The chances of dying from violence in South Africa are much higher for young black men than for any other group. Much, much higher.
The same is true for being unemployed. The only competition for likeliest to be unemployed are young black women.
Logically, you would think young black men would be most afraid of dying from violent crime. Logically.
You would think as a society we would be up in arms, as it were, about losing lives in their prime.
You would think in a country politically ruled by old black men they would care what happens to the next generation of men, whether they had biological sons or daughters.
You would be wrong.
Life in my country is often inclined towards the absurd. Has always been so. The slave masters are scared of the slaves? The masters of death are afraid of people who can’t even afford a simple meal, never mind a gun?
Who manufactures the guns?
We have been taught that, actually, it is young black men we have to fear. They are the potential killers.
They are represented as the fear object, usually without mentioning the words ‘young black male’. That is how ideology at its best, or most apt, propaganda functions. Everybody knows, without realising how they came to that knowledge, they are the violent criminals.
The dominant cultural discourse has become so effective that without mentioning them, when the words intruder and violent crime are uttered, the public mind has been so well-schooled that it almost instinctively conjures up the image of a young black man.
You can kill your girlfriend or wife, accidentally or in cold blood, and you will sound believable if you say you thought an intruder was coming to kill you. You don’t have to say anything else.
You can simply say, farm murders, while young male black bodies are piled high up at the mortuary, more bodies in a year than the possible murders of white farmers in a decade, and even the president himself is forced to answer to the apparent crisis.
Needless to say, young black men have much to fear in South Africa, perhaps more than anybody else. Actually, they have always had much to be insecure about.
To that young man who has much no food, no job and no love, I say, you are still around after the deliberate starving, misrepresentation, and abandoment.
I say you have never been a beast.
I say I know in my bones you are capable of greatness.
I say, you are not on your own.
What you need, what we need, is to father ourselves.