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Reisverslag Racism in South Africa?
10 maart 2014
Racism in South Africa?
So the first week has been a blast, but I didn't really come here to party. I really want to see a lot of the country, meet a lot of people here and just get a good experience of what South African life is really like. Of course Stellenbosch might not be the best place as it's basically just a haven for (upper-middle and upper class) students but I'd like to touch on the subject of racism anyway, just with my experiences of the first week. I'm known to tell a nigger joke or two (or any other kind of minority) but I'm actually genuinly interested in the way they live their lives over here and how black and whites get along. My first experience is that the seperation between black and white is as bad or worse than in europe and that there is absolutely no equality, but there might actually be less racism than in Holland.
You hardly ever see a group of people with mixed colours. Whites hang around whites, blacks hang around blacks, unless there is a reason they would be together. I've also noticed that all the gardeners, cleaning ladies, etc are black and all engineering-relating employees and most manager-related employees are white. Then again, is this really any different than Holland? I have talked to quite a few locals though, of both colors, and also just watched how they interacted, and there doesn't really seem to be any racism between each other. I have yet to encounter a white that looks down upon a black person and have yet to meet a black guy that feels any revenge or whatsoever towards a white guy (and yes, I realize that it's very European and prejudiced to think that this is the way they would see each other). My (white) roommates treat the (black) cleaning lady with much more respect than most students in Holland respect the cleaning ladies in the Erasmusbuilding.
A reason for the seperation might be the langauge barrier. There are 4 major languages in South Africa: Afrikaans (which is kind of like dutch), English, Xhosa and Zulu. Most whites (about 20% of the total population) speak Afrikaans as their first language and english as their second (but still fluently). Most blacks (~35% Zulu, 25% Xhosa) actually also speaks Afrikaans, some as their first language, most as their second or third language, and some don't speak it at all. Most blacks have either Zulu or Xhosa as their first language and some also speak English. In Stellenbosch Area, pretty much everybody speaks English, but of very few it's actually their first language. I don't know, but this could be a very practical reason for the seperation.
That evening we went out and I met a really nice girl, Paula-Ann, who just moved from Jo'burg to Stellenbosch. Actually she was in boarding school over there so this was her first night out, ever. After we had talked for a while I asked her what she taught about racism/seperation in South Africa and she pretty much confirmed my earlier experiences. The racism is really only going on between older people. Amongst students there is hardly any racism and rapidly decreasing seperation. She said she had quite a few black friends and that most students really don't differ between black and white. A lot of black people are also getting a good education in a lot of different fields. We both thought South Africa actually has a really good chance of being a stable mixed-raced country without any real problems (in that field). I actually can't thing of another country where that has happened.
When I asked her what she taught was the reason behind this, she said South Africa has a much bigger problem to face: Aids. It's the only region in the world where aids has actually become an epidemic. Usually, in countries where aids is a common illness, still only about 5-10% of the population is infected. South Africa, while doing as much their best to prevent the outbreak of aids and while causing factors for aids are just as in other countries (for example the western-African countries), Aids just keeps spreading around here. We actually had a lecture about this as well during our orientation, and nobody really seems to have a clue why this is. Paula-Ann said a possible reason could be that in South Africa, you get aids medicine from the government along with some money. Especially women with children really depend on that money to survive and feed their children, so what happens is that they don't take their aids-medicine because they don't want to be cured. If they do, they'll stop getting money and she and her children are still very likely to die of starvation rather than aids.
The next day I was out (again) with some international students and we decided to go to party just outside of down, where DJ Fresh, the most famous DJ in South Africa was playing. When arriving I had some doubts about going in. I was the only guy, with 3 girls, and we seemed to be the only white people in the queue. Then again, the vibe seemed really good and chilled so we decided to go in anyway. And what a party it was. There was a big outside area where you could just chill and talk to people, or you could go inside and dance to the tunes of Dj Fresh. There was no ac or anything inside so everybody was literally soaking wet, but nobody cared. Everybody just kept on dancing and dancing, with friends, with strangers, didn't matter. Besides a few other international students and maybe 2-3 locals, we were indeed the only white people there, but I never felt more at ease at a party. The vibe was amazing and everybody was really nice.
10 maart 2014 08:31 | Door: Ruud
Ik zou eens hier (landinwaarts) de dorpen in gaan en de townships bezoeken, misschien dat je dan een rede kan zien waarom de kans dat SA 'stable mixed-raced country without any real problems (in that field)' toch niet zo groot is. Vergelijk in kaapstad Camps Bay met Khayelitsha en dan zie je iets wat in veel steden, maar ook dorpen te zien is; een mooi gebied met overwegend blanken en een periferie van armoede, waar alleen kleurlingen en zwarten wonen. In veel van deze gebieden geld nog steeds onder een hoop mensen 'vertrouw een blanke niet, wat hij zegt is niet waar'. Uiteraard is er meer cohesie dan voorheen, maar de economische verschillen zijn zo groot, met werkeloosheid rond de 70%, drugs- en alcoholgebruik dat daarop volgt en de instabiele gezinsvorming die daar weer op volgt dat het nog wel een paar generaties duurt voordat er kans is op een gelijkheid in samenleving.
wellicht tot een volgend weekend, volgende keer misschien wat minder vergeetachtig achteraf :D was goed feestje.