“Build your own schools,” yells a white man to a group of Economic Freedom Fighters who were protesting outside a formerly “white-owned” in one of Pretoria’s suburbs.
I watched in dismay as, at one end of the road, I saw white people aggressively block the street, and at the other end of the road were the EFF members, singing, ready to hand over a memorandum to the Principal of the school. In the middle were the police officers trying ineffectually to contain the angry white people, who, despite orders to move and disperse, exercised their white privilege and simply refused. They did not have the authority to protest, but I guess their whiteness gave them the right to protest.
There was no water cannons used, no tear gas, no sign of aggression from the police officers to compel the white people to move.
As the video played out, I watched with bated breath for police officers to “flex their muscles,” as they do with black and brown protestors. Any moment now, teargas would be thrown into the illegal gathering, and mayhem would ensue.
Nothing happened except that the police officers pandered to racists by blocking the road and holding back the crowd as if they were nothing more than over-eager teen girls at a Justin Bieber concert. There were rude gestures, racist remarks and loads of threatening stances towards the black people, but it was brushed off as they peacefully handed over their memorandum to the Principal, and as soon as he acknowledged receipt of it by signing, the crowd erupted into anger, and they started shouting, “build your own schools!”
My sombre mood lifted when I heard that and thought, ” but they did.” “They built that school!”
They built the school, constructed the roads that lead to the school-erected the fence to offer security to the school children and staff- built the houses in that suburb and others- built the parks the children play at-the fields they play soccer or rugby on, and the swimming pools the children have fun in
Basically, those same people that the angry, entitled mob were insulting and jeering should be building their own schools and cities as they did in Orania or like the Amish do in the States. No black or brown people should be constructing their schools because if there is, then they have no legitimate claim to shout “build your schools.” Technically, that’s wrong! Factually, thinking they built those schools is wrong! And we all know how racists love to “muddy the waters” and boast about how “hard they work.”
So, all black and brown people need to look around them and celebrate the infrastructure they had a hand in building- that their forefathers died constructing.
It’s their sweat, blood and tears in every brick laid and every bit of concrete mixed and poured.
Don’t let any racist make you feel unwelcome anywhere in this world, not when our ancestors sacrificed their lives doing this. Ingredients for a cake doesn’t automatically bake themselves. There are hard work and effort that’s required to bake the cake. The same applies to schools, suburbs, factories, e.t.c; the building materials don’t magically get together like little elves at night and voila; in the morning, it’s completed.
The next time some racist tells us to build our own schools, tell them we did!
We built the city!