Friday, November 30, 2007

"I have black friends"

This week, the owner of a tourist complex at the outskirts of Johannesburg was murdered. He had immigrated in the 1950s from Germany. In reporting about the incident, it was emhpasised that he loved Africa and that he said he wanted to make Africa work, with Africa. Or something similar, I do not recall the exact wording.

In the blog 'Constitutionally speaking', a heated debate ensued over HIV/Aids. black participant wrote that he was tired of white people who felt the need to say that they had black friends, how they liked black people or that they had voted for the ANC.

Why is there such a need to say these things in contemporary South Africa? Because race is still over burdened with history. White people who do not recognize themselves in the history of apartheid, who do not think that a black government is equal to failure, who do not contemplate emigration and who don't see themselves as superior to black people seem to feel the need to distinguish themselves from those who do all these things. (That they are still alive, but not necessarily in the country, tells you Aubrey Matshiqi in his recent BD column.)
But it is also because the label 'racist' is easily deployed in order to silence critiques. And "new" white South Africans feel the need to distinguish themselves from "old" ones.

Suspicion and lack of trust looms large in debates straddling the colour line.

1 comment:

Jo Ann v. said...

I must confess this is one of my favourite topics ever. "Race". All kinds. I thought about doing a dissertation on sociology about the Mixed, and how and where they felt they belang.
We can/could go on and on. I find it fascinating, but on the other hand, some cases like this one, just make me feel sad... :/