Zayaan Khan on The Place of Sweet Waters /83

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Zayaan Khan masterfully weaves a deep understanding of what forms true relationship to land, and how this informs the culture upon it. The basis of a people is the land that sustains them, even today—though we are psychically disconnected, we cannot physically be disconnected. Apartheid severed people’s connection to their lands, to the waters, to the connectivity of the landscape. City planners would just erase people from their land, where in Africa, they have lived for all time. The southwest of Africa is one of the most biodiverse places on earth, and not coincidentally, is an origin place of human life. There is a telling & poetic tragedy in the source of human life being today one of the most unequal and oppressive places. 

It follows the resistance to responsibility that defines white supremacy that it is an anti-community mentality. Supremacy can be recognized by its definitive disconnectivity; dehumanizing people in subtle or overt ways, mechanizing how people meet their needs from the land and each other, prostituting the living plants and creatures of a place. It speaks to a disconnection from self that guides someone toward disconnection from the rest of life.
White colonization is a recipe for loneliness. Musicians who spoke in solidarity with black africans were banned, many endemic species and human cultures were trampled, and South Africa retreated from the world culturally and economically to maintain its delusions. The white colonization of South Africa not only ignored and destroyed the complexities of the human-to-land relationship, but also continually fails to see the intricacies and connectivity of the landscape, leading to today’s dire drought. 

South Africa is still structured to be a shockingly repressive colonial system. Only a young generation away from formalized brutality, the legacy lives on in food, water, mental health, land access, and the economy. 1 in 4 people go hungry every day. The land is farmed unsustainably and wastefully. Very few people control the majority of the land, more land than a person can have an intimate relationship with, which leads paradoxically, to a scarcity mentality. Though only more informal than under apartheid, the exploitation black South Africans experience in their own homeland today demonstrates yet another illustration of the poison of white supremacy that structures global economies and national psychologies. Without real acknowledgment, a formal healing process that is not punitive but reconciliatory, and a sincere engagement to rework the fabric of inequality, little structural change will be achieved. 

Supremacy mentality will continue to contort into ever more absurd forms to maintain and justify itself. We must continue to speak truth and clarity to combat it, to weave a narrative of understanding reality that is inclusive, and connective, informed by ecology and history and true solutions that serve all life.

Music by Gregg Kowalsky

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