Mhambi has been redeployed.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The unbearable whiteness of being

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Talking about whiteness is suddenly all the rage here in South Africa. But it's not so much the whities talking about their whiteness, as it is black South Africans and academia that are.

We all know about black. It's the now fashionable little number you seldom keep closeted if you happen to be black. It gets bandied anout allot, this blackness. Its cool, even the likes of ostensibly white David Beckham claim it.

A friend of mine has just left for Brazil where she is to give a paper on Whiteness in SA. And this week on SAFM - the premier South African radio station - there were a number of programs where they touched on the subject.

It all kicked off when Afriforum, a bunch of white Afrikaner students from the University of Pretoria, painted themselves black during a protest at the seat of government. Their spokesperson a certain Ernst - if I recall correctly - said on Radio that they wanted to be recognised as African.

As part of the protest at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the students each completed the labour department‘s EEA1 form, in which they classified themselves as African.

On the form, to be filled in by employers as part of government‘s equity reports, people are given a choice of being either African, coloured (a very South African classification), Indian or white. The clear implication, therefore, is that whites, coloureds and Indians cannot be African.
Although Ernst valiantly protested this outrage by painting his face black and defending what he did on radio - he made one mistake. When asked whether this thing of whites wanting to be African is new, Ernst reluctantly agreed, and mumbled that it is indeed a new thing. Duh Ernst!! The word Afrikaner means African!

Good heavens Mhambi thought to himself! Does the boy know nothing about his own Afrikaner history?? If an Afrikaner student leader is such an ignoramus, perhaps the Afrikaners deserve to see their history trampled. Sies man!

Then later in the week Prof Melissa Steyn talked about her new book "Whiteness just Isn't What It Used to Be". Professor Steyn expressed worry about the lack of contrition on the part of white South Africans for what happened in the past. This lack was very dangerous she lamented. Mhambi agrees.

What followed was caller upon caller who heaped scorn on the whities. They had done nothing to reconcile with their countrymen, they obstructed redistribution of wealth, and they were downright racist. In short, they were not sorry for Apartheid.

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steyn said...

interesting so far, but no conclusion? Wessel?

Wessel said...

A conclusion...

Well I'm still searching for an anwer myself... I'm sure I'll find it soon. Will keep you posted.

Iain S. Thomas said...

Thanks for the comment (I only noticed it now, and I'm still fairly new to blogger so I'm not sure how to keep track of comments/be alerted when they're made).

This whole concept of being a white African is one of those things without a conclusion, as steyn said I guess. But it's a troubling mess of thoughts to have in your head.

Here's something I wrote about it last night, on an american friends website, where he was discussing the resurgence of white power groups.


Anonymous said...

Just a thought - take it or leave it : African-Amercans? Are they more African than an African-Boertjie who were born and bred in SA?