I have never fallen for this idea of the rainbow nation that we came out of Apartheid unscathed to find a pot of gold. I didn’t delude myself into thinking that our baby democracy was well on its way to completing a marathon rather than still attempting to walk.
The one way to snap back into reality is to, on any given day; check out the News24 comments on a particular issue. It could be a rather dreary article about gardenias and somehow the comments find their way back to racial issues: both side’s whinging and lamenting about the unfairness of it all.
Black people voice their opinions, immediately they are considered, monkeys and buffoons- incapable of logical thought. They are equated to Malema and all that is wrong with the country. Their perceived tactics of victimisation frustrate white people who can’t understand why they are complaining when they bloody well run the government.
Alternatively you head to the white camp, who are marginalised immediately as colonialists and racists (whether justified or not) and every comment is met with suspicion and anger. White people come across as sore losers in the game of freedom who wish things would go back to the way things were, before us people came into power.
But what is truly missing is real, meaningful engagement. Where everyone leaves their baggage at the door and engages one on one. Social networking has made it too easy to gang up and abuse one another- and balanced debate? Who needs that if you have the loudest, most aggressive voice in the room (or use the most capital letters or exclamation points)?
Maybe what is needed is for people to stop dreaming about “somewhere over the rainbow” and to start seriously trying to travel that yellow brick road to work together. Maybe what it means is for tough love.
White people, it does suck that you constantly feel you are to blame for Apartheid. But it’s going to be many years until black people find a way to reconcile their past feelings for you (not you specifically but the symbolism of colonialist oppression that your skin colour represents). But it’s also been about you, since the beginning of history, and now if you don’t mind, could you let the majority feel that they have a voice, that you at least pretend to understand their grievances and adapt to the fact that you have to adapt and find a more secure identity within this country.
Black people, apartheid hurt us a lot. And yes there is much still to blame on the past that causes many problems still today. But not every argument warrants the race card being drawn- this isn’t AC Milan vs. Pro Patria. There are problems today that are have no correlation with Apartheid and we need to give the poor whites a break and acknowledge that. And we can’t go around threatening them with violence as soon as Madiba is gone.
Which reminds me, white people- most of the violence that is occurring is black on black, the hatred is with regards to tribalism, classism and xenophobia, or can’t you see that over your electric fencing.
The point is that both sides have our fault, with coloureds and Indians hanging awkwardly in the middle. The realities about rainbows are that they are just an illusion of sunshine and water. So maybe we should stop looking up and start looking forward, down the very long and treacherous yellow brick road.
We get up, we totter, and we fall. But the point is to get up again.