05 Sep Dear white people
Dear white people, you know that smile you give when you walk past a black person in a corridor or when they walk into a lift? I’m talking about that uncomfortable feigned thin lip smile.
Dear white people I hate to be the one to tell you that we know that smile is fake. It’s ok…you can stop doing it now. That smile you see, is symptomatic of what is wrong with race relations in South Africa today. It is fake.
Dear white people, to say that you are African and yet you can not speak a word of an African language is simply as false as the above mentioned smile. A 100 years on, you would think at the very least you would have picked up an ethnic accent. You work with black people, they look after your kids and clean your homes and still you sound as European as you did the day got off the boat in 1652.
Dear white people if your children don’t have an African name, even as a second name, you and them are not Africans. By now we should have many blond and blue eyed Thoko’s. This ofcourse, if there was a genuine interest on your part to be African.
Dear white people if you carry two passports you are not African. If you refer to yourself as Italian or German and you were born in South Africa, then guess what…? You are not African!
Dear white people if you still can’t say “Xh” and still pronounce Musi with double “mm” then you are simply not African. Mnxh!
I can make many such examples.
Have you ever heard of the pencil test?
The pencil test is a method of assessing whether a person has Afro-textured hair. In the pencil test, a pencil is pushed through the person’s hair. How easily it comes out determines whether the person has “passed” or “failed” the test.
This test was used to determine racial identity in South Africa during the apartheid era, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. The test was partially responsible for splitting existing communities and families along perceived racial lines. Its formal authority ended with the end of apartheid in 1994. It remains an important part of South African cultural heritage and a symbol of racism
The pencil test was racist because depending whether you failed it or not the then South African law would have treated you differently by virtue of your hair texture. But it was an acid test non the less, much in the same as my earlier examples. So why are my examples not racist? Simply because failing to be African does not prejudice your human rights in any form. I just believe it does not earn you the right to call yourself African no more than I can call myself European.
Your birth place does not make you indigenous. I have trees in my garden that are not indigenous. I like the trees but the problem with introduced species is that they tend to take over and the indigenous plants suffer as a result.
If I was born in England it would not make me European. Why then would it make a white person born in Africa and African?
What makes one indigenous to a place is heritage, customs, language and culture. As long as one does not identify with the indigenous cultures they simply can’t call themselves indigenous.
Black Americans are called African Americans then if we are to follow the same logic white “Africans” should be called European Africans.
To be African it means you respect the African cultures. When a Sotho woman marries a Xhosa man, she marries into the Xhosa culture. She and their children become Xhosa. When I go to a Zulu household as a guest I am to respect and practice the customs of that home despite that my cultural practices may be different. It is a sign of respect.
Dear white people the lack of immersion in African culture no longer speaks to ignorance, it instead speaks to disdain.
But luckily for you white people I have a solution. I am starting a vernacular after care school. Instead of taking your kids to go learn only Greek, Italian, Afrikaans or Portuguese you can bring them to my vernacular school to learn an indigenous African language.
Why should you care?
Wouldn’t you like to know what the waiters say about you or what they have put in your food?
Wouldn’t you want your child to be cultural diverse in a country where diversity is a competitive advantage?
Wouldn’t you want to refer to yourself as African, and it be true?
I was in Spain and the Spaniards are very snooty and for the most part they refuse to speak English. It was weird for me to be in a country where I didn’t understand what was being said. It was the first and pretty much the only time I felt sorry for White South Africans 😏. I could never call a place home if I never understood what people around me were saying. I’m just saying. I tell you one of the highlights of that trip was when after weeks of traveling , I got on an SAA flight back home and heard Xhosa cabinet attendants chatting away. The sweet sounds of home! That was interrupted by Dames and Here that came on the PA system. What’s up with that? Why is Afrikaans still the second language on a national air carrier?! Tells you a lot about how the Afrikaner still values their language and what lengths they will go to preserve and foster it.
Being African is not about racial identity but in fact it’s about cultural identity.
Cultural identity is the identity or feeling of belonging to a group. It is part of a person’s self-conception and self-perception and is related to nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, generation, locality or any kind of social group that has its own distinct culture. In this way, cultural identity is both characteristic of the individual but also of the culturally identical group of members sharing the same cultural identity.
Racial identity, as in the case of the pencil test seeks to segregate and therefore discriminate.
Cultural identity, seeks to promote cultural diversity, much in the same way that the Zulus and the Sothos may speak different languages, dress differently and have different customs and yet both are African.
– Please post your thoughts below.
– If you see any grammatical errors please let me know so I can fix them. I type these blogs on my phone with very little time, so sometimes there errors. Plse don’t Bonang me🙈
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