EXTRACT | #ImStaying


Last year in September, Cape Town–based entrepreneur Jarette Petzer posted a video on Facebook. It was an emotional recognition of the difficulties faced by South Africa, as well as a heartfelt plea to nurture everything he loves about this country. Friends suggested that Petzer start a Facebook page to continue the conversation, and #ImStaying was born. The book #ImStaying is another platform where the diverse voices and stories of the #ImStaying movement are shared.

Every country has its cultural identifiers – slang words, music, cultural traits, expressions, food and stories – the aspects of life and experiences unique to a country. South Africa is no exception. Of its many cultures and cultural identifiers, many are born from age-old tradition, and many are the result of an amalgamation of histories. #ImStaying became a platform of mutual adoration of the things South Africans love about each other. These were simple celebrations of being South African that began to unfold in head-nodding laughter, pride-inducing recognition, humble realisations, and moments of ‘Yes! Yes! That’s so true!’ followed by laughter and a collective sense of ‘We Are South Africa.’ These moments illustrated that the beauty and uniqueness of South Africa exists because of South Africans.

Nobuhle Sparkle Malatjie

My husband and I are Zulu and Pedi respectively, but we both speak Afrikaans in the house so the kids won’t hear what we talking about. last week we went to a local shop and whilst in there en het ñ vra gevra koop ons nog ñ babaktjie vir die meisie vir kersfees? and a White Gentlemen approached us and exclaimed that he got what we did there but his problem is that his wife speaks English and him Afrikaans so they can’t do that at home because his son understands and speaks both languages. it was so funny because we didn’t realize he was listening … my son is now going to a laerskool next year. I’m scared our skindering moments are coming to an end. for that I’m staying. I want my kids to be multilingual like their parents. South Africa is the best place to be and the diversity is out of this world #ImStaying

Steven Dubee

I listened to a conversation between ladies. Between the two of them they used three official languages, sometimes in one sentence, namely IsiXhosa, Afrikaans and English.

I just smiled and said to myself, ‘made in South Africa’. #ImStaying

Wendy Young

Only South Africans can write four languages in one sentence ‘akere vandag I’m going to see you sthandwa sami?’ And for that #ImStaying

 Thobeka Felicia

To the beautiful lady who posted about what we enjoy about South African cultures:

My Black South Africans: You rock at dancing. When you dance, the world dances with you. You are tenacious and unapologetic. You persevere no matter how hard it gets. We tend to be stubborn but it often gets us somewhere  We are extremely diverse and maybe it’s because we like confusing the enemy  we are very expressive people and considered empaths because we somehow are always able to relate to somebody’s pain or joy.

My South African Afrikaners: There’s just nothing more adorable on this earth than hearing an Afrikaner saying ‘wif’ instead of ‘with’, I just want to hug you and never let go  I also love the fact that you’re disciplined in all that you do. Having conversations with you is never dull because there’s always a hidden lesson you are trying to portray. You are also very easily misunderstood, and hence you often express yourselves in writing and songs. You are underrated poets by nature

Afrikaans men and their deep tone voices  like what!  nee man! Waar kan ek vir jou lobola betaal, liefie????

My South African Indians: You can lobola me with your curry and I still wouldn’t mind because Yesses! You are so giving and you share in abundance! I love how colourful you are!  Everything is so full of life around you and it just makes us want to draw closer to you. You are welcoming by nature, what a treasure you are 

My South African Coloureds: There’s just never a day that goes by without me laughing around you guys  You cherish brotherhood immensely, a concept that is rarely noticed  I adore your integrity. You say it like it is. You Love to Love  there are never any grudges held by you because you’re too busy embracing the next one to take any notice of wrongdoing that was committed towards you.

My South African Englishmen: The Shakespeares of the nation  There’s eloquency in the way you talk and in your mannerisms. Also probably one of the most romantic people on earth shu  When you love, you really love hard in all your relationships  I also love the fact that you do everything with zeal and passion.

English women and their love for animals  so tender, warm and always genuine  

My South African Foreign Nationals: You make the best teachers  I’m always in awe of the wisdom you bring. Your experiences are always shaped into a life changing story  You wear humility like a fitted crown and it’s such a sight to see  I love you South Africans, because of how unique we are as a country #ImStaying

Pictures and stories of interracial relationships and marriages – illegal under apartheid – were flooded with a warm ocean of supportive comments and congratulations from people of all races and backgrounds. The page became a space to celebrate what had once been banned. The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 prohibited marriage or an intimate relationship between any of the four races categorised under the Population Registration Act of 1950 (White, Black, Indian and Coloured). Marriages between any of these groups were criminalised, and under the law, marriages that took place outside the country were nullified. Interracial relationships were illegal in South Africa for thirty-six years.

#ImStaying became an open platform for celebrating interracial love, which had never left the country but no longer had to be kept secret

Thabby Brosens

The best things about being in an interracial relationship:

1) Always learning. One of the wonderful things about being in an interracial relationship is that you get to continuously learn – for better or worse – what humanity is really like.

2) You get to acknowledge all of the change that has happened in the world. When you enter into a relationship with someone who is of a different race, you are giving a silent nod to all that has been accomplished in the world surrounding human rights.

3) Your kids will be beautiful. This one needs no explanation. Have you seen children of interracial couples? They are gorgeous.

4) You spread the love. Sharing love among humans is easier said than done. We carry a lot of hate, pride and fear in our hearts on a regular basis.

5) You can encourage others to do it too. You never know who you might inspire to let love in. While some people are afraid of what others might think of their interracial relationships, you proudly stand by your partner and let the world know that it is okay to love you who want.

6) You can experience life from a different perspective. Being in an interracial relationship means you get to experience the world through someone else’s eyes. Whether your partner is from down the street or across the world, you get the opportunity to learn about different people and places like no one else can.

7) You make the world a better place. Showing the world that you love all humans is a good thing. Don’t hide your love away.

8) You love and respect people. We could all use a little more love and respect in our lives. When you see an interracial couple, stop and think about how amazing it is that we live in a time when people can love whoever they want and are exercising that right, regardless of what you might think of them. It just makes the world a better place.


Daily stories of kindness inspired members to think differently, view others differently and view the world differently. A black man helped a white man on the side of the road; a white man helped a black woman change a tyre; a taxi driver gave a free lift to someone who was short R2; a police officer helped a frantic mother calm her unsettled toddler at a roadblock; a grandson taught his eighty-one-year-old grandmother to drive; a taxi made way for another driver to pass. These seemingly mundane moments changed people’s perceptions of each other.

There were stories about the depths of loss and sadness, struggle and survival, of generations of racial fears, revelations and epiphanies, hard-won employment and gratitude. A woman decided to step in and help care for the three children who lived next door to her who she knew were orphans; a waitress was offered funds to study by a couple she served in a restaurant; a woman offered R10 to a man with a job interview who lacked the funds to catch a taxi for the interview, and he later got the job.

These stories reflected South Africa’s realities, and its challenges. Poverty and hardship were still there, but South Africans were visibly reaching out to help each other. Lost cell phones, accidental bank deposits and wallets found with cash in them were returned, kindnesses were shared through actions, and in the places between the statistics South Africans came together.

Michelle Brooklyn Abdol

I am so grateful today ... These two blessings gave me a R1 000 and offered to pay for my studies next year ... We need more people like you … Stayers … this is why #ImStaying … (eyes red cause i was too emotional and couldn’t help but cry … may the two of you always be blessed … from waitress to Executive Secretary …)

King Zak’s Tom to #ImStaying

I stay in a dangerous community around Nelspruit. Yesterday I was on my way from town and I got off the taxi at my station. I then walk for about 4 minutes till I get home. But yesterday while walking I saw an old lady waiting at the corner. She looked so scared and I humbled myself and greeted her: ‘How are you my grandfather’s love?’ She said, ‘Son, please don’t rob me.’ I was deeply touched and I say, ‘Gogo, relax, I live around the corner, who are you waiting for? Can I wait with you till he or she comes, that person you waiting for?’ She said, ‘No, I’m waiting for the taxi. I’m scared to walk; they can rob me.’ She stays after the bridge, which is about 15/20 minutes’ walk. I took her bag and say, ‘Let’s go my love, I will walk you to home.’ She didn’t trust me at first, but I told her, ‘You are safe, Gogo.’ We go, and guess what? I walked her home safe and she wished me luck in life, then I got home safe as well. #ImStaying

Siphiwe Ndinisa

I was willing for a long time but postponing. Yesterday I was reading about the child’s organs that helped 3 other children. 2 of them are from SA. I felt so guilty that even children are sharing, but not me, so after reading that I registered with SA organ donor. I’m proudly a member now and it feels so good. For that #ImStaying.

Nyeleti Maluleke

I have read many stories in this group about people donating blood, now it’s my first time donating blood. #ImStaying

- This extract comes from #ImStaying written by Natasha M. Freeman and published by Penguin Random House South Africa.

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