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The Indian Curry Incident, Russians and Apologies from Malcom X

25 February 2013, 16:00

If memory serves me well, I think it all started with the Indian Curry Incident in Fordsburg on a nice, warm, relaxing Sunday afternoon – after dining on a delicious plate of lamb curry and roti my relative and dining partner leaned back in her chair and let out a long, happy sigh and exclaimed; “Oh Now that was one delicious Indian Curry”.

But before that we had exchanged stories about Russia and the best way of dealing with a rubbish business proposal, here’s how: first ask for a feasibility study; if they return with that ask for a business plan; if they return with that than the one thing that will get them to take their plans elsewhere is to ask them for an environmental impact study. Here’s another, Russians are very suspicious if one does anything alone, it’s a sign of eccentricity. If you are there for a business meeting, you must come with a delegation, if you are there for leisure, you must walk around in a group.

Yes, this often necessitates the gathering of random strangers to make up the numbers for your delegation at your presentation but at least you’re not looked at suspiciously, and in Russia, you don’t want to be looked at suspiciously. For the rest of your trip you can enjoy the rare sight of pigs so deep in mud that they swim around like dolphins, arching and plunging, arching and plunging.  These insights on Russia and Russians we once read somewhere though we couldn’t quite recall where, but we said them with the conviction of those who had been there themselves.

Anyway back to the Indian curry incident, I was taken aback, shocked to the core, “Why X, we were eating Pakistani curry, not Indian curry” I said. Many a contented South African family is made blissfully happy when someone in the house gets the balance of a good curry just right, that is, not too hot and not too mild, therefore I was astounded to discover that very few people even know the difference between North Indian Curry (cooked with mustard or vegetable oil, potatoes, meat, very spicy with hot chili’s), and South Indian Curry (cooked with coconut milk, garnished with fresh Coriander/dahnya, more creamy than blinding hot). Pakistani food borrowing liberally from North and South Indian Curry, mostly swimming in oil and eaten with a thicker version of roti that looks more like pita bread.

X wasn’t taking this lying down, she jumped into attack mode, and somehow my last blog was used as proof that I loved nothing better than to sit in judgment, that I was harsh and inconsiderate. Yes, I agree, my previous blog generalized waay too much, it lacked balance, I tried to edit or delete it but I found out the hard way that these news24 Blogs, once published cannot be edited or deleted. As for apologies?

Of what good are apologies? Apologies achieve nothing at all for the aggrieved party; they may make the wrong-doer feel a bit better about their actions. I prefer a person to say “I will take more care in future”.

Now think back to all the great men, Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela who were also fond of generalizing in order to strongly and clearly drive home a point:  and yes obviously Malcolm X who was quoted as saying "I've never seen a sincere white man, not when it comes to helping Black people. Usually things like this are done by White people to benefit themselves. The White man's primary interest is not to elevate Black people. The White man's interest is to make money. How can you thank a man for giving you what's already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what is yours?”

He regretted his generalizations later in life proven by this quote:  “I am not a racist, in the past I permitted myself to make sweeping indictments of all white people, the entire white race and these generalizations have caused injuries to some Whites who perhaps did not deserve to be hurt. I am now striving to live the life of a true Muslim. I must repeat that I am not a racist nor do I subscribe to the tenants of racism. I can state in all sincerity that I wish nothing but freedom, justice and equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people”.

Moving along:  My father painted peoples’ houses for a pittance to earn a living from the day he moved his meager belongings on a biting cold winter’s morning; up mountains, hills and valleys from the rural’s of Nqeleni to the town of Umtata/Mthatha. My mother fell ill almost as soon as I was born so a domestic worker was employed who remained with us for most of my life. I will not insult your intelligence by suggesting that, like some of my relatives do, she was “part of the family” However I cannot recall her actually doing much work other than filling a big zinc bath with water and washing clothes about once a month, for the most part she sat and chattered with my mother whose sole job was to ensure that my father’s beloved samp and beans were exactly as he liked them when he returned from work. Our schools in the Transkei integrated when I was still at Primary School (there was a private school though, that managed to remain mostly White for a very long time). Something worth noting about our homeland under the pomp and ceremony-loving Matanzima brothers is that education was taken so serious that it was illegal (and cops would chuck you at the back of a van) for any school-going child to be playing around in the streets during school hours.  My father would have been called a reverse coconut and you’d have been forgiven for mistaking him for a White man for that’s exactly how he looked, until he opened his mouth and spoke the only language he could talk and talk so well, isiXhosa.  Our Township was quickly nicknamed “Moer Moer” for obvious reasons; it was a Coloured Township during the period in South Africa of pure madness.  Friendships with Whites and Indians (I never saw one until after Matric) was non-existent for most of us boys in Moer Moer, and it was tentative at best with Black fellow students.

With a few exceptions my past experiences working for White bosses has not been very positive and that’s Gods truth, I assure you I am not saying it to impress or offend anyone and I guess that’s what has shaped a lot of my opinions. Not that they were horribly evil people, not by a long shot, but their mere decision-making criteria and forward planning, they considered only themselves.  If there’s a gripe I have about Coloured people in general it’s that too many do more complaining than actually taking part in the national debate, participating more in politics, being proactive in fighting for an equal share of the pie, of standing up united against the alienation of their own in BEE and other community and people upliftment efforts.  A Black African friend once told me “Peter, Coloureds make me sick! They really believe that they are better than us, they benefited more than us during apartheid, and now they want their bread butted on both sides” , There’s no denying that there are more Black Africans than Coloureds living in squatter camps, so there’s probably some truth in that I confess, but not by much.

Now look at all government departments, Retail Stores like Edgars, Pick n’ Pay, Game Stores, Banks, etc , the powers that be, Black and White are simply substituting Whites with Black Africans, top decision-making and lucrative posts in the private sector still reserved mostly for Whites,  BEE has benefited only a tiny number of Black Africans (and Zuma’ s Coloured Lawyer and Indian friends) and tell me whether or not the Coloureds and ordinary Whites who now feel marginalized do not have a point ? – BEE is either not being implemented properly to embrace our diversity country or it’s not being implemented at all at the top levels of industry.

We have our work cut out for us.

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