic wand.
McKaiser is correct that many white people refuse to consider privileges that they do not deserve and that instead of reflecting on the call to action, many simply rage instead of introspecting. He writes that …”We know what drives this refusal by beneficiaries of hegemony to be drawn into dialogue about their unearned privileges that have been passed down intergenerationally.”
He continues to write that, “This is true not just of the history of racism but also other forms of oppression such as patriarchy.” The global pecking order is white male, white female, Asian male, Asian female, African male, African female. The white male is on top of the social stratum, followed by the white female then Asian male, Asian female, African male and in the lowest rung is the African woman. Patriarchy is practised within these groups. The African male does not practice patriarchy against the white and Asian females. Therefore, patriarchy is not as universal and global as racism (white supremacy). However, when one looks at the historical development of patriarchy one will find out that patriarchy is Indo-European and not African. The reason there is patriarchy is the influence of Christianity, Islam and the secular presence of Europe in Africa.
McKaiser is using the classical theory of patriarchy which has been adopted by most sociologists and ethnologists such as Durkheim which has been questioned by others such as Dr Cheikh Anta Diop. According to this theory, there was a universal transition from matriarchy to patriarchy. However, ‘humanity has been from the beginning divided into two geographically distinct “cradles” one of which was favourable to the flourishing of matriarchy and the other to that of patriarchy, and that these two systems encountered one another and even disputed with each other in different human societies, that in certain places they were superimposed on each other or even existed side by side…’ These cradles are the southern and northern cradles. The southern cradle is matriarchal and the northern cradle is patriarchal. Africa is in the former and the Indo-European world is in the latter.
Diop writes that matrilineal consanguinity does not exist among the Indo-Europeans: the children of two sisters belong to different families, those of their fathers. In contrast to the matriarchal custom, these children have no tie of consanguinity. A common example that everybody will readily understand is that an Uncle in all of Black Africa is one’s mother’s brother and plays an important part when the nephew or niece marries. A father’s brother is ‘small’ or ‘big’ father depending on whether he is younger or older than one’s father. He is not an uncle.
The reign of Queens in Africa goes back thousands of years while in Europe it is a recent phenomenon, comparatively speaking. There was Queen Hatshepsut in ancient Egypt, the first queen in the history of humanity. There was Makeda in Ethiopia. In South Africa during the Common Era there was Manthatise of Batlokwa and Nzinga in Angola.
It is apt to quote Diop when he writes, “Matriarchy is not an absolute and cynical triumph of woman over man; it is a harmonious dualism, an association accepted by both sexes, the better to build a sedentary society where each and everyone could fully develop by following the activity best suited to his physiological nature. A matriarchal regime, far from being imposed on man by circumstances independent of his will, is accepted and defended by him.”
Patriarchy is not historically a system Africans practised, it is not a permanent feature of African customs and it came about as a result of external influences and there are matriarchal customs that Africans still practice.
By Sam Ditshego