Non-racialism is dead. Long live racial solidarity

2009-09-11 16:44

Path: /Published/CityPress/2009/09/06/CP/Texts/maxrace.xml Creator: system Last Modified by: system Print Chanal: CityPress Edition: CP Publication Date: 20090906 Section: Features Folio: Page Ref: 21 Book: Source: MethodeWE can continue to live in a make-believe world and talk about our non-racial

struggle, our non-racial political culture, our non-racial constitution until

the cows come home. Or we can be honest and admit that if ­non-racialism ever

did exist, it is now deceased.

South Africa is a multiracial country, not a

non-racial one. ­Multiracial means we have several race groups, while non-racial

was supposed to mean race doesn’t ­really count; we see the human ­being before

we see race.

Nice idea. Only most South ­Africans notice fellow citizens’

skin colour long before they see the ­person inside that skin.

It can be

argued that we did have some sense of what non-racialism could be during the

years of Nelson Mandela’s presidency. I would counter by saying we were partly

afraid of the threat that racial ­animosity held for our stability and

prosperity, partly blinded by the ­euphoria of having reached a kind of a

settlement that held the promise of peace and progress. We tried to like each

other, we pretended to like each other, but deep down we really didn’t.


Thabo Mbeki took over as president, all pretence went out the window. Like most

insecure men, he had an obsession with race. He didn’t like white people much,

­especially Afrikaners. He called them “colonialists of a special kind”. In his

mind you were either a “settler” or a “native”.

When Jacob Zuma replaced

Mbeki, the hope flared up that non-racialism was going to make a comeback. Zuma

invited Steve Hofmeyr, Leon Schuster and Dan Roodt to a braai at his village.

Some of his best friends were Indians. JZ loved the minorities and his party

would ­follow, people said.

Sadly, the post-Polokwane ANC turned out to be

every inch as chauvinist when it comes to ethnicity as the Mbeki-ANC was. If not

worse. (I mean chauvinist as in “narrow ­African chauvinism”, as SACP leader

Blade Nzimande calls it.)

Today, racial solidarity is ­unashamedly the

national sport in South Africa. Whites sit and wait for blacks to falter so they

can shout: Incompetent! Buffoon! Affirmative action! Quota system!

Around the

braai whites swap their stories of uneducated, incompetent blacks who were

pushed into positions of power above them.

Their black counterparts also swap

stories around the braai fires: of how racist their white colleagues are, of how

there is still no real transformation, about whites being paid better than

blacks even when they do the same job. It is now the black man’s turn, they


When ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, athletics boss ­Leonard

Chuene and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela hijack the homecoming of a genuine national

hero and superstar, Caster Semenya, and blame the whole catastrophe on white

racists, many black South Africans take them seriously.

Many whites enjoyed

it when the judge president of the Western Cape, John Hlophe, demonstrated his

utter unsuitability to be a judge of the high court by his racist utterances to

white lawyers, by questionable business decisions and by ­trying to influence

judges of the Constitutional Court to be pro-Zuma. You see, those whites

Black lawyers and others have formed the Justice for Hlophe Alliance

and call every single white person who wonders whether Hlophe would be such a

great choice as chief justice a despicable racist. Hlophe has now become a

national symbol of black pride just because so many whites don’t like him.


the Judicial Service Commission prominent black lawyers mercilessly harass all

white applicants for judicial positions simply because their skins are of a pale

Go to any internet chatroom in South Africa and you will see three out

of five white correspondents saying stuff like “we’re a Zimbabwe in the making”

and “blacks have proved all over Africa that they can’t run an economy or a


Most of us South Africans still ­attack and defend from our

racial trenches. The “rainbow nation” was just a mirage, after all.


pray that our children will prove me wrong one day. 

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