Child: Dad, what am I?
You: You are a Black my child
Child: But Dad, black is the colour of the ink on this page. I am not black?!
You: You must understand. This is the way it is. This is South Africa.
Child: And my best friend, Patricia whose parents come from Cape Town?
You: She is Coloured, my child.
Child: But Dad, coloured is like those coloured crayons Mum got me from CNA. Patricia is brown, not coloured.
You: Look here, don't start being argumentative, she is Coloured!
Child: And my other friend, Helen, who speaks Afrikaans all the time?
You: She is White. Can't you see that she is white.? What is wrong with you, all these silly questions?
Child: Dad, white is the colour of this paper. Helen is not white. She is very light brown, and I really like her blue eyes.
You: Listen child, if you must be such a clever boots, Black, White and Coloured are not really real. They are social constructs that we have from history. You need to learn this.
Child: Aah, I see. I am "social construct black Angie". My freind is "social construct coloured Patricia" and ......
You: Shut up child, don't try and be smart with me. I am your father. If you must know, this is all because of what the Whites did, long ago in America and also here in South Africa. Have you not been taught about apartheid ... or were you busy arguing with your teacher instead of listening?
Child: But Dad, are the Whites still in charge? Are we not in charge now? Our teacher said that Nelson Mandela and the ANC defeated apartheid and EVERYONE was freed in 1994?
You: No... I mean Yes ... we are now in charge ... and we are now a rainbow nation and ... er ... proudly South African.
Child: But dad, there is no black in the colours of the rainbow.
You: Yes, yes, yes ... but look here, that is the way it is.
Child: Our teacher also taught us that a person born in Europe is a European. Helen and I were both born in the same hospital. Are we not Africans?
You: Yes ... I mean No ... she is White .. you are Black .... !!!
Child: And we learnt that the KhoiSan were the original inhabitants of this land ... that their land was taken from them ... and has not been given abck .... and that they are not the same as us ... they are ...
You: Look child, the KhoiSan are Africans ... they are like us ... they are born here ... in Africa ....
Child: But they are the same colour as Patricia, who was also born here in Groot Schuur, where Dr Barnard did the first heart tansplant on ....
You: SHUT UP ... ...
Child: Dad, do you know that you are full of crap?! Patricia says that her uncle from Zimbabwe says that when a person would speak like you in their pub, they would all start singing their version of "Who Is Fooling Who" by our Ray Phiri and Stimela.
You: DON't start reminding me of these Zimbabweans ... they have spoilt their own country and are full up doing crime in ours ... ...
Child: But Dad, I thought you said we are all Africans? Were you also burning the Zimbabweans and Mozambicans?
You: SHUT UP ... SHUT UP ...
Child: Dad, do you know that you are full of crap?
You are. Really! But you are in good company. 50 million South Africans accept, connive or collude at this nonsense. We have colour coded the nation. We define ourselves as colours; not as human beings. The child is right. We are all full of crap. What proves it beyond all doubt is that we even have "BEE accreditation" in terms of which entities are paid to certify the degree of blackness we have achieved.
Now if we cannot get over the past, and want to wallow in it, let us not visit its sins on our children. Let us not force fatuous lies on these little ones. Life is difficult enough without the child having to contend with "convenient untruths" just because we want to satisfy our hang-ups. Let us at least start dealing in truth, for a change.
The first one is that any competent psychologist, criminologist or social scientist will confirm to you that a child easily sees what is true and what is false. The child knows when you are lying.
Secondly, self image is critical to the proper development of a child. Confusion in this respect often predisposes the child to deviance, even criminal conduct in later life. It is critically important that a child accepts who and what he/she is and is nurtured to be proud of this.
So let us stop playing very dangerous games with our children. So stop forcing lies on our children. Start by giving your child a small, simply drafted, booklet titled "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights".
It was signed off at the United Nations as long ago as 1947, for God's sake. It is long overdue that we try to start subscribing to its simple tenets.
If we do this our children will work things out for themselves, in accordance with truth, not lies. They will reject convenient lies and strike out for a better World ... as is happening in the Arab Spring.
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