An Open Letter to Mamphela Ramphele

Mamphela Ramphele image.jpg

By Eve Fairbanks, The Mail & Guardian, February 23, 2013

(reposted after Ramphele's political merger with South Africa's Democratic Alliance)

Dear Dr. Ramphele,

The vow to look. Look. Look. Look. Then listen. And then look some more. That was the framing that was missing from your much-anticipated Monday speech launching your new party, Agang.

You promised to end "the humiliation and disrespect of our apartheid past". But there are greater humiliations than an overflowing township toilet. Invisibility is a deep humiliation: remember the bully who barrelled right into you in the school corridors, knocking your books out of your hands, and then claimed with a smirk that he just "didn't see you"?

For research for a book, I recently spent some months with two groups of South Africans who became a locus of last year's unrest: miners and farmers. Yes, they wanted to make more money. Yes, they wanted houses and college entrance for their kids. But to start, or even most of all, they said they just wanted to be seen, to be visible. Read more ...