SAMSUNG

Every important thing has been said particularly by Tsholofelo Mpuru! You nailed it girl. I don’t even know why I am writing but Brett asked and I said yes.

This is my pet hate. A lot of white people may not be guilty of this. I hope.

I mentioned to a Zimbabwean friend of mine this month just how much I absolutely detest being asked whether I am Zimbabwean by a white South African or former ‘Rhodesian’ who meets me for the first time. It is often the second sentence after a greeting.

I look nothing like a Zimbabwean even on my best or worst day. I know that there are tons of Zimbabweans in South Africa but come on! This has only happened in Cape Town though often in an all white environment. It will often be one odd white person who meets you for the first time who will ask that silly question. It does not happen all the time but it happens. It often makes me mad because for crying out loud I am in South Africa. I have never set foot in Zimbabwe even if I had this is South Africa, a land full of many different kinds of blacks who actually belong here. I suppose it is hard to believe that if you are a white Capetonian.

My Zimbabwean friends will confirm that I am not xenophobic. The issue at hand is that even where I live in East London I was speaking to an Afrikaans white friend who was telling me about her domestic help. One of her friends has only employed Zimbabweans in her business, and she was telling me about how a certain Zimbabwean fixed washing machines and sends them to Zimbabwe. She was very impressed by how industrious he was. She said it with a tone that said: “not like these blacks.” Only that she did say it, she said; “you know Zimbabweans are different, they are not like these people here.” While she was elevating Zimbabweans as the better blacks she finished her sentence and remembered that I was black. I was boiling but what constructive words can come out of a furious person. I was furious not because of just her but of the general white South African attitude which in my books fuels xenophobia with these negative attitudes and perceptions towards local black South Africans.

The first time I ever came across this was a decade ago. Another Zimbabwean friend of mine was telling us of the despicable racism they experienced as a group of blacks by a white South African couple. She also said that the white racist couple treated them better than the black South Africans because they were told that they were the ‘better blacks’. Imagine that.

Needless to say, in Cape Town I have encountered many whites who have echoed this debasement of South African blacks as they elevate the non-South African black as the better black who must be protected from these hostile black South Africans. What I have also learnt is that some of the non-South African blacks hectically disapprove of the same white people. In fact a Malawian thought a Mugabe style of leadership was what we needed to get rid of the very white people that love them. I was shocked because I knew that the white people bent over backwards to protect the poor Malawians from these terrible black South Africans.

I have heard the same thing from South African whites who have been to America. I have heard complaints at times that the African Americans are not like us. Can we get a break?

What is this, a search for the most acceptable black? Why can’t a black person be accepted period?

Granted that human beings are slaves of comparison regardless of race, however other times it is more insensitive and hurtful than other times. In this case it is very destructive. I do wish that more people were sensitive to this.

The point is that if we are going to live together in unity in this country something has got to give. There is a reason that the black people in this country are the way they are. Some of it has to do with our difficult history. God placed us here. I know that is hard to believe but He thought this is exactly where He wants to place us. I understand that our past is quite involved and difficult but we actually do need to face one another and not wish for another breed of people that are more acceptable to you or me. This is it. Look close. We are not that bad in fact we are actually very beautiful people. The moment we connect with each other’s beauty we will not be able to see where one ends or the other begins. We have a great future as a rainbow nation but the walls of hostility and demonising one another must go away so that we can unite as one people.

You can read more of what Siki has to say by taking a look at her blog – madamemadiba.wordpress.com

[For the next amazing post in this series by Tshego Motiang, click here]

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