Philosophy or politics


Andile Mngxitama has a talent for encouraging black youth to take their own destiny in their own hands. In the early to late 1990s his gatherings, talks, debates and fora and walk-abouts at his house in Observatory were always bustling. 

He has friends and comrades and towers and fans and followers who were interested in critical and the exposition of Black Consciousness and its principles. Mngxitamas mind lit up those gatherings. He wrote well and sold Frank Talk, tackling some of the most provocative subjects in the world on Steve Biko, race, colonialism, world cup, black sexuality and all other relevant themes.

He was a magnet for young blacks from Model C who were feeling lost and were psychologically and culturally displaced. These youngsters were devoid of a sense of history and reduced into white clones. Thus he addressed a primordial need for self-identity and mental liberation among the youth.

I think what drew people to him was that he saw himself as a successor to Steve Biko and was a radical exponent of Black Consciousness as a philosophy. His life of the mind was firstly about making BC a way of thinking and secondly a way of life. 

He loved and adopted pro-Black stances and hated everyone who said and or did things that insulted and undermined black self-determination, confidence and freedom. He was the sort of guy who would make black people feel optimistic and hopeful. He had a following because he delivered and espoused a Black Consciousness that fed and nourished the soul. 

Then he deviated from that destiny, role and vision to team up with Julius Malema to found and launch the EFF. I think this became his unravelling as there were fights for position, power and influence. Ultimately he was forced to leave the EFF into the political wilderness. He should have gone back to what he does best: spreading the gospel of Black Consciousness and enlightening young enthusiastic black minds.

When you look around today, there is not a single organisation or institution devoted to spreading the philosophy of Black Consciousness. Azapo has transmogrified into a political organization and hit a dead end. There is a distinction between a political organisation that claims to be a custodian of Black Consciousness and the philosophy of Black Consciousness itself. Azapo is about trying to get state power and resources. 

Worse, we have to admit that the Steve Biko Foundation is committed to protecting and preserving the name and legacy of one single individual and not the philosophy of Black Consciousness. In his desire to lift himself out of the political wilderness, Mngxitama ended up getting mixed up in the politics of Jacob Zuma and getting entangled with the Guptas. This has clouded his profile and integrity with doubt.

Fortunately, he still has some credibility with people who admire and follow his espousal of the Black Consciousness philosophy. I believe he has a great future to be in the forefront of reviving and leading the exposition of Black Consciousness as a philosophy. That would make him the most credible and influential leader of young black South Africans. He would inevitably rise to be recognised as a powerful leader that transcends political partisanship. He would be less of a confused ideologue.

The announcement of the election results must have been a humbling experience for Mngxitama. I wonder if he still wants to do politics when it is clear that he should pursue philosophy. Someone has to tell him that he has long designated himself as Steve Biko’s successor in the sense of spreading the gospel of Black Consciousness. Believe me, he would achieve wonders in transforming the mind of the youth of this country.

Black people would have an institution or forum to run to for support and encouragement whenever they encounter racism in our anti-black world. He would be an exponent of Black Human Rights and champion an independent self-determining black lobby and pressure group. Today there is not a single institution or foundation that promotes, protects and preserves the philosophy of Black Consciousness.

Will the real Andile Mngxitama please stand up.

By Sandile Memela

Image created by élan Concepts

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Uownit-SA is an online publication focused on collecting and publishing valuable and informed opinions from all the people of South Africa, published on the 15th of every month. Send us your views to contributions@uownit-sa.co.za.

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