7de Laan and its role in overcoming racism in SA

2016-04-05 06:24

How does one eat an elephant? Or perhaps we should suggest a more South African contextual question. How does one eat the racist elephant? South African media needs to play a proactive role in portraying the desired non-racial nation. In other words, I argue that the media must paint a picture of how a non-racial South Africa will look. One way it may be achieved is by normalizing the idea of cross racial couples. Advertisements and programmes mostly depict singular race families. Indeed this is a reflection of South Africa as most families are of a single race. Of course, media when doing so considers their particular ‘target markets’ which itself is a manifestation of a narrow minded race discourse.

7 de laan, the much loved South African soapie, which has a strong Afrikaans speaking (both white and coloured) following, created the space for an on-set cross racial relationship. Actors Mbali Mlotshwa (who plays Nandi a black female) and Werner Coetser (who plays Bernard a white male) shared an intimate moment, much to the disgust of many of the followers of the programme. Many on its Facebook page argued that it is unnatural for individuals to engage in cross-racial relationships. Some took it a step further arguing that it is against “God’s will.” They are obviously referring to a belief system perpetuated by the Dutch Reformed Church during the Apartheid regime. The Church however in the late 80’s denounced that particular part of is theology. This reality is that the cross-racial relationships is still frowned upon by many South Africans. Many mixed-race relationships still receive persecution and ‘bewildered stares.’

Ironically many within the choir calling for people to “get-over Apartheid” are still trapped in Apartheid rationale which instituted the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act and the Immorality Act. Both Laws were integral sections of Apartheid legislation. it disallowed individuals from different race groups to marry and engage in intimate relationships with one another. Persons who do not agree with mix-racial relationships, do us all a favour, Get over Apartheid!

7de Laan also brilliantly depicted the reaction of many South Africans through the scene between the mixed-racial couple and Bernard’s on air mother. The mother was not approving of the relationship, claiming concern for the longevity of the relationship because of the possible clash of culture. Bernard bemoaned his mother’s statements accusing her of being a racist. The Modernization theory argues that among other things a country’s political culture is important to the success or failure of democracy. Political culture may be defined as “a people’s predominant beliefs, attitudes, values, ideals, sentiments and evaluations about the political system of their country and the role of self in the system” Diamand( 1999). The 7de Laan scenario exposed many who have not conformed to the desire of the ‘ideals, values and sentiments’ of non-racialism.

Although the acceptance of cross-racial relationship is an important step towards the ideal of a non-racial and democratic consolidation it must not viewed as a principle component. In fact it’s a much weaker piece in the puzzle. Non-racialism will only be possible within in a more economically equal society. The Freedom Charter clearly states that,“The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people” South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world. Much of the inequality is still racialized.

Exposing racism through many forms is important in the on-going conversation of the ideal towards non-racialism. I hope that individuals who are essentially against cross-racial relationships will begin to realize that there actions are essentially racist .Thankfully however there are many South Africans who have adopted the idea of cross racial relationships. So How does one eat the racist elephant? I suggest by exposing and educating one racist at a time!

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