MONOCHROOM REËNBOOG TE KOOP

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KONTAK DESIRÉ HURST AS JY NIE REGKOM NIE. Sy kan vir jou ‘n boek na ‘n adres in Suid-Afrika pos (R200 insluitend posgeld). Sel: 082 871 8028. Tel: (012) 345-5541. E-pos: mikedes@mweb.co.za

 
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MAAK VOL … VIR EEN RAND?

MAAK VOL … VIR EEN RAND?

NUWE KAR

Hier van 1971 af het ‘n nuwe ding sy verskyning gemaak: Metrieke mate. Galonne, myl en pond het liters, kilometer en kilogram geword. Verkeerstekens het verander en nuwe karre se spoedmeters het snelheidsmeters in kilometer per uur geword. Die kinders het nogal nie lank geneem om hieraan gewoond te raak nie, maar baie van die ouer garde het kleigetrap met die nuwe manier van doen.

Daardie dae was daar beroering in die buurt wanneer iemand ‘n nuwe kar gekry het. So was dit dan ook die dag toe Pa met die nuwe Vauxhall Cresta om die hoek gery gekom het. Ná werk een middag.

Die woord het vinnig versprei en gou was die buurmanne (asook ‘n paar –vroue) en kinders en honde rondom die nuwe spogwa saamgedrom. Opmerkings en aanmerkings word gemaak. Wiele word saggies – sagter as ‘n ou kar se wiele – geskop, bekleedsel word gestreel, die grootte van die kattebak word beskou en of daar nou iets van ‘n enjin af geweet word of nie, koppe word onder die enjinkap ingedruk om belangstellend die kraglewering en hoeveelheid silinders en petrolverbruik te bespreek. Daar is selfs beweer dat karre nou swaarder op petrol gaan wees met liters in plaas van galonne. Die kinders stry oor wie se kar die vinnigste of grootste of blinkste is en heel dikwels loop dit sommer op ‘n ernstiger ruk-en-pluk uit. Daar was natuurlik altyd die suurgatte met subtiele en minder subtiele skimpe van nuwe karre wat eintlik net ‘n dead loss is of spesifieke modelle wat “sakke vol moeilikheid bring”.

En dan was daar die mense wat gewonder het waar die geld vir ‘n nuwe kar vandaan kom.

Oortyd was ‘n woord waarmee ek grootgeword het. Omdat Ma haar loopbaan prysgegee het die dag toe ek gebore is, het Pa heldhaftig (in mý oë, ten minste) die stryd gestry om brood vir ons vyf op die tafel te voorsien. En ook die ander dinge soos die Vauxhall en die fliekkaartjies en gesinsvakansies. Om dít te kon doen, het hy lang ure oortyd gewerk.

Soggens, voordat ons vir skool opgestaan het, was hy al by die werk en baiekeer het hy eers ná aandete, vaal in die gesig, die agterdeur oopgemaak. Ek glo nie Pa het ‘n benul gehad van hoeveel geld in die bank was nie, want Ma was die een wat noukeurig die geldsake hanteer het. Getrou aan die einde van die maand is toegesien dat alles betaal word en streng by die begroting gehou word. Nooit ‘n kredietkaart gehad nie. Wel, streng gesproke was die Samba-kaart dalk tog ‘n kredietkaart wat aan die einde van die maand ten volle betaal is. En dan, aan die einde van die jaar word die Samba-bonus gebruik om Kersgeskenke te koop en help dit om die gat wat die Desembervakansie in die begroting maak, te vul.

SHELL

In Zastronstraat, daar in Bloemfontein, was ‘n garage wat sulke plastiese petrolkoepons op Samba verkoop het. Tien in ‘n pakkie teen vyf Rand per pakkie. Ma het altyd drie pakkies vir die maand gekoop, een vir haar en twee vir Pa met die groter kar. Op Woensdae, meestal, het Ma twee vyftig sent-koepons geneem om petrol in die Morris Minor te gooi – die week se petrol vir rondry agter balletklasse aan, tandarts toe, dokter toe, kruideniersware koop en dorp toe gaan.

MORRIS

Vir die jaarlikse vakansies is daar vir baie dinge begroot, maar nooit werklik vir petrol nie. En ons het toe nog nooit van die woord “tolhek” gehoor nie. Halfpad na ons bestemming toe het Pa gestop en die smulgoed wat Ma by die huis gepak het uit die kattebak gehaal. By daardie wit sementtafels en sitplekke onder ‘n boom langs die pad.

op pad

Dit was die dae toe ‘n witbrood nege sent en ‘n bruine  sewe-en-‘n half sent gekos het. Fliekkaartjies by die inryteater was nege-en-veertig sent en ‘n blok sjokolade ‘n volle twintig sent.

Ag ja …

inry

HORSESHOE EN SEEP WAS TOE NIE GENOEG NIE

HORSESHOE EN SEEP WAS TOE NIE GENOEG NIE

 EXPLORERS

Jaco se pa het dikwels die garagedienste Woensdagaande vir inslaap-huiswerkers in die pastorie se garage gelei.

Tydens ‘n katkisasieles, een Sondag, het sendingwerk ter sprake gekom. Vir my het dit nogal na avontuur geruik – om die wildernis in te vaar en swart stamme tot bekering te bring. En so sit ek toe eendag die gesprek oor sendingwerk en garagedienste bymekaar toe dit my tref: Hoekom kan ek en Jaco nie sommer nou al daarmee begin nie? So as ’n oefenlopie vir wanneer ons die wildernis aandurf. Dit was tog die idee agter die katkisasieles. Begin vandag in jou omgewing; by jou skool of waar jy nou ook al mag beweeg.

EXPLORERS2

By die skool was die meeste kinders buitendien in die Sondagskool, wat sendingwerk onder hulle dalk effe oorbodig gemaak het. Nee, ek dink nie die skool was ideale terrein vir sendingwerk nie. Die garagedienste word saans vir die inslaapousies gehou, maar daar was baie ousies en tuinmanne wat nie ingeslaap het nie en dus nie die geleentheid gekry het om garagedienste toe te gaan nie. En húlle, besluit ek toe, was ons teikengroep.

Sonder om vreeslik in die praktiese implikasies te delf, het ek die logistieke reëlings met Jaco bespreek.

Pa het twee of drie steierplanke teen die heining langs die garage gehad. En die ou bakstene van die afgebreekte tuinmuurtjie was netjies in die een hoek van die erf opgestapel. Daarmee kon ons sitplekke vir ons gemeente maak. Ma het haar bedenkinge gehad, maar wou nie water op ons vuur gooi nie. Ons het haar omgepraat om koekies en aanmaakkoeldrank te koop en ook plastiese glasies waarin die koeldrank bedien kan word, net soos by die garagedienste. Jaco sou sy pa se bandspelertjie met MEMA-bande leen en sommer ook traktaatjies kry, in Sotho vertaal. Ons het selfs gedink aan ‘n manier hoe die mense beloon kon word vir pligsgetroue bywoning. Amper iets soos die sertifikaat en seëls wat ons by die Sondagskool gekry het. Omdat drukwerk om baie redes so ‘n bietjie bó ons vuurmaakplek was, besluit ons toe op ‘n aantekenregister in ‘n ou oefeningboek. Sodra iemand tien keer aangeteken het, kry sy ‘n koekie seep. Die mans kon ‘n sakkie Horseshoe-tabak kry. Die sakkie was darem redelik bekostigbaar.

 

Ons was gereed vir die massas wat na ons agterplaaskerk sou stroom. Soort van.

Ons teikengroep, ons “sendingveld” was egter nie gereed nie. Of dalk wás hulle gereed, maar hulle werkgewers was nie. Dit was tog immers werkstyd. En dan was daar nog ‘n bus wat lokasie toe gehaal moes word.

Martha en Gabriel en Evelina, Jaco-hulle se ousie, het met nog ‘n ousie daardie eerste Woensdagmiddag hulle plekke in ons agterplaas op die steierplanke ingeneem. Ons het ons vier gemeentelede vertel van die aantekenregister, van die Horseshoe en seep en hulle het kort-kort na die koeldrank en koekies geloer. Ek het gevra of daar iemand is wat ‘n lied ken wat hulle wou sing en Martha het toe ingeval met die Sotho-weergawe van Prys die Heer met blye galme. Die ander twee ousies het saamgesing, maar Gabriël het nie die woorde geken nie en ongemaklik, met ‘n verleë uitdrukking op sy gesig, gewonder of hy hier hoort.

En toe skakel ons die band aan. Krakerig het die prediker sy boodskap gebring. Ek en Jaco het nie ‘n idee gehad waaroor die Sotho-boodskap gegaan het nie. Gabriël het so halfpad deur die preek opgestaan met “die werk wag, ek moet klaarmaak, die son hy hardloop”. Die ousies het tot die einde gebly en het met twee koekies en ‘n glas koeldrank verdaag. Dit was die eerste van ons “agterplaasdienste”, soos ons dit gedoop het.

En die laaste een. Niemand het vir die tweede een opgedaag nie.

Sendingwerk? Baie jare later sou dit eers tot my deurdring dat Martha-hulle daardie psalm baie, baie beter as ek gesing het – sonder ‘n psalmboek.

EK SOU GRAAG VIR DIE WÊRELD ‘N KOELDRANK WOU KOOP

EK SOU GRAAG VIR DIE WÊRELD ‘N KOELDRANK WOU KOOP

Gabriël was Woensdae vroeg op sy pos om na die tuin om te sien – vir so lank ek kan onthou. Hy het vertel dat hy ‘n Barolong was en gemeet aan hom, was die Barolongs ‘n vreedsame, vriendelike en hardwerkende nasie wat gek oor sokker was. Pligsgetrou. Hy was dalk so ‘n jaar of wat jonger as Pa. Soggens het hy van Rocklands-lokasie af met sy fiets by die hek gestop waar Spottie ons vertel het dat Gabriël opgedaag het. Onder keffende begeleiding het hy dan langs sy fiets tot agter die garage geloop waar hy sy ryding teen die muur gesit en kombuisdeur toe gekom het. Spottie het intussen ophou blaf en Gabriël het onnodig aan die deur kom klop.

Terwyl die ketelwater kook, het Ma saam met Gabriël deur die tuin geloop om sy dag se take uit te wys. Gabriël het nooit die yslike grasperk gesny nie, om watter rede weet ek nie. Dalk omdat Pa so perfeksionisties gewaak het oor al sy toerusting en gereedskap. Pa het self die gras gesny totdat ek groot genoeg was om met die grassnyer vertrou te kon word. Die snoeiwerk is ook deur Pa gedoen; al die vrugtebome, roosbome en die druiwe. Gabriël was dus verantwoordelik vir die beddings, blare optel, bossies uittrek en om nou en dan ‘n dooie of ongewenste struik of boom uit te haal. Namiddag het hy Ma se kar gewas en die skoene skoon gemaak. Hiervoor is hy aanvanklik een Rand vir die dag se werk betaal. Dit was die aanvaarde loon en hy was tevrede. Die mense by wie hy op die ander dae van die week gewerk het, het hom dieselfde betaal. Gaandeweg is die loon verhoog totdat hy ‘n volle blou vyfrandnoot Woensdae in sy sak gesteek het.

Sodra Ma hom klaar ingelig het oor sy dagtaak, het sy vir hom koffie gaan maak. En hier by tienuur se koers het hy en Martha saam ontbyt geëet. Baie dae het ek gewonder waaroor die twee so sit en gesels. Ek het oor baie goed gewonder.

The New Seekers het destyds ‘n treffer gehad met I’d like to teach the world to sing. Maar eintlik was dit die Hillside Singers wat die lied met ‘n koeldrankadvertensie ‘n wêreldtreffer gemaak het.

COKE

Dieselfde koeldrankmaatskappy het die volgende jaar met die Olimpiese Spele ‘n promosie gehad waar ons die kurkseël – voordat dit later jare met ‘n plastiese seël vervang is – binne in die proppie moes uitlig. Die kurkseël is versigtig met ‘n mes verwyder om die merk aan die onderkant bloot te lê en by die kafee in te ruil vir ‘n wit plastiese figuurtjie van ‘n sportman (daar kon dalk vroue ook gewees het). Oral is proppies gebedel – familie sonder kinders het dit vir ons gebêre, Pa het vir my van die werk se kafeteria af gebring en so het my versameling mannetjies vinnig gegroei. Die merk op die proppieseël het bepaal watse sportmannetjie die vrou agter die toonbank vir jou gaan gee.

My versameling was feitlik volledig, behalwe vir een sportsoort – ‘n skaars een. En Gabriël het dáárdie mannetjie trots op die voorste modderskerm van sy fiets geplak gehad. Sy maskot – die sokkerspeler wat ‘n sokkerballetjie so op sy een voet gebalanseer het.

Ek het by hom geneul en gesoebat om vir my die mannetjie te gee, maar tevergeefs. Totdat ek een middag, op pad huis toe van die skool af, ‘n vyftigsent opgetel het. Met die muntstuk en nog twee mannetjies, ‘n spiesgooier en ‘n swemmer, is ek weer na Gabriel toe waar hy besig was om die vensters van ma se Morris blink te vryf.

Gabriël het na die geld in my oop hand gestaar en toe met gemengde gevoelens van sy sokkermannetjie afskeid geneem. Hy het nooit een van die ander twee mannetjies op sy fiets geplak nie.

My versameling was uiteindelik volledig – almal spierwit, behalwe vir so ‘n vuilwit sokkerspeler.

My duurste mannetjie.

SOKKERSPELER

DIE LEEU EN DIE LAM ONDER ONS LUKWARTBOOM?

DIE LEEU EN DIE LAM ONDER ONS LUKWARTBOOM?

LEEU EN LAMMETJIE

Ek onthou toe ek ’n kind was, het ons Kinderbybel die allermooiste prente gehad, lewensgetrou en in volkleur. Die hitte waar Elia op die goue perdekar met die spierwit perde gesit het toe hy hemel toe is, het uit die bladsy gevlam. Ek onthou ook hoe my hande altyd begin sweet het as ek die angs op die Egiptenare se gesigte gesien het toe die watermuur hulle met perde, strydwaens en al verswelg het.

Elanie was ses, het net so begin lees en kon haar verlustig in die stories en prente van hierdie pragboek. Met ‘n handvol lekkergoed en die Kinderbybel onder die arm vasgeknyp, het sy op die klipwalletjie onder die lukwartboom gaan sit en vir Gabriël, ons tuinman, geroep.

“Laat ek gou die water skuif,” het hy gretig die uitnodiging aanvaar en die vurk in die grond gesteek. Alles is net so gelos en dan het hy styf langs haar kom sit met die een kant van die oop Bybel op sy skoot en die ander kant op Elanie se skoot. En dan, terwyl hulle na die prente kyk, gee sy vir hom haar weergawe van die verhaal.

Al kouende aan ‘n toffie of ‘n Fruit Gum, werk  hulle dan deur ‘n paar Kinderbybelstories. Soms het Spottie met ‘n wappertong ook by die twee kom lê, teenaan hulle voete. Die toneel het ‘n gewyde effek gehad, ‘n prentjie, so reg uit die Kinderbybel. Groot swart Gabriël langs die klein blonde dogtertjie in die skadu van die lowergroen boom in diepe gesprek voor ‘n oop Bybel.

Daar het dalk net ‘n lammetjie gekort, aangenestel teen Spottie wat soos ‘n klein leeutjie voor hulle voete gelê het.

WANNEER JOU EGO JOU IN DIE MOEILIKHEID KAN SMYT

EGO

Ek moet bieg dat hierdie prentjie nogal op my van toepassing is. ‘n Spesiale vriendin herinner my vandag aan hierdie insident – waarskynlik die beste voorbeeld van hoe jou ego jou ondergang kan beteken.

Dit was destyds, toe ek as dienspligtige op Oudtshoorn die leierskursus gedoen het. ‘n Groep van ons ry toe een naweek vir die dag Wildernis toe met my Volla. Daar het ons ‘n heerlike tyd en ander ouens en meisies sluit ook by ons aan. Ons baljaar op die strand, hou piekniek en swem.

Ek het altyd daarvan gehou om agter die branders te gaan swem – dieper in as die ander mense (ja, ek weet, vir ‘n Vrystater is dit dalk ‘n dom ding om te doen). Valskermbataljon en die opleiding op Oudtshoorn het my topfiks gemaak. As gevolg van gevaarlike seestrome, was daar twee vlaggies op die strand waartussen die baaiers moes bly. Met my diep swemmery kom ek toe nou nie agter dat ek verby die vlaggies gaan nie en die lewensredder gaan mal met sy arms en fluitjie op die strand. Ek weet van niks – swem te lekker. Totdat ek bewus raak dat ek darem nou werklik baie ver van die strand af is – een van daai bedrieglike seestrome het my beet. In die verte kan ek my vriende en die meisies sien en ‘n ou met swaaiende arms wat op en af spring.

Ek probeer toe weer tussen die vlaggies en nader aan die strand kom, maar die stroom wil niks weet nie. Van die strand af stuur hulle toe ‘n reddingsboot om my te kom red. Hulle kom stop hier langs my en beduie ek moet in die boot klim. En ek dink by myself, al versuip ek ook nou vandag hier, maar daar is nie ‘n manier wat ek in daai boot klim nie. As ek nou darem soos ‘n drenkeling op die strand voor my vriende en die meisies uit die boot klim, sal ek nooooit weer my kop kan lig nie. Nee wragtag! Ek sê vir hulle nee, moenie worry nie, ek’s orraait, ek gaan buitendien nou uit.

Terwyl die manne in die boot my skepties aankyk, probeer ek weer en ek swem vir al wat ek werd is. En toe besluit ek om te ontspan en nie te spartel of weerstand te bied nie. Daai stroom trek my in en met so ‘n wye draai neem hy my weer vlak water toe. Ek loop daar na die groep toe, so terwyl ek my “pose” hou en sê, “Manne, dit was nou lekker gewees. Julle weet nie wat julle mis nie.”

As ek daai dag nie so fiks was nie, kon die storie dalk ‘n heel ander einde gehad het.

I, TOO, HAVE A DREAM …

I, TOO, HAVE A DREAM …

VLAG

(IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED OR POLITICALLY VERY CORRECT, THIS POST IS …  ESPECIALLY FOR YOU!)

Dear Julius,

Oh, not necessarily you, Mr Malema – this is intended for all the Juliuses, Tumi’s. Jan Rappe (and their friends), Toms, Dicks, Harrys, Jane and John Does of South Africa (or, in fact, to anyone who cares to read this). So many people air their views on “racial issues” these days, so I thought – Why not join the conversation? After all, I still believe that communication is more constructive than burning city halls or campuses.

I am frequently reminded that I am white and Afrikaans and therefore in a privileged position. Well, am I? Privileged, that is – these days I’m not so sure. I did have a bicycle (metaphorically and a real one, too) when I was a child, but it was not stolen (referring to the now infamous remark by Jacaranda-Tumi). My dad worked his butt off to buy me that bike – and, of course, everything else that we possessed. He worked on the railways (as we used to say) and, as the eldest son from a poor family, as many Afrikaans families in the 1930’s and 1940’s were, he had to leave the nest at 16 to help provide for the family – like many other young men. When I was a child, my school, with asbestos classrooms (can you believe it!) had very few facilities. That is why every single pupil eagerly took part in planting lawns for a sports field and establishing the gardens. Many an afternoon, after school, was spent doing this. With the proceeds of fundraising projects, everyone – including moms and dads – worked  hard to bring about facilities such as a school hall, sports equipment and a piano. We really worked hard for that.

We never discussed politics in our house. My parents taught us to treat all people with respect – whether they were street sweepers or soldiers, servants or bank managers. All people were treated with respect; black, white, brown – everyone. What they also taught us – well, actually it was not really necessary to teach – is to condemn certain acts and deeds. We were, for example, not particularly keen about burglars and killers. Robbers and vandals, too, never received any Christmas cards from us. Nor did paedophiles and men who abused their wives. Oh yes, and of course racists. Yes, there were definitely people who we did not want to be associated with, but then it was not because of who they were or the colour of their skin, but rather about what they were doing. But with people, ordinary law-abiding people who allowed the sun to shine on their fellow-countrymen, we never had a problem with.

Granted, we did not have any close black friends. We did not have any English, French, Portuguese or American friends either. But it wasn’t because we did not like them. Oh no! It was just that, at the time, we kept to what was familiar to us – our language, church, habits and so on. Frankly, even today, I see how most cultural groups (is there still such a thing as culture?) socialise. But despite that, today my own children’s friends come from all walks of the cultural spectrum. By the way, just between me and you, I think all of us, to a greater or lesser extent, have a bit of “racism” in us. This is probably the reason why I regularly see birds of a feather flock together, especially in communities and on social occasions.

Oh, please bear with me. My babbling up to now was just sort of an introduction. I actually have something else on my mind. Well, two things. Part of me is sad and upset. I also want to explain something and then I also want to see if I can get an answer to an issue that is bothering me. Well, OK, that’s three things, then.

I’m sad, outraged and discouraged by the actions of “my” people. Oh, by the way, I have yet to mention that I have been living in England for some time now. All my possessions are still in storage, patiently waiting for me to return to my beloved South Africa, though. Working conditions, or rather , the lack of it, forced me to spread my wings a bit wider to earn my bread. Affirmative action, where the colour of my skin counted against me, left me struggling to find another job in South Africa. I am therefore in a position to observe the events in South Africa from a distance – almost like a foreigner. By no means does this suggest that I am not South African, which I remain with all my heart and soul – compassionate, loyal and involved. Some of my friends regard me as the most loyal Cheetah and Springbok supporter in the world.

With every visit to South Africa, I am overwhelmed by the warmth and kindness of “my” people – South Africans from the rainbow nation. This is so in contrast to what I observe in the newspapers (no, not necessarily the news reports – it is the insulting remarks by readers following the news reports) and on social media, the intolerance, the murders, the inflammatory protest marches, farm murders and the destruction of everything that we and our ancestors worked so hard for.

 

And that’s why I’m sad and outraged.

I firmly believe that the majority of South Africans truly just want to live in peace and harmony. To feel the warmth of the African sun on them and their families. I always compare South Africa to a glass of clean, wholesome, fresh milk. With a fly in it. And that little fly is the reason why that otherwise pure, fresh milk is spoiled and has lost its appeal. A minority group, a small fly – I believe – that envenoms a whole country. Sixty million people are suffering the affects of these murderers, thugs, corruptors, racists, inciters and the like. People of all creeds and colour who incite hate and intolerance, resulting in stereotyping, hatred and mistrust.

Speaking of stereotyping. It remains a worldwide tendency that will always be a stumbling block towards healthy and peaceful relations between cultures. I regularly witness the suspicion held of Muslims here in Europe (and elsewhere, for that matter) when they board trains or enter public spaces, especially when carrying a backpack. Or how the Romanian gypsies are welcomed nowhere with open arms because all of Europe know what a premises, where they have stayed, look like when they pack up to move on again. And how Nigerians are approached with great caution when money is at stake. Or how the racist remarks and actions of a minority (from all walks of life) taint all the good relations in South Africa. There are many such examples and the common factor leading to this distrust, is almost always the actions of a minority group within those cultures. Here in England, blacks are a minority group. Nevertheless, it is interesting how the police have to jump through hoops to explain their “racist actions” every time after stopping a young black man to search for weapons. Because in 98% of the cases, young black men were involved in knife attacks. And now, all young black men in England and all Muslims (worldwide) are suffering because of the actions of a small group. They are being stereotyped.

As a young conscript in the South African Defence Force, we had to fight off the “Red Danger” and the “Black Danger” and, at the time, it was not that difficult to convince me that they were indeed “dangerous”. In cinemas and newspapers the Red Russians were always portrayed as the villains and as a child, our burglars  – and there were quite a few – were all black men. At school we learned how the Zulus and the Xhosas slaughtered the Voortrekkers. Hollywood showed me in the Tarzan movies how the black “cannibals” cooked the whites in big pots. Stereotyping at its best (or worst).cannibals

And that confused me, because those images and preconceptions of black people were light years apart from my experiences of daily interactions with people like moruti Mohatla (the friendly preacher who knocked on our door every month for donations for his congregation), Martha (our dear ironing lady), Gabriel (our hardworking gardener), Pechu and Bunny – with their parents, Mieta and Elias – (the warm, lovely people who lived and worked on my uncles’s farm) and so many more. I could not understand why they were not allowed to go to the cinema or church with us. But, then I assumed that, maybe the powers that be were worried that, when they allowed them to go to church and cinema with us, the dangerous lot of cannibals, burglars and slaughterers would also sneak in. Yeah, that is what I was thinking as a child.

Apartheid and racism are wrong! Full stop. It was just immoral to exclude the majority of South Africa’s inhabitants from all that this glorious country of us can offer. Having said that, despite the fact that it was very easy for me to vote “Yes” at the time when we were asked if we wanted to share the power in the country with our black fellow citizens, there was an uneasy worrying feeling deep inside me. A few years later, Johannes, my black gardener, experienced the same troubling thoughts when he was allowed to vote for the first time. I remember how he came to ask my opinion on who he should give his vote to, because, like me, he was also too aware of what was happening in other African countries north of our borders. Collapse of infrastructure, corruption, famine, tribal wars and genocide.

Why were so many white people (and, yes, even black people, like Johannes) in South Africa worried about power sharing? Was it because of the images that got stuck in their memories? Images of the Mau Mau’s, the Congolese Crisis, the faction fights in many African countries or the disintegration of infrastructure all over Africa? Or was it, perhaps, witnessing the total collapse of a once prosperous country like Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in a relatively short time under Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship.

What is happening in South Africa today, almost 20 years later? As in Zimbabwe, farmers in South Africa are now being murdered and driven from their farms at an alarming rate – by black people. As in Zimbabwe, the people keep one of the most corrupt governments in the world in power (as at the time of writing). Crime and decline of infrastructure is a worrying issue and even receive regular international mentioning. Every week reports of yet another destructive protest cripples our country bit by bit with images of burning buses, trains and buildings spreading like wildfire across the world. Machete wielding blacks barricading roads with stones and burning tyres in protest of the actions (or lack thereof) of the same government that they keep in power – and then looting and destroying property of people who have absolutely nothing to do with the protest action. These are the images that I struggle to explain to my neighbours here in England. I struggle to fight off the returning haunting demons of what-ifs that Johannes and I had battled with all those years back.

 

This is why I am distraught. I feel betrayed by the people to whom Johannes and I entrusted the country that I so deeply love. My worst fears when I made my cross at the polling station all those years back, has come to haunt me. While I’m rejoicing about moruti Mohatla, Martha, Gabriel, Pechu and Bunny who can now go to church and cinema with me, I am all torn up about  those “cannibals and burglars and slaughterers” who did sneak in. Those who are doing exactly now what we were worried about all those years back.

OK, those were two of the issues I wanted to get off my chest. Now for the third one – my question.

I truly want to understand the mentality, the reasoning and thought behind so many actions of black people. Because with understanding comes empathy and empathy leads to healing, acceptance and unity. My whole being yearns for peace and unity.

Could someone please explain to me why, in a modern world and with so many opportunities, black people, whether minority or majority groups, are still victims and still insist on affirmative action across the world. Imagine the outcry if there was a Miss White America pageant? But there is a Miss Black America pageant!  And the Black British Business Awards, the National Association of Black Journalists, and many more associations exclusively for black people .

miss-black-america

In the United Kingdom, a traditional European (read white) country, there are special provisions for the appointment of minority groups (read black people). In South Africa, where black people form the majority, there are quota selections for sports teams, and affirmative action in the workplace and so many more enforcements to give black people, often not on merit, an advantage to prove themselves. Isn’t it degrading?

Successful black people like Nat King Cole, Mohammed Ali, Desmond Tutu, the Williams sisters, Deratu Tulu, Mo Farrah, Ussain Bolt, Tiger Woods, James Earl Jones – too many to name, got to the top of their game with shear hard work and perseverance. No affirmative action, quota selections or special treatment. No sir! They were – and are still – being honoured and loved  by the whole world because of their achievements. They’ve earned respect. I don’t see a black person when watching Idris Alba or listening to Gregory Porter. I see a hugely talented human being. I prefer to surround myself with positive, forward-thinking, hardworking people. The majority of my friends – and all of my black friends – tick those boxes.

Oh, and another thing. Why do many black people insist on taking over (and sometimes even destroy!) establishments that were established over years with love, hard work and traditions by white people. Let me give you an example – universities for Afrikaans students, to name but one. Why don’t you (or us) just build universities for Zulu’s or Sotho’s? Hijacking and destructive actions like these remind me of the story about the ants who work hard all year round to gather food and then the locusts come and just help themselves to the ants’ hard-earned food until there is nothing left for either of them. Look what is happening (or, more correctly, not happening) all over Africa – arguably the most beautiful continent with so much potential. Every so often European countries or America have to provide food, or medicine or other necessities. I never see vice versa actions. What is preventing Africa from developing and producing enough food and care for its people? So-called Western countries are for ever assisting some African country or another, going from one crisis to the other, because, after all these years, very little development took shape. It is almost as if there is no future vision or planning ahead. Why?

And please, don’t play the oppression card. So many nations across the world, over centuries, suffered oppression. The Jews, the Afrikaners, the Irish, the Czechs … too many to mention. But they did not stay down. They rose from the ashes and became proud nations. But not in Africa. Zimbabwe, to name but one country, was demolished in a relatively short period under a black government. Is this where South Africa is heading to?

To conclude. What and who I like and don’t like, who I love and don’t love do not make me a racist. Being a racist makes one a racist – people who don’t like others just because of their skin colour. I condemn actions and thoughts, not people.

I was not responsible for what happened to black people anywhere in the world and you have no right or grounds to blame me for your circumstances or your history. It is almost 2018 and time for those of you who keep blaming me to change your attitude. The past is the past. Neither you, nor I – no-one! – can change anything about the past. If we keep living in the past, blaming the whole world for our circumstances, we will never be able to focus on the future. Nothing drags you down like bitterness and hatred. Blaming others and calling others racist just because they are today’s whites, makes you a racist. I am as proud of my country, South Africa, as the next person. I was born there, that is where my roots are. When Africa is in your blood, it is in your blood, your soul, your life. What happened to our ancestors, had nothing to do with me and you. Like you, I wasn’t there. I don’t still blame the British government, after all these years, for all the killings, scorched earth policy and humiliation of the Afrikaners during the Boer War. The rest of Europe do not still blame the Germans for World War II. They have made peace, moved on and rebuild. They focus their energy on today and beyond.

Isn’t it time we’d do the same? Take hands and build a country, a safe haven for us and for our children. How many more years do we want to continue this conflict, this hatred, this destruction?

Like another impressive famous black man, I, too, have a dream. I dream of a peaceful rainbow nation – one rainbow, different cultures.

SA SUPPORTERS

The South Africa it can be!

With the kindest of regards,

Andre

SouthAfrica UNITY

 

MAY GOD BLESS SOUTH AFRICA

MAY GOD BLESS SOUTH AFRICA

(Despite being an Afrikaans boytjie, I will try my best to do this in English in an effort to make it accessible to non-Afrikaans speaking readers as well.)

Farm-attacks

I am probably as distraught about the recent spate of farm murders in South Africa as the next person. The pictures of blood-soaked rooms and  grief-stricken faces of friends and family in the newspapers, left me staring at the ceiling in the dark room at night.

Cry my beloved country.

So why am I not changing my profile picture on Facebook in support of the farmers? I am, after all, a proud Boerseun (with a capital B) and have people very dear to me making a living off the red soil of South Africa.

I read many South African (and international) newspapers every day ( not just the Afrikaans publications which are aimed at a specific target market). I read about the joys and heartaches in so many homes across the country – from farmsteads to suburban homes and shacks. About the brutal killings of our farmers, the senseless murders in our secured suburbs and the daily heartbreak of yet another killing or ten in townships and squatter camps.

I watched a programme about the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, last night. He also lived in a time when his country was buckling under turmoil and political transgression. Many of his aphorisms are still quoted today. One of them, is:

Before you go on a journey of revenge, dig two graves

We all are in a state of despair and shock and frustration and we all want to shout: Enough is enough!

Enough is indeed enough, so what are we going to do about it? Fight fire with fire? How many more deaths as a result? Will it really solve the problem? Is this war going to end, like most other wars, in destruction and death and further hate?

Confucius also said:

If your plan is for one year, plant rice.

If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.

But if your plan is for hundred years, educate.

We are all occupying ourselves with short term plans. We protest against current issues and burn busses and universities and discuss revenge plans around the braai with no vision of the consequences of the lasting effect of our selfish acts. What are we leaving behind for our children and grandchildren? What will they, one day, read about us in their history books?

rainbow-nation

When I read the different comments of ordinary people in newspapers, see the conduct of some people at shop counters and listen to conversations at social gatherings, I realise why I am staring at the ceiling at night. Another one of the wise old Chinese man springs to mind:

Attack the evil that is within yourself

Rather than attacking the evil that is in others.

Stop stereotyping all people. Not all whites are racists and not all blacks are non-racists. Not every black person is a Zuma or a criminal or a killer and, yes, white people are also corrupt and they do kill people. We should unite against the corrupt government, their sponsors and cronies  and make them accountable for their actions (or lack of it).

The moment we realise that we are all inhabitants of the same country, under the same law (or disrespect of it), victims of the same criminals and all dependant on the same sun, rain and air, we will make progress towards unity. And unity is what we want. Unity against the thugs, and killers and the corrupt government. And against people who don’t want to share this beautiful country with others who are not the same as them.

SPRINGBOK RUGBY

And for that reason I am not changing my profile picture, because I do not want to marginalise any of the good people in South Africa. I support the farmer, the housewife, the teacher, the policeman, the car guard and all the souls in South Africa who try to bring about unity. People who don’t engage in hate crime, destruction, murder, rape, child molestation and so many of the horrible actions that fill the news columns of newspapers worldwide. I support people who can truly embrace the words of our Lord:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Let us show our condemnation of the farm attacks by wearing black T-shirts or changing our Facebook profiles or by any non-destructive way we want. But keep in mind that there are so many more victims of all walks of life. We should unite and combine our energy against CRIME and CORRUPTION in our country.   Full-stop!

I remain on my knees: Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika!

Let’s shake hands on that.

SA SUPPORTERS