I just chanced on this short Guardian YouTube video and that set off this thought in my mind.
It's been a while since I read J.M. Cotzee's novel, Disgrace. I remember having an argument with a Nigerian colleague of mine, who literally took offense with me that I was so naive to believe that Coetzee wasn't engaging in the usual Western stereotypical representation of the African in their narratives. Why was it that the only role the black man played in that novel was to rape a white woman, the daughter of David Lurie? he asked.
Well, the truth is that rape is not an African word and it wasn't invented for the African. Another fact is that African men do rape, and if blacks raped a white woman in the post Apartheid South Africa there are many ways to understand it, which of course, does not limit its horror. Every rape is a horrendous act. It could be seen as some cowardly black men engaging in a vengeful act, trying to get back on the white man for the evils of apartheid. It could also be that some black men just happened to chance on some white women and decided to rape.
There is no doubt that the years of oppression and apartheid in South Africa left their imprint on the minds of average South African men, just like the years of military oppression did to the average Nigerian. People take laws into their hands. There is perhaps an internalization of the mechanism of oppression, which, unfortunately, expresses itself in various forms of violence directed against the weaker ones in society. In Nigeria, people turn against one another, shout at one another, exert all imaginable forms of violence on each other. In South Africa, violence appears to become a second nature to the segments of society that sees itself as the emasculated victims of the historical injustice of apartheid: men.
The degree to which South African men rape South African women is alarming. In most cases the rape victims are the minorities of the minorities, lesbians.
Watching these men justify the use of rape as a corrective measure to what they understood as a lifestyle gives me the chills. How they trumpet their ignorance! How they take pride in being masters of their 'hood. How they remind me of the not distant past when nearly ever white man in South Africa saw himself as the Lord of the universe. Ach, how shallow we humans can be, how like animals we kill for meat.