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Birgit Solvsten d’Alpoim
 
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What South Africans don’t know about SA

09 November 2010, 09:00  - Birgit Solvsten d’Alpoim
The least South Africans can do for their country is act as ambassadors and not write insulting things publicly about the their fellow countrymen like commenting in derogatory terms that the black people are and come from monkeys.

What surprises me is that no one reacts to this type of written abuse in the comments section of an article but, lo and behold, should you insult the white man! We are all human beings from the same planet. How can you ever hope to accomplish peace in a country or spread good will if what you say causes hatred and anger. You are lucky you have countrymen who are so forgiving.

Why insult people for their badly written grammar if the language in question is not their mother tongue. The black South Africans speak several languages and use them regularly, that alone can lead to confusion. They are merely expressing a point of view not writing a work of literature. The whites generally speak only one, maybe two languages. Perhaps it would give them some insight and enrich them as people to learn an African one.

Most South Africans have not lived the "good life" that many of the whites have for several generations. Even the poorest whites lived in relative comfort and were given a superior education especially during apartheid years in comparison to the non-whites. So show a little humility for those who built your country with their sweat and tears.

I should make a comparison with the African black man and the Americans referred to in the article, What Americans know about SA. Why should those Americans not have strong opinions and express them with confidence if they believe what they are expressing to be true. You all do! Are they expected to cower like your countrymen and say: “Sorry baas that we are so ignorant of matters of this world.”

They also may not have had the good fortune, for whatever reason, to have slick jobs and university educations. Many of these people have a long day at work then have to go on to do their shopping, clean their houses, cook, feed and spend time with their families as do the majority of South Africans.

Do you? They are not like the privileged few who come home to houses that others have cleaned for them, laundry and ironing done, children who have been bathed and fed, meals prepared and lawns mowed. You have all the time and energy in the world to improve yourselves.

Also a word on behalf of Americans. Some of the best brains come from there, many of the universities and centres of learning are considered the best in the world. Where would most South Africans love to immigrate to? If Jean as yet has not spoken to one person with whom she can connect to in her travels there, then that problem is hers. It is just exactly that "superior than thou" attitude of so many South African whites. I certainly could not stomach that on a daily basis and I am so happy that I had to leave through no choice of my own. I love Europe with its confusion of languages, life is harder in many ways but at least I don’t feel like throwing up.

Does it really take that much effort to share knowledge? I loathed the patronising apology in the article referred to above where Jean says "I can't bear to wrest from someone the littlest bit of knowledge they have about my home country. It feels cruel like stealing candy from a kid." One should never, never underestimate people. No matter how silly their response may sound, they may afterwards think about what was said and it may open a door. One open door often leads to the next.  Perhaps that bit of newly acquired knowledge is the highlight of their day and something they then can go on to share with others.  A few moments of your time to respond with the correct information may be the starting point that gives an eagle beaten down by the wind and the storm, courage to fly.

I for one am waiting for the wounded to soar and miss the rich voices and heartbeat of the black people. They make South Africa beautiful.

- Are you a South African living abroad interested in sharing your views? What is it like for a South African living in a foreign country or how do you view South Africa from a distance? Send us your columns to feedback@news24.com and you might get published in our new Beyond Borders section.

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