Yes yes, I know I have been absent... I have no defence really, just have not been inspired to write - but yesterday I had an experience that changed all that...
Yesterday morning Adam and I took the boys to Woolworths to do a bit of grocery shopping. Now I know that it is not like this all over the world, but here in South Africa, Woolworths is an upmarket store. The food is generally of a very high quality and the prices are often far higher than any other food store. I cannot afford to shop there all the time, but I do like to purchase our fruit there as I believe it is far healthier for the boys.... anyway...
I was standing near the yoghurts trying to decide whether to buy pear or banana flavour when I heard a woman shouting about someones lack of manners. I turn round to find a woman (who is old enough to be my mother but dressed like she is young enough to be my daughter) having a go at a gentleman standing near her. In all fairness, he was giving as good as he got.
Now what you have to keep in mind is that it is around 11:00 on a Sunday morning, which means that the store is full - mostly with families who do a bit of shopping after church. So there are children everywhere.. Anyway, their conversation goes something like this...
Woman, "How dare you just push in front of me, have you no manners?"
Man, " I said excuse me, but you did not move, I was just reaching for a dessert"
Woman, "I don't care what you were doing, you were b****y rude!"
Man, "there is no need to speak to me like that, I am only trying to shop like everyone else"
Woman, (at the top of her lungs) I am so sick of these f****** k****** in this country"
Now, up until her last statement I had managed to hold my tongue, which is no small accomplishment if you consider my personality, but when she said that I just saw red. I told her that her behaviour was disgusting and uncalled for. She shouted something to me to which I gave her a tongue lashing and walked away.
When I got to the tills, she was two tills behind me. She screamed at me across the store, "whites like you are the reason the whites are struggling in this country. You do not deserve to be called a white if you side with THEM!" When she said "them", she pointed over her shoulder to another black gentleman....
I responded that money clearly can't buy class and I walked out the shop.
I was so upset after this exchange - had the boys not been with me I would have lost my cool! I think it rather a poor show of character for people to scream at each other in public, so I tried to keep as calm as possible, but this kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable to me.
Anyone who knows me knows that I do not tolerate any kind of hate speech in my life, and especially not in front of the boys.
My country has many problems, and we don't need to be adding fuel to the fire by spreading hate and intolerance of other cultures. I refuse to subject my boys to the racist thoughts and comments I heard whilst growing up. I want my boys to learn tolerance, acceptance and most of all peace between cultures. So for this woman to carry on that way, as well as saying what she did about me really infuriated me. It is thinking like this (from all cultures in South Africa) which will keep my country from becoming the rainbow nation we so desperately need.
She made me feel ashamed to call myself a South African, and even more ashamed that there are still white people in this country who feel that way.
Don't they understand, it is up to us to change today for a better future for our children tomorrow? We cannot control others, only ourselves, and as long as we keep spreading hate, fear and intolerance of others, it will continue to grow.
The soccer World Cup starts in South Africa in exactly one month today - the eyes of the world are upon us....and it saddens me that with such a beautiful country, and some truly exceptional individuals, it is the likes of that woman who will be remembered and broadcast around the world.
No wonder people still think of white South Africans the way they do... shame on her.. and all those who cannot let go of the hate that clearly eats them alive!