ALEXANDER JOE/AFP via Getty Images.

White South Africans hold placards during a protest against the violent murder of farmers which they term "genocide and oppressive state policies in favour of blacks" in Pretoria on October 10, 2013.

Op-Ed: Laying Bare South Africa's 'White Lie'

There are many persecuted minorities in the world—white South Africans are certainly not one of those.

For years, and particularly in the last five years, there has been a push through the media by white South Africans to present themselves to the international community as a persecuted minority and one whose persecution has been heightening. The narrative that there has been an ongoing "white genocide" taking place in South Africa has been gaining worrying traction with various governments from the West responding to this false and dangerous claim. Frankly speaking, this claim would be hilarious, given its ludicrousness, were it not so devastating for a majority-Black country barely recovering from decades of racial segregation at the hands of an Apartheid regime whose legacy still lives on today in egregious ways.

At a time when Black people around the world, minorities and otherwise, have been leading massive movements against police brutality, systemic racism, human rights violations and corrupt governments, it is vital to dispel dangerous notions of white South Africans being a persecuted minority when the reality is the exact opposite.

The belief that there is a white genocide in South Africa is not new. It stems from the continued and false assertion that white farmers are deliberately being targeted and murdered because they are white. Now, while it is certainly true that there are farm attacks and murders in the country, these are reportedly a tiny fraction of the country's overall homicide rate with Africa Check's senior researcher, Kate Wilkinson, citing in an interview the inaccuracy of the figures. "Until we can be sure what murders are being measured and what definition is being used to estimate the total population size, we can't calculate this figure."

Of course, that has not stopped right wing political parties such as the Freedom Front Plus from arguing during a 2017 parliamentary debate that farm murders are three times the national homicide rate––and all with a straight face. And so it becomes clear that the issue of farm murders, which seldom makes mention of Black farmers (who are just as vulnerable to attacks as white farmers), is far more political than it is accurate. Political analyst, Ryan Cummings, put it this way in a tweet: "South Africa must be the only country in the world where a genocide is ongoing but where the victims still employ their murderers to tend to their gardens, clean their homes & walk their dogs."

However, in an age where fake news and misinformation tends to be shared up to 70 percent more than legitimate information on social media, it is not difficult to understand how the myth of this white genocide can exponentially amass popularity, and with the right financial resources, reach the offices of those in power. In 2018, the Australian government gave serious consideration to fast-tracking humanitarian visas to white South Africans on the basis of "land seizures and violence," both of which were unfounded. Furthermore, former President Donald Trumptweeted a series of posts about the "land seizures and the large scale killing of white farmers" and even announced that his then Secretary of State would keep a "close eye" on South Africa.

READ: There is No 'White Genocide' Happening in South Africa, So Why is the American Right So Obsessed?

What is particularly upsetting, is how in spite of their propaganda, white South Africans have continued to treat Black South Africans with such incredible inhumanity. Many people are aware of these infamous farm murders but how many of them equally know about 16-year-old Matlhomola Mosweu, a Black teenage boy from Coligny, North West, who was murdered by two white farmers, Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte for allegedly stealing a few sunflowers. Sunflowers. The pair caught Mosweu and proceeded to throw him from the back of their moving truck.

What is uncanny about white South Africans claiming persecution, is how they have, over decades, made considerable efforts to separate themselves from the rest of the country and govern themselves as a people under a sovereign state. Relatively new "white-only " settlements such as Eureka are just a continuation of long-established places like Orania, an entire town only open for residence to white South Africans and more specifically Afrikaans-speaking white South Africans.

Unlike the mythical city of Atlantis, this town exists in plain view and the South African government has been lethargic when it comes to addressing how it is a stumbling block in the country's progress towards a non-racial society. Established in 1991, Orania is almost completely self-sufficient with monuments celebrating the prominent architects of Apartheid, the old Apartheid flag and even a separate currency known as the Ora as opposed to the South African Rand. Naturally, and is always the argument, all of this is to "preserve" Afrikaner culture and heritage. Orania feeds into the grand idea of establishing a volkstaat which effectively seeks self-determination among Afrikaans people in a way that is separate from the rest of the country. While this has not been enacted into the law, it is already the de facto reality.

Orania - OkayAfricaA picture taken on April 17, 2013 shows statues of apartheid heroes displayed above the town of Orania. Orania is a South Africa's only "purely" white town founded in the Northern Cape province in 1991 by Afrikaners, for Afrikaners opposed to the post-apartheid "rainbow nation".STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images.

It bears asking then, how can white South Africans, on one hand, position themselves as victims, but on the other hand, insist that white rule remains supreme? The two are admittedly mutually exclusive.

While the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has always claimed to be in favor of a non-racial society that serves all South Africans, of late, it has become undeniably clear that the party panders unabashedly to white interests and as a result, has lost key Black leaders of the likes of Mmusi Maimane and Herman Mashaba. In a recent anti-racism protest that saw violence erupting between members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and parents at Brackenfell High School, a tweet from the DA likened the EFF to "Nazis in brown shirts" on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, where Jews were attacked by SA paramilitary forces throughout Nazi Germany in 1938.

Furthermore, the dynamic that exists between white South Africans and the police, is an important one to consider as it has permitted them to enjoy great freedoms in the country as a result.

In 2016, when the nationwide Fees Must Fall protests denouncing the financial exclusion of poor students erupted, the South African Police Services (SAPS) and private security forces were brought in to maintain "law and order." Black students under attack quickly realised that if white students formed human shields around them, the police would simply not shoot. The police were largely Black officers but their regard was for white students instead. That image remains a difficult one and one that still brings tears to my eyes, as a former student leader, four years later.

The following year, there were protests calling for the resignation of then-president, Jacob Zuma. Again, the interactions between the police and Black people compared to white people, were vastly different. White "protesters" took selfies with police officers and even walked alongside them at times during the march. In stark contrast, at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year, more Black men were killed by the police and members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) than by the coronavirus outbreak itself. Collins Khosa, Sibusiso Amos, Petrus Miggels and Adane Emmanuel were their names.

One would think that the non-threatening relationship that exists between white South Africans and law enforcement would ease their fears of being completely wiped out. The opposite is true. White Afrikaners especially are preparing for a civil war. Some of them even send their children to "survival" bootcamps that teach tactical training, denounce leaders like the late anti-Apartheid veteran Nelson Mandela, introduce the notion that Black people are dangerous and sing Die Stem, the national anthem under Apartheid, all while burning the new South African flag and flying the old one.

South Africa's White Supremacist Training Campswww.youtube.com

With the majority of the land in the possession of white South Africans, ample financial resources and institutionalised racism maintaining their place in positions of power, only concerted political effort can stop them. However, the current African National Congress (ANC)-led government is consumed with looting state coffers and has no seeming interest in addressing the growing and potentially devastating repercussions of racism in this country.

The victimhood alleged by white South Africans is not by accident but design. History shows us that atrocities against white people, real or not, will always be avenged and that is a trump card white South Africans are keeping in their back pocket. It is no longer enough to quote Mandela and struggle leaders of the past. It is not nearly enough to spew rhetoric about a non-racial South Africa when racism is the neighbour from whom one regularly visits to borrow sugar. Racism is still sitting at the dinner table as the star of the show in much the same way it did under Apartheid. Essentially, very little has changed.

This concept of a rainbow nation filled with "colour blindness" and all manner of unicorns is a delusion and in the words of one great lyricist, Cardi B, "This ain't Disney."

Photo Credit: Amazon

Watch the Trailer for 'Gangs of Lagos,' Amazon's First African Movie

Amazon's Gangs of Lagos will premiere on April 7th.

Nollywood is coming to Prime Video.

On Monday, the conglomerate announced that it would be releasing Gangs of Lagos, its first original African movie, on April 7th. The project, which is directed by renowned filmmaker Jáde Osiberu, features Nigerian stars like Tobi Bakare, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Chike Osebuka, Chioma Chukwuka, and Iyabo Ojo.

The movie will follow the lives of a group of friends as they navigate the bustling streets of Lagos.

In a press release, Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, head of Nigerian Originals at Prime Video, described the movie as a story that highlights the importance of friendship and family.

"Gangs of Lagos is a unique story about family and friendship, against the action-packed backdrop and striking set pieces of the streets of Lagos,” Mba-Uzoukwu said. “As the first Nigerian Original to launch on Prime Video, Gangs of Lagos sets the tone and standard, with the authentically Nigerian storyline in a genre that is so popular around the globe, making it a movie for our audiences at home and abroad.”

Gangs of Lagos - Official Teaser | Prime Video Naijawww.youtube.com

Located on the country's southwest coast, Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria. Over the years, the vibrant city has become known for its bustling economy, eclectic culture, and rich history. The crime drama promises to showcase the nitty gritty rumble and tumble of Lagos, as well as the authentic elements that make it one of the most renowned cities in the world.

Ned Mitchell, head of African and Middle East Originals, Prime Video said that with the roll out, Prime Video was hoping to connect with original voices.

“At Prime Video, we are looking to work with original voices to create spectacular stories and events that audiences can connect with wherever they may be,”

Mitchell said. "Gangs of Lagos launching will truly be a global cultural moment that marks the beginning of a new era in storytelling, where audiences everywhere can see the full power of Nigerian and African voices and the depths of our continued commitment to the local TV and film industry.”
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Photo by Cindy Ord for Getty

Trevor Noah Wins Prestigious Erasmus Prize

Trevor Noah is the first comic to win the prestigious Erasmus Prize since Charlie Chaplin in 1965.

Famous South African comic Trevor Noah has won the prestigious Erasmus Prize from The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. The award is named after Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus' most famous piece of work.

According to a statement from The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, Noah was receiving the prize “for his inspired contribution to the theme ‘In Praise of Folly,’ named after Erasmus’s most famous book, which is filled with humor, social criticism, and political satire.” (Desiderius Erasmus was an influential Dutch philosopher from the northern Renaissance era.)

Noah is the first comic since 1965 who has been awarded the honor. The last comic to win the prize was Charlie Chaplin, who received the recognition in 1965. Since 1958, The Erasmus Prize has been awarded to recipients recognized for many achievements, including literature, music, philosophy, and social activism. Some notable recipients who have received the award in the past include Jorge Luis Borges, Isaiah Berlin, Ingmar Bergman, and Amartya Sen.

The panel that selects awardees for the prize includes a committee of scholars and cultural experts who review nominations and recommend to the board of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation after weighing in on the strength of each candidate. After the recommendation, it is up to the board to make the final decision on the award recipient. The prize is typically awarded in the fall during a ceremony in the Dutch royal palace in Amsterdam.

Beyond his work as a comic, the former Daily Show host has been vocal about his social justice advocacy and has been a strong advocate for human rights issues on a broad scale. While a host on The Daily Show, he consistently used his voice to highlight other prominent Africans. It is safe to say that the 39-year-old has indeed made South Africa proud.

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Photo by Nipah Dennis.

Idris Elba, Black Sherif and Sheryl Lee Ralph Join Kamala Harris in Ghana

Idris Elba, Black Sherif and Sheryl Lee Ralph recently visited a music studio in Ghana with Kamala Harris.

Idris Elba, Black Sherif,Sheryl Lee Ralph and other celebrities joined Vice President Kamala Harris in Ghana as she visited the Vibration studio at the freedom skate park in Accra, Ghana. Harris visited the community recording studio with the stars as part of her weeklong tour of Africa. The visit was a step towards highlighting the growth, talent and evolution of African creatives and the creative industry in Africa. Other notable figures who joined Harris on the tour included Baaba J, Ria Boss, and Moses Sumney.

In the past, British actor Elba, whose mother is Ghanaian, has been vocal about the West supporting and investing in African creatives. Earlier this month, he joined forces with Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu to launch a joint film and TV venture that would support new projects from rising African talent in the continent and the diaspora.

While talking with the press, the “Luther” actor said that he and his wife first met Harris at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit last year.

“[Harris] said, ‘Hey, I really want to come to Africa. And we said we’d love to do that,’” Elba told White House press reporters in Ghana, according to The Hill.

“If you ever go to Africa, let me know,” Elba said. “So here we are.”

The Golden Globe winner also mentioned that the creative talent pool in Africa is rich, and it was a good idea that Harris had visited.

“I think it’s a great signal for VP to come to Ghana, to come to Africa and be that interface to show the rest of the world that actually it is a fantastic place to sort of look at in terms of partnership and investment,” said Elba.

During the event, which gathered a crowd of creatives, Lee sang “Endangered Species,” after which she addressed the attendees.

“You must invest in yourself, in your art, first. And then you birth it out to the world,” Ralph said.

After her visit to Ghana, Harris will make a stop in Tanzania and then wrap up her African tour in Zambia.

Photo courtesy Industrie Africa.

Five Women-Led Companies Taking African Fashion to the World

These are just some of the trail-blazing women who are overcoming obstacles and globalizing African fashion with their e-commerce platforms.

E-commerce has become a vital part of the fashion industry. In recent years, it’s revolutionized the way we shop for fashion and beauty products, and made it easier for consumers to access products from all over the world. African fashion has become more accessible for anyone who wants to wear it – thanks to a number of e-commerce hubs that help bridge the gap between brand and fashion-loving consumer.

E-commerce revenue in Africa is only going to keep increasing, and by 2027, it could even reach a value of over $82 billion, according to estimates by Statista, an international consumer data and marketing company. E-commerce platforms help address many of the challenges faced by African fashion brands in getting their product to buyers, particularly when it comes to shipping.

But according to International Finance Corporation, which runs an initiative with the European Commission aimed at boosting online commerce opportunities for women in emerging markets, there is a need to close the gap between the earnings of male and female merchants. Doing so, they say, would increase Africa’s market value by about at least $14.5 billion.

There’s been a dearth of women successfully raising giant companies in this sector. Techpoint Africa reports that only 10% of female-founded startups in West Africa have raised up to $1 million since 2010. Women’s Month presents an opportunity to highlight this, and to raise up those women who have, in spite of this, managed to make their names known as leaders in this realm.

Here are 5 women who spoke to OkayAfrica about the highs and lows of owning an African e-commerce business in the fashion world.

Nisha Kanabar

An image of Nisha Kanabar in a blue dress, looking off to the side, smiling, with her arms crossed.

Nisha Kanabar created Industrie Africa to challenge how people perceived African fashion and what it could be.

Photo courtesy Nisha Kanabar.

Nisha Kanabar, a Tanzanian of Indian descent, built Industrie Africa in 2018, along with Georgia Bobley, to challenge the stereotypical constructs and bias of what people perceive African fashion to be. She wanted to harness pan-African industry voices through a global fashion lens and framework, and to create a hub of connectivity within the industry that would make it easier for the next generation of entrepreneurs to break into the business.

“I first launched Industrie Africa as an answer to the fracture and underrepresentation of Africa’s fashion industry at the time,” Kanabar tells OkayAfrica. “[I also wanted] to address the media bias, the gaping lack of global presence, [and] the ignorance of even the simplest of its vernacular. By establishing Industrie Africa, I kind of intended to create a channel for authentic connectivity – regionally and globally.”

In May 2020, Industrie Africa launched an online retail destination, enhancing its content around African fashion. Through this e-commerce platform, Kanabar intended to give people access to the top designers in Africa, and create a sustainable way of bridging existing barriers between these designers and their markets.

“It’s been a special journey with a steep learning curve,” says Kanabar. “I’ve had to break conventions and get creative in order to cultivate relationships with logistics partners, like DHL, to access payment tools that are user-friendly, or to create systems around quality and consistency.” She encourages other women who have an interest in this area of fashion to dive in. “It’s never too late to break into the space, and do what you feel passionate about,” she says. “All your experiences matter, and [it] enriches your perspective and what you bring to the table.”

Pinaman Owusu-Banahene

An image of Pinaman Owusu-Banahene looking at the camera wearing a black dress with a striking image embossed on it.

Pinaman Owusu-Banahene started building Adjoaa as a multi-brand online marketplace for African brands in 2021.

Photo courtesy Pinaman Owusu-Banahene

Pinaman Owusu-Banahene has a unique eye. The Ghana-born fashion tech entrepreneur brings her background in public policy together with her love for fashion in Africa in running ADJOAA – a one-stop shop for consumers looking to purchase garments that value sustainability and are from young design talents in Africa. The likes of LVMH semi-finalist Bloke, Ajabeng Ghana, Boyedoe, and Olooh Concept are currently stocked here. “ADJOAA is a curated multi-brand online marketplace [that was built in 2021], specializing in sustainable fashion and lifestyle products by African designers and of African descent,” Owusu-Banahene says.

She has consistently contributed to the development of this space, and in 2015, staged New Zealand’s first-ever Africa Fashion Festival, before going on to explore the e-commerce space. “Although I have been following fashion for a very long time [since 2010], I have looked at this from a perspective of economic development,” she tells OkayAfrica. “And I saw that our fashion industry and young designers [have] been at the fringes of the global fashion market.” ADJOAA aims to rectify this – so far, they’ve introduced over fifty African designers from fifteen countries in Africa and in the diaspora onto the site.

Financing, however, remains Owusu-Banehene’s biggest challenge. “Part of my work with the International Chamber of Commerce is also to highlight that access to capital is a major barrier,” she says. “I’m excited about the works that are underway to support growing fashion SMEs in the continent. We want to be more proactive about building this.”

Amira Rasool

An image of Amira Rasool in a brown dress looking towards the camera with her hand on her knee.

Amira Rasool is behind The Folklore, one of the top places to find the best African designers.

Photo courtesy Amira Rasool.

Based between New York City and Cape Town, Amira Rasool has nurtured The Folklore into an e-commerce company that gives a diverse range of brands the tools they need to reach their customers. The idea for The Folklore came about when the New Jersey-born entrepreneur moved to Cape Town in 2016 for her post-grad at the University of Cape Town, and found a growing interest in the local items she was wearing when she’d return to the U.S.

“[We built The Folklore] to source brands and place them on our platform, so merchandisers, buyers, and retailers can find them,” she tells OkayAfrica. The success The Folklore has amassed in the four years since its inception is notable: it launched during New York Fashion Week in 2018, and now has a hand-picked selection of apparel, shoes, and jewelry from more than 20 designers from the continent and in the diaspora.

“It’s been pretty challenging getting this together. A challenge for us and the brands has always been logistics and bringing said products here [to the U.S.],” Rasool says, “but it’s really why we’ve continued to collaborate and work with logistics companies to empower us and help overcome such challenges.”

Aderonke Ajose-Adeyemi

A portrait of Aderonke Ajose-Adeyemi looking straight at the camera.

Aderonke Ajose-Adeyemi started Losode Inc. because she believed in the strength of commerce and is passionate about it.

Photo courtesy Aderonke Ajose-Adeyemi

Nigeria’s Aderonke Ajose-Adeyemi is the founder of Losode Inc., a multi-hyphenated e-commerce platform that places itself between fashion designers and brands that make affordable clothing and accessories in Sub-Saharan Africa, and buyers or merchandisers. “I started Losode [in 2020], and I did it because I really just believed in the strength of e-commerce, and have been passionate about it,” she tells OkayAfrica. In the last 15 years, Ajose-Adeyemi has worked across tech in Nigeria, the U.K., and the U.S., and has incorporated that knowledge into building Losode.

“With Losode, we’re building an infrastructure that will drive trade and commerce across Africa,” she says. “We don’t have a solid commerce structure in Africa.” Losode has over 30 designers and beauty brands, and the business is centered around five major core values, including empowering entrepreneurs and dismantling existing trade borders. “We’re really just bold and confident about these pillars that guide us because we’re all about smashing these borders, and building something that allows others to have access to the remarkable works of the brands in Africa,” adds Ajose-Adeyemi.

The biggest challenge her business faces, she says, is finding the right quality brands, and bringing them onto the platform. To address this, she asks each brand about its vision, and listens to their entire process. “It helps us get a better sense of who they are, and their values,” she says.

Elorm Dela-Seshie

An image of Elorm Dela-Seshie looking towards the camera with some tree leaves in the foreground.

Elorm Dela-Seshie started Adorn Me Africa to help a few small sustainable brands and independent artisans based in Ghana get more exposure in the U.S.

Photo courtesy Elorm Dela-Seshie.

Like almost every success story in fashion, Elorm Dela-Seshie was introduced to an appreciation for clothing at a young age. Growing up in the U.S., she fell in love with fashion when she saw how her parents confidently represented Africa through their Ghanaian attire. Being an African in the diaspora instilled within her a kind of curiosity for the culture, and by extension, its fashion.

“That same curiosity birthed Adorn Me Africa; which I started in 2017 as a means to play a supportive role in assisting a few small sustainable brands and independent artisans based in Ghana in hopes of getting more exposure to these brands and helping them to sell their products to a wider market within the US,” she tells OkayAfrica.

What started with a focus on contemporary fashion in one country 7 years ago has since expanded to sourcing from over 30 different brands from over 15 countries across the African continent. “Our ultimate goal is to represent and feature sustainable products and independent fashion brands from all 54 countries of the African continent,” says Dela-Seshie. This, of course, comes with its own difficulties, such as supply chain issues in importing from Africa and the cost associated with doing so.

“Despite the challenges that we’ve faced, we’ve continued to push forward and respond with innovation, strategic pivoting, and a creative perspective on how we can best position the brand to continue to make the most impact and continue to serve as many brands as we are able to,” says Dela-Seshie.

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