‘You Can’t Have Your Banana And Eat It’ By Dan Roodt

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Dan Roodt (Ph.D.) is the author of “the polemical essay,” The Scourge of the ANC. The following op-ed, “You Can’t Have Your Banana and Eat It,” has to be one of the most elegant and elevated logical eviscerations I’ve read in a while. Take it from someone who deconstructs arguments, week in, week out. Suffice it to say that Roodt utterly dismantles Malegapuru Makgoba’s atavistic boorish thesis. Enjoy.

You Can’t Have Your Banana and Eat It
By Dan Roodt

In his “Wrath of Dethroned White Males” Professor Malegapuru Makgoba has dared to offer a biological explanation for the power structure that prevails in the new South Africa. According to him, the white male has been “dethroned” and should now learn to adapt to a subservient, even submissive, role within our society.

Until now, Social Darwinism or the model of society as a competition for resources where the fittest will survive and prosper, has often been associated with notions of European superiority. After all, Europeans from a minute area in north-western Europe managed to get on to little sailing boats to colonise and rule the greater part of the Earth for a few hundred years. Britain is said to have conquered 100-million people in the Indian sub-continent with 800 soldiers and 2 000 Indian auxiliaries.

Makgoba’s view of African male dominance therefore represents a novel departure from a previously Eurocentric idea. However, he is not the first South African to take an interest in biological explanations for human behaviour or politics. Two of his predecessors would be Eugene Marais and Jan Smuts.

Marais was keen on the study of primates, especially baboons, and wrote two books about them, The Soul of the Ape and Burgers van die Berge. The great Afrikaner physician, journalist, poet and intellectual stressed the similarity between human and baboon behaviour, including an occurrence where he observed human boys and young baboons playing together, making clay figures and imitating one another.

This extraordinary incident is recounted in Burgers van die Berge. It fits in with Makgoba’s view that imitation and “aping” are normal features of both human and baboon societies. Nowhere would Marais, however, advance the notion that imitation was solely linked to hierarchy and dominance.

Makgoba is perhaps the leading theoretical Africanist in our country today. I am sorry, therefore, to bother him with Eurocentric logic, but his argument represents a tautology. Because black males are in power, he deduces that they are both dominant and “fitter” than white males. However, it could be that they are dominant for reasons other than their fitness. [Emphasis added]

Not so long ago, Mathatha Tsedu, the then editor of the Sunday Times, caused quite a ripple when he wrote in his column on July 13 2003 that black men sometimes display a lack of prowess. He quoted an anonymous Cabinet member who had told him: “When you come from where we come from and you then have to realise that if you want something done quickly you have to rely on whites, it is really debilitating. You bleed internally, but our very own comrades do not work. There is generally no work ethic.”

Of course, there could be a debate about what attributes an alpha male should have in human society. Should he be intelligent, physically strong or both? Should he be a good manager, highly numerate and literate, disciplined and with a good work ethic? Or are these but the traits of a tame white baboon and are universal criteria for primate success such as aggression, reproductive prowess and dominant behaviour more important?

Makgoba’s assessment leans toward the latter interpretation. However, I do not think that the same conditions of Darwinian survival pertain in the human world as opposed to the animal world. Human beings display altruistic behaviour uncommon in many species so that they would not necessarily subjugate the weaker members of their society as happens in a primate hierarchy.

Take the nuclear project at Pelindaba that existed under the previous government, for example. A handful of white Afrikaner males produced six nuclear bombs, deadly enough to kill millions of people in one fell swoop. In a straight Darwinian contest, they should have used that power to eliminate their black male rivals forever, thereby ensuring their own dominance within Makgoba’s scheme of rivalry between white and black males. Yet not only did they refrain from using the bombs, but they handed over power to the black males and peacefully dismantled their own lethal weapons.

Biologically speaking, such behaviour is absurd. No male baboon would be caught dead playing into the hands of his rival. Yet this is precisely what we have seen in South Africa.

At another level, however, one could argue that a form of social Darwinism is still operative at every level in a capitalist society where individuals and companies are selected for fitness through economic competition. This leads to a further contradiction in Makgoba’s argument, for while exalting black male fitness over white male weakness, he insists on affirmative action and black economic empowerment.

Because of racial-preference measures in our society, Darwinian competition, even at the more civilised economic level —as opposed to brute contests with bared teeth and flailing limbs —is flawed.

Either black males such as Makgoba will have to discard racial preference so that the real Darwinian contest may begin, or they will have to continue invoking sympathy for the poor, downtrodden black male having been disadvantaged by centuries of colonial oppression and racism. In other words, they will have to choose between Darwinism and altruism.

As they would say in the baboon world: you can’t have your banana and eat it.

Mail & Guardian Online

01 April 2005 09:59

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9 thoughts on “‘You Can’t Have Your Banana And Eat It’ By Dan Roodt

  1. james huggins

    No wonder Dr. Roodt is either hounded or ignored. He speaks the obvious but inconvenient truth. He would be hounded or ignored in the US for the same reason. A great piece of work.

  2. Cynic

    “the white male has been ‘dethroned’ and should now learn to adapt to a subservient, even submissive, role within our society.”

    Sounds like he has already adopted the Islamic attitude to the dhimmi. [Imagine if a white man said this–and under the guise of scholarship, no less!]

  3. A B

    Dear Ilana,

    The article is superb. This is what they (the politicians) are also doing here in India too, in the name of “affirmative action” and “social justice.”

    At a reasonably deep level, I feel that “darwinism” and “civilized behaviour” are opposite of each other. Darwnism is: “I (Me) first”. Civilized behaviour rests on the notion,”You (Not I) first”. In Darwinism one “competes” and in “civilized behaviour” one “offers”.

    Now we seem to have the same old story of “exploit the other person’s decency (civilized behavior), and then claim a (Darwinian) victory.”

    This is what the muslims want to do to the non-muslims. In SA, Blacks want to do the same to Whites. And all over the world the “uncivilized incompetent” want to do to the “competent civilized”.

  4. Donald Schell

    “Professor” Malegapuru Makgoba certainly won’t be a professor very long. Professor Makogoba became a prof. Africans cannot remotely sustain what they have been granted by the West. It will interesting to see how many ‘professors’ there are in Africa in another two generations – after Europe is but a memory.

  5. John Danforth

    If Darwinism in the wild mainly implies dominance of the weaker members by the stronger members, then it follows that formerly strong members might be weakened by illness, and subsequently subjected to domination by those whom they previously ruled.

    If we extend the analogy to society at large, consisting of humans who must survive through the use of intelligence rather than brute force alone, then it seems to me that a defect in thought processes could be considered an illness that could likewise weaken the formerly strong, with similar consequences.

    Dr. Root points out altruistic behavior as one differentiator between human and animal behavior and uses it as an example to deconstruct professor Makgoba’s argument in his excellent piece.

    Taking this in a different direction, I would posit that it is the distinctly human rational faculty that separates mankind from other life forms. And if we strictly define altruism as the idea that the undeserving are entitled to the unearned (and therefore irrational), then it could be argued that belief in altruism as a guiding principle might qualify as a sort of thought-virus that weakens the stronger members of a society if this principle as defined here is taken literally and put into action.

    So while I agree that altruism is a strictly human concept, I think perhaps it is an illness that can be used as a tool by the least able to subjugate the most able.

    Obviously, the term “altruism” is not so strictly defined by most people, being a blurry concept equated with ‘kindness’ in general usage. But whenever the unearned is granted to the undeserving as a matter of moral principle, injustice is the inescapable result.

    If the most able members of society are thus intellectually disarmed from resisting, then the least able, with a confident sense of entitlement, can and will eventually substitute force for reason. The result is that relations between members or groups are reduced to the level of primate behavior. The larger the scale, the more horrifying the results.

    –John Danforth–

  6. Barbara Grant


    Here, a very interesting article in the wake of the murder of SA Anglo-Zulu War historian David Rattray. Please note the fourth paragraph from the bottom: several business leaders, determined to wage a campaign to draw attention to SA’s crime problem, did not do so after meeting with SA President Mbeki.

    To the foreign observer, it appears that the SA government is not serious about addressing the issue of crime, and prefers instead the ostrich posture of head buried in the sand.

    [Thanks, B. After reading this, I think the family/wife are the real liberal ostriches. The government is just a gang of gangsters.]

  7. Tim

    Here is some related African News in regards to Western Civilization. Finland has imported Congolese immigrants. Finland now has it’s first Fistula Rape Case on it’s hand. I believe this is the first of these cases in Western Civ. History. Here is a Youtube snippet on Fistula and Finland (2 minutes long).


    (this stuff is for strong stomachs. I had never heard of a Fistula. Don’t look it up around dinner time.)

    Were are the Women Rights groups on this?!!!? This horrible stuff but someone has to write and Blog about it.

    [Where is the proof that this has happened in Finland? Provide a link to a credible news story, please.]

  8. Tim

    Ilana, here you go.


    (Translation from friend in Finland)

    3 Congolese immigrants gang raped a Finnish woman in Oulu (northern Finland), they made fistula on her using scissors in the Congo fashion, clipping up the skin between anal and vaginal openings, which means she will have to wear diapers if they can’t fix it with surgery (and in any cases, it’s impossible to fix it, many victims of this attack in Congo had to use colostomy bags for the rest of their life.

    Furthermore, They raped 2 other women in the same Finnish city, they targeted single women at bus stops, hit them in the head with a hard object and dragged them somewhere to rape them. The other women were lucky enough to be just raped, not permanently mutilated.

    The Congo Immirgrants were sentenced to 4 year jail sentences.

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