OK! It’s time for the chat… Apartheid Happened!
I’m a white, English speaking South Africa, born in 1985. I had nothing to do with the construction of Apartheid nor its perpetuation.
I’m sorry I was born white. That’s biology for you. Turns out that when both of your parents are white, the children tend to turn out white too. Even Happy Sindane had a white father (Remember him? Here is a reminder).
My parents didn’t even have much to do with Apartheid. My mum is Irish, my dad was an Englishman who grew up in Zimbabwe.
But yes, Apartheid happened. And I’m sorry it happened. I wish that it hadn’t. If I was capable of time travel, I would definitely go back and change it. Show me someone who wouldn’t.
The philosopher George Santayana is famous for saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. South African’s are safe because nobody dare forget our ugly past. It’s impossible to forget it, because EVERYONE takes any opportunity that presents itself to remind anyone who is listening that Apartheid happened.
My question is what would you like me to do about it?
I’ve spoken before about race in South Africa, and that its possible to be called a racist for simply breathing… I embrace the idea of one country for all those who live in it. I’ve even embraced Employment Equity (yes, I still shop at Woolworths). I’m happy to call everyone my brother or sister, regardless of the colour of their skin. I cannot change the country on my own, I accept that. I accept that everyone needs to think the same way as I do before there will be any semblance of progress in South Africa. But I can only talk to others, offer friendly advice and try to convince them that what I am saying and doing is the best way to help South Africa move forward. I cannot force anyone to do as I do.
My issue is that there are whites who want to forget about it AND there are blacks who are hanging on to it! Those whites who yell “its in the past, can we move on?” are doing absolutely nothing for the cause, because it happened. It has shaped every aspect of the country we live in today, so no we can’t move on just because its in the past.
But those blacks who yell just as much that they are still suffering because of the past and that its my fault as a white man alive in the year 2012, they are doing just as much to halt progress as those backward whites. FACT: BEE has not only created a huge middle class (as is the aim of BEE), but it has uplifted blacks not whites. But the whites are mostly happy to carry on about their business, and if they complain, they mostly complain to their friends behind closed doors, or on news forums where they can hide behind an avatar.
I am no denialist. I am a realist. I cannot change the past. I cannot right the wrongs of the past either. I can only stop any further repercussions of Apartheid in my personal capacity. I am not Nelson Mandela. Please stop reminding me that it happened, because I know it did. I’m bored of this conversation now…
Right, rant over. Normal service shall continue shortly. As a parting shot, let Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones get the last word in. He said “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”