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Social Justice

Mental Means of Production

In a society where we witness the continuous, acute consolidation of power, be it economic, political, or through sheer military might, far too many souls have been locked in a circle of consumerism. Cities turn to mega-cities. Ample countrysides and vast open spaces, rich and fertile land stand waiting as if in defiance of our desire to pack in on top of ourselves to be closer to work. Endlessly pushing to be closer to the center of it all, doomed to find in that space, nothing at all. Too many have become trapped in a cycle of consumerism.

A cycle of self-doubt.

Do you feel caught by endless comparisons to folks who articulate problems and solutions better than you ever believed you could? Many are educated in lands most of us will probably never get to see. Living phenomenal(-looking) lives, projected onto our screens with hazy filters. Beamed into our timelines, updated live.

Message boards below our daily news articles remind us that our social problems are still very much alive. How many fathers and mothers have greeted you with a smile in the light of day, but have dehumanized your people with unrelenting malice when given the comfort of the anonymity provided by plastic computer screens?

Think about eyes that flash in your direction when you walk into all-white restaurants or coffee shops. Think about the words of cat-callers on the street. Think about the instinctual feeling that you are not safe, that the very ground you walk on rejects your presence. Think about how difficult it is to explain these traumas to souls who will never have to worry about such pain.

It’s alienating. It’s straining.

Too many times I am intimidated into silence. I feel unsteady about disrupting someone else’s peace, even if theirs comes at the cost of my own. I am expected to consume. Consume hate while I continue to not take up too much space, trying not to dirty anything while feeling that my hands somehow are permanently dirty.

Why?

Think about the instinctual feeling that you are not safe, that the very ground you walk on rejects your presence. Think about how difficult it is to explain these traumas to souls who will never have to worry about such pain.

Why must I simply just consume? Why should I sit back and let someone write my story? Why should we let men who arrive with guns at talks for peace lecture us about what’s needed for our freedom?

We need not sit passively. We can take control. Build capacity and organize. We can turn back the tides of global inequality. It simply must be done.

But how do we walk that journey?

Surely, my friend, we start by taking our first proverbial steps. We need to allow ourselves to be creative. There are ideas that can be conceptualized by only you. Only you with your experience, your way of thought, and your passion can access certain places. The world of the present day that denies you has no option but to change when you change.

Seizing the mental means of production is to accept the responsibility of your gifts by asserting your presence in society by the act of creation. Crafting stories, fables, or paintings and drawings scribbled on dining room tables. To this aim, we need to encourage one another to give more and collectively take less.

There is no oil well or gold mine on this earth that will ever be worth what your mind can contribute. Our most valuable resource is our minds; it is what makes us who we are. Human. Safeguard yourself against manipulation. Achieve this through challenging the world that confronts you, through tireless, relentless participation.

Look squarely at yourself today and recognise that without a critical engagement with this wretched world, our circumstances will not change. Our children’s futures will be further compromised. We must allow ourselves the courage to speak while knowing that we may never be heard. We are good enough, as is.

So say it. Take a step forward and engage with your reality. Speak to your neighbors. Find out where your food is produced. Support local business. Actively give. More.

Let me assure you. My brother. My sister. Your mind is the first means of production you will need to own. You must seize control. You must produce. You must write. You must think. You need to speak. You need to sign. Do whatever it is you need to do to communicate your ideas.  In the midst of our mental enslavement, call upon strength to dream. This is undoubtedly an act of revolution.

Pick up that pen, my friend. With every word you say, a change is on its way.

By Brian Kamanzi

Brian Kamanzi is a Cape Town-based spoken word poet and engineer by trade committed to the social upliftment of his fellow people. He is a budding Pan-Africanist eager to make contributions to the movement and form cross-cultural connections with others in the struggle. Follow his writing online.