Addressing his Cabinet in 1985, Apartheid South Africa President PW Botha said: “We do not pretend like other Whites that we like Blacks. The fact that, Blacks look like human beings and act like human beings do not necessarily make them sensible human beings. Hedgehogs are not porcupines and lizards are not crocodiles simply because they look alike. If God wanted us to be equal to the Blacks, he would have created us all of a uniform colour and intellect.”
PW Botha may have died almost a decade ago, but his legacy is as alive as his shallow politics. Many white South Africans, particularly of Afrikaner descent, still share the so-called Groot Krokodil’s convictions that Africans are lesser of human beings. In fact, many Afrikaners still regard his teachings as sacred to this day.
On Saturday, 12 January this year, a family of white racists caused a stir at the Vodacom World of Golf in Woodmead, Johannesburg. It is reported that a black employee of the Club accidentally stepped on a pair of glasses belonging to one of the two boys. This triggered an array of racist slurs from the family towards the man. Upon witnessing this unfortunate event, a 60 years old long-serving employee of the Club, Nathan Maluleke, attempted to plead with the family to reduce the racist attacks on the man.
According to Busi Maluleke, Nathan’s wife, the eldest of the boys apparently started redirecting racist slurs towards Nathan, who is probably old enough to be his grandfather. The K-word was used repeatedly. The boy started attacking the veteran golf trainer with a golf stick. The boy’s family joined him in the attack, which sent the old man to ICU. Incidents like these occur because of the teachings of people like PW Botha, who argued that Africans are not sensible human beings one can talk to like a sensible creature, thus the ruthless attack on a peaceful elder.
During the same period of the assault, I posted an open letter to President Zuma in my blog at news24.com. Expectedly, the article invited a barrage of responses, some affirmative, but most in opposition. I have no problem with this outcome. It would be problematic for a critic like me to talk to a submissive choir of readers who are always agreeing with me. In addition, I write articles to open hornets’ nests and trigger debates.
What concerned me was that most of the responses deliberately ignored the issues at hands, or the issues I raised in the article, and focused on petty issues of racism.
In some instances, I requested the editors of the blog to remove some of the comments because I thought they were simply insulting and racist. Those comments have since been removed from the site. In another instance, one user, siobhan.letitia writes “…bunch of sheep, the only reason he (President Zuma) is supported is because he is black and black South Africans are hell bent on ever letting "the white man" back in power.”
In response to user suren.prakash.9, another user DanielDennet writes “Excuse me suren are you an indigenous African...no you are Indian so get off your high horse. I remember the burning of Indian shops in the 70's.” Hiding behind the façade of pseudonyms and weird pictures, many South Africans continue to utter racist gibberish without hesitation to their compatriots.
I call upon all racists to take off their masks and be openly racist. They must honour PW Botha in public. There is no point in appearing as a non-racist in public, when you are still teaching your offspring racism. The race issues can never be solved if we pretend to love one another. We need to deal with our discomforts and perceptions about one another. But the most important issue is that we need to learn to treat each other as equal human beings. This is not optional.
We must collectively hold hands in eliminating the legacy of PW Botha and his think-alikes. Africans do not look like human beings, they ARE human beings. And so are all other human races. So, before you smile with me on the streets deal with your innate hate and regard me as a fellow person. Before you claim to be a Christian, start by accepting all creatures of the universe, including black people. The Bible obliges ALL Christians to love “your neighbour as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31).