- Founder of The Quest for a Non-Racial South Africa
- Founder of Clyde Ramalaine Outreach Ministries
- Writer for Weekly Xpose ZA
- Practiced Theology for 25 years
- Graduate of the University of Western Cape (Sociology & Systematic Theology)
- Dissertation Black Identity and Experience in Black Theology: A Critical Assessment questions the label of “Black”
Clyde Ramalaine founded The Quest for a Non-Racial South Africa. Quest works to change people’s perception of racial categories. The racial categories of Bantu, coloured, Indian, and white were created solely to oppress people. The idea of race was invented by Immanuel Kant in 1785 to justify white supremacy. The failed Eugenics movement proved the theory had no basis in 1945. South Africa needs to create a non-racial identity to unite its people.
Racial categories are always used to deny access to resources. In the days of Apartheid, Bantu were denied access to jobs and resources because of their category. Now Bantu deny coloured people access because of their race. Racial categories are always oppressive.
Even though the goal is to move away from racial categories, how race affects our thinking cannot be forgotten. In South Africa, there is a feeling amongst “whites” that no “blacks” can run the country. The presumption that blacks are unfit to rule leads to articles on ANC extravagances and political failures flooding the airwaves. Building a non-racial identity will work to combat these problems.
South Africa also cannot afford to forget her history. The atrocities of the various wars on the natives and apartheid. The iniquities of South Africa are just as important as the Holocaust of the Jews. Also, the manner in which Europeans acquired the land should exposed. If land claims are illegitimate a change in ownership is needed.
Ramalaine takes special care to advocate for people labeled by others as “coloured’. The coloured population is around 8% of the South African population. In contrast, the white population is 8%, and the Native (Bantu) population is 80%. A recent genetic study of coloured people revealed that their DNA is 40% Khoisan, 30% Bantu, 20 % European, and 10% Asian. Most coloured people live in the western part of the country. All coloured people do not share the same ancestry. Generally, Bantu are referred to as natives, even though Khoisans were in South Africa longer than any other ethnicity.
Coloured people suffer from discrimination due to not having the wealth of whites and not have the numbers of Bantu. Coloured people face discrimination in jobs programs such as Expanded Public Works Project (EPWP). Local police and human service officials do not learn the language of most coloured people Kaapse Afrikaans, so most Coloureds have to speak English to conduct business. In many other areas, people that know the local language receive preference.
Ramalaine on Politics
Jacob Zuma is the current president of South Africa. He has been accused of various scandals and the misappropriation of funds. He is also outspoken in reallocating resources away from Europeans to the native descendants. Ramalaine thinks the establishment often attacks Zuma. Ramalaine especially commends Zuma for his outreach to Khoisan descendant people. Ramalaine says “No president in democracy, or ever before, has shown an interest in attempting the discussion towards full recognition of this identity.” Zuma is proud of his mixed Zulu and Khoisan identity which leads him to advocate for the coloured population.
Nelson Mandela is the most revered South African leader. Ramalaine has written extensively on Mandela’s legacy. Mandela was a member of the African National Congress and the founder of its military wing MK. MK led a campaign that sabotaged many government buildings. Mandela was implicated in the subversion and spent decades in prison. After he was released, he was elected president of South Africa and facilitated reconciliation between various racial and political groups.
Ramalaine points out that most people that label themselves “white” thought of Mandela as a terrorist until mid-way through his presidency. The event that sticks out in the mind of most white people is Mandela’s support of the South African Springboks. The Springboks are the national rugby team that won the 1995 World Cup. The movie Invictus tells the story of the team.
Mandela was not revered by whites until he showed he would not challenge the right of Europeans to own and control the resources of South Africa. When Mandela did not contest the claim of Europeans or support a plan for wealth redistribution, he lost much of his African support. The event that brought white people to Mandela’s side turned blacks away. Even though most white people claim to support Mandela, very few voted for him in 1994. Many white people today claim that the ANC is the antithesis of what Mandela’s principles. These white people look at only Mandela’s last five years in the public eye. Mandela has a complicated legacy that needs thorough examination.
Even though the ANC is doing an acceptable job in the estimation of Ramalaine, all democracies need opposing parties. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are the main opposition to the ANC in Ramaline’s estimation. The EFF frequently attacks the ANC, yet doesn’t provide viable alternative solutions. The EFF resorts to juvenile displays to get media attention. The EFF is not providing substantive opposition to the ANC.
Ramalaine made world news because he invited Rachel Dolezal to speak in South Africa on race. Rachel Dolezal is an American woman that was born white but never felt “white” on the inside. During her childhood, she always felt more akin to black people. When Dolezal became an adult, she changed her race. She now considers herself black, introduces herself as black, and lived life as a black woman. She obtained a degree in African-American art from a historically black college and worked as a racial activist. The media exposed her as a person that was born white in 2015. Many have accused Dolezal of being a con-artist.
To Ramalaine, Rachel represents a person that chose her identity. The reason the media attacks her are many-fold. First “white” conservatives want to disparage her for rejecting whiteness for blackness. “Black” people attack her for taking an identity they feel that they own even though the term black was thrust upon them by racist to oppress them. “White” liberals are upset because she went further than they did to unite with black people. Many “white” liberals take on black culture or partners, yet don’t go as far as becoming black. Ramalaine reminds his audience to look at the heart of the individual.
What Ramalaine has right?
Race is an unsubstantiated construct. The removal of the concept from society will aid in unity not only in South Africa but the world. People affirming who they are independent of society’s constructs will lead to genuine progress. The identity of blackness was not the creation of black people and was always intended to oppress us.
Ramalaine’s commitment to coloured people makes him unique from others that believe in a colorblind society. He sees his destiny as linked with people of a similar heritage and comes to this conclusion on his own terms . He uses his platform to advocate for the people he best understands and can help the most. South Africans and the world community often overlooks coloured people. Ramalaine is doing his part to stop and shine a light on the needs of his people.
He also does not use the building of a color-blind society to excuse atrocities by colonials on native peoples. Ramalaine wants the horrors of colonialism and apartheid to be well documented and frequently discussed. He also wants concrete steps taken toward redress. Not based on one race wronging another, by colonials giving natives back what is rightfully native, the land.
Often many that claim to want a color-blind society to use it as an excuse to separate themselves from their people and to work toward empowerment. That is why when people talk about a color-blind society people roll their eyes. Most see it as a way for elite members of the race to separate themselves. Ramalaine provides a philosophy that is non-racial that is conducive to the empowerment struggle.
What Ramalaine has wrong?
Linking himself to Rachel Dolezal is simply a bad idea. Dolezal could be genuinely attempting to connect to blacks, mentally ill, or just running a con. The “jury is still out” on this one. She could say or do something outlandish for media attention. If she does many people will use the action to question his judgment, and his philosophy will lose credibility.
Ramalaine doesn’t offer specific solutions. His goal is to raise awareness, yet it is important for Ramalaine to provide alternative solutions that are specific. One thing that needs to be laid out is what does a non-racial identity look like and how does it aid a person in fighting injustice. He has an uphill battle because most people see color-blindness as a way to absolve a person from fighting racial justice. However, if he were to detail what a non-racial identity looks like, it would aid in many people coming on board.
What I could not evaluate.
The analyst is American and does not know much about South African politics or society. The analyst will refrain from agreeing or disagreeing with Ramalaine’s political assessments until he has more data on South African politics.
Where is Ramalaine on the Spiral?
Ramalaine is a healthy Green meme. He believes in redefining the group which is a frequent theme in Green meme. I cannot tell if he wants first-order or second-order change. Some articles seem to lean toward first -order change and others second order. Ramalaine would need a full manifesto to evaluate what change is needed.
He appears to stay in Green Meme for the articles I evaluated that span 2011 – 2017. If there were samples from a longer time span, a progression could be evaluated.
For more on Clyde Ramalaine read his blogs listed in Sources.