Former president FW de Klerk. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Former president FW de Klerk. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

I STARTED school in 1989, when FW de Klerk — who is accusing 45 people who responded to a racist post on Facebook of inciting violence against white people — was presiding over barbarism in my country. It was around about then that we discovered that beneath the thorn bush and the earth’s outer layers, the mountain towering over our village was blue. We would not have found out had white people not rocked up and bombed the mountain, crushed it into moveable rocks, loaded it into tip-lorries, and taken it away in broad daylight.

On the morning of the first explosion Ma'am, our class-teacher, was jostled by the thunderous sound of the mountain exploding. There was silence in class. I can’t remember accurately how things unfolded in the immediate aftermath of the blast — it was anxiously chaotic — but later school children lined the fence like clothes on a washing line, engrossed by the blue dust cloud engulfing the mountain. 

It must have carried on like that until the afternoon when the dust had settled and a fleet of giant tip-lorries and other strange-looking trucks emerged from the direction of Whittlesea and headed for the mountain. The tip-lorries were like a ravenous colony of ants, rushing to the loot where rock-moving machines hummed all day. Then later they’d emerge like obese dung beetles rolling balls of shit.

Soon the rock-moving machinery relocated from the mountain and was now used in the construction of a vast concrete barrier that completely hid our southerly neighbours; soon our earth dam was destroyed, its earth barrier flattened; and sooner still it was the rain season and the biggest concrete arch-gravity dam in the entire Hewu District was born. It was called Ox-Kraal Dam, named after the earth dam that no doubt inspired the formation of this bigger reservoir.

The new Ox-Kraal Dam impounded not just rainwater but also the waters of the Mchatha river flowing from natural streams, all year round. No school building, no church or other structure was more beautifully crafted than the floodgates of Ox-Kraal Dam, which could be seen as you approached our village from the direction of Whittlesea. Now we were the envy of our neighbours. Surely beautiful things were coming our way. Maybe white people had changed their vicious ways, maybe they were feeling guilty for colonisation and its deadlier appendage, apartheid. Maybe this dam was their apology, and maybe, just maybe, we were pondering forgiveness.

In December 1994, just months after SA's most celebrated moment, I went to Queenstown for the first time. On the way, I visually traced the river to which the Ox-Kraal Dam floodgates opened, tumbling past Dyamala village south of Sada township, and silently flowing under the bridge in Whittlesea. As you approached Queenstown, 40km on, you passed through farms on either side of the road, and you could not miss the impressive irrigation system distributing the water from Ox-Kraal in the farms’ ploughing fields.

The farms were not ours. This was colonisation at its peak.

Land capture is so essential to colonisation that without it colonisation wouldn’t materialise, white supremacy and the resultant arrogance would be unimaginable, notions of black inferiority inconceivable. The fact is that SA was built — and is now maintained — on the basis of land theft. So when Penny Sparrow described black people as monkeys, and when to such racist vitriol I took to Twitter and said, “We can’t deal with one Penny Sparrow at a time. We have to go for the full thing at once. Decolonisation. Get land. Forcefully,” I wasn’t mistaken. I meant it. Decolonisation is the only way in which black people can realise the fullness of their humanity; taking land back, as it will not be handed to us, being the first mission in such a process.

And now that De Klerk, the last ruler of the white supremacist order, has decided that decolonisation constitutes extreme violence against white South Africans, I’m not apologetic for his illiteracy and paranoia, I’m enraged; and I stand by my words. They’ll have to lynch me to keep me quiet.

Mgqolozana is the author of three novels, the latest titled Unimportance.