By Maruping Phepheng

“We go to their crèches, we go to their restaurants to eat their food, we read their books, we wear their hair, we love their languages, we read their bible and pray to their god. These people aren’t entirely wrong to feel and act superior. We make them superior!”

These are the words of an old man to me this morning. He was getting out of his car, telling me he’s been listening to a racism debate on radio.

He didn’t end there. He wondered why Blacks would offer to defend a white man, let alone a white pastor, who believes they – Blacks, are inferior. “Do they not have an entire anti-Black establishment to defend them?”

Basically, Blacks are not without blame where their own oppression is concerned.

Why, he asked, are these non-white spokespersons and defenders of whiteness not even saying a word when the ZCC is under attack, for instance?

We hate ourselves, I thought to myself.

They have read JK Rowling and John Grisham and Danielle Steel. Great writers, perhaps, but do they even bother to read Es’kia Mphahlele or Wally Serote or Sol Plaatje? No. Why not?

We hate ourselves.

The Black parents who took their kid to that racist crèche in Centurion left many crèches where they come from. Maybe standards in township crèches are low, but why do we not support them and be involved so that they become centres of excellence that we can be proud of?

Self-hate.

Almost every Black kid knows Justin Bieber, not Tutu Puoane.

We know Obama and Putin and Cameron, but not dos Santos, Khama, or Kenyatta.

We read much about Brexit and the EU, but know nothing about SADC or Ecowas, for instance.

Go ahead and name more examples. There are many.

But when a lodge owner believes Blacks are not equal to whites, and that he will as a result not accommodate them at his establishment, we throw our hands in the air.

When a crèche teaches racial segregation favouring whites, we are amazed.

When a pastor who allegedly told his congregation that whites are wealthier because they work harder than other races, we complain.

But what are we doing in these places in the first place? Do we not have churches in our townships? What’s wrong with those churches? Which God are they worshipping, and why is the one worshipped in Sandton better, more attractive?

Self-hate.

I personally do not hold it against whites when they behave like this. They have for decades and decades never seen Blacks as anything beyond an object useful only in advancing their own superiority, their privilege.

But why do Black people like white things so much? Why do Black people leave their own geographic spaces when they consider crèches, churches, schools, doctors, bakeries, etc.?

Self-hate. Inferiority complex.

If we don’t have crèches and bakeries and hair salons and stuff, why do we not show whites and their superiority complex the middle finger and start these things in our own spaces so that the need to go to them is eliminated?

When, Black people, are we going to stop loving where we are demonstrably hated?

And when some among us speak of the return of land from those who stole it, saying land return should be our single-minded, foremost socio-economic determination, Blacks among us say we must stop living in the past, that we must instead reach out and live peacefully with our white counterparts. At such times, these Blacks who speak for whites somehow miraculously forget that these are the same whites who call us kaffirs and monkeys and stuff, the very ones who lead a life of luxury while we are trapped in unending squalor.

We are a strange bunch, we Blacks. Very strange.

Image credit: JACKIE CLAUSEN

This article was first published on Novelist Maruping Phepheng’s blog.

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