It feels rather self-indulgent to say here’s my Facebook post, a few people liked it, and I have it here for you to read. But that’s what I am doing. I wrote this on Wednesday 3rd August, the day when local government elections were taking place here in South Africa, and it was therefore a public holiday. So without further ado, here is the post in full:
I live in Cape Town. It is a town geared for maximum white enjoyment and maximum black, brown and coloured oppression, sadness, depression, poverty, pain. It is apartheid has not ended, it is living pre-1994 without carrying a dompas, knowing that the land you see some folk enjoying the most was stolen, or ripped from others via forced removals. It is being talked about as if you don’t exist, stared at when you feel the most free and are just being a human being, and your presence in certain spaces questioned unerringly. It is white people doing this to you as a black woman, but it is also non-black people of colour belittling, questioning and judging your every move. it is your relationship under scrutiny even at the most innocuous of times. It is pretending you didn’t hear the nasty things being said about you even as you celebrate your honey’s birthday and take him to eat outdoors on a sunny, winter’s day in the part of the city pretty much reserved for whites and tourists. It is noting the constant white American voices laughing into the privileged air, the Korean voices you’ve just begun to pick up, the Indian voices filling up a wide table, with some not-so-secret glances cast back at you. It is the friendly service you get and can’t believe you got in a town noted for treating its black restaurant patrons with indifference. It is the white woman exclaiming loudly over your pretty coat and you really wishing she was “just a woman” and you could see her that way, but because friendliness across colour lines can be so rare – you even treasure that moment and remember that humanity still kicks, flailing its arms and gurgling and cooing, in all of us. It is walking with your tall German man and sharing a Myog [frozen yoghurt] and just enjoying his company, and trying not to bother about the stares, giggles or whispers. It is coming to a point where you sometimes really don’t care what people fucking think, but knowing there are days that part of your depression consists of the malaise of this city and this country in general. You were never like this when you came here 13 years ago. It has changed you. You wonder when it – this Rorschach test of a nation – will change for the much better, rather than just the better. This beautiful, irritating, fantastic, amazing, troubling, challenging, depressing, illuminating and always deeply fascinating country. South Africa I love you. Despite everything, I always will. And I wish you good luck with your election results.
(you might just wonder why I included this image of Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker in the movie Something New. my friends might laugh because we don’t look anything like this, but we painted our lounge almost this shade of green. and guess what – just spotted those ANC colours! i did say this was a Facebook post)