As we’ve seen on this site in recent months, the organization Black First Land First (BLF) has been controversial (which is to put it mildly).
Some of the controversial statements to come out of the group is that they would support a rapist if the perpetrator was black and the victim white, that white South Africans are settlers, thieves, and criminals, that whites cannot join their political organization, and that five innocent white people should be killed for the death of every black person in the taxi industry. The leaders in the organization have also celeberated the news of the deaths and pains of white people including farm murders, the loss of land due to fires, and the death of several white children when a concrete slab collapsed on them while at school. The organization also supports the ideologies of despots such as Kim Jong Un, and others. The BLF are also running for the South African elections, with the general vote to take place this Wednesday.
The BLF also advocates the political slogan “Land or Death.” Their narrative is that all white South Africans who own land in South Africa today are land thieves because of the claimed illegal occupation of land by the Dutch when they first arrived in the 17th century. They claim blacks are still disenfranchised when it comes to land ownership, and that all land in white hands must be given back to them. However, for many white South Africans who lawfully and legally own land in the country, the BLF slogan can feel like a threat along the lines of “either give back the land you stole to the black people you stole it from or we will kill you for it!”
One does not wish to deny that the BLF really do speak to some really important issues of our time, one of which is land ownership. These are real issues and important ones, but they should never be monopolized by a few individuals to spew racist hatred of others, which is what the BLF is doing.
It will please many that today (Monday 6 May) the Equality Court found their slogan to constitute hate speech. They have been ordered to remove the slogan from their regalia, social media accounts, and website within one month, as well as provide a written apology to all South Africans within the same time period, which will be published on the SAHRC website. However, the BLF does not respect the law when it is opposed to their divisive and vitriolic ideology. They refuse to apologize or remove the slogan, and they will appeal the ruling.
However, the BLF’s response to the ruling aside, this is a positive outcome for all South Africans across the racial spectrum who find BLF rhetoric and ideology hateful, racist, bigoted, and unacceptable. As a country with a recent and very painful history, there are many pervasive social and economical challenges we need to work through. We must work through them together, which means we also need to avoid sowing racial division, and oppose such division when and where it rears its ugly head.