The damage in people’s heads lives on

2011-03-19 00:00

THIS week saw the death of the former leader of the Broederbond and founder of Orania,Carel Boshoff, which marks the end of an era on the political and cultural landscape of this country. Boshoff came from a generation that advocated the idea of an independent Afrikaner homeland and one that struggled with the changes that continue to take place in South African society.

Funnily enough, I agree with some parts of the organisation's agenda as I support the restoration of Afrikaans as a language and a culture because no language or culture should be allowed to die out. Trust a Zulu to agree with an Afrikaner. There will always be a concentration of a certain demographic group in a certain area of this country and there isn't anything particularly wrong with that.

Where the Broederbond gets it wrong is that they want certain areas to be reserved exclusively for them. There is Afrikaner emancipation and then there is racism, and Boshoff seemed to confuse the one with the other.

Organisations or movements such as the Broederbond are a reminder of what continues to be wrong with this country and there are many citizens in this country who are not members of the Broederbond but have the same thoughts and lifestyles. You do not have to look very far to find them. They are across the socio-economic and political spectrum of the country. You just need to visit news websites and read the readers' comments at the bottom of each story to find some of them, especially with regard to the government or political stories. It is by reading these comments that one starts to appreciate the damage that apartheid did to people's minds. People continue to be enslaved by it without even realising it, because to them, what they think and feel is the truth. The names people call each other and the baggage everyone carries around, are there for all to see.

Unlike in our daily interactions where our identities are known, comments on websites are made by faceless individuals and so they can afford to be their real selves. This shows you how many people hide behind being civil, professional and politically correct, as opposed to being themselves and saying what they think. According to some, whites are racists and blacks are incompetent and think they are entitled to resources, and so stereotypes continue with all the racial groups. Anything anyone does wrong boils down to the colour of their skin.

There is now also systematic racism, where people are rejected even though they qualify, because of the colour of their skin, for example when one applies for accommodation in a residential flat. We tested this at The Witness when a black and a white colleague applied and the former was rejected while the latter was accepted. While the seed has been planted, what remains a challenge is how we deal with the racism that continues to engulf us.

Someone who spreads racism is no different from someone who has Aids and has unprotected sex with many people, knowing they are spreading it.

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