Indian or not: You are a racist, Rajesh Gopie

Black on white racism is more prevalent in the media as of late, but the more insidious and dangerous form is brown on black kind that lies deep further the below the surface.

Incidents of racism, hate speech and violence based on those two subjects have dogged us for years and again it has come in the form of Rajesh Gopie. The theatre personality, actor lashed out on Facebook shortly after a rampage occurred at the Moses Mabhida stadium in KwaZulu-Natal.

Gopie wrote: “Yah, and the Baboons like soccer too much so they want to play with human heads.”

Should Rajesh Gopie be granted a hall pass because he is Indian? The answer is simply – no. He is as much of a racist as Vicki Momberg, Penny Sparrow and many others as we have seen of late. This has been the second time Rajesh Gopie has reared his racist tendency, it was in 2015 that he referred to students of the Fees Must Fall movement as baboons.

And South African Indians need to stop mincing their words and come out and point out racists within the community, if you want to be part of the South African narrative of democracy let us stop walking on eggshells around false minority feelings.

Let’s just say it – Rajesh Gopie is a racist and he must be taken to task.

South Africa has a complicated history, from the depths of apartheid, and then two decades over Indians like every other ethnic denomination are still dealing with and healing from the ‘fractious’ policies of the pre-1994 regime.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in 2017 dealt with 505 complaints on racism – an 82% increase from the previous financial year. This indicates and increased awareness on reporting racism, which is a positive factor. But beyond this there are many incidents that will never be reported – what happens to those cases?

While some studies, such as that conducted by the Institute for Race Relations, indicate that racism may not be a big issue for South Africans, research conducted by others, such as the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation indicate otherwise. The South African Reconciliation Barometer indicates that persistent socio-economic inequalities continue to affect the progress made in building social cohesion and reconciliation in a post-apartheid South Africa.

Indians, bore the brunt of segregation practice in the apartheid era and whites were positioned on the top of the pyramid.

Indians were championing the case as being victims of racism rather than being seen as perpetrators of racism. Is that a correct assumption? I believe so. There is a considerable about of concealed racial antagonism that has below the surface between the Blacks and Indians that explodes occasionally and we have to admit to that.

Gopie infuriated South Africans for his racist rant this past weekend where he likened blacks to ‘baboons’ on social media. By all accounts he must not be let off the hook, if there are members of the South African Indian community that sympathize with Gopie well then, you are on the wrong side of history.

The EFF called upon South Africans of Indian descent to confront their racist tendencies especially the Durban based Indian community in July 2017.

“The Indian community in Durban, and elsewhere in the country needs to confront its own ills and the normalized hatred African people experience amongst them. “

The EFF also highlighted that apartheid is to blame for the current societal status quo that is exercised by Indians. The CIC of the Economic Freedom Front once stated: “It is a fact that part of what Apartheid did for many years, was to create an impression that Indians are better blacks than Africans and Coloureds. This mentality has constituted the attitude of many Indian people in the ways in which they treat Africans in labour, business and general human relations. We reject this attitude and call its transformation, as well as a better treatment of Africans.“

And by all accounts Malema brought to the fore what most Indians would turn a blind eye to – if you think I am wrong – I ask you as an Indian to explain the enamel cup and plate syndrome for the hired help.

Let’s admit there’s racism in our culture against our fellow South Africans and when you do admit to it then do something about it. Make positive changes that will teach our future generation to deny racism and work for transformation into a better society than what we are in now.

Quoting the words of the late struggle veteran, Ahmed Kathrada, “I am afraid, that if we do not commit to tackling racism now, South Africans will continue reading headlines of individuals who very blatantly use the k-word, call black people monkeys or baboons and dehumanize and attack others based on race. We will continue seeing examples of individuals who find it so very easy to overlook the legacy of years of oppression, inequality and systematic racism.

I fear that racial tension will continue bubbling under the surface of our society, and those sweeping, false generalizations, such as ‘all whites are racist’, will start emerging. We cannot allow South Africa to retrogress towards the divisions and attitudes of the past. We cannot allow the re-emergence of the type of mentality that paved the way for the National Party of 1948, to advocate such a blatantly racist election slogan.”

I reject your apology Mr. Gopie as it goes against the principles of our constitution and you must be made an example of.


About Naufal Khan

Naufal Khan was the Publisher at ADISHAKTI MEDIA and the editor-in-chief of the South African Indian news service Indian Spice. Khan was former Sunday Times journalist and also an occult fiction and non-fiction writer with several published titles.