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The Dreaded K-Word

10 July 2012, 08:17

Racism is like alcoholism. You can curb it but it remains in the background like bottled up hate, gathering dust and always tempting you with a sip.

As a now 42 year old, like most whites of our era, I grew up with the K-word during the heyday of apartheid. It was in our schools, in our homes and it popped up repeatedly in our jokes.

As a result my wife and I have gone to lengths to keep the evil sound away from our children’s ears. As far as I know we have succeeded. They know about Fuck and they know about Shit, but as far as I know, they do not know about the K-word (we even have swearing jars and my four year old daughter’s is the fullest-- she is a champion swearer).

I pride myself on fighting my own racism, and like a failed drinker, I take things one day at a time.

Of course I don’t always stick to the straight and narrow. Sometimes I stray, like when I am in the traffic, running late, and a taxi is around. I am inclined to have a bit of a relapse then, full of unrighteous indignation.

“Jesus Christ, ******!, what are you doing!” I might say as the vehicle break-dance’s across my lane. 

Luckily, my wife is almost colour blind. It seems naturally occurring in her and she is the proud flag bearer of the New South African standard in our home. 

But I have heard her slip, oh yes I have. Like the time Precious burned out the new vacuum cleaner.

“Couldn’t-she-fucking-tell-that-the-filter-bag-was-full!” She spluttered through the smoke pouring out the motor. 

Then out it popped in a cloven hoof: “Typical ******!”


“Darling, was that really necessary?”

Ting Ting goes the swearing jar. Lucky no kids around. Or Precious.

But those times are few and far between, and admitting to the disease is half the battle won.

This got me wondering about what black people call us whites when they relapse. 

‘Boer’? Farmer. . . hmm, not very offensive, to me anyway. 

‘Mlungu’? More funny than rude. 

‘White Pig’? Surely you can do better than that? 

‘Colonialist’? Nope, it’s too true anyway.

What is the K-word for whiteys? I am intrigued to know. You can call me one if you like. I am quite tolerant like that.

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