Mngxitama: Time to rethink the root causes of violence

 Violence against women and children shows very little sign of abating, despite massive investment in awareness programmes. What is needed is a radical rethink of how we understand the problem.

Liberal feminism is no longer a perspective but an ideology that conceals more than it reveals. It can't account for the generalised violence within the black community. The focus on violence against women conceals the anatomy of the scourge.

Steve Biko took a structural perspective when he tried to make sense of this violence: "Township life alone makes it a miracle for anyone to live up to adulthood. There are situations of absolute want, in which black will kill black to be able to survive. This is the basis for vandalism, murder, rape and plunder that goes on while the real source of evil – white society – is sun-tanning on exclusive beaches or relaxing in their bourgeois homes."

What needs to be made obvious is the unbroken link between privileged lives and the wretched existence in township and squatter camps. The black ghetto is oversaturated with violence.

The extraordinary violence of the alienated is a case of dispossession turning people against themselves. In South Africa, discourses about gender-based violence do not make sense of the stubborn refusal of violence to go away. The solution is seen as better policing, turning a question of social justice into a criminal issue.

Last year, South Africa experienced about 16000 murders, which places our society about four and half times above the global average. The black township is a morgue and a factory of death. How can we hope to extricate a woman, child or a lesbian or gay person from this environment and make sense of this violence?

There are prejudices, beliefs and practices that present themselves opportunistically in choosing, at any particular moment, who will be the public face of victimhood. But all are marked by the same sign of violence: it's just a matter of when it will be your turn.

The empty masculinities of subjugated black men, imbued with patriarchal beliefs, play no small role in this violence. But we have to re-cognise that this patriarchy kills both women and men, and is principally generated by an environment inimical to peaceful existence.

No amount of preaching, symbolic protest or building of prisons is going to help to end this violence. Shifting the blame to a decline in family values is based on a fallacious assumption that we can have functional families in a dysfunctional society. It's time to rethink all we know.

Andile Mngxitama will present a paper on this issue at a seminar at the Children's Memorial Institute, 13 Joubert Street, Braamfontein, on December 2, starting at 9am

Comment Author
Guest Author

Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour

Workers’ R60m ‘lost’ in banks scam

An asset manager, VBS Mutual Bank and a Namibian bank have put the retirement funds of 26 000 municipal workers in South Africa at risk

‘Judge President Hlophe tried to influence allocation of judges to...

Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath accuses Hlophe of attempting to influence her to allocate the case to judges he perceived as ‘favourably disposed’ to former president Jacob Zuma

SAA grounds flights due to low demand

SAA is working to accommodate customers on its sister airlines after it cancelled flights due to low demand

Press Releases

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.