Mcebo Dlamini, former president of the students’ representative council at the University of the Witwatersrand, has his say on the recent Equality Court ruling, finding the BLF's 'Land or Death' slogan constituted hate speech.
Mcebo Dlamini says it becomes clearer every day that black South Africans remain tenants in their own country.
The recent Equality Court ruling on Black First Land First, a slogan he says is an expression of this anxiety, highlights this phenomenon:
"This judgment is nonsensical and anti-black. It is disappointing to see that institutions created to address the injustice of apartheid still reinforce the oppression and silencing of black people, who continue to suffer even today."
Dlamini explains that Antonio Gramsci explained that civil society places a 'third force of power' into the structure of our nation, with institutions such as the court belonging to this sphere:
"This explains why the equality court ruled that the slogan “Land or Death” is hate speech. Here we can see that the ruling is a representation of those who have influence in our country and whose feelings and fears are prioritised."
Dlamini claims that the literal interpretation falls short of hate speech when you ask yourself: Hate against whom? The slogan does not say who 'death' it directed at, falling short in his opinion of the ruling levied against it.
Black views, according to Dlamini, are always censored. This is measured against the impact it has against the 'sensibilities of white people':
"This means that white people must approve everything that we say and, if they do not, our expressions will be criminalised. This cannot be allowed to happen."
While Dlamini highlights that he is not calling for a 'rampage' in which black people must bring death to the white people, but rather that black people should be allowed to 'expose our people to particular ideals in ways we see fit':
"Remember, Steve Biko teaches us not to allow those who oppress us to determine the ways in which we respond to their oppression. “Land or Death” is a slogan to capture the imagination of our people. It is a cry to remind them that we are not yet free. We should not allow our call for emancipation to be criminalised."
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