Race Relations in South Africa


I had been thinking about writing a few things about this and when I saw Toby’s Comment, I figured I’d let loose on what I’ve experienced.

First of all – just in case people get mad at me (which you are of course welcome to) – I don’t know what I am talking about…I’m not an expert – just sharing some of my observations and a few things that I read.

1) Toby comment referred to a Springbok player in “Rugby’s Bad Boys” on Rugby World Cup Blog 2003 who refused to room with a Black player during the 1995 World Cup. I saw an commentary article in the paper today or yesterday about that incident and how much it was blown out of proportion. The bloke in the paper said that Cronje simple swithced roommates and when he was told to switch back – did so without a big deal…but the media blew it out of proportion. Not sure if that is true or not.

2) From my point of view – and I might be classified as “thick” – I can’t see/feel much racial tension. Of course, my interactions are limited with the locals to a large degree. If I worked here in the traditional sense and lived here for a long period of time, I could figure it out…

A little bit of History
Had a bottle of wine (2 great bottles of Pinotage BTW) at a Eileen’s Professor’s house the other night and the her husband Kurt gave me a history lesson (thanks for sharing Kurt). I can’t remember all the details but one part that made sense to me and helps explain the situation here is this.

In the Wester Cape (where I am I guess) there are 3 groups/classifications of people.

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1) Whites
2) Coloreds
3) Blacks

Whites are the Dutch settlers and other whitle folks (obviously)
Colored are the Malays and other immigrated folks brought over to SA over the years and gained there freedom
Blacks: The natives to South Africa

During Apartied – the Whitle were the top of the ladder, the Colored’s in the middle and the Blacks were at the bottom. In fact, Kurt mentioned that the Whitles would encourage the coloreds to look down and not give chances to the blacks. So this system was in place and I’m sure can still be felt today.

Not sure if this history bit makes sense….

3) Yesterday – front page story – A local Radio DJ was fined 10,000 R for using the term “Thick Dutchman” to describe someone. I guess it was a case of reverse descrimination. Now, If you have ever listened to the Shock Jock in the US like Howard Stern or Mancow – calling someone a “Thick Dutchman” would be no big deal….but this is South Africa and I guess the wounds are deep. Sensative in the word – bigtime.

Good thing the writer of the article has never hung around the BootsnAll office. If we ever open up an office in South Africa we’ll get fined everyday. 😉

“Fat arse Yank!”, “Aussie Wallaby Muncher”, “Seppo”, “Queen Lover” are terms that have been heard in jest between Nick, Chris and I over the years.

I’ll keep watching and interacting…maybe I’ll see/read some more stuff that makes it clearer.