Letter to the Motala Comrades from Jacques Depelechin

Dear friends, Dear Shamita Naidoo,

I am writing this to thank you all for your exemplary solidarity. At times
it is difficult to say thank you briefly. I wish i could be more brief,
but here it goes.

I have been meaning to write you since I heard of the latest attacks
against you. I still cannot understand how South Africa under the
leadership of the ANC is allowing the law of the land to be taken in the
hands of people whose behavior seems to come straight out of apartheid
South Africa. Such behavior seems to be widespread. It is happening in
Durban, in Joburg, in Cape Town, mostly against the poorest of the

The assault is against the poorest of the poorest. In our common histories
of discrimination inside and outside Africa, there is a pattern one can
observe: the poorest of the poorest are seen/presented (especially by the
richest of the richest and their allies) as incapable of thinking for
themselves, by themselves. In other times, the poorest of the poorest were
enslaved in Africa and shipped across the Atlantic and northward. The
process was a complex one and there are still academic battles going on as
to the responsibility for a genocide whose impact and consequences still
remain impossible to calculate in human terms.

Atlantic slavery is mentioned because, in various places, in Africa and
outside of Africa, people resisted the process. The most well known one
was what the Africans did in Haiti from 1791 through 1804. Then, it was
also thought by the french (the “owners” of Haiti when it was still known
as Santo Domingo and its black population) that the slaves could not free
themselves from slavery. In the mindset of the ones who became filthy rich
through slavery, the slaves could not be capable of thinking of freeing
themselves. Indeed, according to the Black Code (1685-1848), enslaved
Africans were nothing more nothing less than furniture to be discarded when
it became useless. How could pieces of furniture think?

From Atlantic slavery to post apartheid South Africa, the poorest of the
poorest have been treated as if they are not part of humanity, as if they
cannot think for and by themselves. But, as in Santo Domingo/Haiti, the
same people who have been discriminated systematically have shown that they
are the conscience of humanity, they are the ones who live, who think, who
breathe human solidarity.

People who are eager to become the richest of the richest, like Ricky
Ricky Govender will seek to eradicate the poorest of the poorest because
they are the only safeguard against the quickest realization of their
dreams/our nightmares. I am sure Govender has other explanations and has
used them, but in the process of seeking to realize his dreams, he must be
shown, systematically, constantly that he is also eradicating humanity,
just like the enslavers were doing centuries ago, when this system was
invented. Such a system is increasingly revealing itself, through people
like Govender and its known and unknown allies, devoid of any respect for
the sacredness of life and living people.

Motala Heights is a sacred place because there are people who live there,
people who are born there, people who die there. In this sacred place, the
residents built a temple, the Shembe Temple.

Govender thought it was ok to destroy the Shembe Temple because he had been
destroying little by little the people of Motala Heights, with impunity,
and, apparently, with the approval of those who are supposed to defend
every member of society against unlawful practices. That is how, little by
little, the law of the land gets eroded. That is how, little by little, a
whole country can slide toward situations which are reminiscent of nazism,

I have written all of this to say thank you to Shamita, thank you to all
the people who are living in Motala Heights, thank you to all those who
stand, actively, in solidarity with the poorest of the poorest against the
destruction of the constitution in South Africa, the destruction of people,
the destruction of humanity. Thank you for showing, by example, what it
takes to stand up for the emancipation of humanity.

Deepest thanks
Jacques Depelchin