As a full-time student, I have faced many different kinds of people that have introduced me to different ideas of how the world works and different social and political ideas. I must admit that most of it liberated me from my small world as an Afrikaner male. I feel that I can understand my fellow South Africans better and that I can understand how especially black South Africans suffered under apartheid.
My eyes have opened and I feel ashamed like so many other Afrikaners do. How could my parents, my grandparents and their parents allow such atrocities to occur? I don’t know them like that and it shocks me to even think that they were (or are?) capable of such evil things. I’ve tried to look at it from different angles and I just can’t see how any of it can be justified. Then it hit me...
I have applied to a vast number of companies for bursaries in my field of study. I have never received any. Although I passed my degree with distinction, I am not black enough for any bursary from government or government-owned companies. What other reason is there for my black classmates to receive bursaries from the same government organisation I applied for, and I did not? Don’t tell me that I didn’t work hard enough. My marks are always in the top of my class.
In a similar incident, one of my friends applied for a post-graduate course (which has very limited space) and she was refused... why?
Because even though she has some of the highest marks in her group and received many academic awards, the university had to make space for a ‘disadvantaged’ individual from another university and they decided to disregard my friend’s hard work throughout her studies. The person in her place? An African girl who does not even know how a scientific paper is written (it’s something elementary that is taught in the undergraduate courses).
She was naturally upset. Not because the girl was black, but because preference was given to a girl that by no merit deserves a place in the course and didn’t work half as hard as she did. The same principle applied when I phoned a government department to ask about the availability of a bursary opportunity that they advertised. I was told not to waste my time because preference will be given to “disadvantaged individuals” and that they had received “too many applications already from the designated group”.
When making an appointment for an appointment for a driver’s license test a few years ago (yes, you read right) I also experienced unfair treatment. I had to do the test three times where the African instructor had some lame reason to fail me everytime (one reason I found particularly annoying: “When you were reversing your car into the parking area, your car rolled backwards.”). All South Africans who have stood in queues of hundreds of people, wasting days at a time and losing hundreds of rands because of it, knows exactly what a frustration this can be.
When I finally passed the road test, it was a white instructor. I was the last person to be tested for that year and I scored the least ‘penalty points’ for that year. Probably because I knew every rule and move in the books as I was so afraid to fail again. Many thousands of rands later and after traveling many hundreds of kilometers, I finally had a valid license. Don’t think that the white guy gave me preference because I was white, he failed two white people before it was my turn!
Light bulb moment
In another example, we have not had street lights in our street for almost 10 years now because the cables were stolen and the municipality did not have the money to replace them. One chilly winter morning, a cherry-picker truck was replacing the light bulbs. Obviously we called the municipality to ask why the bulbs were being replaced but there were no cables to supply electricity.
Stunned by the fact that they even answered the phone, we were even more surprised by the answer: “Eish, I can’t understand you whites... you complain about no light, then you complain about light.” Dear lord... did you not hear the part where there are no cables to provide power to your new light bulbs?
I think many a South African knows that it’s better to put down the phone right there and then to stop a fierce tirade about service delivery and incompetence.. Don’t argue with an idiot, they say.
Meanwhile, in Potchefstroom, the ANC tried their best to win over the mayoral seat from highly qualified and competent DA mayor, Annette Combrinck. Even going so far as to sabotage the entire town’s water supply in time for the vote of no confidence. It’s so clear that they don’t care about the people and their wellbeing.
But as long as the ANC mayor, Maphetle Maphetle, has his Merc that cost just short of a million rand, everything is fine. Even our dear and beloved president came to Potch to support his group of ‘highly competent’ comrades.
I can go on and on with examples of how frustrated I am with South Africa at this moment. I love the country and I’ve never thought of immigrating before... but I am beginning to consider it. I haven’t even said anything about the fact that so many people we know have died in humiliating, brutal, savage attacks on their farms , in their homes, in town and on the road.
How long do we have to wait until it is us or our families that are killed, harmed or emotionally scarred because of the violence in this country?
It hit me that maybe this was exactly what my ancestors were trying to prevent. Maybe they tried everything in their power to protect this country and it’s people from what we are experiencing now. Maybe they loved this place so much that they sacrificed some for the well-being of the masses. It’s something that has been practised over the centuries... cut out the rotten parts to save the healthy ones.
Wasn’t that also the attitude of police during apartheid? Stop the brutality by giving them their own medicine while defending the safety of the city. Wasn’t that exactly what happened at Marikana? Did police not stop the protesters before they harmed them and the people around them?
What is wrong about that? Since when is it wrong for someone to face up to the consequences of their actions?
Not everything about apartheid was wrong. I believe most of it was wrong, but there are some things that we can learn. To prevent for many of us to feel alienated, frustrated, underappreciated and in simple terms gatvol, CUT OUT THE ROTTEN PARTS!
It doesn’t matter if it’s your ‘comrade’, your family member or a previously disadvantaged person... judge people by how hard they work and on their individual merits. Give people what they deserve. Give criminals the sentences they deserve, give justice to those who have been wronged and give recognition to those who have done good and those who work hard.
The main reason more and more South Africans feel like strangers in their own country is because of this. This is also the reason, I believe, so many South Africans have left the country. This is the reason for our economic decline, our high crime rate and our high unemployment rate.
Giving the people a voice does not just mean to take their votes.
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