I believe that a fight must have a solid objective. If an argument disintegrates to physical blows, it must be worthwhile for each of the fighters involved. The objective must be so precious, so valuable, that it is worth risking a bloodied nose and red bruises that may be incurred. Unfortunately, I think some fights are not worth the prize. They achieve very little for the winner. They may even achieve jail time for the winner. The question is, how are you winning in that case?
A few weeks ago I was at Makro, in Springfield, looking to buy a tree cutter. Makro has busy parking bays for its customers where cars come in and go after shopping. I had just parked my car and was preparing to get out when a fist fight broke out right in front of me. An Indian and a Zulu guy were throwing boxing ring uppercuts in quick succession to each other. Next to them, a white Golf on low profiles and a Polo that were almost nose touching with doors wide open. I was shocked. So, I just sat back and watched hoping they wouldn’t bump on my car. My immature mind went “Pero! Pero! Pero!”
After a flying kick, pushing and shoving, a few jungle growls and screams like a Grade-R little girl, two car guards went in-between them and broke up the fight. I opened my door and went over to listen what the fight was about. Still clinching his fists, I heard the Zulu guy shouting, “Nxaa I don’t care! Call amaphoyisa if you want. You saw me indicating. I saw the parking first. Ididi i-indicator!? Ididi i-indicator!? Ngizok’shaya mina!”, threatening to continue beating the Indian guy. The whole fight was about the parking spot. One did not notice another indicating and went in to the spot. What a waste! All those Floyd Mayweather moves for a simple parking spot? I swear I saw about three or four open spots before I even entered the shop.
Granted. A parking spot is important. Secondly, no one should allow amaqili e-parking to get away with it. But, must it boil down to ICU stitches? Is it worth depleting your medical aid savings account? I don’t think so. There are many other examples of fights that achieve very little. That is the gist of my problem.
As a black people in SA, we seem to be constantly engaged in fights that yield small rewards. How do I judge this? By looking at what is achieved after a big fight is won. A week ago, taxi drivers across KZN embarked on a shutdown strike for the purpose of fighting, among other things, exorbitant interest rate charged by SA Taxi Finance, a monopoly in financing this black industry. They may get some movement in those interest rates. Seems like that’s a win right? Wait until you see if their lives will change after those interest rates are dropped. I bet not. This fight, a big fight in terms of impact, will yield a small victory in respect to the problems the taxi industry face. Dare I say, it will be an insignificant victory.
In SA, we are living in a perpetual striking season. We take to the streets and come in direct collision with public order police. People’s lives are often lost during protest. Our protests are often just for water, or roads, or RDP houses. Hardly seems worth someone to die. If the objective of a service delivery protest were achieved today, I do not believe the lives of those who protest would change significantly. In 2012, Marikana protesters lost their lives in dozens for seeking a mere R12,500 as a minimum wage. If they got what they were looking for, their lives wouldn’t change that much. Briefly perhaps. But not that much. Who can forget death of Andries Tatane, just for service delivery!
The townships across SA fought tooth and nail to usher in the new dispensation of democracy. It’s arguable that townships which suffered most violence and political battles are seeing an improvement in their lives. Yes, perhaps police nyalas are no longer roaming the streets. But, by and large, everything remains the same. Yesterday on TV, they showed a school where 1976 Soweto June 16 uprising began. The school is essentially the same 40 years later.
I’m comparing all these fights and protests with, say, how the English or Europeans fought for land in the “former colonies”. They went in there, beat everyone up and took the land and its wealth. That, to me, is significant. From their perspective, it was probably worth the risk. The rewards were billions they still enjoy today.
Imagine if the Taxis were in a protest for real wealth generating course. Say, for example, they wanted to own service stations. Or, say, they sought to create their very own insurance industry, or their own bank. The significance of that achievement would be impactful not just immediately but for families of taxi owners.
Imagine if the Marikana protestors were fighting for employee shares in companies they work for. Ordinary shares like the shares in JSE. Not discounted ESOP. That would be significant. Not immediately, but in their future wealth.
I wish we could collectively pursue a real meaningful fight. Like a fight against banks and other financial institutions. Governments, Businesses, Families, Individuals are poor largely because of commercial banks. You think governments are screwing us. Wait until you see how a bank keeps you poor. When you don’t have money, banks will refuse to give you any money. Wait until you have money. A bank sales lady with a sexy voice will call you and tell you that you qualify for R150 000 credit. Jesu! A devil with a tail and a pointy horn! May they burn in eternal hell.
My imagined strategy for banks would be to shut them down one by one. How? Collectively close our personal and business accounts. When we eventually have one bank left, we change it to a state bank which has a mandate of providing facilities rather than making exorbitant profits on the backs the poor. That’s a worthwhile fight, right? What the fuck are you charging me for, if there is no money for the debit order in my current account? Am I not broke enough already? Banks must fall. May be my strategy needs reworking.