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Rhyno Vermaak
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The white and black olive branch

24 May 2012, 17:43

The secret’s out, the country is a race cauldron placed on a lit fire place... a fire that was ignited by nothing more than a paintbrush and the resurgence of the undying habits of an artistic activist.

Here is someone who used his skills in the past against apartheid, and now, as so many others, is standing up against a new enemy, under the guise of an old foe.

A couple of weeks ago I was embroiled in an argument on race; something that very quickly expanded into cultural differences, and even the prancing gays weren’t eventually spared a mention.

The argument ensued when I boldly declared my willingness to adopt a black child... in the event that I was in the market to adopt children, which I’m not, yet for academic purposes... I did.

Immediately I was confronted with the statement that it would demise the child’s culture, as the exposure to a different culture, being that of a white person, would be very negative to the child’s development, especially in the search for his or her identity as a human being.

Secondly, I was told that there “...just are certain differences...” in the way black and white views life.

Now, before the Youth League toilet papers my house, know that my stance on both the bold and sweeping statements made by...let’s call it my opponent... was highly flawed, in my view.

Firstly, I posed the statement that a newly born child has no idea of the world, or its expectations of each of us living on it. Cultural differences are vested in the manner someone is raised, and not implanted by sperm or egg cell.

When a Chinese child is raised in an Afrikaans family, and learns to speak Afrikaans as his mother language, goes to the NG Church, does all his schooling in Afrikaans and even ends up marrying an Afrikaans girl... does it make him an Afrikaner?

Certainly not by heritage, however, could you expel him as an outsider, even though that is all he knows, and eventually came to love and accept?

That question, although a rhetoric used by many to define someone on a cultural level, is the sole cause of cultural, and eventual racial divide; be it in South Africa, Gabon, Canada or anywhere else in the world (take your pick..).

For that matter, is he still a Chinese child, or did he become an Afrikaans child... with beady eyes?

The fact is, he is of Chinese heritage, yet he knows nothing of the Mandarin culture, hates dog or snake for dinner, and loves T-Bone steaks with pap. Can you argue that he doesn’t belong in the culture he finds himself in? Possibly...

Is it wrong that he’s in the culture he finds himself in, rather than with a Mandarin family in Shanghai? Some would say...

My solution is very simple.

It is, what it is, and that’s that.

If you are willing to adopt a Chinese boy, and your surname is Van Jaarsveld, Venter, Botha... hell, Mahlangu for that matter... you will love that child as your own, and subsequently raise it in the same manner.

Now, what if the Chinese boy, were to be a Xhosa baby of three months?

Some people would say that in South Africa, the child will be called a coconut by other black children, and that cultural differences are too wide for such a child to function properly.

Again, I don’t agree. You can’t avoid doing something, obviously good, in an effort to protect someone from being potentially shamed later in their lives. The same argument would apply to any white child, being called a racist, by the very same group of black children.

I’ve heard white people say “... ‘n k@#$er, bly ‘n k@#$er!” Just as I’ve heard black people say “...all whites are oppressors! And should die or leave Africa!” In my book, there is absolutely no difference between any of the parties above. In fact, they deserve to keep hating each other.

By uttering any of these statements as your own, you pre-suppose that either white or black are destructive by nature, or for purposes of this argument, destructive by virtue of their culture.

It is quite interesting to note that the whites in this country, are more worried about the black youth, that never tasted apartheid themselves, than the people who survived, and conquered it. In the same breath, I find the notion of a twenty year old white boy being blatantly racist, far more annoying than anything else.

What is abundantly clear then, is that the ‘culture’ the youth is brought up on in this country, be it white or black, is seriously flawed, as a new approach is desperately needed. There seems to be a small, dwindling effort to reconciliation from both sides, as the stalemate continues between the pro’s and con’s of BEE and Affirmative Action on the one hand, and the retention of experience and skill on the other (Not that I'm saying all blacks don't have experience and skill, but you get the point).

Culture then, is dividing this country to the point it currently finds itself in.

Culture is also something we have control over, especially when it comes to the relationship with other cultures.

There is no way that I, as a white person, could raise a racist Xhosa boy. Why then, does it happen that some people do this with their own children? (With reference to all races here)

It’s not in anyone’s culture to oppress others for the hell of it, yet it forms part of some culture’s heritage, whether they like it or not, and it is their responsibility to rectify and remove this. In the same breath, other cultures opportunistically miss-use this situation, and are becoming exactly like their previous oppressors.

A situation similar to ...the king is dead, long live the king... some would say.

For many people, the ANC have become a black National Party, oppressing in their lack of effectiveness, and holding the country hostage with its own tainted past.

The only reason Nelson Mandela is not saying anything on this administration, is because he’s too much of a gentlemen to associate himself with something he voluntarily walked away from, some years ago.

However, would you have asked him, whether he would adopt a white child at any time during his incarceration, and thereafter, I’m sure he would gladly have done so, as his words on the topic speak for themselves...

“...never, never and never again, shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another...”

I’m not saying we all need to do cross racial adoption. I’m only emphasizing the fact that we aren’t born with cultural differences, be they good or bad; yet we learn and defend them sheepishly and without thought.

It’s not instinct, its culture, and we can all determine how it will change and adapt to its future surroundings; by each extending an olive branch, and conceding something bad about ourselves.

Knowing this, why won’t you?  

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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