South Africa remains a colonial society, despite the much-lauded freedom we supposedly enjoy. This freedom feels empty and hollow for us as Black people. The subject of decolonization is not merely a topic for glossy journals; it is inseparable from our lived experience. If our lives, society, and education remain colonial, it inevitably means that our existence as Black people is also colonial.
By turning a blind eye to the evident coloniality of our society, we are essentially consenting to live colonized lives as Black people. Often, when discussions of colonialism arise, there is an emphasis on the material aspect – that white people own the wealth and land of the country. Yet, consider this: even if we were to reclaim all the wealth from white people, would that guarantee their respect?
This realization suggests that wealth alone cannot alter the fundamental nature of Black lives or make them more respectable. There is something else that must change – the discourse that constructs us as Black people as subjects of scorn and disregard. This is why a poor white person might still perceive themselves as superior to a wealthy Black person; their superiority is not grounded in material wealth, but rather in a deeply ingrained discourse that began with Enlightenment philosophers and persists in modern social thought. This discourse casts Black people as individuals lacking intellect, capability, and human sensibilities.
In order to change the coloniality of our lives, we must transform this discourse. This is not to say that material wealths are unimportant, but rather that they alone are insufficient for achieving true decolonization. Decolonization necessarily involves reshaping society so that being white no longer equates to being human, and being Black no longer implies being less than human.