I don’t usually post negative things on my blog – I generally try keep things around here as positive as possible and seeing as I am a very opinionated person I try my best to never write about politics. That being said, this blog is my personal outlet and this is something that has been resting heavy on my heart. Before I start, please know that I am not trying to insult anyone, I hate racism, I love my country.
I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town takes my breath away and fills me with awe. I grew up somewhere even more beautiful… a gorgeous farm in Kanoneiland situated in between Upington and Keimoes in the Northern Cape – also known as the ‘Groen/Green Kalahari’. As beautiful as the landscapes and sunsets are, this place is filled with just as much ugly… and I am scared. It is like an abusive relationship – every time it gets bad I threaten to leave, but love and hope keeps me from following through… It will be better tomorrow, it’s not really that bad.
Last night I was lying in bed and instead of drifting off to a peaceful sleep I was figuring out my ‘game plan’ for when shit hits the fan – grab Knox, run to Mikayla’s room, grab her, climb out the window, sneak to the car, get in and speed off. I was playing out different scenarios in my head, what to do if this or that happened… should I pack an emergency getaway bag and keep it in the car? Should I get passports ready for the kids? Should I get a gun? Should I rather start homeschooling the kids? Should we just leave before it is too late? Will it ever get to that point?
Some people might read that pharagraph and roll their eyes, but when you have kids you are constantly worried about their safety and their future. I am scared all the time… I am scared when driving because I might get hijacked, I am scared while putting my kids into their car seats and into the car because I am vulnerable, I am scared when we are home because someone might break in and I won’t get to the kids in time…. I have worse fears, but they are to horrid to put down in black and white. I know I am kind of rambling, I always do… just bare with me.
Everything always seems to come down to race.
“I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find we are turned to hating.” – Reverend Stephen Khumalo in Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country.
I know that I am a privileged white South African. In terms of schooling, medical care and basic everyday life it has been relatively easy for me and I have been awarded some opportunities that definitely does not come easy to people of colour (I don’t even know if that is the right, politically correct way to refer to it, but when I say that I refer to the coloured people, black people and Indian people in our country). I have a tertiary education, I have a car, I live in a nice little house in a working class to ‘rich’ suburb, my daughter goes to a good school and we get by. I know apartheid was a terrible thing, but I sometimes catch myself thinking, “why are people so hung up on apartheid? Why can’t they just move on? I don’t even remember apartheid… ”
And then I sit and think about it… I mean really think about it. As white people we are privileged – some of us are lucky enough to have generational wealth. Our parents or grandparents were able to buy property, businesses or shares in businesses due to preferential treatment and employment. Some were then able to leave the proceeds of this wealth to their children as either an inheritance or a financial jump-start in life. We were exposed to better early childhood development and we get the benefit of the doubt. Our parents are mostly self-sufficient, where many of my fellow employees and friends of colour are supporting theirs. However, this is a reality for many white South Africans too – especially in this economic climate and our ridiculous excuse of a government. Acknowledge your privilege. Understand your privilege. Accept your privilege. I understand and accept my white privilege… how can I help end this violence and hate?
Now that it has been established that I am not completely delusional… can I ask you – how is it fair that we are being punished for something we had no control over? There is an anger in this country and none of us can predict the outcome or consequences– the anger at white South Africa and anything foreign. At no point since the birth of democracy has this been so palpable. Why is it, so many years after the nation’s founding president, Nelson Mandela, told us at his inauguration “the time for healing of the wounds has come” and “the moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come”, are we moving further apart?
Looking at my Facebook newsfeed and news headlines over the past couple of days makes me want to cry, it breaks my heart that there is so much hate in this country…
#RhodesMustFall is a campaign by some UCT students where they called for the statue of Cecil John Rhodes to be permanently removed from campus, amongst other things. I don’t really have a say here as I am not and was never a UCT student and it does not really directly affect me. I do know this though – the statue of the man who founded the university has been taken down and in it’s place now stands a big old piece of nothing. I hope they feel better, now they can go to class in peace and not be afraid of this “wicked imperialist” who died over a hundred years ago. Yes, he was white supremacist and his politics were appalling, but this was at a time where this was the norm! By these standards, all the greatest men and women of history were nothing more than greedy slave-owners and should be erased from history. I truly believe that people simply did not know better back then. I am sure deep down Rhodes knew he was an asshole, because when he died he left Tony (his coloured manservant) an annuity and a house. For someone with a white superiority complex, that is rather generous. It is no excuse, but you can’t erase the past. It happened and it has led us to where we are now. It is a hollow victory to defeat a man that is already dead. The only way to defeat a bad legacy is to leave your own, one that makes their legacy look bad and one to be proud of. We are very obviously not doing that.
In the wake of the #RhodesMustFall campaign,the Paul Kruger’s statue in Pretoria was defaced, a bronze army memorial in the Eastern Cape was ripped apart; a statue of King George V was doused with paint and mocked and a memorial in Uitenhage set ablaze by members of the EFF. This is what we have come to – chaos, vandalism and destruction. So tell me, #RhodesMustFall, what have you achieved? I will tell you, you have opened the floodgates of hate and you scratched at wounds better left in the past. Wounds that our country is trying to heal.
Their conduct just further fuels racial division. I find the whole campaign to be rather sensationalist, if I must be honest. It also irritates me that these students are wasting valuable time and resources when they should be embracing the opportunity to learn and further their studies at one of South Africa’s most prestigious universities. A university that I could not afford to attend.
By the way… out of interest sake, are we now going to tear down the King Shaka airport as well? King Shaka of the Zulu actually brutally killed (sometimes by his own hand) so many Africans that he created a new map of the Eastern South Africa – chasing the Xhosa South and the Swazi North, bringing the Zulu clans under his iron rule.
The hate in this country is unbearable, and it is not just the hatred of white people and statues. It is the hatred of everything foreign. A story was recently shared on Facebook where a white man visited the KFC in Eastgate, only to have the staff (in this specific case the staff in question were black Zulu females) refuse to serve him – giggling and laughing amongst each other saying that “he should go back to Europe where he came from”.
There are increasing attacks directed at foreigners in our country – Xenophobia has been on everyone’s minds. These attacks are incompatible with the values of our Constitution and pose a real threat to our democracy. If you remember the 2008 Xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals, you will remember the potential of such conduct degenerating into other opportunistic attacks on fellow citizens that could weaken and even reverse democratic gains, harm the economy, and ultimately harm South Africa’s standing internationally. We have worked so hard for basic respect for human rights, everyone has the right to live. Tell me… what can possibly make you so hateful and angry, that you are willing to go to these torterous and extreme measures? Six people have lost their lives in the Xenophobic attacks that broke out in late March this year. Amongst them were an Ethiopian man who shop was petrol bombed – he died in hospital from his burn wounds, a 58-year old man that was attacked in his home and left for dead, and a 14-year old boy who was shot. Hundreds of foreign-owned shops have been looted and thousands of foreigners displaced. Malawi, Somalia and Zimbabwe have started evacuating their people from our country….
Tell me… how is this okay? This anti-colonial, anti-foreigner, anti-anything not indigenous black South Africa is ridiculous. The few black South Africans who are butchering and burning innocent people (and the ANC ruling government that is doing little to stop them – Zuma’s son is actually spurring this on!) must have become forgetful of their history and the role that their fellow Africans had played in helping them fight against the apartheid system that robbed them of their humanity.
“Ethiopia always has a special place in my imagination and the prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England, and America combined. I felt I would be visiting my own genesis, unearthing the roots of what made me an African. ” – Nelson Mandela
I am sorry our government failed you, I am so unbelievably sorry. I feel like our country is at a tipping scale, that it could go either way. So what do we do… do we take a chance and hope for the best? Do we pack our bags and leave? What do you think?
We have an opportunity to build new legacies, create new scholarships, enhance our world and add to a horrible history by making a better future. Our beautiful, diverse rainbow nation is fading fast. I cry for my beloved country.