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The unbearable ‘rightness’ of whiteness

By Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende

There has been a robust discussion on the issue of white privilege in the world and in South Africa in the last few days on Facebook and I am relieved to see that finally people can have these discussions and express their views without the whole exercise degenerating into an e-blood bath. Therefore it was no surprise to wake up on Wednesday morning and find that one of my friends had tagged me to a response she had written to a blogger named Brendon, who had written a “mea culpa”, confessing to his prejudices against black people. You can read the blog here. My friend Gillian Schutte is a white South African who has no problem discussing the devastating role that colonialism and its hideous cousin apartheid wreaked on the continent of Africa and she will never back down from challenging notions of white supremacy. Her rebuttal to Brandon can be read here.

However, after reading both Brendon’s blog and Gillian’s public response to it, where she basically tells Brendon that his views are not the views of all white people, and that his admittance of prejudice, with absolutely no sign that he was in any way trying to overcome those prejudices was in fact of no use to anyone but himself and others like him, I felt a compulsion to defend myself. Defend myself, you wonder. Yes, defend myself, my blackness, because this is what many black people will tell you: whenever a black person does something wrong, commits a crime, drops a piece of paper on the street, rapes, or murders, all black people are labelled negatively. All black people carry the burden of the guilt of one person or a small group, because of blanket statements many of us grew up hearing from the mouths of white people in southern Africa.

Many of these whites were raised with racism as the very backdrop of their lives, in which they had a black nanny or “house-girl” and a black “garden-boy”. By the way these were usually grown men and women with families of their own, but they were infantilised even by the white children, who came of age totally believing that the sole purpose of black people was to be of service to them. These children grew up hearing their parents talk about the dangerous blacks who robbed murdered, raped littered, stank, were drunks and cared only about fucking, dancing and drinking beer all the while beating their women and living in squalor.

Brendon represents the kind of adults those children became and many stayed that way even as adults. Brendon basically believes that he can never be friends with blacks because blacks are not worthy of his friendship by virtue of their “nature”. Brendon, and many whites have concluded that blacks are harbingers of all things evil and bad, and that blacks are a subspecies of lesser human form and because of this we, blacks will never reach a standard of intellectual or material accomplishment that would make us worthy of effort by white people.

Just to make things clear to Brendon and his ilk: the mimicry you see black people perform, the fawning and the bootlicking which you so accept as due worship, happens because we are survivors. Many blacks realised that it was a matter of survival to comply and bend with the sick wind that your ancestors belched over us. That is why we could be transported across seas and still thrive where we were enslaved and made to work like the beasts of burden white people saw us to be. Look around the world Brendon and you will see that blacks survived where other indigenous peoples died out in there millions. The US and Native Americans is a great example, as is Australia and the Aborigines.

At our core we have unpacked and deconstructed your bullshit and I am glad to say that my children will fare better in the new world order than yours will. My children are being raised to see human beings first not colour. My children are being raised to be conscious that there are other peoples on this globe and that a sense of entitlement is a dangerous quality to harbour, one that results in stereotyping others and bigotry. In the new world order your kind will be viewed as an aberration, a gross error on the landscape of history. You have shown the world your baseness, your arrogance and stupidity, quite frankly.

I grew up in a country where white people lamented the demise of minority white rule and they all predicted the fall of the great Zimbabwe, bread basket of southern Africa, all thanks to the white farmers of course. Well, Zimbabwe did fall, but rather than honestly analyse the root causes of the fall of Zimbabwe, many white people say: “Look what the blacks, ALL blacks have done to this country.”

In the introduction his personal history of Biafra, Professor Chinua Achebe, Nigerian writer and scholar writes: “Africa’s post-colonial disposition is the result of a people who have lost the habit of ruling themselves. We have also had difficulty running the new systems foisted upon us by ‘our colonial masters’. Because the west has had a long but uneven engagement with the continent, it is imperative that it understand what happened to Africa. It must also play a part in the solution. A meaningful solution will require the goodwill and concerted efforts on the part of all those who share the weight of Africa’s historical burden. (There was a Country. A Personal History of Biafra.)

In essence what white people on the continent and in southern Africa in particular do is to absolutely refuse to look at what black people have become and view it as a direct legacy of the work of their ancestors, who dehumanised, robbed, raped, disenfranchised and fragmented millions of organised black communities in order to enrich themselves. Therefore when people like Brendon throw out blanket statements about their racist selves and how they have stopped trying to be friends with blacks, it doesn’t occur to them that blacks have a deep seated distrust for white people based on this ugly and relatively young history and that many blacks don’t really care to make friends with them. They are so blinded by their position of power, they truly believe that to befriend black people is to do them a huge honour or favour. It is this mind-set that needs to be deconstructed in the minds of young people if there is ever any change to be made towards real and genuine respect for one another.

I have lived in several all-white communities since leaving Africa and believe me, white people’s shit stinks just as much as black people’s and at 19 years of age the scales fell off my eyes when I saw a German man snort and spit out a bolus of green mucus onto the pavement. I had never thought a white person capable of such a nasty act even in private and here I was, the only black person in middle Bavaria in a tiny village where people stared at me out of windows as I walked down the village streets.

In 2010, after running the Chicago marathon, I decided to stop and use one of the hotel restrooms in downtown Chicago and to my horror I found overflowing toilets with ugly turds floating on mounds of toilet paper, dubious looking liquids on the restroom floors and guess what, there were a handful of blacks who ran in that race which had over 35 000 runners that year. This was not black people’s mess!

I use these two examples to illustrate how tragic it is to live an unreflected life in this global day and age. It is high time that black people speak out about racism and how it rears its ugly head, poorly disguised as honesty. While Brendon’s confession is hardly a sophisticated one that requires genius to unpack, there are more subtle, insidious ways in which white people try to undermine black people and usurp any collective confidence we might try to gather as we go about our lives. A typical example of this is Donald Trump’s demand that democratically elected US President Obama produce his long-form birth certificate, to prove he was an American citizen. That act, performed publicly was supposed to have the effect of humiliating a black man, in the highest office of this land because then surely that would result in the rest of the blacks cowering in shame also.

The white South African comedians and commentators who mock blacks under the guise of humour, by mimicking our accents when we speak English is a contemporary method of “putting us and keeping us in our place”, which is as the “house-girl”, the “garden-boy” and the cook. It is a subtle way of sending the message even to those who have done well: you are still black and will always be black and all the negativity that this term connotes.

Black people have a lot of work to do on ourselves in terms of throwing off the shackles of mental slavery that have us believing that we are inferior to white people. People like Brendon count on us cowering and living down to their low expectations of us. We are better than that and should teach our children the truth about who these racists are and who we really are: The original Africans who existed and had thriving civilisations before Brendon’s ancestors came a-creeping.

That we are poor is because they are rich and have kept everything of the highest quality and standards for themselves. That is a fact and they sit in positions of privilege from which they write their unintelligent bull crap and call it confession! They believe they have superior knowledge through science and technology, all the while failing to accept that the reason the things are this way is because they kept all other peoples in various states of arrested development. Shame!

Brendon, I would encourage you to go back to Ireland and visit the ghettoes of Dublin and come and tell me that blacks are inherently dirty, loud, lazy and inept. There should be a sense of shame in prejudice as blatant and as archaic as yours and there should be shame at the fact that black Africa is in shambles because of the heinous acts of your ancestors. Other white people are trying to create a different legacy for their children than the one that will burden yours: a legacy of hate, oppression and imperial complex. They declared they came in friendship, your ancestors. Now we know different and you want to believe that blacks want your friendship?! Get real!

Barbara Ruwende is a writer and public health professional.

Tags: , ,

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  • 53 Responses to “The unbearable ‘rightness’ of whiteness”

    1. Blatherwick Ashburner (a Whitey) #

      Am I a racist?
      I bear prejudice against people who consume more than they produce, who are parasitic and dishonest, who are leeches, looters and moochers. Irrespective of the colour of their skin. I believe that I am better than them.

      December 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm
    2. Mike #

      The irony of this situation is that I found your article to be WAY more prejudiced in its simplifications and generalizations than the article it purports to speak about. Funny how we can only see other people’s racism but never our own.

      Without even trying I just scrolled up and looked at the first line my eyes came upon and this was it:

      “ways in which white people try to undermine black people and usurp any collective confidence we might try to gather as we go about our lives”

      Is that not a generalized racist comment? Do ALLL white people go out of their way to “undermine black people” as you say?

      Glass houses and all that…

      December 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm
    3. MsMom #

      POWER POWER POWER

      December 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm
    4. pongoland #

      Shoulder. Chip. Much?

      December 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm
    5. Mr. Direct #

      @Author: where to start?

      “devastating role that colonialism” Apartheid cannot be defended, but colonialism is percieved to be this big bad enemy, but it was also the spread of religion and education in not just Africa, but Asia and the Americas. There were good aspects as well as bad. Fact is, it happened, so what now? What can be changed?

      “all black people are labelled negatively” – this is not a singe race trait – EVERYONE is labelled negatively in negative circumstances, whether it is black, white, green or blue.

      “to prove he was an American citizen”. Not sure how you get black/white bias from this, it is about citizenship, not colour. If he said, “I do not want a black man in charge”, then perhaps this is relevant.

      “mock blacks under the guise of humour” – Every comedian uses accents, all kinds, even their own race / country. I laugh at jokes about my race and accent. Perhaps you are too sensitive?

      “throwing off the shackles of mental slavery that have us believing that we are inferior to white people”. – love this point, and completely agree with you. It is also the first step in showing white supremists they are wrong. This might also be a big part of your reasoning in your post however.

      “They believe they have superior knowledge through science and technology”. Perhaps, perhaps not, but I do not see a lot of innovation coming from Africa on the world stage though. Maybe Africans need to be more ambitious…

      December 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm
    6. fraud #

      Well said! No truer words have ever been spoken!

      December 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm
    7. Percipient #

      WAYCISSM, waycissm, waycissm… what a pathetic article.

      So Thought Leader has now become the mudslinging platform for PC-do-gooders, libbies and ‘thinkers’ to slap each other over the heads with a rancid ‘racism’ towel. Someone save this blog. Give us an interesting article, please.

      December 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm
    8. Wildcat #

      Oh dear, another hysterical over-reaction.
      Did you even read Brendon’s column? And were you able to grasp the context it was written in?
      Sad…. :(

      December 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm
    9. Zeph #

      It has a lot to do with circumstance (and that is all it is – sorry to disappoint you) that the different races are positioned as they are. It has got nothing to do with ‘blacks are survivors’ as opposed to other indigenous peoples ‘who died in their millions’.
      I think you should read Guns, Germs and Steel which brings in the availability of crops, domestication of animals and the disease link (plus more) to get a better understanding of why things have transpired as they have.
      White people are not more evil than black people who are no more evil than oriental people etc. There is no angelic grouping that does less evil than others.
      It is all about power and dominance. Just as. I presume, most Americans enjoy being a world power (and enjoy the benefits that this leverage presents), whether they be black or white, they will all be happy to share in its spoils (it is economic imperialism after all). Ditto we in RSA enjoy dominating our neighbours and exploiting the benefits that power presents.
      But it seems you have fallen into the same trap and Brendon and Gillian (and I dare say all of us) have – that being; you have pigeon holed a group and labeled them all as a type before passing judgment on them.

      December 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm
    10. The Critical Cynic #

      People are people and this article proves that even when standing on the so called moral high ground it is still possible to come across as a hypocritical condescending supremist. Keep going, drivel like this often shows people up for who they really are.

      I could tear into your hypocricy but will leave some for others – the brazen statement that your children will do better than Brendon’s for example – but you do tell us why, it’s because you are raising them better than he is and all the implication that you are a better parent, nay, a better person than he is, than most of us are I’d wager!

      Your generalisations are just as bad as the next – and do you really think that it was just black people that survived apartheid in the ways you describe? Do you actually think before you write stuff like “I had never thought a white person capable of such a nasty act” – sounds a little bit like a racist statement now doesn’t it ‘tho I’ll bet that wasn’t your intention? And how do you feel about the similar ways white south africans are learning to survive their extortion encounters with black police & metro police officers and governement officials? Is that ok still because it’s not yet as bad as the way the white cops used to treat black people?

      Again, people are people. I believe there are very few South Africans who could be truly termed non-racist. There is no obligation on anyone to heal the racial divide or even make an effort – it is a personal choice

      December 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm
    11. Loudly South African #

      Whenever a racist gets too carried away mocking a black’s English pronunciation I gently ask them how well do they speak Zulu, Xhosa, etc.

      As someone who has tried to learn other languages (Euro-continental & “black”) I realise that “language” is a talent (like music or art) which I don’t have (I cannot draw either, but am musical).

      My advice to Ms Mhangami-Ruwende is to learn to “take it whence it comes” regardless of the individual’s demographic. For instance, a friend’s flattery is less convincing than a disinterested party (e.g. judging how you sing, look in a dress, etc); similarly, racist barbs are just that. One has to respect oneself before one can respect others; often jibes & barbs are lack of self-respect projected outwards.

      December 10, 2012 at 4:40 pm
    12. Momma Cyndi #

      Strange, I also spent most of my formative years growing up in Zimbabwe. Ms Ruwende must come from the far South as no man in Matabeleland would ever have put up with a child (of any colour) calling him ‘boy’.

      December 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm
    13. Stephen #

      Its probably true that large parts of Africa are today an unholy mess. We’ve recently had ethnic cleansing in SE Europe. The killing fields of Cambobia. The Gulag archipelago. In my grandfathers lifetime Europe was laid to waste, and we had the holocast. Multicoloured clusterf*cks, all. Its a human thing, not a black / white thing. What grubby, murderous mammals we are. Now if we could appreciate each others’ points of view and dissenting opinions without resort to vitriol and violence….. nah. We cannot. Shame on us all.

      December 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm
    14. An excellent article that should be required reading for white South Africans!!!

      We see the insidious nature of this racism where Brendon first engages in negative stereotypes of blacks and follows up with a pseudo self-deprecating rant on Afrikaner culture to further justify his first blog.

      The cradle to the grave indoctrination of white supremacy and privilege is the real evil we need to deal with and our education system and media is the genesis of this evil. Of course reform of our media and education systems is met with huge opposition from the usual suspects for obvious reasons. Fortunately, time is not on their side this time round…tick-tock.

      December 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm
    15. MrK #

      ” Brendon represents the kind of adults those children became and many stayed that way even as adults. Brendon basically believes that he can never be friends with blacks because blacks are not worthy of his friendship by virtue of their “nature”. ”

      Philosophically, racism is a subset of biological determinism. The thing is that outside of the realm of ‘race’, biological determinism is also used against whites when it is time to justify class.

      There was a long discussion back in the 1990s about a book called The Bell Curve, which tried to create a scientific justification for explanation of alleged differences in IQ scores between blacks and whites, but also between rich whites and poor whites.

      The Bell Curve was a fraud of course, but the fact remains that this is what they (Murray and Hernstein, supported by rightwing thinktanks like the Brookings and Manhattan institutes) tried to do.

      Which brings me to…

      ” Brendon, and many whites have concluded that blacks are harbingers of all things evil and bad, and that blacks are a subspecies of lesser human form and because of this we, blacks will never reach a standard of intellectual or material accomplishment that would make us worthy of effort by white people. ”

      There is nothing new under the sun, and very little of this theory was actally invented in South Africa or Namibia.

      December 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm
    16. MrK #

      The belief in ‘race’ is intricately connected to the notion of the Multi-Regional Theory of Human Evolution, which has been replaced thoroughly by the Out Of Africa theory of human evolution.

      The Multi-Regional theory insists that modern people on different continents came out of different homonids, and were subject to long periods of geographical isolation (100,000s of years). Magically and against all known laws of genetics, they were supposed to have *genetically converged* to the point where there is only one human species on planet earth. This long period of geographic isolation is the evolutionary basis of their belief in ‘racial differences’.

      Since the mid-2000s and the Genographic Project, it is clear that all people alive today share a common human origin that is also recent, about 60,000 years ago.

      (In fact, the oldest male haplogroups are found in South Africa, namely Haplogroup A, which is mainly found among the Bushmen/San people. The E haplogroup is found almost exclusively in Africa. E1b1a is associated with the Bantu Expansions, and E1b1b with the spread of Afro-Asiatic. E1b1b is very high in Northeast Africa, Northwest Africa, Southeastern Europe and among Jews, blurring the line between African and European genes.)

      December 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm
    17. MrK #

      Even in the 1970s dr. Richard Lewontin did research on blood types and phenotypic races, and found that there was more genetic differentiation within ‘races’ (8%), than between ‘races’ (6%). The generally accepted differentiation before we can talk about races (sub-species) in biology is 20%-25%.

      (PBS) Interview With Richard Lewontin
      http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-01-04.htm

      (A species is a group of organisms within which individuals can procreate and generate fertile offspring. You can cross a dog and a wolf and get a wolfdog which can breed other wolfdogs, hence wolves and dogs belong to the same species; if you cross a horse and a donkey, you get a mule, which is infertile, which means that horses and donkeys belong to different species.)

      Not only do all people on planet earth today belong to the same species. All people alive today are descendents of a small group of people who lived in East Africa from 200,000 years ago, and some of whom left Africa in several waves from 60,000 year ago (modern survivors: Australians, Melanesians, Negritos like the Andamanese, as well as absorbtion of their genes among the general East/Southeast Asian population) and north through Egypt about 45,000 years ago.

      What we are talking about is the survival of discredited scientific theories, because those theories are useful in other ways – financial, class justification, politics or personal identity.

      December 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm
    18. MrK #

      Interesting links I would like to encourage everyone to read:

      (MEDIA MATTERS) You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear …
      Column ››› April 4, 2007, by ERIC ALTERMAN
      http://mediamatters.org/research/2007/04/04/youve-got-to-be-taught-to-hate-and-fear/138489

      The Bell Curve Flattened
      Subsequent research has seriously undercut the claims of the controversial best seller.
      By Nicholas Lemann|Posted Saturday, Jan. 18, 1997
      http://www.slate.com/articles/briefing/articles/1997/01/the_bell_curve_flattened.html

      PBS – Race, The Power Of An Illusion
      http://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm

      (PBS) Interview With Richard Lewontin
      http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-01-04.htm

      On the evolution of race as a concept, read:

      (PBS) The Blurred Racial Lines Of Famous Families
      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/

      December 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm
    19. Heinrich Becker #

      It is so nice to know that we have such passionate people dedicated to promoting racism. Enjoy !

      December 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm
    20. Lucky Ntuli

      What a waste!

      Black this, White that!

      Nobody is important because of their skin colour. Whys is this such a difficult thing to understand.

      Your abilities, integrity and core values are what the world judge you by to be special, not your skin colour.

      December 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm
    21. ian shaw #

      After many years of thinking and studying about why blacks of Africa have not displayed a lot of innovation on the world stage, I stopped attributing it to monopolization of science and technology by colonialists. Essentially, in my inexpert opinion African culture was and is still based on collectivism whereas since the Enlightenment European culture has been based on individualism. The latter means that an individual who dared to ignore the naysayers and disapproving factions and was ready to take risks, relying on himself to succeed. In other words, he did not agree with the African tenet that “he is what he is because of others around him”. Even today many successful Africans in SA are sarcastically labeled “coconuts” suggesting that they betrayed their collectivist traditions and behave like the whites.
      History has shown that no collectivist society has ever advanced technologically. Yet even today one hears frequent exhortatiojn against “individualism” which somehow indicates being cold-hearted, cruel and exploitative and certainly against the African ideal of “ubuntu”.

      December 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm
    22. Mfundi #

      I didn’t like Brendan’s article at all – for the generalisations he made about black people. They were unpleasant, and they were specific. I disagree with them completely. But it seems every reasponse is just to create more and more strawmen piling up on top of each other, with lots of statements about others that just haven’t been made. Is this always the level of discourse when people talk about race? If it were a discussion on global warming would there be as much assuming and jumping to conclusions about others’ views, even when completely unstated?

      December 10, 2012 at 6:36 pm
    23. Mfundi #

      Perhaps the oddest conclusion is the many valid points about race relations are completely obliterated by the vehemence and absolute rightness of all the commentators. Based on this article, one may be forgiven for thinking that Brendan’s article was a Goebbels speech about the inherent supremacy of white Nordic Aryans, their superior culture, civilisation, architecture, knowledge, intelligence and values (here I am exaggerating specifically for a purpose). The fact that is is impossible to distinguish the response to Brendan’s disagreeable but not extremist ideas from the response to a Goebbels speech just proves the total irrationality of almost all commentators on this topic. Which oddly enough means it isn’t a very practical topic to discuss, as all the sounds and fury signifies …not much. Or not much that can make anything better.

      December 10, 2012 at 6:46 pm
    24. Barbara #

      Truth hurts, but that does not make it any less so. No I did not read Brendon’s blog that is why i wrote about it (SMH). When all is said and done no one likes to be confronted with their own crap and the comments here illustrate this. So eagerare you to switch this and call it what “reverse racism” on my part, just because I have told you what for so long we never had the nerve to? Take a good look at yourselves White South Africa and just maybe there is hope for your country.You make it extremely easy to breed radicalism and while you are lulled into a false sense of security, the proverbial carpet will be yanked from under your feet. What you represent makes Mugabe and Juju appealing to young people and the disenfranchized masses and therein lies your problem. look further south and memorize the images you saw, and remember that this can be averted if you are really serious about your legacy. When all your poster boy token blacks pass on as they will who can you hold up as symbol of your post racist rainbow nation society?

      December 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    25. Shamwari #

      If there is a positive note in all of this, it is ‘My children are being raised to see human beings first not colour. ‘ I truly hope this is the case for all people of goodwill, because the amount of mudslinging seems really excessive. And it seems to go back to and focus on grievances a bit like the Irish troubles, where people are still remembering sleights from hundreds and hundreds of years. I think there is work to be done to build a future, not to keep reinventing and rehashing a past which is full of troubles in Africa – not all of which can be simplistically assigned to one culture or another, however tempting. Africa as a whole has a bright future. SA must be careful not to miss the boat.

      December 10, 2012 at 6:58 pm
    26. Wow! You also forgot to mention the black victim mentality that you so boldly display.

      Your writing is pitiful self-pity and frankly, far more loaded with racism than Brendon’s. Your quick assertion that your white friends also think so is much like the idiot at a dinner contending that “I have black friends, but…”

      December 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm
    27. DeeGee #

      What you fail to appreciate and realise is that you are no different to Brendon, with the major difference being that he is able to recognise his shortcomings, whereas you and Gillian cannot. Or will not. I’m not certain who appointed you (and for that matter, Gillian) the official spokesperson on behalf of all white people. When did white people become this great big homogeneous group? Look at how you have phrased your passages: “I grew up in a country where white people lamented the demise of minority white rule …” All of them? Really? Including your friend Gillian? And Jeremy Cronin. And Joe Slovo (may he rest in peace). And Frederik van Zyl Slabbert (may he also rest in peace). And many, many others. Or are they somehow exempt? How does one apply for an exemption?

      Another one: “In essence what white people on the continent and in southern Africa in particular do is to absolutely refuse to look at what black people have become and view it as a direct legacy of the work of their ancestors…”. Wow. That must include my 3 year old daughter. I shall speak to her straight away about that!

      What you and your friend Gillian do is generalise and then generalise some more. Because, with out it, the argument becomes weaker. For the pair of you, it is almost vital for the issue to be about race. Why is that?

      Some comedians are probably quite sinister, whilst others may just be making light of a very South African thing. But you won’t see it for what it is. Sad.

      December 11, 2012 at 5:51 am
    28. Mark_DE #

      I believe Ms Ruwende is both overdoing it and barking up the wrong tree. I believe Mr Shields was as honest as he could possibly be, with no regard to the outcome.

      He stripped naked only to get beaten up and thrown in the gutter.

      As a general essay on the black experience of the white invasion it stands, but I don’t really see the connection to Mr Shields’ story

      I take issue, however, with the notion ‘That we are poor is because they are rich’. That may be true, in part, for South Africa, but certainly not for the rest of Africa. Which is not to say colonialism wasn’t oppressive, murderous, immoral by today’s standards, did nothing for Africans etc. etc.

      But are we discussing the history of the world or the present and future of South Africa?

      December 11, 2012 at 6:03 am
    29. Piet Boerie #

      The very fact that you call yourself black just ended any kind of argument.
      The fact that Gillian is a co-thinker ended any logical argument and it all became emotional handbags.

      Both of you missed Brendon’s point, which must be placed to your feeling of intellectualism (made up) superiority and some kind of unaddressed indignation. His letter was a cry for help as well an admition of guilt by a working man. Truth and blunt honesty.

      Far better than bourgeois intellectual masturbation you and Gillian dish up.

      People colonised people.

      People subjugate and enslave people.

      This time it just happen to be Europeans. Before it was Babylonians, Romans, Mayans and Hittites.

      Colonisation and pillage is not only conducted by Europeans and is a human failing. Now the last time I checked you were humans and your people has done exactly the same and still continue to deny the SAN.

      We could spends hours discussing the Bantu peoples migration from Nigeria (yep you are related to Nigerians) to colonise the poor peaceful San and almost wipe them off the planet.

      A genocide unrecognised as it is not white.

      Black people undermine themselves:
      by allowing racists to affect their mindset
      by wallowing in the victim mindset
      by believing in some kind of owing because of the past
      by listening to Gillian and here white guilt. This will not get you anywhere
      by living in the past. The past will become your future. Look at Israel.
      by not believing in yourself.

      December 11, 2012 at 6:13 am
    30. @Mr. Direct
      It becoming clearer to all that you’re anything BUT direct!

      Pray tell us the “good aspects” of colonialism that benefit indigenous people in comparison to the continued suffering white supremacist ideology brought to their shores?

      How can you claim with a straight face that blacks not far more likely to be negatively stereotyped than any other race by western mainstream media?

      Most Americans now see that obnoxious Donald Trump as a plain racist for demanding Obama’s birth certificate, yet you still can’t see the racism in his act?

      There is a fine line between comedy and racism and apartheid indoctrination has handicapped your judgement.

      Actually contemplating superiority of races with your “Perhaps, perhaps not” statement speaks volumes of your own racism.

      December 11, 2012 at 7:33 am
    31. Graham #

      Hi Barbara
      I appreciate you being affected by Brendan’s opinion. Heck I was. But while you begin by directing your anger at him, it quickly evolves to labeling white people:
      “Brendon and his ilk” – ? Who is this ilk? Quite the generalization.
      “The original Africans who existed and had thriving civilisations before Brendon’s ancestors came a-creeping.” Wow, bit of a chip on that shoulder. ‘a-creeping’? Classy.

      That I could handle, but your comment takes it to a whole new level:
      “When all is said and done no one likes to be confronted with their own crap and the comments here illustrate this” – No YOU really don’t do you?
      “Take a good look at yourselves White South Africa and just maybe there is hope for your country.” That’s right, all our fault. This displays your ignorance, and, well, stupidity. It is the same as me saying “the ANC is what is wrong with SA”
      “What you represent makes Mugabe and Juju appealing to young people and the disenfranchized masses and therein lies your problem.” They are politicians. They tell people who is to blame for their lot in life. They blame the whites. Why? Because telling people that the current government has made failings does not buy votes.

      You seem to have made up your mind about who is to blame for all the failings in SA. However, rather than name specific people, you blame a race. There is a word for that…

      December 11, 2012 at 11:49 am
    32. Wilberforce #

      there are no facts in this world, only perceptions!!

      December 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm
    33. GrahamJ #

      Normally I wouldn’t bother to respond to Dave Harris because he lives in a strange, twisted world. As a result, he twists any things that don’t suit him.

      First, Jan Smuts detested the word ‘colonial’ because it intimated suppression and control, so he coined the word ‘commonwealth’ to mean sharing of resources and knowledge. It may interest Dave that we were part of the British commonwealth, not a British colony, at least for the most part of the 20th century. Our kinfolk learned much from this. The British commonwealth shared with the ‘indigenous people’ such good things as written language, numbers, schools, universities, roads, electricity, potable water, multi-storey buildings, communication, radio, telephones, TV, even the suits and ties such as Zuma wears. Dave conveniently forgets that.

      How does he explain the fact that 73 blacks have run the 100meters in less than 10 seconds but only one white has? Are blacks superior, perhaps? Of course not, but different peoples have different cultures, different talents, different preferences, different predilections. This does not make them racist, it just means they are different. I’m different. That’s the way it is. I particularly don’t like people who deliberately misrepresent reality. Dave is one of them, he excels at it and we all know that.

      Sorry Dave, I know the truth.

      December 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm
    34. Mr. Direct #

      @Mr. Harris

      Thank you for reading my post!

      No, I am not direct, not at all. In saying that though, I do not just throw out the same three points at every blog, so I tend to meander more than a few.

      Listen, fact of the matter is that somebody with better technology came to these shores and claimed it for themselves. You have an issue with that, take it up with them. All the world was invaded at some point in time. It is inevitable that knowledge and technology from the western world would be introduced in all of the colonies. But you can strip off that western styled clothing and return to a more tribal attire if you like. Perhaps the Military should hand in their weapons and resort to spears.

      Comedy: do you have any statistics to prove your point? 57% of the billion jokes told in 2012 had old fashioned western bigotry included? Somehow I think you sucked that one out of your thumb.

      I think Donald Trump is an idiot, maybe he is a racist, but until he confesses, how can I be sure? If you are looking for race, you can find it anywhere. I mean, smarties are racist, because there are no white ones.

      The “perhaps, perhaps not” statement took some deliberation to be honest. In one hand, the so called BOE an unfair advantage in knowledge (we are constantly reminded), but since 1994, the universities have been open for all. Hence the flip-flop stance, because I have no proof one way or the other. But heh, you think I am a racist, and nothing changes your mind….

      December 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm
    35. Stewart Wood #

      Criticism of generalised racism by whites ends up as generalised racism by a black – the irony of it!

      You couldn’t make this stuff up!

      December 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm
    36. Mike T #

      There’s a lot of justifications, excuses, and personal agendas here, and none of them really seem to be the result of properly thinking this issue through. It is a very complex and emotional issue, and from my personal experience, very few people are willing, or even capable, of approaching it with the neccessary detachment. Until whites begin to treat blacks as equals WITHOUT the usual qualifications, if’s, buts, and condesentions, black people will resent it. Blacks, on the other hand, must realise that certain behaviours will aggravate the rascist whites, and will just give them ammunition! You cannot blame apartheid for your personal behaviour. Apartheid has nothing to do with the current state of affairs. Corrupt, incompetent government by corrupt, incompetent thieves is the problem, and as long as government can keep education at a minimum, while blaming everyone but themselves, the divide will never be bridged. The problem is that frustration is building among both blacks and whites, and both groups are blaming each other for problems that are created by the ANC in order to stay in power.
      Personally I have huge issues with many of my long time friends, who come to dinner parties or braais and start complaining about blacks. It makes me sick! But it also makes me sick when I go to the CNA or Edgars and the black staff completely ignore me (and all the blacks) in the queue, while they stroll around making phone calls etc. and will not make eye contact. Damn, no more…

      December 12, 2012 at 10:37 am
    37. Alpizo #

      Comedians make fun of EVERYONE! Get with the programme……How a stupid blog like this can be published is beyond me…..

      December 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm
    38. This lady has a problem with who she is. Not every race likes or mixes with other races.? Does she have Chinese Friends?Indian Friends? or just her so called white and black friends? People like to mix and socialise and live amongst their own Culture my Dear !
      I have lived in may parts of the World, and it is the same everywhere. Nothing to do with colour BUT Culture ! That is why many International Big Cities, have a China Town, a Little India, Little Italy etc. People like to live amongst their own! Are Black people the only Race that has a problem with this?

      December 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm
    39. One thing I’ve noticed with all the hand-wringing going on over Brendon’s article, is that NO ONE takes him to task for his experience in Yeoville by calling ‘Bullshirt’. You see, he gave us FACTS about his experience. The place IS a dirty lav (and it wasn’t like that before). Crime and grime IS the order of the day. And he simply couldn’t be bothered living like that anymore and came to the realisation that he has higher, Western standards than the inhabitants of the New (yet hopelessly unimproved) Yeoville have.

      So the question is: What is really wrong with that?

      Yeoville is a microcosm of what SA will soon become. So you can soon expect the rest of the country to follow suit, and more importantly, you will continue to see the attacks against those of us who cannot bear the new tatty SA ratcheted up, in lieu of any effort to improve the country. Far easier to play that dog-eared old race card than it is to accept your cultural shortcomings, and improve on them.

      December 13, 2012 at 2:37 am
    40. Richard #

      Barack Obama’s half-brother, who is Kenyan, blames Africa’s woes squarely on Africans, which is where they belong. As he says, parts of Asia, like Malaysia and Singapore, became independent at the same time as many African countries, but their economies and standards of living are soaring. Hong Kong was also colonised by Britain, but was, and is, an incredibly vibrant economy and society. It would have been hilarious, if not so tragic an indicator of South Africa’s calibre of leadership, that Thabo Mbeki chose to lambast colonialism when he was in Hong Kong years ago. A worse example of a country “in a shambles” (as you put it) by colonialism. The sad fact is that Africa has not been able to emulate the standards it enjoyed during colonialism. That is squarely in the hands of Africans themselves.

      December 14, 2012 at 12:42 am
    41. Reducto #

      @Richard: You are assuming all colonialism followed the same model. If you did a bit of reading you’d understand how wrong you are to assume it is Africa’s fault that they did not succeed in the same way as Asian countries did.

      Colonialism in Africa often meant the creation of single crop economies, which were thus extremely vulnerable to market fluctuations. These were economies pretty much tuned entirely to the needs to the colonising state.

      In our own country, the majority of the population were squashed into tiny economically unviable homelands – thus resulting in a significant educational and economic handicap – while a minority was given the best of the best.

      So really, I am just baffled as to how people can be so ignorant as to assume because Asian countries did it,

      December 14, 2012 at 10:30 am
    42. Hmmmmmmm…..

      I can’t apologise for those vile offensive Huns who seem to have forgotten who won the War. Won by heroes such as Corporal Job Maseko, VC, who got his gong for heroic single-handed action at Tobruk. But then the British Govt learnt that he was “not “white” and took back his VC. Though we Safricans all continue to acknowledge it nevertheless.

      I can’t apologise for that white trash “Brandon”, who looks like a Latter-Day-Racist. And who would do best to speak to none but his lavatory bowl.

      I can’t apologise for any other person or ab-person. Apology cannot be a rhetorical demonstration. It can only work when it comes from the heart of the offender.

      Moreover, do such Low-Lifes deserve to have apologies vicariously executed on their behalf? No!!! Let ‘em remain in disgrace until they make their own repentance. Or let ‘em stay forever forever in public damnation.

      December 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm
    43. Sean #

      All I read in all of the responses on this forum is white this, black that, when most of the issues expressed could very easily apply to any two population groups living in close proximity.

      We have to at some stage realise that there are very simple and basic characteristics of humanity which we have to accept so that we can leanr to deal with them.

      The aggrieved will always seek revenge, there will always be the priviledged and the under-priviledged, we will always gravitate towards those most like us as we feel most comfortable in their prescence due to our shared perceptions, we will always perceive different as wrong.

      The most we can hope for is to minimise conflict by instilling mutual respect, equal opportunities (the opposite of apartheid and BEE), equal rights and tolerance of differences.

      Only once we are aware our preconceptions can we negate them and this can only work if we all, black, white and any other race, religion or nationality try to improve ourselves, rather than trying to improve others.

      December 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm
    44. Enough Said #

      In my business (in South Africa) if a black person reneges on a legal contract and a white person points out to them that they have broken a legal contract, the white person will be labelled racist. It does not occur to those doing the labeling that the law of contracts is above race.

      December 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm
    45. Sterling Ferguson #

      @Barbara, for over four hundred years your ancestors traded off their people to the European slaves traders and Arab slave trades for peanuts. How come you didn’t talk about the transatlantic slave trade or the trans Shara slave trade in your article? The slave trade led to tribal warfare over people fighting to capture human commodity for trade. The slave trade led to the force removal of million of people out of Africa to the new world and many of them died on the voyage across the Atlantic. The African slave trade went on for four hundred years and none of the Africans bother to ask where were these people were being taken. Africans will talk about colonial rule and racism but, never talk about the role their ancestors played in the slave trade. You should take a trip to Brazil, the Caribbean and US to see the victims of your ancestors. All of these groups live in glass houses and can’t throw stones.

      December 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm
    46. Sterling Ferguson #

      @Reducto, slavery was African holocaust and it led to million of people being killed in Africa and the force removal of people out of Africa, The slave trade is a subject that the Africans don’t want to talk about in their rant about colonialism. However, one can’t compare African societies to Asian societies because the African societies were primitive when the Europeans came to Africa. The Asian societies were more feudal but, not primitive.

      December 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm
    47. Richard #

      @Reducto, these things happened up to the 1960s. That is now fifty-plus years ago. What prevents them from changing their crops? I hope you are not intimating that they are mentally deficient? However, of course, if you keep planting the same crops knowing they are not selling there might be something to that. What was it Einstein said? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

      December 15, 2012 at 12:07 am
    48. Brian B #

      Well said Lucky Ntuli.

      You are a lone sane voice in a sea of anguish vitriol and retribution.

      So much wasted energy from many different schools of thought spent on past events that cannot be reversed instead of working towards a better future.

      Lucky for President !

      December 15, 2012 at 3:14 am
    49. Just thought of this.

      Ms Ruwende attempts to make an ‘happens everywhere and we’re all equal’ point by giving two isolated incidents involving white people (who may or may not have mucked up the toilet in Chicago during a marathon with obviously over-stressed ablutions). This actually proves the point that these examples are evidently not the rule, as you couldn’t point to streets of white booger spitters, or entire neighbourhoods of whites accepting broken toilets day-in-and-day-out.

      But no, she only had these two incidents. And they in no way can be compared to Brendon’s experience which was over a considerable amount of time in one area populated overwhelmingly with black South Africans, which he attempted to clean up to the cackles and brays of his lovely neighbours. So, what does that say about THEM? No one appears to want to take these miscreants to task. Not ONE black South African has spoken out against the filth who live so unhygienically, or because they don’t live according to African values. Why is that?

      Hmmm?

      But let’s take the easy route. Let’s attack the message bringer. Much easier and politically correct. And Yeoville will remain in filth, but the race-baiters will feel as if they’ve accomplished something once Brendon just shuts the hell up and accepts that he’s nothing but a scummy racist.

      Not so?

      December 15, 2012 at 4:03 am
    50. Reducto #

      @Richard: Revamping an economy from one which has been tuned purely to benefit the colonial state takes time. African economies just were not in a position to weather some of the hits that other economies were.

      And the most important point given your original point: colonialism in Africa was different to colonialism in Asia. To look at successful Asian countries and wonder why African countries did not emulate them ignores the fact colonialism impacted differently on them and left them in very different positions upon independence.

      December 15, 2012 at 5:07 pm

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