The racial signs were removed but the monster lives




This is the daily lived reality of too many black people in our country. If I want to be kind, maybe this woman was having a bad day and at least her daughter realised she was out of line. Bad day or not, I believe us white people who have so much to answer for, need to be asking ourselves why our default position is being critical and judgemental of others based on their race. That is, being racist. We who are lucky enough to continue our lives with very little change to our lifestyles. Why are we not more conciliatory, more understanding, more prepared to self-examine than to accuse?

How do black people continue being so patient? The response of Mpumelelo is measured and mature. He is still able to acknowledge that not all whites are like this, that sometime black people give white people an excuse for racism because of incompetence. I do not agree with this last point at all though. Why should black people have to even worry about giving an excuse to white people? yes, we want excellence but for the sake of excellence. Not to prove themselves to white people. No! to prove themselves  to themselves.

If white people encounter incompetence in other whites, do they suddenly became racist towards white people? No! they complain about incompetence.

In my view, if the attitudes of black people do harden towards whites, it will be the fault of the many white people who still behave this way. Even in my morning paper, The Mercury,  they are given too much airtime.

I do not relate to these people but I feel compelled to apologise for their behaviour much as Zuma had to apologise to the Mocambicans for the behaviour of some of our people.

I am sorry.

Why history of who owned Durban is not relevant to name changes

Older white people who live in Durban are still finding it difficult to accept the street name changes. The other day, I was told that, because Shaka ceded the land to white settlers, Durban is therefore a colonial city and is entitled to reflect colonial names. The other argument is that the current government wants to deny history.

I disagree.

* wanting names to change is an identity/self esteem thing
* it reflects there has been a change from colonial/apartheid governance to democratic governance
* our city now reflects a more diverse population; it now represents more of the people who live here
* it also reflects more recent history such as those who contributed towards the struggle and those who identified with the struggle; not changing some names would reflect only ancient history. History is constantly on the move
* did Shaka ceding land to white settlers and allowing them a settlement mean he could foresee a future where whites dominated to the extent that they did? Where they disenfranchised everyone else the way they did? Even if he could have foreseen this, does that make it acceptable?
* changing names is not about who does or did own the land but about finally being able to have a say
* changing a name does not change history but it does reflect more recent history
* the very fact that white people are so attached to the names of the past underlines the emotional significance that names hold for people
* surely white people, who still have so much, can give something up? Why can they not, with humility and grace, grant this small victory to the government of the day without kicking and screaming? Can we not see that we, who have taken so much, should not resist change so ungraciously? We, who destroyed so much; who treated so many as if they were not human; robbing them of dignity, family life, permission to participate in the economy, live where they want, marry who they want, be schooled where they want, we still hanker after symbols of this past?
* is putting up with 100 name changes so much to ask


Satirical Art

Do people really not realise that our lens on the world is informed by our conditioning; by the segment of society in which we spend most of our time? Do they really think the satirical art produced by the Westville Boys High art class emerged from a vacuum? I hope that in the aftermath of the furore initiated by this exhibition, their teachers are using this wonderful opportunity to interrogate the reasons for this reaction. While I agree that the ANC over-reacted, is it not important to understand the reasons behind this over-reaction? Remember, they represent the vast majority of people in our country. In understanding these reasons, we would understand more about our society.

I would also hope that the boys are encouraged to self-reflect and ask themselves why they chose to satirise politicians? Is there not sufficient material in their immediate surroundings that would say more about our society? For example, the family braai would no doubt yield some wonderful material. I find it interesting to listen to the clamour of those supporting the right of these boys to freedom of speech and claiming that the ANC’s cry of racism is just another example of playing the race card. I am often shocked to hear the statements made by many white, Indian and Coloured people in the greater Durban area about black people. Racism is endemic in our society and it is disingenuous of them to pretend otherwise. Furthermore, with regard to Freedom of Speech, perhaps we could all ask ourselves whether we should not exercise this freedom with discretion? If I exercise my freedom of speech and in so doing, hurt another and there is no benefit for either party, perhaps I should rather exercise self-restraint. Conciliation requires us to put ourselves in the shoes of the other and ask ourselves how they may interpret our words and actions. This is not to say we should pussy foot around without speaking our minds, but rather that we should exercise discretion. If I see an old friend that has put on a lot of weight, would I say, “Good to see you but my, my there is a lot more of you to see!”

Another aspect I would hope these boys are interrogating about their own art is this; what is implied by their work? Mandela and KFC? Black people love chicken? if that, certainly it is stereotyping; if not, their message is unclear. What is implied by Fakers? Est 1994? apartheid was better? That is what comes across.

And lastly, perhaps they would ask themselves if they could not have been more original. Justin Nurse of Laugh it Off fame was doing this in 2003, if not before, except his work was wittier. He had to go to court to defend his right to freedom of speech when the mega-corporation, SA Breweries took exception to his Black Labour, White Guilt slogan which played the same game with the Black Label brand.

What we say about others often says more about ourselves than it does about them.

Durban street names

I am a ratepayer living in Glenwood, Durban and I support the retention of the following street names.

Margaret Mncadi Street
Stalwart Simelane Street
Masabalala Yengwa Avenue
Mahatma Gandhi Road
Johannes Nkosi Street
Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street
Anton Lembede Street
Dr AB Xuma Street
Ruth First Highway

We are an African city and it is fitting that our main roads reflect this. While it is true that the ANC failed to follow the correct procedure in re-naming these streets, they learnt from this mistake and corrected it in the implementation of the other 90 names.

For the DA to pursue this in the appeal courts was unnecessary as changing them back would only cost the ratepayers more money. This is a double standard when the DA’s initial complaint was against the expense of name-changing.

Now that this misguided appeal (which has done nothing but prolong the divisive saga) has found in their favour, the DA should act in a spirit of reconciliation and support the retention of the names while helping to fast track the consultation phase that was neglected in the first place. Such largeness of spirit would endear them more to voters they do not have while proving that they were concerned about the principle of the matter.

Their current approach does nothing but pander to the gallery of Afro-pessimists that already vote for them.