It’s everywhere at the moment – in the papers, on the news and of course all over social media. Those four words that have white South Africans reaching for their passports quicker than the news that Mumford and Sons are going to be playing a concert up north:
‘Land Expropriation Without Compensation’
But what do those four words mean? No-one seems to know. Or to put it more accurately, no-one seems to have the same response for the same set of words. But if you are white and someone dares to ask for your opinion on your Facebook page, there are fortunately a couple of quick and easy go-to’s that have been tried and tested out for you. The top two I’ve seen are:
1. “We’re going to become another Zimbabwe.”
To be fair the person quoting that doesn’t actually have any idea what things are like in Zimbabwe at the moment. [In fact there’s a good chance they think Robert Mugabe is still president]. But they have a stock understanding somewhere in the backs of their minds that in prehistoric language these terms would probably come across as “Zimbabwe bad, South Africa good.”
So when in doubt, drop Zimbabwe into the conversation. Because everyone knows what we mean, right? Zimbabwe!
2. “But I worked hard for what I have.”
I’m not making this stuff up. This one has already appeared on my Facebook wall in a conversation where someone foolishly asked me to discuss “Land expropriation without compensation” and managed to include the phrase “blood, sweat and tears” to describe the process of how hard they worked for the things they have.
This is a scrap leftover from the ‘white privilege’ debate to be honest. What kind of jobs are these people doing that cause all three of those liquids to flow anyway? Get yourself a desk job, son. I’m genuinely worried about you. So the idea is that someone is going to arrive and take all your things and give them to someone else and you’re going to get nothing [except the bonus of still needing to pay off your mortgage costs if my one friend is correct “cos I doubt they are going to take that on!”]
So many possibilities and in general so much confusion as to what ‘Land Expropriation Without Compensation’ actually means. But from me as a white person who really doesn’t know much about this whole topic of conversation at all, there is one definite piece of knowledge I do have that I can share with you.
This is an opportunity for you as a white person to close your mouth. To stick your hands into half-arm peppermint-hued Downtown Abbey nobility gloves if that will keep your fingers away from the keyboard. To do some research, to do a lot of reading and listening and to simply get out of the way [no, not leave the country!] and take this beautiful educational opportunity that has been presented to you, to us.
A good way to do this is to subscribe to some online newspapers that tend to talk openly and honestly about the issues. But another way is to find a social media group that is specifically focused on the topic and let that be an institution of tutelage for you as you tread the murky waters of democracy at work.
However, as a final warning, I should add that you should be very particular about which group you join. As I was trying to do my research on this topic I had a few speed bumps along the way.
Joining ‘Lane expropriation without compensation’ I discovered a group of frustrated taxi drivers who felt like someone was going to come and grab their vehicles and force them to drive in the slow lanes and not on the shoulders of main thoroughfares.
Signing up to ‘LAN expropriation without compensation’ I found a selection of disgruntled DOTA players who were waiting for anonymous members to hack into their games and exchange their level 11 Juggernaut character with a Jar Jar Binks replica.
Lastly, diving into ‘Lamb expropriation without compensation’ I was confronted by an angry mob of vegans and I don’t really feel up to talking about it right now. Make sure of your spelling, people.
So, ‘Land Expropriation without compensation’? Best way forward would be to do some work and engage and wait and see with the rest of us, trusting that with every positive move we take the rainbow inches one step closer to being our reality.