Close encounter with Heinz Kimmerle
Response to Murray Hofmeyr by Heinz Kimmerle
Murray Hofmeyr (Thohoyandou)
White Afrikaner identity in post-apartheid South Africa.
Discerning the spirits with Heinz Kimmerle
Heinz Kimmerle in 1997, while a visiting professor at my University, in his characteristically unassuming yet thoroughly inspirational way motivated a number of us to embark on a research project on the liberating consequences of the new concept of difference. The book resulting from this project has just been published (see Duncan 2002). It contains 21 contributions from mostly formerly marginalised authors. The title chosen by the Editorial Collective, however, is Discourses on Difference. Discourses on Oppression. Only one of the chapters is entitled "Discourses on cultural difference and liberation?" - note the question mark. That is the chapter I wrote (see Hofmeyr 2002) . In spite of the fact that I give a positive answer to this question, the question has remained, and I have brought it to Rotterdam in the hope that Heinz Kimmerle's answer to it will illuminate not only me.
In the above-mentioned article I appropriate the following from Heinz Kimmerle's intercultural approach to philosophy (Hofmeyr 2002:178-179):
1. The critique of Western metaphysics that results in the option for the infinity
that Hegel called bad.
2. The insistence on thinking about cultural difference not as a continuation, but as a consequence of previous conceptualisations thereof in terms of exclusion and domination.
3. A concept of difference, without a "grade scale designed by European science" (Høeg 1993:169), that makes possible a rethinking of "different, but equal".
4. The insistence on a "methodology of the deed", on "living" the other culture.
5. The insight that universals cannot be articulated discursively. But in the "In-between" spaces and moments of successful intercultural dialogues universality is anticipated.
6. The importance of dimensions of life that technological society has fordeited, dimensions without which future as such is endangered.
As far as the intercultural is concenred, I affirm these points. The difficulty arisies when one transports them to a specific "multi-cultural" context. The very term "multi-cultural" is already problematical in the South African context. Certain problems must be taken into account, especially, in South Africa, the problem of racism.
Cultural "In-Betweenity" in a "multi-cultural" situation
The greater city of Pretoria, called Tshwane, has recently chosen a new motto
to go with the new name: "We are the same". With a few exceptions,
it would seem, most South Africans want to be the same. One notable exception
is a group of Afrikaans-speaking whites (Afrikaners) who are raising their voices
on the issue of minority rights. They want to be different, still, after all
these years. And they quote Derrida and Lyotard in support of "radical
So, what is wrong with that?
We should evaluate their project against the background of the reasons why almost everybody else want to be the same. I propose that Frantz Fanon is still relevant here, especially what he said in 1956 in Paris in his paper "Racism and Culture". He (Fanon :1) sketched the "fragmented and bloody history" of the coloniser's shift from the denial of culture on the part of the colonised, to the recognition of a native culture in a hierarchy of cultures, and finally to the concept of cultural relativity.
The culture eventually recognised is "mummified": "we witness the setting up of archaic, inert institutions, functioning under the oppressor's supervision and patterned like a caricature of formerly fertile institutions" (:3). The result is the absence of cultural confrontation. Eventually, in accordance with changed needs of the system of production, the techniques of exploitation are refined and camouflaged. Cultural relativity, says Fanon, continues racism in the form of the verbal mystification of the culture of the other.
The leading idea here is that racism is a cultural element, part of the "behaviour patterns arising from the encounter of man with nature and with his fellow-man" (:2). Racism is thus part of a greater whole, "the systematized oppression of a people."
How do the members of the oppressed group respond in defense to this process? Fanon distinguishes three stages that Bulhan (1985:193) has applied in his theory of identity formation:
1. Assimilation / Capitulation: The "inferior" race immitates the
oppressor in an effort to deracialise itself, and thus to gain the status of
being regarded as fully human. Imitation means internalisation of the attitudes
and convictions of the "superior" group vis-à-vis the "inferior"
group, thus self-hate and self-denial. This is a desperate affair: "Having
judged, condemned, abandoned his cultural forms, his language, his food habits,
his sexual behaviour, his way of sitting down, of resting, of laughing, of enjoying
himself, the oppressed flings himself upon the imposed culture with the desperation
of a drowning man" (Fanon :6). But she soon discovers that she will
never shape up, that racism will remain as long as there is exploitation. The
alienation proves to have been futile.
2. Revitalisation: The second stage is the return to original positions, called "revitalisation" by Bulhan (1985:193). It implies a reactive repudiation of the dominant culture and an equally defensive romanticism of the indigenous culture. But the culture returned to must be cultivated, it is dying. The remaining embers are kept alive by anonymous traditionalists. "To the anonymity of the traditionalist [the former émigré] opposes a vehement and aggressive exhibitionism" (Fanon :7). Her passion is informed by the craving for forgiveness. She experiences a state of grace. Her aggressiveness is the mechanism that must ward off the paradox between "intellectual development, technical appropriation, highly differentiated modes of thinking and of logic, on the one hand, and a 'simple pure' emotional basis on the other" p "This falling back on archaic positions having no relation to technical development is paradoxical. The institutions thus valorized no longer correspond to the elaborate methods of action already mastered" (p. 8). Revalorisation does not mean re-conception, being "grasped anew, dynamized from within. It is shouted" (p. 8). But even though paradoxical, the stage of revitalisation represents an intense struggle with the culture: "The logical end of this will to struggle is the total liberation of the national territory. In order to achieve this liberation, the inferiorized man brings all his resources into play, all his acquisitions, the old and the new, his own and those of the occupant" (p. 8). And the struggle for liberation differs from the struggle of conquest in being devoid of racism.
3. Radicalisation: Bulhan (1985:193) describes the third stage as a synthesis reached between the dominated and the dominant cultures and an unambiguous commitment toward radical change. Both dominated and dominant cultures are transformed as a new culture emerges, with unique aspects not found in either of the two other cultures. Fanon (:9) stresses the opening up of the previously rigid culture of the dominant group to the culture of people "who have really become brothers. The two cultures can affront each other, enrich each other." Fanon (p. 9) concludes: "universality resides in this decision to recognise and accept the reciprocal relativism of different cultures, once the colonial status is irreversibly excluded."
The "cultural In-Between", says Bulhan, is the region of cultural contact, confrontation and mutual influence. The dominated and dominant cultures coalesce with considerable regularity and intensity. In the process the one modifies the other and each in consequence loses its original character. The inhabitants of the zone of cultural In-Betweenity can at any time go in any of the three original directions, with one or another being dominant at any given time. The intercultural can thus also be counter-cultural.
Discourses of white Afrikaner identity
The argument for a "postmodern republicanism", or "radical democracy",
is made by Danie Goosen (2000), professor of the Science of Religion at Unisa,
and chairperson of the so-called Group of 63. His ideal is a dispensation in
which his group, the Afrikaners, would be organised around, and inspired by
certain concepts (symbols and myths) that are currently exerting a strong attraction
on minorities the world over. The Afrikaner world, according to his analysis,
is presently in a cultural-political impasse. The concepts of a new republicanism
could release the energy needed to open up the political space within which
things can again start happening within the Afrikaans world.
Goosen (2000:64) sees apartheid not as a foreign phenomenon, but "as other totalitarian projects of our time, a consequence of the modernistic subjectivism on the march". A postmodern republican movement would differ from its modern counterpart in not seeing history as the result of the "eternal winds of our will" (Van Wyk Louw), but as a thick network of a multiplicity of factors. Goosen identifies as the basic tension in the analysis of postmodern republicans not the North-South, but the political-cultural tension between the neo-liberal order and radical democracy. It is about the efforts of a multiplicity of cultural communities to gain a say in their own history.
In the neo-liberal perspective centrality belongs to the free-floating individual as consumer, who is primarily concerned about the satisfaction of private needs. Radical democracy sees the individual as always already belonging to a localised community. The universal in the latter perspective has a meaning only when it is expressed in a particular historical context: "for the republican the colour and meaning of life lies in its multiplicity, in its interminable plurality of tints, accents, idioms, shades and nuances" (Goosen 2000:68). According to Goosen the question is not whether we can do without community. The question is whether we can cultivate an open and democratic concept of community within the Afrikaner community. He says the present South African constitution does not even understand the concept of minorities. As the constitution of a nation-state it is intrinsically imperialistic.
I believe it would not be necessary to spell out in detail the convergence in important respects of Goosen's argument and Heinz Kimmerle's (1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000a, 2000b, 2002) approach to cultures and difference. I regard the latter as a breakthrough in Western philosophy's attitude towards the cultural other, and as a significant change in Western mentality. But I experience a certain unease with Goosen's proposal. This might be informed by the role Goosen is playing as leader of the Group of 63, and as a co-author of the Open Letter sent to President Mbeki in 1999 by a group of prominent Afrikaans-speaking South Africans (including the poet and freedom fighter Breyten Breytenbach and the philosopher Johannes Degenaar). In this letter they voice their concern with what they perceive as the progressive marginalization of the Afrikaans language, the pressure on Afrikaans medium schools to revert to English as a medium of instruction, the "alienation" of Afrikaans universities, and affirmative action impacting negatively on employment opportunities for the Afrikaans-speaking segment of the population. They propose the appointment by the President of a commission to look into the possible amendment of the constitution to include a charter of minority rights. These should include the right of a group to spend a fair amount of tax money paid by its members on its own institutions, and the right to education in the mother tongue.
I rather agree with Hennie Lötter (2000) of the Rand Afrikaans University
(also up for a name change soon) that the constitution already grants impressive
minority rights, and, more importantly, that we are faced with much more urgent
problems than an extension of minority rights. Lötter correctly argues
that political priorities in South Africa cannot be identified without recourse
to our historical context. Goosen speaks of the "cultural-political impasse"
in which especially Afrikaans-speaking whites find themselves. Much will depend
on how this impasse is conceptualized. In Goosen's scheme it would seem that
the impasse is caused by the loss of political power and the loss of cultural
space - thus, the loss of privilege. If we see these developments in context,
they cannot be divorced from a history of using political power to subjugate
and dominate others, and of imposing culture on others, if need be by violent
means. To say "this is typical of Modernism" is not to render it harmless
and remove the legacy. Lötter's assessment of the impasse of Afrikaners,
and of the country as a whole, is worth considering alongside that of Goosen.
Lötter's basic assumption is that the damage caused by apartheid is of such an immensity that it has not yet been adequately addressed. White Afrikaans-speaking South Africans have a premium of responsibility as they have consistently voted for the government whose policy apartheid was. Even those who have not supported the ruling party have built successful lives on the benefits of the dispensation constructed by that policy. The following questions are still valid in a post-apartheid South Africa: What are the previously advantaged doing to heal the damage of the past? Are they willing to accept moral responsibility for the damage to, and suffering of others on which white privilege has been built?
The primary damage done by apartheid has to do with racism. Whites regarded blacks as inferior and disregarded their human worth. They did not want to associate and share their living space with them. The negative foil of what whites did to blacks over the years should inform the priorities of Afrikaans-speaking whites and these priorities should broadly coincide with that of all South Africans. Under the overarching theme of the effective consolidation of our democratic transformation a variety of priorities can be listed. All of them have to do with the implementation of the values underlying our constitution. Priority should be given to the eradication of poverty and reducing the levels of crime. Both poverty and crime erode our constitution as they constitute massive infringements against basic human rights.
This is the sense, I propose, in which we in South Africa are the same. Goosen sees sameness per definition as oppressive. At the same time he argues for the priority of the group over the individual. The individual is only strong on the basis of the group. I propose that the cultural or language group will not be able to offer adequate security if it is not part of a larger whole. This whole does not have to be overpowering. It must be conceived in terms of a minimum of "sameness" necessary as an adequate foundation of a rich and varied life in the same political space. That is why the implementation and internalisation of our constitutional values are priorities. Lötter (2000:143) describes the values of justice in the constitution as "an agreement of reconciliation" that protects the dignity and fundamental interests of each citizen. Citizens must be transformed as individuals. Their systems of values and actions should be saturated by the values of democratic justice as expressed in the constitution.
There are enough spaces in the South African democracy open to Afrikaans-speaking South Africans to live their culture and live in their language. Lötter emphasises the importance of the instruments of civil society. The societies, clubs and interests groups of civil society exist independently of the state and the economy. Yet, their activities are bound by the constitution and fall within the public sphere. This is the ideal space for activities aimed at cultivating a more radical form of democracy.
Lötter does not use the concept of the tragic as Goosen likes to do, but also speaks of the necessity to live with contingency. He refers specifically to the bad legacy of apartheid that he characterises as a kind of handicap or lack. White Afrikaans-speaking South Africans will have to learn to live with it, as meaningfully as possible - there is no other way. "The meaningful way of living with [this legacy] is to conform conscientiously and with moral integrity to the comprehensive demands of justice" (Lötter 2000:148). Goosen refers to the ideal of immortality (Hannah Arendt), of being remembered in the stories of the group on account of one's public role. Lötter speaks of the possibility that others might remember apartheid (and it will be remembered) without blaming the present or the next generation of Afrikaans-speaking South Africans for it. Depending on how the present generation of Afrikaners live, others might "remember apartheid for all the bad things associated with it, and respect white Afrikaans-speaking South Africans for their contribution to the cancellation of injustice and the restitution for damage and suffering" (Lötter 2000:149).
"We are the same" is thus a promise. The danger of it being fulfilled in the wrong way will always be with us. That belongs to our situation as tragic. One way of diminishing the prospects of the whole becoming oppressive is to open up one's own culture, in this case the formerly oppressive culture that has racism virtually inscribed into it, to the culture of the other, and thus to the future. There are still far too few vehicles of this process of opening up. I venture to say Afrikaners have not yet really opened up to the black other, and already they are asking for special treatment again.
I have brought Fanon into the picture on account of his use of the concept culture in connection with the historical, socio-economic and political reality of domination and with the experience of being dominated. Kimmerle knows that intercultural philosophy involving Africans must always take this into account. When he speaks of the equal status of all cultures and thus of their philosophies it implies a protest and a counter to this "scandal" that is alive and well as we speak. And yet, the problem of domination and unequal economic and social conditions remains. It affects the culture of the dominated, so that one cannot really speak of "African culture" without keeping in mind the history of domination. I refer to Bulhan's emphasis on transformation in the zone of cultural In-Betweenity in order to explicate Kimmerle's insistence that intercultural dialogues are not about making the differences disappear, but about creating a new, third position that is different from both starting positions. There is nothing neutral about the culture of the oppressed, nor about the culture of the oppressor. Both must be transformed into something new. To repeat Fanon (:9): "universality resides in this decision to recognize and accept the reciprocal relativism of different cultures, once the colonial status is irreversibly excluded."
"Whiteness just is not what it used to be"
What does the research say? There are indications that at least sections of
the South African community are making the transition to the space of cultural
in-betweenity. Melissa Steyn (2002) of the Institute for Intercultural and Diversity
Studies at the University of Cape Town has developed five categories to account
for white attitudes towards life in the new South Africa (see Vosloo 2002: 13):
Those who still think in colonial terms. We are the most intelligent; we must develop the country and care for the blacks.
Those who insist that the new dispensation is unfair to whites. We are now discriminated against; blacks want to instantly get what it has taken us years to accomplish; affirmative action is systematically marginalising us.
Those who accept the new situation, but not without cramps and complaints. The rainbow includes whites; we are still proud of being white, but realise that whites have been unfairly privileged; we realise that we are no longer part of the elite; we realise we must share the country with blacks, even though the future is uncertain.
Those who practically deny that they are white. We distance ourselves from every form of racism; we are not responsible for apartheid; being white never was an issue; we were always colour blind; the Afrikaners (boers) are the real racists.
Those who experience themselves as part of Africa. Being white and the resultant privileges belong to the past; do not see us as white; white is boring; we affirm transformation; we are white Africans; crossing is the name of the game.
Steyn is honest: she admits to finding something of herself in each category.
But she is optimistic about the future: 'Our answer as whites should be to become
part of the country completely. And that can only happen if we also become wholly
part of Africa, if we embrace Africa with an open heart. We should not stand
apart from its problems and say pedantically from a distance: "Look what
is going on there, one could have expected that from them." If you reason
like that about what is happening in Africa, as now in the case of Zimbabwe,
the red flag is already out for you as a white person. We must identify with
this continent and help where we can. We should acknowledge our interdependence.
We must bring the different varieties, the different identities and cultures
of our society to a common participation to benefit the South African nation
as a whole. We should strive towards a new ethos in which we move to the ideal
of a South Africa that mirrors in its interaction of identities the different
shades of brown - the color of the human race.' (Interview with Vosloo 2002:13)
Steyn says white identity does not prepare one for the South African reality, as we are ignorant concerning social dynamics and the formative processes surrounding identity. "It is our identity that imprisons us in a sphere of fear, cynicism and ignorance" (interview with Van Zyl 2002:11).
It would seem that Steyn does not advocate giving up one's identity and culture but of transforming them. The fact of different identities is acknowledged, but the emphasis is on the interaction of identities.
Africanism is not what it used to be
Kopano Ratele (2002) in a recent article describes mostly black discourses
on interpersonal relationships around race and culture. Based on his findings
he constructs four categories:
Those accounts that reject close interracial relations.
Discourses that turn on the notion of difference, subdivided into, inter alia, the multiracialism or multiculturalism discourse, and that of so-called colour-blindness.
The discourse of those that align themselves with the movement for anti-racism.
Those that gesture towards what may be called a roots or Africanist discourse.
The difference discourse
With regard to his coupling of multiracialism/multiculturalism, Ratele (2002:390) contends that "this kind of argumentation occurs simultaneously around the idea of integration as the inclusion of many cultures, or integration as keeping the races and cultures apart but harmonising relations between them." He explains how the idea of race takes under its wing the concept of culture: 'Culture is often used in the place of race. This replacement is because the latter is believed to be less contentious. What happens then is simply that race is defined through the idea of culture. Culture gets used as a cipher, a code for the same things that were attached to race and racial identities. Multiculturalism, the concept of many cultures, implies bringing together many races. A framework of multiculturalism in education, underlying the value system in a society p becomes conflated with multiracialist thinking. Thus the use of the term multiracial as a synonym for multicultural' (Ratele 2002:390).
Anti-racism (or non-racism) rejects the integrationist discourse of multiculturalism.
Ratele (2002:394) quotes Steve Biko for a description of "true integration",
as opposed to the kind of integration implied in the difference discourse: 'One
does not plan for or actively encourage real integration. Once the various groups
within a community have asserted themselves to the point that mutual respect
has to be shown then you have the ingredients for a true and meaningful integration.
At the heart of true integration is the provision for each man (sic), each group
to rise and attain the envisioned self. Each group must be able to attain its
style of existence without encroaching on or being thwarted by another. Out
of this mutual respect for each other and complete freedom of self-determination
there will obviously arise genuine fusion of the life style of the various groups.
This is true integration.'
Anti-racist accounts view racial difference as a historical political construction which splits the material world into superior races and inferior ones. Anti-racism is a set of ideological practices that challenges the idea of race, or, says Ratele (2002:397), referring to Duncan's (1993) analysis, "whatever code is used". It challenges the belief in one group of people being superior to others.
Africanism, or the Africanist discourse, is about affirming being African.
One or other element of African identity is centralised. Ratele (2002) asks
whether it is possible to deracialise Africanness. His interviewees had difficulties
in doing this, just as the Black Consciousness Movement felt it necessary at
one stage to link being African with skin colour. But Ratele argues that it
is becoming increasingly possible to define being African without recourse to
race. He quotes an interviewee who has spent ten years on Robben Island as a
leader of a Black Consciousness orientated political organisation. Ratele (2002:400)
calls him a leading citizen, obviously on account of his new take on Africanism:
'I define myself as an African without hesitation. p I think [to call oneself
black] is an imprecise term. [The] right term is African. It links us to our
origin. It immediately gives us a cultural political identity which frees us
from the notion of colour which has been such a devastating oppressive notion
over the years. It leads us automatically to a purer concept of non-racialism.
We would immediately accept that essentially we are human beings of African
origin. Black, pink, or blue becomes irrelevant. p We are all sort of a mixed
people, so to speak, we have various ethnic strains but all of us are from Africa.
p [An] example p is that after three hundred years of white people staying here
they became absorbed into South African community. What do you call that? I
think what people are saying is that, we ought to identify ourselves with the
aspiration of the majority of the people of that particular country, and not,
for example, just be there to purely exploit them and impose your deceitful
superiority over them. You have to become part of them.'
Ratele, in an earlier draft of his paper, in a section unfortunately omitted from the published version, addresses the relationship between Africanism and African humanism (which some call Ubuntu (see Ramose 1999)). He quotes the old man of South African letters, the novelist Es'kia Mphahlele who said in an interview (published in Manganyi 1981): "I see the black consciousness movement primarily as a humanistic movement", concluding a description of African humanism as he has experienced it as a child - "something which, unfortunately, we're losing." The interesting thing is that Mphahlele explains African humanism in terms of an Indian experience: 'I do think that compassion is a very important quality in man (sic) which goes a long way in binding people together. I keep going back to Tagore, who was a Bengali poet. He writes a lot about this quality in human beings - to want to reach out, outward, out of themselves. He writes a lot about how it is that we are always hungering for emotional experiences, which is why we want to read literature, because we want an emotional experience. He also says, quoting from some of the religious literature of India, that you p love someone because you are looking for yourself and this is proper. When you feel sorrow, grief and joy for someone else it is a way of reaching out, the way you enlarge yourself. You enrich yourself. Yes. p I identify very much with what Tagore says: people reach out because they then become self-fulfilled. I think that p is what African humanism is about: you are enlarged and increased when you get out of yourself.'
Mphahlele in this interview relates how he started out as a believer in a non-racial society on account of his recognition of the historical reality of white people in South Africa. But he became critical of this position because of his experience of the inhumanity of whites.
Which self do we desire?
Mphahlele's reference to Tagore reminds me of what the originator of Deep Ecology,
Arne Naess (1995:194), has said about self-realization, informed by the thinking
of Erich Fromm and Ghandi: "Through broader identification, [people] may
come to see their own interest served by environmental protection, through genuine
self-love, love of a widened and deepened self." Ghandi (quoted in Naess
1995:195) has said: "What I want to achieve - what I have been striving
and pining to achieve these thirty years - is self-realization, to see God face
to face, to attain Moksha (Liberation)." Naess explains that this statement
should not be misunderstood from an individualistic Western point of view in
terms of a narrow ego. For Ghandi it is the supreme or universal Self (the atman)
that is to be realised. Self-realization in this sense paradoxically implies
the reduction of the dominance of the narrow ego. "Through the wider Self
every living being is connected intimately, and from this intimacy follows the
capacity of identificationp" (Naess 1995:195).
Gradually I am coming closer to my conclusion - that my uneasiness with the application of a particular interpretation of the philosophies of difference to cultural difference in the multicultural context of South Africa, has to do with the splitting of the concept of difference, subtracting desire from it. The result is inevitably stasis - in spite of all talk of an open history. In a South African interview Derrida (1999) emphasised the importance of context in deciding whether seeking identity is a way of protecting yourself against the event, and also against the other, or a way of opening yourself to history, the event and the future. The principle that leads him in deciding the issue is that of maximum future, maximum openness for the other and for what comes. But he acknowledges the validity of the desire for similarity/sameness. The principle is not simple to apply. One must choose. There is no easy answer to the question. Whatever you choose, the spectre of nihilism is always ready to make a comeback. That ghost never dies.
Derrida's strategy of warding off the spectre of nihilism is to rethink the concept of the possible and the difference between the possible and the impossible. He refers to Heidegger's insight that Möglichkeit not only has the meaning of possibility (dynamis) as the opposite of reality (actus), but also of mögen, of loving, desiring in German. This means the ontological priority of possibility over reality is the priority of love, of desire over what is. This, then, is the priority of the future, of faith, of affirmation. Affirming the impossible, I desire self-realization that is attained not against the other, but with the other, through identifying with the other (and not identifying the other), responding to the other - double affirmation.
My choice is as follows, and I say it with fear and trembling, knowing from experience that it involves the work of mourning, that it is impossible, that the "we" is impossible, yet: we are the same.
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Response to Murray Hofmeyr by Heinz Kimmerle
.There is no doubt: the question of White Afrikaner identity in post-apartheid South Africa is especially complicated. I cannot answer here sufficiently to the discourse of Murray Hofmeyr, which is spoken from a situation of an enormous intellectual struggle for justice in this country. May be, I could add one aspect which is modestly left out by Murray, but which could help to understand in what sense White Afrikaners haven been and are now situated in-between. During the apartheid-period a group of White Africans (Wit Afrikane) was in opposition to the apartheid-politics of the white government and the vast majority of white Afrikaners. They had chosen for the side of the oppressed black population of their country. This attitude was not appreciated by their white fellow-citizens, and it could not do much for the black people. The well-known destiny of Nico Smith who left his chair as a professor of Theology at Stellenbosch University in order to work as a pastor at Mamelody, a township near Pretoria, is an example for this attitude. Now, in the post-apartheid-situation, the specific contribution of this group of White Afrikaners in the apartheid-period is more or less forgotten. There is no special thanks from the black people who are now in the government of the country and of the cities. They are just White Afrikaners like this whole part of the South African population. Ironically enough, as we learn from Murray's contribution, another group of White Afrikaners who represent a more right-wing politics, is asking now for special rights and may be a special area in the country.
Murray is quoting extensively Frantz Fanon in order to articulate what White Afrikaners did to their black fellow-citizens in the apartheid-period. Up to now, in the post-apartheid politics, (luckily) there is not a mirror-effect in the sense of Sartre's Foreword to the famous book of Fanon, as I have mentioned it above in my answer to Mogobe Ramose. What has happened in Zimbabwe, the direct northern neighborhood of South Africa, might be understood as some kind of such a mirror-effect. From the white owners of huge farms who have become rich on the costs of their black workers, the land is violently taken away. We all hope that this type of politics will not be imitated by the black population of South Africa. The name of Nelson Mandela and his politics of reconciliation may help to avoid this imitation. And it is a fact that the economic consequences of the violent redistribution of the land are rather devastating, at least if we look at the present situation and the near future.
It is quite understandable, that in such a complicated situation the concept of difference did not help immediately to support a philosophy of liberation, and that it is still used in an ambivalent way by authors as D. Goosen. Apartheid itself had been justified by telling that the blacks were different and that the segregation from them was the natural consequence of that. Now right-wing White Afrikaners stress that they are different, and they want to segregate from the black population in order to preserve their privileges. And if then another group of White Afrikaners is pleading for a postmodern republicanism and for radical democracy by using the concept of difference in the Derridian sense, Murray still does not feel at ease. He would prefer it to 'look for alliances with the colonially oppressed' people in Africa and elsewhere in the world, instead of asking for a 'Charter of minority rights' which has to help to secure a situation of better life than the rest of the country.
The black population of South Africa and of subsaharan Africa as a whole sticks to their traditional spirituality, to the belief in spirits. Christian and Islamic theologians take into account that fact and stress the spiritual dimensions of their own religions. In this respect the black people have maintained their pride, and indeed, they can show certain shortcomings of European rationalism. Nevertheless, it is necessary to discern the spirits. Bad spirits have to be resisted and the influences of good spirits have to be examined critically. I quite agree with that. And a sceptical attitude is advisable in respect of pretended influences of spirits. There are many charlatans in this field. And it is not always simple to discern them. The dialogues between African spirituality and Western rationalism have only begun. And it is not easy to find a good and convincing way in their continuation.
Other problems are more urgent in present day South Africa. Therefore I understand that Murray prefers it to discern the meanings of difference in the South African situation instead of discussing the right and wrong of the belief in spirits. The specific South African situation, where a considerable part of the population is white since more than three hundred years, makes it unavoidable to discuss this situation in terms of color of the skin and of racism. This is especially tricky, after Kwame Anthony Appiah has made clear that there is not such a thing as a black or white race. The differences between black people or white people, if we look at both groups particularly, are much bigger in many respects than the differences between blacks on the one hand and whites on the other. The problems, which used to be explained as racial, turn out to be cultural. This does not mean that their solution is easier in any way. And we have to take into account that there is not yet a cultural name to identify the specific group of the South African population who bears a white skin. It will be a long way to articulate the 'we' of all South Africans, the way in which they are one or the same, and the ways in which the different parts of the population differ from each other. Derrida's appeal to open ourselves to history, to the event and the future is not specific enough to help much in this situation. Yet he is right in stating that the South Africans stand before an impossible choice.
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