Differences between people are skin deep

2016-11-09 06:00
Adv. Kuni Ditira – Social Observer

Adv. Kuni Ditira – Social Observer

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Can marriage between people of different ethnicity work? Previously, interracial marriages between blacks and white were prohibited by law. We tended to accept that or people sometimes changed their races in the official registers. I vividly remember a young black man who went to the then Bophuthatswana to marry a white woman. She was even given a Setswana name.

In the 22 years in democracy, if we see an interracial couple we still find it new and a rarity. There are several such marriages, but I’m unsure of their success rate. Do they experience the same challenges as people of the same race? Does the approval of the extended family matter?

Sometimes, especially in rich families, they will disown one. They will literally excise one from their will. Such couples then have to find new friends who are comfortable with the relationship.

I came to learn of a couple that have been married for about 23 years. The wife left her comfortable and rich life to go and stay in the township. She had to fetch water from the tap and use a bucket toilet – although only for a short period before the municipality introduced a flushing toilet system.

The first thing people do when they get better employment is to leave the township for the suburbs. For this white woman to have stayed in the township for more than 20 years is something to be marvelled at. When she gave me her home address I nearly fell off the chair. I hope she did not notice that I was shocked. Maybe she is used to that reaction and she no longer notices it.

I have visited her home and I found that she is still madly in love with her handsome husband. She does not see her relationship and the life she had been living for decades as something special. She had lived her life well in the township, with no regrets. If given a chance again she would choose the same life. She does not see colour. She is not fixated with us and them.

She says that all people are the same, it is only the pigment of our skin. What is important are the values we have been taught as children. In all races there are people who do not have integrity and who are crooks. Black people X even if we marry people of our own race X sometimes have to marry people speaking a different language and having different customs and beliefs to their own. It is normally expected of the woman to adopt the customs and beliefs of her husband. It was therefore surprising to find a Xhosa chief who married an Indian woman converting to Islam.

We tend to gravitate towards our own. In most cases we have perceptions about other races because we don’t know how they live. We have vivid imaginations about their lives. At the end we are all just people.

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