A Proposition for Ending Whiteness in Africa
There is a legal reason why whites cannot be Africans or belong to Africa. The reason is that Europeans such as Johan Anthoniszoon “Jan” van Riebeeck, Paul Kruger and Cecil John Rhodes, among others, were in Africa on the basis of common law statutes and contractual relationships that make it expressly illegal and constructively fraudulent for Europeans to be Africans or to claim Africanness. Whites are in Africa intra vires and de jure, and not ultra vires and de facto. My basic argument is constructed from a re-reading of the maxim lex non cogit ad impossibilia: the law cannot compel the impossible. The settlement of Whites in Africa is, it seems, possible only in the context of a specific historical contractual obligation.
The background is as follows: the origins of apartheid can be directly traced and attributed to European royal families. It was these families that first incorporated chartered companies such as the United East India Company (also known as the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) (Dutch, incorporated 1602), the Royal African Company (British, incorporated 1672), the Etat Independent du Congo (Belgian, incorporated 1885), the Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft (German, incorporated 1885), the Royal Niger Company (British, incorporated 1886), the Imperial East Africa Company (British, incorporated 1889), the British South Africa Company (British, incorporated 1889) and so on.
These names of chartered companies are interesting in and of themselves, particularly the way they carry the usual three parts to a corporation’s name: distinctive element, descriptive element, and a legal ending. All colonising corporations had a distinctive element – for instance, in the name British South Africa Company, the word “British” is the distinctive element. The distinctive element clearly bears traces of the paternity of the charter. The word South Africa(n)” is the descriptive element. The “Company” is the legal ending to the name. The legal ending is crucial to the proposition that I am making in this article, because it indicates that chartered companies were in fact legal corporations as opposed to just being mere business registrations or partnerships.
Essentially, the incorporation of a chartered company such as Johan van Riebeeck’s Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) or Cecil John Rhodes’ British South Africa Company (BSAC) was legally and, quite literally, an act of sovereignty. The chartered company derived and owed its legal existence and its powers – and could not be separated – from the sovereign law and the sovereign authority that chartered it. No chartered company, for example, could be chartered by, or derive its charter from, two or more governments or royal families. In a sense, the company could have no existence beyond the limits of the sovereign paternity of the royal family which brought it into life, and which endued it with its assumed functions, responsibilities and powers.
Once incorporated, the legal entity could not be abolished except by its own act or that of the sovereign which gave it being. None of the dozens of the colonising chartered companies and legal persons that plundered Africa for over five hundred years, for instance, could ever be African. By charter, de jure, they always remained intrinsically European. After all, none of the chartering sovereigns ever intended to give up or revoke any or all jurisdiction over their own corporations, created by themselves. Furthermore, charters were special because they had a peculiar characteristic: perpetual effect. The law of perpetual succession granted the incorporated company with near eternal life. Neither change of membership nor transfer of shares, deaths of owners and agents nor bankruptcy, could affect or alter the continuity of the charter. In a sense, the charter always marked the chartists with the purpose of the corporation, through the articles of incorporation. Corporations were and are thought of as people and were allowed to act as people and to have the rights of people. There were legal benefits to this arrangement, such as transferable ownership of assets, credit rating, protection of personal assets, and durability.
At law, any agreement that is enforceable in court is a contract. Charters were voluntary arrangements between the sovereigns and those they sent, were enforceable at law, and were binding legal agreements. There was always an intention to be legally bound by those who were charted, all of whom were competent persons, bound by mutuality of obligation. In fact, all the elements of a contract were present: offer, acceptance, intention to create legal relations, and consideration. Obviously, I place high value on the fact that the colonising chartists truly consented to the charter, a fact which would, today, bind them in a court of law. As far as I can tell, the charter has proper form and is a lawful object. There was no mistake at contracting either, and at no point did the chartists act ultra vires.
A charter was, then, a binding legal instrument, specifically protected by sanctity of contract, which granted and secured a legal right in the context of a specific contractual relationship. Rhodes’ BSAC, for instance, could never be reincorporated as a (domestic) South African company, despite the claims-of-belonging written into its descriptive element (“South Africa”). Rather, the company remained, at law, firmly moored to its statutory and legislative paternity. In the same way, a white person may carry a passport that carries the descriptive element “South African”, but this does not make him or her South African or African. At law he or she is as African as the BSAC, and as Nigerian as the Royal Niger Company (RNC). At no point can the BSAC, the VOC, or the RNC be seen as doing any of the things stipulated in their charters for Africans, without at the same time becoming impostors, or without being accused of fraudulent concealment. It is legally and theoretically impossible for these legal persons to act for Africa or for Africans, as this would entail reincorporation, voiding of contractual purpose, or even a loss of incorporation.
Let us take Rhodes’ BSAC as an example. Were the BSAC to stop slavery (Clause 11 of the BSAC Charter: “The Company shall to the best of its ability discourage and, so far as may be practicable, abolish by degrees, any system of slave trade or domestic servitude in the territories aforesaid”), for instance, there was absolutely no chance that it was doing so de facto for Africans. If the BSAC built roads, railways, telegraphs and harbours (Clause 24, iv, of the BSAC Charter: “To make and maintain roads, railways, telegraphs, harbours, and any other works which may tend to the development or improvement of the territories of the Company”) these roads, railways, telegraphs and harbours were not built de facto for Africans. Rather, every action is being done de jure. That law, however, is – from the point of view of Africans – always void.
In the classic common law text on equity, Christopher St. Germain‘s Dialogus de fundamentis legum Anglie et de conscientia (1815), also known as Doctor and Student, “lands and goods” could only be taken away from their owners in one of two ways: with the owners assent, or by law. In Dialogue 2 (“How Uses of Land First Began & By What Law“, Chapter 22), the Student says to the Doctor: “Uses were reserved by a secondary conclusion of the law of reason in this manner: When the general custom of property, whereby every man knew his own goods from his neighbours, was brought in among the people, it followeth of reason, that such lands and goods as a man had, ought not to bee taken from him but by his assent, or by order of the law.” It is clear that Africans never assented to the theft of their wealth. Their wealth, rather, was taken away by law and at law. That law was common law. That law, however, was a nullity. The charters of colonialism and apartheid were, from the point of view of Africans, always void contracts. At no point is stolen property ever anything other than stolen property, and no statute of limitation, assumed remoteness, or force majeur may justify stolen wealth.
It is legally impossible for a European to build a road, harbour, railway or telegraph for an African. Legally, a European can only build a road, railway, telegraph and harbour for himself, his descendants, other Europeans, or the European sovereigns who sent him out to Africa. This is partly the meaning behind the 1986 makossa hit song from Cameroon, Zamina mina, also known as Zangaléwa, which was sampled by Colombian songstress Shakira for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa (Waka Waka – This Time For Africa). Zangaléwa is a Fang term that roughly translates to “who sent you?” This is the basic question that ought be asked of Whites in Africa: zangaléwa? The answer, of course, is provided in the royal charters.
While Shakira’s song was a worldwide hit, one of the very few class of songs to have garnered over a billion views on YouTube, the broader meaning of zangaléwa was more or less lost in the kitschy catchiness of the song. Shakira’s song de-emphasises the much more radical account of the zangaléwa, partly by emphasising the onomatopoeic “waka waka” in its place, while the original Golden Sounds song firmly centres zangaléwa in its chorus. This question, zangaléwa, cannot and will not go away. Who sent you? Who chartered you? The identity of the sender, as I have indicated, is provided in common law statutes relating to incorporation.
Africans may and did of course use chartered roads, railways, telegraphs and harbours de facto. However, using a road, railway, telegraph and harbour does not confer legal ownership under the Statute of uses or imply trusteeship under trust laws. At any rate, there was not a single provision in any of the charters of the companies or the ‘legal persons’ that colonised Africa that stipulated that apartheid and colonialism could be for Africans. At no time was apartheid ever beneficial to Africans. None of its parts can be severed and saved. This is a peculiarity that will never change.
The zangaléwa interpretation firmly suggests that colonialism and apartheid could only specifically facilitate the theft of African wealth. In other words, Johan van Riebeeck, Cecil John Rhodes, Alfred Milner, Paul Kruger and others will always be criminals. Africa will always be a crime scene – that is, unless and until all stolen wealth is returned to Africans (its only rightful owners under common law). Though Europeans could hold real estate in Africa on the basis of common law charters granted by European sovereigns, the holding of such real estate cannot be recognised by, and is not valid to, Africans. At no point were Africans in a position to prevent the loss of their wealth, to assent to the alteration of European charters, or to change the object of the chartered contract.
Earlier I made reference to Christopher St. Germain‘s Dialogus de fundamentis legum Anglie et de conscientia, were it was noted that “lands and goods” could only be taken away from their owners in one of two ways: with the owners assent, or by law. In that context, it is common cause that Africans and all other colonised peoples never, at any point, assented to the theft of their wealth. Rather, their wealth was taken away de jure, according to the tenets of common law. As I have shown, that law contractually bound whites only, not Africans. For Africans, colonialism and apartheid, in as far as they were binding contracts, were void contracts. These contracts were warped legal fictions that assumed that 1) the African did not exist at law, 2) that wealth in Africa could not be stolen because it had no sovereign owners, and 3) that the continent itself was terra nullius. Terra nullius is framed as empty land in the sense that it is not subject to any sovereignty – without sovereign owners.
Frederic de Martens, an influential 19th century international lawyer, put it this way: “one can only occupy lands that do not belong to anyone or are inhabited by barbarous tribes”. Influential German jurist L.F.L Oppenheim (1858-1919) noted that only the “old Christian States of Western Europe” and the “body of Christian States which grew up outside Western Europe” could legally exercise sovereignty. Only these states, he reasoned, positively belonged to a Family of Nations, and only these States had access to the Law of Nations. According to Oppenheim, therefore, “occupation can only take place by and for a State; it must be State act, that is, it must be performed in the service of a State, or it must be acknowledged by a State after its performance”. The business of colonialism and apartheid was, thus, never a sole proprietorship. It was always charted by corporations and governments.
These facts, apart from clarifying the permanent, contractual illegality of European settlement in Africa, are crucial in settling the debate about whether or not Africa and Africans benefited anything from colonialism, or whether the likes of van Riebeeck, Rhodes, Kruger and others did some good works. The answer, every time, is an unequivocal no. The simple reason is that colonialism and apartheid are true zero-sum games. Walter Rodney has referred to them using the metaphor of a “one-armed bandit”. Nothing good can ever come out of colonialism or apartheid. Apartheid is a void contract. It is not void only in parts, but in toto.
In November 2008, then South African High Court Judge, Nigel Willis, granted an order for the eviction of a group of 62 poor families, described as “unlawful occupiers” of Angus Mansions, from a block of flats in the Johannesburg Central Business District. The total number of people who were to be evicted was approximately 300. When the evicted people appealed directly to the Constitutional Court, the court overruled Willis in a unanimous judgment. The judgment that overrules Willis’ eviction order is an interesting one, chiefly because of what it conceals. The Constitutional Court judgment conceals the fact that it basically concurs with the principle of eviction, provided that such eviction was not arbitrary and did not cause irreparable harm. Arbitrary eviction and irreparable harm are framed as constitutional matters, following Section 26(3) of the Constitution which states that “[n]o one may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances. No legislation may permit arbitrary eviction.” Section 28(3) of the constitution therefore secures stolen wealth in other ways, by appearing to privilege and justify certain kinds of harms. Most stolen wealth, it will be seen, is justified by being located as legal, non-arbitrary and reparable. What is most salient about the Willis case is that it is a re-interpretation, some one hundred and fourteen years later, of Rhodes’ Glen Grey Act.
The Glen Grey Act was part of Rhodes’ ‘native’ agenda, made possible after he, as Cape Prime Minister, added the portfolio of Minister of Native Affairs to his duties. Rhodes used the small district in the Eastern Cape called Glen Grey as a purposive sample, one which became the formula for the final act of theft of African property under the pretext of common law, through the enshrining of laws such as the Natives Land Act (1913), (the Land Apportionment Act  and the Land Tenure Act  in Southern Rhodesia), the Group Areas Act (1950), and so on. Indeed, the form of apartheid that arose in 1948 was itself partly underwritten by Rhodes. ‘My idea,’ Rhodes said, ‘is that the natives should be in native reserves, and not mixed up with whites at all.’ Indeed, Bantustans, Bantu education, petty apartheid, reserves, townships and, ultimately, the current corruption-driven form of local government, would arise in part as a direct legal result of Rhodes’ formulaic experimentation in Glen Grey. Historical record indicates that Rhodes would use Glen Grey as the ultimate prototyping model for managing the so-called “Native Question” – the “Native Question” being a dark euphemism of strategies for enshrining, within common law, ways, models and methods of stealing African wealth. What the historical record does not show is how the Rhodes’ model persists to this day.
Some 8,000 Thembu families and a few white settlers and missionaries lived in the overcrowded and overgrazed Glen Grey. The demographic of this district presented an opportunity for Rhodes. Glen Grey was a prime example of how Blacks easily outnumbered Whites in Africa. In this regard, the district represented a microcosm of the basic problem of white property rights in Africa, particularly linked to swart gevaar. The basic problem was: how was stolen property to stay stolen? Interestingly, this is still the basic problem of property rights in Africa and elsewhere in Asia, South America and other places where land, property and wealth was stolen by Europeans and their networks of local agents. Whites, as per their charters, had always desired African property for converting to their own use, but needed a pretext to take it and a law to justify keeping it.
The background to the Glen Grey Act arises out of a government commission which in 1893 recommended the conversion of land in the Glen Grey district from communal tenure to individual ownership. The commission suggested that each black family should be allocated plots of fifty-five morgen, with “safeguards” put in place, ostensibly to prevent Whites from acquiring new freeholds in the district. Whites would be prohibited from buying land inside Glen Grey, since the district was to serve strictly as a ‘native reserve’. The notion of “new freeholds”, seen for what it is, is a particularly sinister one. It legalises, in one fell stroke, all the prior theft of African land (i.e. all the “old” freeholds). Furthermore, prohibiting whites from acquiring new freeholds in this part of the Eastern Cape implies that they were effectively freed to hold “new freeholds” elsewhere. Basically, Rhodes was devising a system of legally encircling Africans inside four-morgen concentration camps of poverty, where Whites were ‘prevented’ from owning land. This ‘reserve’ provision left all the land outside the camps open to land grab. Basically, African ‘reserves’ helped reserve all land outside the reserves for Whites. This is what has been happening in South Africa from 1894 to this day.
The Glen Grey formula constructed two worlds, one inside-Glen-Grey and another outside-Glen-Grey. Inside-Glen-Grey was were Africans were to be cooped up and experimented on, in particular with regards to stimulating behaviour change. Outside-Glen-Grey was the world of Whiteness and White capital were Africans needed vetting, passes and permissions to enter. Interestingly, most of the provisions of National Party apartheid from 1948 utilised and consolidated, almost wholesale, Rhodes’ inside-Glen-Grey and outside-Glen-Grey formula. The Group Areas Act, for instance, is classic inside-Glen-Grey and outside-Glen-Grey. A more lasting heritage of this Rhodesian formula is how it flips the world upside down: Africans venturing outside-Glen-Grey without passes and permission are transformed into thieves and trespassers. Whites, on the other hand, are the legal owners of most of the land outside-Glen-Grey, with full recourse to eviction law should Africans trespass or squat on White property.
Rhodes took the recommendations of the government commission of 1893 and out of them formulated ‘a Native Bill for Africa’ which he presented to the Cape parliament, proposing four-morgen “farms” inside-Glen-Grey, owned on an individual basis by Africans who would be prohibited from selling or subdividing them. The four-morgen plots for Africans would, peculiarly, pass intact to eldest sons only, in such a way that younger sons would effectively be compelled to leave Glen Grey and seek work outside-Glen-Grey, which is to say on white farms and mines. It is notable that outside-Glen-Grey, in the private worlds of Whites, no prohibition to sell or subdivide farms applied. Furthermore, there was no limit to the land whites could hold outside-Glen-Grey. Rhodes introduced a labour tax of ten shillings a head as a “stimulus to labour”, to combat African “habits” of laziness and “loafing” (The labour tax proposals were eventually left out of the bill that was passed, with very few changes, in 1894). For Rhodes it was absolutely necessary to stimulate specific kinds of behaviour change amongst Africans. “It must be brought home to them that in future nine-tenths of them will have to spend their lives in manual labour, and the sooner that is brought home to them the better,” he said.
To return to Judge Willis. Willis’ views on property rights in South Africa are lifted right out of Rhodes’ Glen Grey book, particularly the way Willis considers property rights through the inside-Glen-Grey and outside-Glen-Grey dichotomy. Willis emphasises, in particular, the necessity for eviction. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, Africans have started to blur the dichotomy that separates inside-Glen-Grey and outside-Glen-Grey. In Judge Willis’ view, people from inside-Glen-Grey who take over a property outside-Glen-Grey, and who refuse to leave, are to be treated in one way and one way only: they are to be evicted. For Willis, like Rhodes, it is Africans who are thieves and trespassers. On the other hand, property owners, who are mostly White and white-owned corporations, trusts and banks, are the grievously wronged.
Willis is of the view that the option of eviction should be a default: open to all property owners (i.e. mostly to White people), so as to prevent trusts and banks which finance properties from pondering “the security of a mortgage bond – hitherto considered ‘as good as gold’ provided there was a comfortable positive margin between the value of the property and the amount lent.” The main suggestion is that banks may stop lending in the way they do now if stolen property does not remain in the hands of those who stole it. The only way to keep the banks happy is to consolidate the inside-Glen-Grey and outside-Glen-Grey dichotomy. The way to do this is through empowering property owners through eviction.
In Willis’ world – a world which is exclusively lived outside-Glen-Grey – eviction would facilitate the herding of poor people back inside-Glen-Grey, where low-cost rental accommodation (read Rhodes’ four-morgen concentration camps) would be made available to them. Basically, evicting poor people, keeping poor people poor, and taking money from poor people to give to the rich, is seen as necessary not just for securing stolen property but also so as not to spook the banks, who may be forced to wreck the South African economy by, among other things, withholding credit and lending.
There are at least three interpretations/alternatives/readings that can be reached from this zangaléwa account of Whiteness in Africa. The first reading is that Whites cannot ever become African, or even own land in Africa. Basically, there is no legal basis for a White person having fee simple or freehold rights in Africa. Whites can, however, lease African land or be permitted to do business in Africa on the basis of franchise or license. Colonialism was one such franchise (or licence to loot), based on conquering, the exercise of might and the force of arms, and collection of war booty (another name for looting). However, such franchises are limited and should legally expire with the end of colonialism or apartheid. Stealing African land does not make the thief African.
Land theft traditions were pioneered by the VOC, symbolised by van Riebeeck’s wild almond fence, planted to keep the Khoi out of their grazing lands. These traditions were, however, refined by voortrekkers and their descendants in the 19th century. One such voortrekker was Paul Kruger. Though famously known for being a major figure in the Anglo-Boer war, Kruger was also many other things. He was, for instance, a major land owner. Like most Boers at the time, Kruger benefited from particular “Boer traditions” of stealing African land. According to one tradition, Boer boys, on reaching the age of sixteen, were entitled to choose two 6,000-acre farms, one for grazing and another for growing crops.
Another famous “tradition” was war booty. Kruger’s vast landholdings were war-gotten gains. The historical record shows that Kruger took active part in at least nine (9) major war booty “campaigns” against African chiefdoms. His active participation in land theft earned him major honours, particularly his rise to the rank of Transvaal’s commandant general, a role from which he “retired” in 1873. This war-for-land strategy is starkly illustrated in one example. Kruger participated in the Potgieter “expedition” against Mzilikazi, whom they managed to force out of the Magaliesberg area. With Mzilikazi forced out, Kruger’s family settled in Magaliesberg. The chasing out of Mzilikazi and the Krugers’ settlement in the area just vacated by the vanquished was more than a fateful coincidence.
To go back to the earlier point, permission for a foreign corporation, by way of an enabling act or by might or violence or theft or whatever, to hold real estate does not convert that foreign corporation into a local or domestic corporation. I do not expect that permitting me, a Zimbabwean, to reside in South Africa, makes me South African. I am still an alien individual. Whites may extend their webs of business and industry into Africa, start businesses in Africa, or lease businesses, buildings, and entities that are already built, carrying on their business on the continent as they like, but this will never make them African or make their businesses African corporations.
Whites, because of apartheid, are “permitted” the enjoyment, in Africa and South Africa, all the powers, rights and franchises conferred upon them by five hundred year old European charters, not African ones. Even this enjoyment, however, does not make Whites African. While the chartered corporation may not be ousted from its legal franchises, and may even move them back and forth by express provision of the articles of incorporation, it may still be ousted from Africa by virtue of not being African.
The fact that everything that Whites had acquired in the way of property by way of colonisation and theft remained with them after 1994 should neither mean that the origin of White Wealth is forgotten, or that stolen wealth must not be returned. Keeping the proceeds of stolen wealth does not mean that keepers of stolen wealth have been genuinely forgiven of this act, that they have been freed from the obligation to return the proceeds of theft, or that they have become de facto Africans. They are still subject to the question: zangaléwa? Strictly speaking, it would not be lawful to forgive whites, or to allow them to claim to be Africans. It may, of course, be moral or ethical to do so. It may, indeed, be politically expedient. At law, however, there is no provision for forgiveness of stolen wealth that I could find.
As some of the maxims of equity remind us, it is not legal to suffer wrongs without a remedy, justice must not be done by halves, and statutes will not be allowed to be used as cloaks for fraud.
Where whites (reluctantly) agree to obey and be governed by post-independent African governments, even helping to preserve the democratic laws and constitutions of the land, they are simply complying with statutes requiring them to obey and not break laws. They do not thereby become Africans. It is not rule-following that confers Africanness, or rule-breaking that deprives one of Africanness. Only Africans can be de facto Africans. Whites, on the other hand, can only be de jure “Africans”.
The second alternative is a peculiar one: that zangaléwa Whites be reincorporated and re-chartered (by Africans) as Africans, which entails that Whites split themselves into double, federated corporations, blending and belonging both to Europe and Africa. Most whites prefer and (in fact) operate within this ‘doubleness’. In the absence of any statutory provision that prevents Whites from being “double”, it is their (negative) right to belong where they want.
However, this double splitting and quasi-identity of Whites has so far dismally failed to heal wounds and scars of the past in Africa, largely because of the soutpiel racism and superiority of most whites who still maintain one leg in Africa and another in Europe.
Many “South African” Whites are “private” Africans (that is, they are Africans by putative choice, because they say so and believe so, and because they want to be so, when they want to be so), while they also hold European, American or Australian passports. The “should-I-stay-or-should-I-go” syndrome, essentially a split allegiance, of many whites compromises their genuine belonging to Africa. When in Europe, they look like, and are liable to be treated as, Europeans.
I have been surprised, when I have traveled to Europe with some of my White South African colleagues, that they often join a different immigration queue to the one I join. Because of this duality and liminality, I believe, these colleagues are neither there nor here. It is never clear what sort of legal person they are, since it is not clear which part (Africa or Europe) reincorporates and completes them. Always anomalous, they are everywhere and nowhere. The condition of federated Whiteness is neither old nor new. In neither place are “double Whites” foreigners. At no point are they ever kwerekweres.
There are cases where one part of such anomalous, composite identities can be legally forfeited and annulled, particularly by populist governments threatened by internal rebellion, as happened with the Robert Mugabe government which prohibited “dual citizenship” in Zimbabwe at the turn of the century (The Zimbabwe Citizenship Act, which came into force on 31st December 1984, amended on 6th July, 2001 and 2003 (Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Act No. 12 of 2003), states that “No adult citizen of Zimbabwe shall be entitled to be a citizen of foreign country”).
The real threat of forfeiture and annulment hangs above all White “Africans” resident on the continent, and virtually determines the nature of their interaction with the postcolonial African state. White identities in Africa are about keeping this threat in check, particularly through invoking democratic constitutionalism which supposedly protects the right to be “double”. In this sense, White participation in African citizenship is, ipso facto, completely selfish. It is so that they can retain their privileged doubleness, their right to be both White and “African”. Recent fragments of odd cases implying entrenched racism at institutions (e.g. the rugby match clashes at the University of the Free State, the incident at the Curro Roodeplaat primary school, and protests for Afrikaans at the University of Pretoria), or implying racist behaviour by individuals (e.g. Kohler Barnard, Penny Sparrow, Chris Hart and Gareth Cliff), are all expressions, essentially, of the privatisation of Africanness.
Remaining European-in-Africa allows Whites, on the one hand, to escape the contagion of Africa, a “godforsaken” and hazard-filled continent (the former White Man’s Grave) cursed to forever wallow in disease and civil war, and, on the other hand, succeeding to and inheriting all the property of the original chartered incorporation of Whiteness. It also allows Whites to enjoy the “exotic” sights, sounds and smells of Africa, the noble savages and the beat of the tom-toms, while remaining within the network of London, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Brussels, and so on. Finally, remaining (with one leg) in Europe protects whites from tort committed during centuries of plunder. Jurisdiction over chartered Whites, for purpose of suit, is not possible in the ordinary way, particularly if the matter is to do with property rights and return of stolen wealth and land.
The “double” Whiteness alternative lies at the heart of Desmond Tutu’s promotion of the so-called Rainbow Nation, the African National Congress’s (ANC) Freedom Charter, and at the heart of most claims of so-called globalisation and the global village. It is claimed that we are all free and equal now, that we should ideally be colour-blind, that we should reconcile and forgive past crimes and wrongs in the interests of “nation-building” and progress, and finally that we are now residents of a borderless world, where identities slip and overlap, and financial transactions and all manner of social discourses and networks travel with the speed of light back and forth across the world.
There is, however, every reason to be deeply skeptical of the Tutuist position, the Freedom Chartist position, and with so-called globalisation. The problem is that the Tutuist “Rainbow”, the ANC’s Freedom Charter, and monopoly capital’s globalisation agenda are all essentially European charters. These are founded and genetically anchored in charters of Whiteness, themselves suffused with the claims of imperialism (in a hierarchy of beings Whites are commonly supposed to eat first, from a High Table, and everyone else eats afterwards, feeding on crumbs. If they are not feeding on scraps, non-Whites are being usefully experimented on) Africa and oppression of Others, on the one hand, and the categorical refusal to return wealth stolen from Africans.
It is no coincidence, in my view, that this double Whiteness is the target of youth rebellions such as #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall. Young black South Africans are sick and tired of White hypocrisy, of federated Whites who are African or European when it is convenient, and of Whites who are always seeming to eat their cake while still having it.
Rightly or wrongly, double Whiteness is also viewed with varying degrees of suspicion by postcolonial governments, because of the ever-present threat of treason, sabotage, the “third force” and Trojan horse agendas. Are they part-Africans, part-Europeans, or agents? To what sort of liability must they be subjected? “Double” Whiteness tends towards multiplication, whereas these governments tend towards centralisation, consolidation and despotism. Conflict is inevitable.
The third and last (and most radical) alternative is that Whites may only become Africans by legally ceasing to be White. That is, they would have to revoke, give up and abandon, by their own act, their (chartered) Whiteness. Of the three, this is certainly the most difficult choice for Whites. Private Africanness is not enough. Whites must lose their corporate, chartered existence. The New “White” African must be a wholly new legal person, freed from the VOC, the BSAC charter, the Freedom Charter and the Rainbow Nation.
It must be noted that even Desmond Tutu has owned up to some regrets. This is what he says in 2014 “(T)oday, as we reflect on the (TRC) commission’s contribution to re-weaving the fabric of our society, we do so against a backdrop of … a hopelessly inequitable country in which most of the rich have hung on to their wealth, while the ‘freedom dividend’ for most of the poor has been to continue surviving on scraps” (Emphasis added). This state of affairs Tutu refers to as “unfinished business”. “By ‘unfinished business’, he says, “I refer specifically to the fact that the level of reparation recommended by the commission was not enacted; the proposal on a once-off wealth tax as a mechanism to effect the transfer of resources was ignored, and those who were declined amnesty were not prosecuted”.
In this last account, it appears that Whites cannot be African when they want or when it suits them. They cannot, unfortunately, continue to be zangaléwa. A new Afro-White Being (different, from say, the “white tribe” claims of an Afrikaner) must emerge, a wholly different, organic individual who must be a creature of a New African Charter. He or she must have none of the attributes of Johan van Riebeeck, Paul Kruger, Alfred Milner or Cecil John Rhodes, or continue to enjoy the privileges that being a relation of these genocidal land and wealth robbers confers. In this last account, a tort is a tort, and it must be called so and sued so. Because charters, like all contracts, were a voluntary obligation, I am of the view that it is not enough to just pay out compensation for a tort or restitution to reverse stolen wealth. However it is effected, a New Afro Charter demands first and foremost the return of stolen land and wealth and, of course, the complete revocation of Whiteness. To be sure, the original White Charter itself will not be at liberty to issue its own revocation, or give up stolen real estate and freeholds without a fight or without destruction. After all, there is no reward for the White Charter in revoking or giving up jurisdiction over its own corporation(s), created by itself.
BY WAY OF POSTSCRIPT
I asked a friend of mine, a lawyer and a scholar, to read the draft form of this post and give me her view of my interpretation of the law. I’m not a lawyer and I was not sure if my interpretation of common law statutes relating to incorporation and “property” contained the kind of sufficient rigour demanded by professionals authorised to practice law. My lawyer friend, a “White South African”, had this to say:
I managed to take a quick look at it. Legally, I simply do not know what the exact status of those early companies such as the VOC were but I know many refer to them as the world’s first multinational companies. I disagree with your argument very strongly. Many whites have to toiled in this land for centuries, love it and know no other home. Everyone cannot be painted with this broad and brutal brush.
While my friend had every right to disagree strongly with my argument, she appears to have missed the whole point of the piece. The point is: zangaléwa. While I am not too certain about the characteristic of being ‘brutal’, zangaléwa is indeed a broad brush applicator. On this aspect of broad-brushing, my friend was right. However, I still feel that she was – I assumed deliberately – not engaging with the question. This same dodging of the question appears in one blog comment, which opines that:
I find your article narrowminded by attempting to look at africans in a duchotomy (sic) of black and white. What about the asians, arabs, (sic) mixed race? In an emerging multicultural society conprising (sic) of myriad identities and the notion of inclusiveness your article leaves behind a sour taste of limited critique tinged with racism.
I make six brief points in response to the two comments:
Firstly, zangaléwa is not a personal question. The question about the fate of Whiteness in Africa is not personal. It is, rather, legal. Zangaléwa refers to all Whites, regardless of who they are, what they did, where from Europe they came from, or where in African they were born.
I do count among my friends many Whites, some of who I really care about, but I will still ask them: zangaléwa? I will still ask them to think seriously about their legal status in Africa. This is never about them as individuals. This is not about friendship. This is about a quality called truth. As point three below suggests, it is every African’s inalienable legal right to ask Whites in Africa: who sent you?
Lest my proposition be misconstrued: I am not saying that Whites cannot be African. I cannot know that. I am certain that they can be African, in other ways. All I am saying, however, is that legally Whites cannot be African.
Secondly, zangaléwa is always already a legitimate question. It is not dependent on whether or not one loves Whites or is friendly to them. Simply put: the question must be posed.
Thirdly, the broad question of zangaléwa is the responsibility of every African. To not pose the question would be irresponsible.
Fourthly, zangaléwa is not a quantitative question. It is not a question of many, some, or most Whites. Rather, zangaléwa is a question that is directed at all Whites, in spite of and regardless of the amount of toil expended in Africa, centuries they have lived in Africa, their love of Africa, or claims about Africa as their home.
Fifth, zangaléwa is a question that is directed at all Whites, precisely because of the amount of toil expended in Africa, centuries they have lived in Africa, their love of Africa, and claims about Africa as their home.
Sixth, the zangaléwa account of Whiteness in Africa firmly and categorically places the “many Whites” who toiled in Africa, love Africa, and call Africa home in the class of “doubled” White persons.
Finally, I believe that Coloureds, Asians, and other non-whites – who were also objects and victims of white charters – cannot conceivably be asked zangalewa. They, like Africans, were not sent to Africa.
I hold the view that until all Whites living in Africa, and all whites who make their profits from Africa, engage sincerely and properly with zangaléwa, not only will so-called decolonisation remain an illusion, but the future of our children and their children’s children will remain postponed. There will be no choice, then, but to act in such a way that Rhodes falls, that fees fall and that White charters fall.
Until European/White charters are revoked and replaced by New African Charters, driven by black youths, Africa shall not know peace, and Whites shall remain, for the foreseeable future, corporate criminals on the continent.
This is the real meaning of movements such as #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall: the beginning of the end of the White Charter. These movements are direct calls for the interminable rise of New African charters everywhere, and for the utter falling and ending of the genocidal, imperialistic White Charter that began with the Peace of Westphalia. The youth movements are creating a lasting, just New African Charter. Only in this way can their children, and their children’s children, be able to live the lives of full human beings. From where I stand, at the heart of Johannesburg, the fight, more or less, is just starting.