Hotepism, Violence and Incense

Text: Kholeka Shange

Photograph: Supplied

Hotep. A Black man that advocates for social justice concerning Black men and children. Bhut’Hotep is typified as ‘woke’ because he is a loud (on social media) proponent of Black Lives Matter, Fallism and Black Consciousness while he has no interest in dismantling hetero-patriarchy. His ‘wokeness’ is not an emergent state of being that leaves considerable room for learning from Blackwomen about systems of oppression and how to subvert them; rather his ‘wokeness’ is inextricably linked to exhibitionism wherein his didactic politics are on display for Blackwomen to ‘consume’ and be ‘enlightened’ by. In his mind, he is the carrier of divine knowledge that Black women should labour to excavate. In this case, labour is the equivalent of Blackwomen’s assimilation to a hetero-patriarchal order where respectability is a currency. In his world of dominion, bhut’ Hotep practices sovereignty as ‘King’ while those he deems as deviant or aberrant (i.e. Black women that do not adhere to his respectability politics) are simply ‘hoes’. It is only women he calls ‘Nubian Queens’that deserve to be treated with limited respect- limited because in the event that the ‘Nubian Queen’ steps out of her prescribed role (i.e. a mammified aunt Jemima cum-mother Afrika trope) and begins doing ‘hoe-ish’ things like taking ownership of her sexuality; calling him out on his hetero-patriarchy; reading literature that has nothing to do with pyramids, ancient civilisations, crystals, incense or chakras (not that the aforementioned are inherently bad); being in solidarity with other Black women and having a mind of her own, she is relegated to perpetual ‘hoe-ness’.

It is through this vilification of a ‘Blackwoman with a mouth’ (as the collective Black girl plotting states) or the perpetuation of the Madonna/whore dichotomy that violence against Blackwomen is used as a ‘moralising’ tool in Satafrica (this is definitely not the Azania Black women envision). In a country where every six hours, a woman is killed by her current or former partner, poet Vuyelwa Maluleke’s idea that “The world seems to think black woman looks more beautiful screaming” (2015) is hauntingly befitting.Many are the examples of screaming Black women that Satafrica chooses not to hear. Visual activist Zanele Muholi has been utilising photography as a tool of resistance to expose the everyday violence that is perpetrated against queer Blackwomen in this country. Muholi’s body of work titled Faces and Phasesspans for over a decade and yet Satafrica is only coming to grips with gender based violence in 2017! Change ke! There has been an incessant massacre of queer Black women that have been maimed and dumped in open fields for communities to witness and ignore. Furthermore, campaigns such as One in Nine (formed in 2006 to support Fezeka Kuzwayo- commonly known as Khwezi- during President Jacob Zuma’s rape trial) have done extensive work to advocate for “a society where women are the agents of their own lives including their sexual lives” and to promote “the rights of women who speak out against sexual violence”.In other words, why is Satafrica only ‘waking up’ now? Why did it take the horrendous deaths of yet more screaming Black women for this country to see the pandemic that is gender based violence and hetero-patriarchy?

The collective call to “end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression” is defined by bell hooks (in a chapter titled Come Closer to Feminism) as that much stigmatised word called feminism. Many in Satafrica claim to fight for an egalitarian society where women have agency to define themselves for themselves and yet these very same people shun feminist discourses. To stand up against gender based violence is a feminist act. To desire to dismantle a system that normalises the inferiority of women while it upholds hypermasculinity as the ultimate goal is to be feminist.

When radical Black feminists in this country call for intersectional feminism as a tool to obliterate white supremacist capitalist hetero-patriarchy, they are envisioning a holistic Azania. An Azania that will be ideal for ALL Blacks not just Black men that advocate race and class politics while ignoring the other isms that plague Blackwomen. When radical Black feminists challenge Hotepism in the everyday ¾ be it at a chillas where a Black man says something problematic like “Then they wonder why they get raped”(as he sees a Blackwoman exercising her agency over her body) OR “Uyabona wena sista, at least uyazihlonipha. Ugqoka ngendlela” (Not realising that women are raped regardless of their dress code) OR in the boardroom where he says “Well done on securing that funding. Keep doing whatever you did to convince him (as he winks) to give us money”¾they disrupt misogynistic ideologies that culminate into physical violence against Blackwomen.  Therefore, it is not enough to say land first, when that land will be filled with hemorrhaging and lifeless bodies of Blackwomen. It is not enough to say Black first when it is the very same Black men that perpetrate violence against other Black people that are women. In other words, as Audre Lorde once said “There is no hierarchy of oppressions”.

To be intersectional is to be Black and many other things at the same time. The other things that one is come with their own systems of oppression. It is high time we began advocating for ipolitiki ecabanga kabanzi ngezindlela eziningi abantu besifazane abacindezeleka ngazo. Uma sithi sinenhloso yokuphila ezweni lethu esilibiza nge Azania, kubalulekile ukuthi silwe nazozonke izingcindezelo ezibhekane nesizwe esimnyama jikelele. Makubenjalo.



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