A monthly column by Luphumlo Joka
In the spirit of reflecting on the year that has past, I have recently been very intrigued by the appointment (announcement made on October 14) of the Vice Chancellor and Principal of Nelson Mandela University, Dr Sibongile Muthwa. Nelson Mandela University was quoted October 14 2017 saying “Muthwa, who has served as the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Support for the past seven years, serves as the institution’s first black African female Vice-Chancellor and brings to the post a wealth of experience from the public sector and academia, both nationally and abroad.”
There seems to be a strong re-emergence of the philosophy of black consciousness, particularly amongs black professionals. We now live in a society that embraces the existence of organisations like the Black Lawyers Association, Black Management Forum, Black Business Forum and many other black-orientated organisations. Political parties like the Economic Freedom Fighters and Black Land First have made the rise of the so-called black nation their political agenda.
Most of these movements were born as a result of the inhuman pre-democratic laws passed by the apartheid government. The likes of Steve Biko, ideologically African nationalists and African socialists, were the chief proponents of the BCM (Black Consciousness Movement) which, as Mabogo More puts it, is a struggle for a new consciousness, a reawakening of a self-consciousness, a re-appropriation of black self-consciousness from the clutches of an appropriative and dominating white consciousness, a rediscovery of the black self which lay buried beneath white consciousness imposed on blacks by cultural, political, economic, linguistic and religious domination.
What is this new consciousness? When emancipation from white consciousness is achieved, what will this black self look like? These are some of the questions that linger in my mind.
The black excellence syndrome is described as the celebration of black people who are doing well in their own spheres of influence.
My question is, should the Church be condoning the celebration of black excellence? Should we be building on the basis of philosophical, cultural and ethnic differences?
Galatians 3:28 states that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Oneness is one of the greatest building blocks of nationhood. Paul (the apostle) in this portion of scripture introduces a new paradigm of oneness that I believe the church should embrace. This is a oneness that supersedes culture, race, ethnicity and social status. It goes beyond building on black excellence or white supremacy.
It does not mean that we must negate the social inequalities that exist and are prevalent in some ethnic groups. We ought to celebrate excellence on the basis of excellence and not on the basis of excellence linked to colour.
It is time that we think of the connotation of black excellence in the life of the Church in a new way. Let’s celebrate everyone based on merit and not colour.