Labeling Opponents of Decolonisation ‘White Supremacists’ Amounts to Little More Than Kafkatrapping

UKZN library, victim of decolonisation.

In his recent piece on The Daily Vox entitled “Those Who Are Against Decolonisation Are White Supremacists” Luke Waltham, whose disclaimer says that he is a social justice writer, rejects the need for a comprehensive, respectful and plural views particularly on a topic such as decolonisation. There appears not even a possibility of debate and facts. And if it would be possible for individuals to defend the debate without being labelled as white supremacists, even more conspicuous his piece denies the particularities of black people who may not share his views.

But if indeed we are to have a frank discussion, I believe our ideas should be geared towards persuasion, contestation and the rehabilitation of freedoms. Of a misinformed conviction, the intimated author’s article commits what novel The Trial later conceives as ‘Kafkatrapping.’

At The Daily Bell Wendy McElroy briefly explains it as follows: “Kafkatrapping twits reason and truth into self-parodies that serve victimhood ideologues who wish to avoid evidence and reasoned arguments upon which truth rests”, and this among other things, applies a single standard to everyone, which the author does par excellence. A true believer in kafkatrapping becomes increasingly isolated from people who are seen as “the enemy” because they disagree; the true believer becomes increasingly unable to even communicate with or have empathy for a broad spectrum of people. He makes the following assumptions:

“This superiority argument can be seen as racist and dehumanising towards black Africans…”

As an applied sciences sophomore in my high school days, I never felt offended nor dehumanised learning about Isaac Newton. He, like many physicists, put forward theories that could probably be proven otherwise with the evolution of time, respectfully his geographical ancestry or race mattered less to me. As a learner, this was important for my intellectual growth and not for the attrition of my black identity. And it is for the former that some of my previous classmates pursued the engineering discipline after school.

Instead, we need to create an inclusive, open system that composes of African ideas, African education and African knowledges.”

Waltham probably attempts to remind us to do less with Eurocentric curricula but dares not to define what “African ideas” mean, conveniently because him and proponents do not even agree what decolonisation should be about. Some, such as Chumani Maxwele in an interview with Chris Barron on the Sunday Times believe: “I don’t have to justify anything to a white male or a white institution. Nothing whatsoever”. But, interestingly, China has been involved in building campuses along with the European and US partners in order to increase access that the decolonialists want to destroy.

It therefore comes as no surprise that Waltham’s ambitious guilt-quenching would see it fit to sucker decolonisation dissidents into the “white supremacy” box yet never bothered to ask black people, like me, who share different views on the subject matter.

Perhaps all is met with goodwill, but we have here a cri de couer which is misguided and illustrates why the silencing of views makes for bad activism.

It is difficult to spot the differences between Waltham and the ignorant individuals he seeks to admonish because to him giving in to his view is all that matters, even if it is at the expense of debate and accuracy. What should matter is not who is right but what is right. With that said, his piece is the antithesis of what he wants to achieve – “opportunity to learn crucial, vital lessons and ideas”.

The premises of the decolonisation campaign is that of self-styled social justice activists, politically-correct ideologues and racial identitarians who believe that transformation can only ever be secured if dissenting voices are silenced. To make transformation work, however, we must sit down with those we differ, make rational arguments, and change their minds, lest we are called supremacists.