Tag Archive: Tsholofelo Mpuri


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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]

tsholo

This is perhaps too long, but I’ve just been given a platform to vent out years and years worth of frustrations and I’m jumping in head first. But before I begin, let me say that I have way too many white friends to think that white people as a whole are racist, and I don’t know if all of what I’m about to say applies to my friends cos I think (or hope) my friends know some of this already…anywho…

Firstly, white privilege is real! You not being able to see it doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from it, it just means you’re blinded to the injustice others are experiencing. Having said that, white-adjacent (my own terminology) privilege is also a thing – the right accent, the right facial features, the right physical appearance (ie weave/wig vs Afro), listening to “white” music, etc – can also open doors for you that others might never get entry to.

When you’re black, it doesn’t matter how talented, skilled, or studied you are, you are always aware that the job you have is probably because of BEE. You are aware that, although you might be more qualified that a lot of the other people in the room, no one actually cares, you are just there to fill some quota. People hear that you’re in IT and you just see on their faces that they resent you for taking a job from some fictitious more well deserving white person…doesn’t matter how well deserving you are, there is probably a white person who deserved it more…what is more commonly known as “reverse racism”.

It might come across as if black people are always looking for racism, but it’s not. Black people see racism because we’ve dealt with it before. We know what it looks and feels like. You don’t see it because you don’t need to. You’re not aware of it because it won’t affect you anyway.

I hate it when someone (ie Helen Zille) says/does something offensive, then when black people call her out on it white people come to her defense and explain to black people why we are being over-sensitive, why we shouldn’t be feeling the way we are, why we are selfish for focusing on one small detail when there is so much wrong with this country…when white people make themselves arbiters of what is and isn’t worth getting worked up over.

I’m having a rough time reconciling Christianity and blackness. This is a new thing for me... this new found blackness or black consciousness, but it occurs to me that Christianity is very white/westernized…whiteness is close to godliness. Which is weird since, well, Jesus died for the world, not a culture or cultural norms. (The movie Noah has been getting a lot of flack for not being Biblically correct, the other day I read another article that criticized it for it’s all-white cast…which I hadn’t noticed…hmmm… )

It really doesn’t matter to me that there’s only a handful of white racists left…at the end of the day I only have to come across one on a bad day and I become another victim of an isolated hate crime. I think about this every time a white person casually drops the k-word, the n-word, or makes some racist joke.

Don’t say things like “blacks people do this” and “black people think that…” or “black people are like this and that…” and look to me for confirmation. I was not appointed to be the black representative in your group of friends. There are too many different tribes/cultures/subcultures within the black race in South Africa alone who do and say and behave differently, and within that there are individuals who choose to do their own thing, I have not been given permission to speak on behalf of anyone so please don’t ask me to…

And I really don’t like generalizations like black people can dance, black people are cool, etc…I know it’s meant as a compliment, but…black people are humans – individual humans, there are cool ones, there are uncool ones, there are even those who can’t dance…black people are individuals too.

I realize that it is never the intention, but when I’m the only black person in the room and race topics are brought up in whatever context (be it political – bee, or discussion on black culture, or a compliment – how “cool” black people are) it makes me very aware that I’m the only black person in the room. Makes me feel like I’m “the other”, the odd one out, the one that doesn’t belong. As I said, I realize that it is never the intention, and I’m not saying it should stop – I’m glad you are comfortable to discuss racial issues and not act like race isn’t a thing (SA is way too racialized for people to claim to be colorblind) I guess I just wanted you to be aware of it…*shrugs*

Blackface is never ok! “Black accents” when talking to black people sound patronizing…to me at least…

Yep, definitely too long…sorry about that.

*cue Intellectualize My Blackness by Skunk Anansie* Grinning face with smiling eyes

[To continue on to Tsholo part II, click here]

 [To return to the beginning of this series, click here]

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