I’ve always thought myself to be one that’s prepared to stand up for myself and my people as and when called. upon. Particularly on issues of racism. And I have. I’ll give you an example of something that happened just last week.
Those who know me know I’ve been. uncharacteristically sick for some months now and they also know I’ve characteristically read up on my illness inside out. Why? ‘Cause that’s just the kind of person I am. So when I was at the doctors’ last week, I was having quite a medical conversation with the doctor and his colleague and needless to say, they were impressed.
The problem arose when one of the doctors said “I’m very impressed. Most people who come here can’t even sign their names”. Now we all know who the “most people” being referred to here are. So I say to him: “it’s not their fault though, most of them probably are a product of Bantu education, thanks to apartheid. And kak education continues for most black people today”. I didn’t even think twice about saying it, ’cause I’ll stand against racism any day, any time. Or at least that’s what I thought.
Last weekend I was in a KFC in Centurion. I was the only black customer in at the time, the only other black folk were the employees behind the counter. Centurion can be quite white…I guess it’s no wonder it was once officially named Verwoerdburg. One customer was waiting for a meal he’d ordered. I think he’d been waiting a little while, when one of the young ladies behind the counter told him the gravy would be another 5 minutes because they’d forgot to make it.
Honest mistake I thought but no, not this burly mountain of an Afrikaaner man and his equally gigantic pal. He flipped. Started screaming in a mixture of English and Afrikaans about how long he’d been waiting and how he wanted his money back. As expected, his rant soon turned to how the “government is useless”, how us “black people want to run the country but can’t even run a KFC”. I just stood there and watched.
I mean these guys could definitely take me down in a fight. Sick or not, they’d MOER me. But does that justify my silence? Should I have said something? I always have stood up against racism, but never in a volatile situation. Only in calm, “civilised”, settings where logic, more often than not, prevails.
But this young woman at KFC is the real heroine of this story. She is being showered by a barrage of Anglo-Afrikaaner insults and she is standing up for herself and screaming back in Sesotho. She’s not insulting him, only telling him to stop screaming at her, that it’s not her fault, and that he can take his money back if that’s what he wants. She stood up to these bullies and wasn’t prepared to be abused by pernickety racist thugs for a plausible mistake. And where was I? Cowardly absent from the struggle, that’s were I was. Smh.