Of all universities that I attended, Stellenbosch’s mood was the coldest. In that university, a black student is made to feel that he/she is visitor. Of all the communities that I visited, Stellenbosch was the most racist. The Stellenbosch community and its racial vibe requires some research. Anyway, this peeing white boy was born post apartheid. He has no experience of the “sweetness” of the segregated system, though he continues to enjoy its privileges today. Where does he get his racist character?
Legislated apartheid is dead, but the apartheid socioeconomic structure is alive and well. Wealthy white families continue to exist in isolation in the wine farms, the abhorrent gated communities, and surbubs of Sandton, etc. Their circle of interaction is exclusive to white people. Their only interaction with a black person is with their workers. Wealthy white people are completely insulated from the broader societal South African experience. The same is true about the overwhelming majority of blacks and their families. Their lives continue to be isolated in townships and squatter camps. Their only interaction with a white person is at work, as a worker, and at the mall. No shared life, no shared hopes, no shared trials/tribulations. It is impossible to create a rainbow without a shared lived experience of what it means to be a South African.
So, on the dinner tables of Stellensbosch and Sandton, white children listen to the racial slurs against black people. In the dinner tables of Soweto, children listen to the bitterness against white privilege. Apartheid’s doctrine of separate development continues unabated. That is where this white young man gets his audacity to pee on the black child. He is acting out his dinner table experience. What is scary is that attitudes are being hardened on both sides of the divide line. And this kind of racist behaviour will keep on popping up in varsities, corporate boardrooms, sports fields and parking lots. Why? The apartheid social, cultural and economic arrangement still prevails. The white population enjoys and defend it, and the black population envies and loathes it.
We must reimagine this rainbow nation. For black and white only to passively interact at the malls and at the N1 freeway is not enough to build a nation. Unless we start to share bread, share spatial existence, share our fears and hopes, we will never be a nation. White people retire to their gated villages and black people retire to their glorified shantytowns. We shall remain a divided country and the pissing shall continue unabated.
So, dealing with this racist young man is easy, but a bit irrelevant. His actions must ignite a fire inside all of us. We must start to deal with the underlying current that makes this kind of racial action possible. If we focus on the lynching of this misguided soul, we shall miss an opportunity to redeem the nation.