"You Africans, please listen to me as Africans
And you non-Africans, listen to me with open mind" - Fela Kuti
OK right, the festive madness is over and I came back to the office wearing is’phandla. Yes, the goat skin bracelet. And please do not touch me on is’phandla sami. Consider then, this missive as a diplomatic note if you like.
Like those that came before me, I am a migrant labourer. For me, the festive season is defined by the trip home to KZN to celebrate another year of surviving in the world of white supremacy. At home, I can truly be myself. I walk on the soil that my ancestors proudly walked on, tilled and successfully made a living on… or what remains of it. For this I am grateful, and I express it by slaughtering an animal as an offering to thank my ancestors, or to commune with them, or to plead with them to intercede with the almighty on my behalf, or to ask them to continue to help me survive the world of white supremacy and privilege, or for many other reasons.
I wear is’phandla to proclaim who I am and where I come from. It reminds me that this is Africa. It represents a piece of Africanism in the world of white cultural domination that is urban South Africa. This small piece of skin represents the deepest connection I have with my ancestors, my land, my people and the blood that has been spilled by colonialists who forced black people to make a living far away from our families through the system of migrant labour.
Do not dare ask me to remove it because it’s unsightly and it makes you uncomfortable. Frankly I couldn’t give a damn how it makes you feel. I will not remove it.
I will only cover is’phandla if I work in the food preparation industry and even then only until my shift ends.
And while you’re at it, stop staring at is’phandla sami. I face white scrutiny daily; I have just about had enough.