25 February 2008

My blood is green and gold

I am not a racist person. I am not colour blind, and I am realistic, but, by the definition of the word, I am not a racist.
Just as a reminder (mostly to myself):

rac•ism (noun)
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
Humans are humans. We all shit the same way. To believe one group of humans is superior to another is just complete idiocy. To give one group of humans preferential treatment over other groups is ridiculous, brainless and amazingly, racist.
South Africa has a long, long history of racism. Yes, it is a human thing, but it seems that, above everything else, South Africa is the melting pot for racism. The general population can get along, but, as soon as someone does something, colour is the first thing brought into the argument.
And, recently, after a particularly unpleasant incident, colour started entering my thoughts, and I think that is what I am most uncomfortable with. Wondering if you would have been treated differently if you were a different colour is not a nice thought to have, at yourself and at those doing to the treating.
And, to make matters worse, there has been a lot of news and discussion with implied racism this week. It started off with Carte Blanche's broadcast of Panorama's No More Mandelas and the discussions on the Carte Blanche website that followed, and ending with Jacob Zuma's apparent snubbing of white journalists on Friday, and happily saying he doesn't see the problem with it.
And maybe, when I start worrying that the country I love is changing my thoughts - something that not even apartheid times could do, then maybe I was right in thinking it is time for me to leave.
When I was in primary school, in the early to mid eighties, I was very much an outcast, partially because, stupidly, I was outspoken about human rights. I tried to tell my white Afrikaans privileged class mates that, incredibly, black people were just like us, and should have the same rights as us. I was told that euch, one day I would marry a black man. I shrugged it off, because, if that would be who I fell I love with, what would be the problem with it?
And I grew up in the platteland (small town in rural South Africa). I remember that I could not fall asleep until the curfew bell rang out. I remember the whites only signs. I remember seeing the long queues of non-whites, I remembered how people treated them as if they were lower than animals. And I remember how wrong it all seemed to me. And how I was teased and had things thrown at me for being outspoken on this topic.
I remember joining the ANC youth league (when it was still a youth league) for this very reason. I remember marching along with the AYL for human rights, and losing friends because of my views. And I remember how incredible the feeling was when I stood in the queue for 8 hours with my fellow South Africans in 1994 to vote for the first time.
And now, suddenly, I am confronted with a thought that, just maybe, there is no space left for me in my country.
I am not going to inflate my importance, and say that I was a front runner in any battle, or that I fought many battles and won. I am a fairly passive person most of the time (which is why armchair activism is right up my alley). But I also did not disagree with the policies and treatment of humans to silence some internal guilt. I truly do believe that all humans are equal, and should be judged not on their gender or the colour of their skin, but rather on the way they live and treat others.
And, in my short little life, I have met some truly inspirational people and some truly despicable people from all the race groups.
So, when I think that maybe the country of my birth, the country in my blood, no longer has a place for me, it is not something I take lightly.
Before, when I was talking about leaving, it was because of the crime levels in this country, and because I fear for my daughter's future in this country. Now, I want to leave because it feels like I am being expelled, squeezed out like the puss from a boil, ejaculated, and discharged.
So, here is to entering the green card lottery (and let's hope it is less rigged than our national one).
And here is to leaving every one and everything we love behind
And here is to hoping we are wrong and things turn out better in the end
And here is to sunny mornings and long summers and golden beaches and beautiful smiles, filed safely into our memories
And here is to braaivleis, biltong, pap, marogo and chackalaka, and melktert and peppermint crisp tart
And here is to the Springboks and the Proteas and Banana Bafana, and to *sigh* Ryk Neethling
My blood will always be green and gold, even when my heart adopts another continent

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