"If we want to make any progress at all, we have to squeeze the slave out of us"- Martin Luther King
A young black man, once fancied as a potential instigator of positive change and balance in his community and the private sector, is today busy subjecting himself to humiliation by accepting token positions which he is very aware that they are plain window dressing and detrimental to the whole idea of a developed black society. In Medieval Africa men were deservedly perceived to be heads of families, chiefdoms and tribes due to their unquestionable foresight, vision and wisdom. However such is questionable if modern young black men. Questions are being asked about their competence, their willingness to be responsible and about if, even by a long shot they qualify to receive the buck from their fathers. If somebody's conduct does not reflect responsibility it looks unsafe to hand them the fragile baton, since the next thing they do might be to drop it, only to lose a good run started by their forefathers many generations ago, often at greath human sacrifice.
Most of the young black men who accept token positions are being misled by a malignant tumor of selfishness and shortsighted thinking. For them, as long as they are being made part of the face of a changing South Africa they are content and do not mind the damage their callous conduct is causing to the whole Affirmative Action initiative of government and some progressive previously all-white businesses. They think with their stomachs, which is exactly what the racists want them to.
If calls for self-introspection when a young black man doesn't find fault with being a "part of the face" of an institution. The question they need to ask themselves repeatedly is, who is also part of that face? The young white man whose father was a liberal and marched with the blacks to guarantee that the police didn't use teargas, the coloured woman whose mother was in exile advocating for sanctions and the Indian woman whose father was a trade unionist and did time on Robben Island. The rest are still blanke Broenderbonders who make it a point to mention at every strategic planning session at the Kruger National Park that National Sorghum Breweries (NSB) and Dr Mohale Mahanyele are the best examples of where (white) business would be if the body (not the face) was allowed to be black.
For the young black man accepting such positions makes it difficult for government to audit the success of Affirmative Action since everywhere one looks is a young black man who it is not even known that he doesn't wield the smallest amount of power. The only moments they are allowed to shine is on SABC 3's News at 10 interview with Morafe Tabane or Moneyweb with Alec Hogg whereby their mandate is to create an impression that the business sector is opening up to young black men with skills and a willingness to work. It hurts when that man knows only too well that such is not such but continues to lie to Ms Tabane or Mr Hogg about how his consortium's acquisition of 30% of the assets of a traditionally all-white company means that more black people are better positioned to take over the economy of the country. If only he goes ahead and emphasises that in his six minutes of fame without mentioning that his consortium obtained a loan from a white bank to acquire the stake, of which the same bank wouldn't have authorised the facility to them if they wanted it as capital for their own venture other than to partner with a white company, he has done more damage to the prospects of his fellows to advance than Dr Hendriek Verwoed ever did to black education in many years. The equation simply implies that it is the white majority shareholders that guaranteed the loan and not the business expertise of the young black men in the consortium. There should be an act against such lies. The fact that promissory notes can only be guaranteed by whites should be legislated against.
In the media industry there are more young black Features editors who have no power to make a decision as simple as whether an article will be used in the upcoming issue or not. They have to first run it through a shadowy closeted figure (not the editor) who is the real power, and later report to a fellow darkie that, "we don't think we can use it". Who is we? Interesting enough is that some white guy in the same position will go through the same piece and report, "I don't think it suits our present editorial needs". Precise and satisfactory. Why can't darkies be allowed to be as assertive?
Admittedly the temptation is huge for young black men to sell out. Everyone who's been poor for long can easily fall for the temptation that money brings. Sometimes they get given positions because they can not adjust to modern realities as is the case in the advertising industry. Advertising honcho Happy Ntshingila once said in an article in the now defunct Tribute magazine about racial parity in advertising, "It intrigues me that after a meal white people give me coffee after offering me alcohol. When black people get together to drink, that's all we do".
The statement simply means that townhsip mentality might not be market friendly when it comes to product positioning and promotion in the white dominated corporate environment of advertising. Young black man has to learn to accept that caffeinated coffee after alcohol because there's no way white people will go ghetto fabulous and drink 'til they drop without a thought of what they will do first the following day. Tomorrow to them is as important as today and you plan for it the day before.
However, in the same course of studying and accepting positive change from those who got to big business before the young black man, he should never be found to have climbed the corporate ladder by default. Sadly today, this is mostly how the new face of black business and its black lieutenants was assembled. And with the slave still inside of us, there's no progress to report about.