Last week I was asked to explain why I do not have more black friends. Turns out I am just a prejudiced and complacent old fart with baggage that I need to get rid of. I thank each and every one for their replies to the article for getting a worthy debate going. However this week a good friend rather sarcastically said: “OK Brendon so we know why you don’t have more black friends, bus what is your excuse for having so few white friends?” Once more my challenger was spot-on. I do not have many white friends and the ones I do have are mostly from my schooldays.
Once more I had to look myself in the mirror and as honestly as possible try to answer this question – and I am afraid that once more the truth is rather unflattering. I do not have more white friends because I am insecure and once more, a bit prejudiced.
I was raised in an Afrikaans home, school and church. I grew up watching rugby, reading Rapport, eating melktert and looking for any excuse to braai. I also grew up sceptical of the black man and distrustful of the English man. Now I cannot speak for all Afrikaners or Afrikanerdom as a whole, but in my experience all this distrust and fear stems from a deep insecurity about my place in the world. Was it because the Afrikaners lost an awful lot of dignity in the war? Was it because the South African economy at first was structured around the English language – leaving “Van de Merwe” to look and sound stupid? I don’t know – and this is not the real issue I want to discuss.
All I know is that if I drive with my dodgy Free State car into Parkhurst I feel uncomfortable and insecure. Everyone looks smarter and dresses better and it’s always as if people are staring at down at me – knowing merely by looking at me that I am a plattelander and an Afrikaner to boot. It is as if they can see that I don’t know what a good cappuccino tastes like and that I still eat at Wimpy and wear Crocs. Ironically I am yet to meet anyone in Parkhurst who gives credence to this image I have of white English folk. The people I know who live there are great and down to earth and were merely lucky that they bought homes there before the suburb became posh and expensive.
When I arrived at Wits after school I could barely speak English — yet the confidence I attained later in life corresponded roughly with my newfound proficiency in the language. Yet to this day I find it very hard to be myself and try and befriend English people as I still see myself as inferior to them. It’s dumb and at my age inexcusable to still harbour insecurities, but I do. However as with my prejudice against black people arising from one bad experience in Yeoville, I have now stopped really beating myself up over the fact that I don’t have many English friends. I like Wimpy burgers sometimes and even though I don’t own Crocs, I think they are perfectly reasonable shoes – especially the affordable fake ones.
I also don’t always want to be proper and sit up and pretend to know about organic farming and the latest art film. Sometimes I just want to talk about the rugby and I find it hard to relax enough around English people to do so. It’s my own issues I know, and once more I am probably totally out of line, but this is how I feel.
You’d think I would have lots of Afrikaans friends, but due to a few bad experiences in the past I don’t socialise often with Afrikaans people either. The blunt truth is that I don’t like their music and I don’t like how they re-enforce their fear and victimhood when they have a few drinks. Now before Dan Roodt sends me hate mail – I know not all Afrikaners are like this, just as not all English people are clever and posh and all black people are loud and lazy.
I simply do not like music about someone’s “meisie” who lives in a “huisie” and cannot spend four hours next to a braai listening to it. And even though farm murders are another horrible SA reality, I prefer to bury my head in the sand about it. Afrikaners have endured and created an awful lot of bad vibes in this country and when I socialise I don’t want to be dragged into this maelstrom.
Dr Phil anyone?