Born in apartheid, growing in freedom 


I find myself having great content with no title, just like this one

The intention of this message is to talk about being born in apartheid growing up post apartheid and balancing my self esteem to the social structures around me

This thought came by as I was chatting with my mother over the weekend. She recently went to Natal her homestead and was so thrilled the bus service now goes inside our small town making her travel experience easier and safer for her to access the service . Bus service providers such as Greyhound etc never used to go inside the town and apparently that has changed. Her comment went like ” am sure kukhona umlungu oye wasicelela ukuthi lebhasi lingene la ekhaya edrobheni lakithi, ey waze wasisiza” 

Translation ” am sure there is a white person who asked on our behalf for this bus to go through the town, he has really helped us”

Now this and many more statement like this are part of my environment. I used to feel sad when I’d hear my closest family members refer to white people in this context 

The context says every good thing that happens must have been done by a white man. And this was the truth for hundreds of years in our country. My mother who is 67 has lived most of her life during the apartheid years than post apartheid 

My mother in law appreciates the fact that my daughter has a slightly flat bum, she references the beauty to that of yamakgowa. Opila ngwana onalemmele wamakgowa . She is 69

My helper insists that white people who live in our complex will not stay long because black people are dominant. She literally goes to say ” kepleke yabatho babantsho mmo makgowa akaseduli” She is 55 and helps raise my kids 🤷🏿‍♀️🤷🏿‍♀️🤷🏿‍♀️🤷🏿‍♀️🤷🏿‍♀️

But growing through life has taught me to own my past , own the legacy of what apartheid achieved in the minds of my society. Take up the comments with a pinch of salt but be aware that this is the constant battle for me to build my self esteem independent of the socialization, the system and what has become the culture.

I remember my graduation day 👨‍🎓, we walked up the stairway to exit the hall, my wonderful father would not step onto the passage . He waited for all the people to pass, although each one of them was giving him the platform to jump in , he still wouldn’t. I noticed this , went to him , held his hand and encouraged him to come with me. I did notice that everyone who offered him was white and it made sense…..

The same evening , my family gathered at Nandos Melville and as we were walking outside the parking lot. My father approached a young white boy to ask him for matches to light his cigarette. My father called out to the boy as klein baas☹️☹️☹️☹️ and he got the cigarette and the young man went about his life. This was in 2005

I have done a lot of work about this scene in my life and I am glad I took the time to do so. I remember feeling sad , that on this greatest day of my life I must still go through apartheid issues and Klein baas problems. So glad for the small voice

I went back to the scene in my mind and I saw the level of confidence and excitement my father showed. He didn’t care that my mother was saying hawu kodwa babaLungelo wenzani, ingani nangu uNtombi ukhona. Awuceli ngani kuye 😂😂😂😂. To my dad this moment was a moment of self expression, remember I said he commanded good relations at home through his businesses and made friends with the white men. I realized that for him communicating with a white person in that context is not a sign of inferiority but it was a sign of I can hold down a conversation with you and even if it means I ask you for a lighter for my cigarette. In fact for him to have done this in JHB was a big Deal 😆😆😆

I do recognize the moment of exiting the hall as a mindset not liberated to rightfully command his turn and I have , let this go.. in his era white men first then you followed, and it’s okay

You see my parents challenges , celebrations and triumphs will be the same to mine . We lived in the different eras

So once I understood this I let go of both scenes and the attached sadness. I recognized that in order to be free I need to be aware. I must not live in ignorance of the depth of the damages the apartheid system has had on my society at the same time I must know when my teaching about a changed mindset add value and I must be willing to lose the argument to win the person, especially when it’s the elderly.

I may mention in passing to my mom and mom in law about how they must remember that things have changed but I’m not going climb on the tree and try to win the argument. I might place more emphasis on specifics to my helper as how she carries herself is what my kids my know to be true but I need not strain myself if I don’t win. Oowh but when it’s coming from the young generation I crack the whip!!!

So didn’t personalize this experience and it was important because I was just about to enter formal employment and I didn’t need apartheid legacy issues to haunt me!!!

To date I no longer get hurt when I hear reya makgoweng, it’s an expression that has become our language….. dangerous or not we need to decide 

The songs , ngwana otswana lelekhaladi 

The saying waze wamuhle ufana nomlungu 

The expression, yeeey kuhle kwakhe yikwamlungu 

They don’t hurt me anymore but I don’t use any of them 

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