By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
President Cyril Ramaphosa would do well to integrate all Black
Intellectuals in the running of the country.
In fact, the ANC government just like its predecessors, the Nats, has
criminally side-stepped the integration of Black Intellectuals into
the national development discourse.
The problem is continental come to think of it.
Post-colonial Africa is notorious for the marginalisation of its
intellectuals, especially those who are not members of the governing
former liberation movements.
For whatever reason or even reasons, the suppression and
marginalisation of Black Intellectuals in post-colonial Africa is
hardly seen as one of the factors why the continent remains the
poorest in the world, even though it is the richest when it come to
mineral wealth under the soil.
Various factors could be highlighted as to why post-colonial African
governments, in this case, would suppress its ‘best brains’.
One of the reasons for the marginalisation of mostly Black
Intellectuals is that former liberation movements would feel that
those Black Intellectuals who are not products of the movement, will
likely side with former colonialists in criticising a “Black
There’s also the issue of loyalty, Black Intellectuals who are not
affiliated with a Black governing party would simply not see the need
to tow a party line.
Governing former liberation movements have serious weak points in many
areas including leadership, management, discipline and even
Independent Black Intellectuals are not shy of pointing these
weaknesses out. The few who have access to comment through mostly the
media week-in and week-out are able to point the failures of the
This to the embarrassment of the ‘parties of freedom’, who when they
were fighting for liberation, had promised to do far better than the
colonial regimes, when it was their turn to govern.
In South Africa for example, the Nats, who came to power in 1948,
would not entertain an idea of even using White Intellectuals, to
Notably, most of the whites who opposed apartheid were intellectuals.
Therefore, colonial and post colonial South Africa both marginalised
intellectuals, be it white or black intellectuals.
But it is Black Intellectuals who continue to suffer the most. Unlike
their white counter-parts, they have little to no serious platforms to
voice their opinions.
Even those in ‘Black Universities’, are under resourced, and not
reflected by the mainstream media which is still very much white
Even the transformation in media groups like Tiso Black Star and
Independent Media have failed to address the problem of Black
In 2006, former president Thabo Mbeki created the Natives Club, which
was supposed to organise and integrate Black Intellectuals into the
national developmental agenda.
This was met with resistance mostly from independent Black
Intellectuals. Some Black Intellectuals question Mbeki’s timing, as to
why only after all this time since he took over from Madiba in mid
1999, did Mbeki called on all Black Intellectuals join forces with the
government in developing the country.
Other Black Intellectuals accused Mbeki of trying to use them to hide
the ANC government’s failures. They even asked if Mbeki was serious,
“where was the office of the Native Club?”.
Needless to say, in September 2008, Mbeki was recalled by his party
and even by then, there had been little heard and seen from the Native
And under the Zuma years, Black Intellectuals would find themselves
more isolated and irrelevant.
The National Planning Commission established in 2010 and is
responsible for strategic planning for the country, consist of very
few Black experts, who are mostly politically connected and don’t
really engage the rest of South Africa’s intellectual arena.
Fast forward to today.
Can Ramaphosa become the bigger man and integrate Black Intellectuals
in his young, and so far trouble presidency?
If Ramaphosa fails to include Black and White intellectuals, in the
running of the country, he could find his administration stacked with
more unemployment, poverty and inequality.