[Guest] On Zizipho Pae and the intersectionality of oppression – Wanelisa Xaba

Recently, after the US Supreme Court decision extending marriage equality nationally in USA, SRC vice-president Zizipho Pae posted a status on Facebook condemning this decision as “institutionalising sin”. This has lead to widespread condemnation by LGBTI persons. Wanelisa Xaba, founder of SAY-F (South African Young Feminist Activist) shares her views on the matter.


The violence that Zizipho Pae has inflicted upon the gay, queer and trans community at the University of Cape Town and the world at large is unacceptable. It will not be tolerated, especially from an individual who was associated with a movement that we hold close to our hearts like UCT: Rhodes Must Fall. It has been made very clear that the revolution will be intersectional. It will house all people of all walks of life and no one’s struggle/oppression/voice will be compromised for misogynists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, racists, classist, able-ists comfortability.

What makes me reflect are two issues, my personal response as a cis Black hetero feminist and Andile Mngxitama’s call for ‘sympathy’ towards Zizipho. Andile Mngxitama’s basic argument is “we are black first and all other oppression you face doesn’t count in the face of white supremacy”. Of course this is a simplistic and self-serving understanding of white-supremacist neoliberal capitalist patriarchy. Self-serving and convenient truths for Hoteps who are publicly known to be violent misogynist homophobes who insists that the revolution be reserved for straight dicks. Men who not because of a lack of knowledge, hold on to their power in order to silence those who experience oppression differently. We clearly are not here for that. But he does say something very interesting, that we do come to the revolution as imperfect beings. That we come with baggage that comes with the socialization under white supremacy.

This is an interesting thought and one that I have had to face many times when dealing with violence and trauma of being a woman in violent, militant ant-woman spaces with Hoteps. How do we deal with other Black people in the movement who oppress us? bell hooks puts it best, “For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?” It’s a difficult thing. I certainly cant claim I am here but it is worth putting it out there for the Black masses to chew on.

I have been reading many comments regarding the situation at hand and I must say I have been very uncomfortable with the hashtag ‪#‎ZiziphoMustFall‬ because in my lifetime, I do not ever want to be a Black activists that advocates for the fall of another human being. As a Black feminist, I do not ever want to advocate for the fall of another Black woman. This is because I understand that as a Black person I have been socialized to inflict violence on other Black bodies especially during times when we must love each other in difficult ways that require accountability. I can hold a comrade/black feminist publicly accountable however to reproduce the violence on a social networks is another thing. Let us also note that during Rhodes Must Fall occupation, white media discredited the movement in numerous accounts yet I see members of the movement posting pictures of these media houses and their coverage of Zizipho’s homophobic comments. The white media never loved us. Remember that.

There are two trans Black women who have been very public about articulating their pain and the continuing violence against trans Black bodies who I will not name. I respect and stand in solidarity with you. I will not be insensitive and oppressive like Andile Mngxitama and say you are Black first blah blah. I will not be insincere and pretend I know how you navigate life. But what I will say is that, as a student leader and a comrade and as a human being Zizipho Pae should know better and must be held accountable. I will also say that my positionality as a non-queer body allows me the distance to be able to say some of the things that I have said therefore take what you must and discard the rest. This is no way a request filter your rage or hurt.

To Zizipho Pae, you are my Black sister and I hold you up in Black love. There is a Christian Black activists in the United States called Bree Newsome who believes that there is ” no greater moral cause than liberation, equality and justice f­­or all God’s people. What better reason to risk your own freedom than to fight for the freedom of others?” She is a Christian but she respects other people’s journeys enough to fight for ALL people. This is love. Dehumanizing people is not part of Black love or of your religion but a white missionary/colonialist interpretation of your faith. Decolonize your religion sis wam.

With you all in the Black love…even when it is difficult.


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