The condemnation of the rallying cry “One Settler, One Bullet” from groups like Afri-Forum, Democratic Alliance (DA) and the South African “Human Rights” Commission (SAHRC) in 2020 was a continuation of European tactics, designed to manipulate Africans on how to frame and analyse the settler-colonial constructed South African political economy.
In South Africa (SA), as in other settler-colonies like Australia, Canada, USA; there is no justifiable reason nor a moral obligation for why Europeans and colonist descendants should not be referred to as settlers. In fact, they should be called invaders because of their use of brutal methods of enslavement, imprisonment, torture, and murder to suppress other nations. True to colonial culture, reactionary epistemic and physical violence is used by European descendants via state institutions to subjugate the indigenous people of South Africa in order to turn them into subject tools that can be manipulated at will.
The Black resistance struggle in South Africa has always been a resilient formation, beginning from the Portuguese invasion of 1488 where Africans resisted the settler-ism of African sovereignty. History records that by 1910, resistance was conquered, and settler-colonialists consolidated a modern political expression under the Union of South Africa – a “settler-colonial” Republic to this day. This historical facticity affords bearers of African resistance justifiable motives to critique South Africa’s modern political order, not as docile subjects, but as rational Beings. That critique is rooted in the “One Settler One Bullet” dictum.
“One Settler One Bullet” is a critique and political dictum of Africanists against settler-ism, white supremacy, Eurocentrism, and class dynamics in occupied Azania (South Africa). Settler-colonialism is an ethos that defines modern South Africa and continues to impose itself by spreading its influence via the law (1996 RSA constitution), exploitative capitalist relations and the formation of ‘racial’ identities amongst others. This settler-colonial domination is kept organised by systemic epistemological violence of Stuart Hall’s uncritical, Eurocentric understanding of modernity, but also by conquering the African subject and culture to un-make and re-make of it something that is reflective of colonialism. It is a process that the historian Thiven Reddy equates to “a breaking and putting together of Humpty Dumpty.”
These African subjects are controlled by the settler-colonial violence that generally permeates our society, even under a ‘Black’ government. This violence is meted out by the state and its apparatuses at various levels to produce what Foucault terms, ‘docile subjects’; subjects that are only bearers of life and a source of labour under the guise of ‘progress’, ‘enlightenment’, or maybe ‘civilization’. These docile subjects must not critically engage the ‘geography’ of power or any colonial epistemology but rather accept it as universal, scientific, and natural settler-ism and white supremacy. The DA, Afri-Forum and SAHRC are tools to manufacture the “Humpty Dumpty” African Being who will toe the settlers’ line.
Challenging the creation of the Humpty Dumpty of our people in the COVID-19 vaccine dogma, CJ Mogoeng Mogoeng (Chief Justice of the South African Constitutional Court) argued that “we have been quiet and toeing the line for far too long, the time of toeing the line is no more.” CJ’s interlocution, like the interlocution of the Africanists, is an attempt to shake off the docile subjectness of the African in South Africa’s political discourse. “One Settler One Bullet” is a radical stance: no more to settler-ism! However, settler-colonial charm and organisations expressive of Europeanism challenge, intimidate and manipulate us, the Chief Justice, or anybody who questions and critiques the European universalism utilizing the Police, SAHRC, and Institute for Race Relations.
SAHRC is one institution exploited by political elites to demobilize mass-based politics and to domesticate them towards a diluted political rationality that is confined to liberal civil culture. The contemporary melancholy in South Africa’s political culture is of the nationalist bourgeoisie and reactionary forces that fight relentlessly using SAHRC, the reactionary 1996 constitution and immorally accumulated profits to criminalise genuine Africans resistance and to replace it with rigid, uncreative, and top-down captured politics. The collusion of the nationalist bourgeoisie with Power and Capital assumes defensive roles and desires to ‘mirror’ the West, while ever fearful of the disgruntled masses. Hence the demobilisation and criminalization of “Black” resistance.
One Settler One Bullet is a rallying force of the disgruntled masses to address historical struggles and demands that were sacrificed at the altar of capital during the CODESA negotiations by the nationalist elites. It is a political dictum that stirs up subaltern consciousness to overthrow the settler-colonial state for the seizure of state political power. It is motivated by antagonistic community struggles that demand free decolonised socialist education, free ‘quality of life’ state services, and recognition of self-defined subjectivities. It is aiming at a government of the Africans, by the Africans for the Africans, and guarantees equitable distribution of wealth. One Settler One Bullet is not hate speech as settlers and invaders manipulate us to think, but it is a tree rooted in the African soil, nourished with waters from the rivers of Africa. It is a moral posture against settler-ism, white supremacy, and European universalism.