South African and proud of it.

I have always seen myself as a South African. I do not see myself as an Afrikaner or a Boer and definitely not as part of the "Boer Volk". I am a white person born on African (South African to be precise) soil and am part of a multiracial, multicultural and multilingual newborn nation that, I hope, will grow into the South African nation that it has the potential to be, despite our collective mistakes that brought us to this unparalleled place in history.

Because of where I work, I am in constant contact and communication with the other cultures, especially the blacks and coloureds. It is a very complicated situation as in the different cultures there exists various sub-cultures. For instance you have Afrikaans speaking whites and you have English speaking whites, not to even mention the many Jewish, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, etc., people who are also called white, with their own habits and eccentricities. Amongst the Coloureds you will find those from the Cape, the West Coast, the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, etc., all differing in their outlooks and customs. Then we have the different black nations, the Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, Sotho, Ndebele, etc., people once again with their own unique ethos and lifestyle. We must also remember the many Asians in our communities.

We will not even touch on religion but as every religion imaginable is practiced in South Africa, you can just imagine the load this puts on the back of this particular camel.

Now I know, so many cultures, customs and languages is the perfect recipe for confusion on the scale of Babel of the Bible, BUT, remember, no matter what our language, our race, our culture, our history, our religion or whatever, we are all human. We all share the same hopes, the same fears, and the same dreams. We all share a basic need for nourishment, shelter, clothing, happiness, acceptance and all the other requirements to lead a comfortable, contented life. I believe that if we could just recognise this truth and accept that every person, no matter who or what he or she is, deserves the same respect as us, this country can, and will grow into a South Africa to be proud of.

Once we recognise one another's uniqueness, we will realise that we have much to learn from one another and to share with one another. By burrowing our heads into the historical anthill and denying that we are all South Africans with the same problems and opportunities, we are in fact holding back the great future that awaits this country and its people.

We are a young country, as I said in my opening paragraph, a newborn country, and I know that I will not see all my dreams for this country come true in my time, but that does not stop me from working towards those dreams. I admit, I also fail sometimes. I become irritated when, for instance, I am busy doing business with a black person and suddenly he ignores me and starts a conversation in a language I do not understand, with someone else. At that moment the fact that I know how socially orientated the black people are, does not help one little bit. Then again I am sure he or she also becomes irritated with me for always being in a hurry, a certain trait of the European descended South Africans.

Fifteen years ago, when apartheid was at last thrown out and the organisation I work for began its integration process, I admit, I was scared witless. I could not see how we would be able to cope and yes, it was and sometimes still is, difficult as we all still carry a huge bundle of baggage from our collective past with us every day, but I can feel this bundle getting lighter and lighter every year. The young people who come into our organisation now, did not really experience the harshness of apartheid and it is so encouraging to see how the cultural boundaries amongst them in their work situation is becoming fainter and fainter. I am sure that when they go home, they will each practice their own unique culture, and that is good, but when they are at work the mistrust of the past is not quite as noticeable any longer and there is an openess that has never been there before.

It would be so good for this country if we could all bury the past, put up a worthy tombstone that we can visit every now and again to remind us not to repeat out mistakes, and to move on with our life. We should all begin to recognise the possibilities that our diversity holds and start to take the best out of every culture and apply it to build the future of our country.


DUTA said...

You write beautifully and I like what you write ,but I don't share your optimism.

If you believe in God, and I know you do, then you must acknowledge the fact that He ( or the Superpower, as some will call Him) created the universe using a very separatistic approach; He gave each race a continent, and each ethnic group a territory. It was not on his agenda that africans, europeans, asians live together. It is Man that by migration, slavery, colonialism, etc.. changed the original divine order of things.

Now,a lot depends on Economy. If the economy is sound and everyone gets his roof and food,then the living together is possible, though not optimal. But if Economy fails ,then chaos will result , and not only in South Africa, but everywhere on the globus.

A human kind of human said...

Hi Duta, thank you for commenting. Now, how to reply to your comment without causing offence? Yes, I am a Christian and do believe in God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Whenever I am confronted with a situation where I need to discern between correct and incorrect (right or wrong), my habit is to ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit and He has never failed me (even though sometimes, he has told me in no uncertain terms that I am wrong). When I read your comment early this morning, I did the same and three scripture instances jumped into my mind immediately. The first being the chapter in history where "Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, who was the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, Abram's wife, and with them he left the city of Ur in Babylonia to go to the land of Canaan. They went as far as Haran and settled there" in order for God to establish his chosen people, the Israelites. Then my mind jumped to the part in the new testament where we are instructed to "Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciple...", and I also remembered a bit from Revelations where John refers to "every tribe, language, nation, and race" being in heaven. I am not sure whether God meant for the different races to stay "pure" - I am not a theologian - but I do know that He wants the redeeming message of his Son to be carried out to every corner of the earth and for that it is necessary for people to migrate. Whether we always handled it in a manner according to His will is doubtful, because we are human, but there it is, my understanding of why different races find themselves intermingled all over the world.

Your comment about the economy of course is very true and I can see that it could cause trouble for us but I also believe that we have the resources and potential to overcome this.

Jo said...

What a fabulous post. Your country sounds very much like our country. We live in a globalized society now. I am a Christian too, but I believe in evolution, and I believe the races evolved in particular ways in order to survive in a part of the world in which they lived. The folks in Africa had to develop darker skin in order to deal with the harsh sunlight in which they lived, where nothern Europeans did not have to do that. Folks who live in hotter climates all have darker skin, because nature has created more melanin in their skins in order for them to survive and to protect them from frying to a crisp. It is the only difference between the races. Once we get past all the nonsense, and respect people for who they are, the world will be a better place.

PhilipH said...

As the atheist comedian, Dave Allen, always said at the end of his show: "May your God go with you, whoever he is".

With so many different religions across this violent and often dangerous world it is no wonder that many people today decline religion of any sort.

It all depends on where one is born as to what religion is inflicted on the young child. If in Iran or other muslim country you are taught Islam. In Japapn you are offered Shintoism or Buddhism. There are so many religions, each convinced they have the *real* God.

I'm a humanist. I'm human. That's my lot!

A human kind of human said...

Thank you Jo for confirming my believes in our "rainbow" nation. If it works in Canada (and many other countries) it can work here.

"... no wonder that many people today decline religion of any sort." Oh Philip, this is so true and I find it so sad because in my case religion means more than just a set of rules or ideas, it means a day-to-day interaction with A Person who guides, comforts and protects me. I did not arrive at this point overnight, it literally took years, but yes, there it is... my personal experience as "A Human Kind of Human" of "religion".

Argent said...

In britain, we also have lots of different races living together which works pretty well for the most part. I think your coment that what it boils down to is that we all have similar hopes, dreams and needs, is on the money. But we get so bogged down in what is different that we overlook what is the same. I don't believe God had any plan that every one should stay separated by geographical location. The evidence seems to suggest that we all came from Africa at the start and spread out from there. I wonder what would have happened if we had just all stayed in rift valley?

RNSANE said...

In the course of traveling over the years, especially cruising on Royal Caribbean ships, I have met a number of crew from South Africa, both black and white. Several have become good friends. They are all trying to make a living in our present world. They talk about their country with pride and hope that differences will be overcome and that unity will make the most of what South Africa has to offer the world. I have never had the fortune to visit there but I know there are parts of your country that are very beautiful and, as a forensic nurse, I also know there are parts that have an incredibly high crime rate, where rape is rampant and women suffer violence.

So much has been accomplished since the end of apartheid. I think one can maintain one's culture and individuality and still become a part of the whole South Africa. After all, we are rich because of the people who make up our country.

What a wonderful post you wrote. If everyone could just share some of your sentiments, half the work would be accomplished! Kudos to you.