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THE WAY WE LIVED. 16.  I am a victim, aka, Because I am White. [Part three]. 

From the Apartheid Museum, Gauteng, South Africa.    

This is Apartheid in a nutshell; the emphasis is on “nut’.” I think it does not beat Steve Biko’s reply to the magistrate: But sir, you are pink, not white. [See earlier blog on being Black.]

“7” is a mystical /mythical number. The seventh day of the week is a day of rest. Seven Hills of Rome; Beirut was built on seven hills; also Istanbul. In Cape Town, the biggest and best fish are caught just beyond the seventh wave – they now use drones to drop the sinker/hook out there instead of kites!

So how does that relate to the old South Africa, the RSA of the “good, old days”?

Let’s look at a couple of those “7’s”:

a. In several elections, more than 70% of Whites voted for the National Party – more than forty years in power had ensured policies that kept them in power. Keep money in people’s pockets, and they will vote for you; works well anywhere in the world, not just with White South Africans. After all, they are only human! My mother used to say that with all those benefits they had, it was no wonder that they voted for the National Party.

b. Not many people, Whites included, would have known that 70+% of them were civil servants. They worked for the state! No, not as cleaners or labourers. White collar workers and maybe blue, as managers and supervisors. Many “poor Whites” of yesteryear worked for the state, especially SARAH [South African Railways and Harbours]. We had a few of them in most neighbourhoods. We even felt sorry for them!

Their benefits were unique – besides the best positions, the top salaries always went to them; best medical aid schemes; pension funds; forty percent of their mortgages were paid by the state; SEBAA [State Employees Buy Aid Association] allowed them to buy discounted goods at several stores; housing for many; … and more. Economically advantaged Whites benefited in many ways. Bank loans and mortgages were easy to obtain.

They never lived in shanties; they never worked as labourers. NEVER! The first time I saw White labourers was overseas – sweeping the streets, collecting garbage, maids, nannies. Poo collectors? You gotta be joking. Think Kenny, the acclaimed Aussie movie!. Life is so even, when the playing field is level.

The relatively sheltered Whites were rarely the victims of violence. A non-fatal White stabbing would be front-page news. Township deaths in Black townships were lucky to get a short note on one of the inner pages of even more liberal newspapers like the Argus or Cape Times in Cape Town. Crime was somewhere out there in the ghettoes.

This graph depicts violent deaths in South Africa. Dead bodies make for hard, cold facts when it comes to stats like these. Yes, corpses are difficult to ignore or hide. Many of the1976 to 2004 deaths were related to police violence as the protests ramped up against apartheid. 2011 figures are at a 1975 level. It’s interesting to note how the graph starts a downward drift from 1994, the year of South Africa’s democracy.

The “genocide” of White farmers recently garnered global headlines. June 2018, Quartz, Africa reported “After a peak in 2001/2002, the number of farm attacks—rape, robbery and other forms of violent crime short of murder—has decreased to about half. Similarly, the number of killings on farms peaked in 1997-1998 at 153, but today that number is below 50.

Now I know that there is fake news in all directions – left and right – but violent death statistics are difficult to distort. It’s worth remembering that most RSA violent deaths produce Black bodies, NOT White bodies. Dead White bodies still comprise a small statistic, including White farmers!

Whites were not interested or were unaware of the crime in the slums that their government policies created under apartheid; it’s the ultimate by-product of the years of segregation and social disintegration – Government-enforced displacements uprooted millions. Don Pilkington expands on this in his award-winning book Gang Town in relation to the history of Cape Town’s crime and violence. This pattern of serious social dislocation from Group areas displacements and the flow-on effects of poverty are well presented by him as a major cause of the situation throughout the country!

My concern was always that the worst legacy of apartheid would be crime and/or violence. Social media and a more liberated press now highlight the issue so much more than it did in the “good old days” that some people in South Africa hanker after.

Besides, we also now have Whites begging on South African streets; doing manual labour; living in shanties; sleeping rough; struggling like the rest. Maybe some of them are poo collectors; yes, collectors of aaballies [poo buckets]! No wonder so many of them are outraged. Too many forget that their “good old days” were the “bad old days” for the country’s majority.

Yes, it’s intriguing to see how the wheel has turned full circle. I’m a victim because I’m Black, has now been replaced by, I’m a victim because I’m White!

South African, predemocratic graffiti – for the record!

                                      Sies eina! No explanation needed. Ugghhh!



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