Opinion / 10 November 2019, 07:34am / Dennis Pather
With so many decades of institutionalised racism now behind us, one would hope a person’s race would become less of a factor in our lives today, that we would look at each other, not in terms of our racial classification, but as fellow members of the human race.
But that, I’m afraid, is much easier said than done.
While many South Africans do make a commendable effort to rid themselves of race recognition and identity, that toxic residue from days gone by still runs freely in the veins of others.
In fact, race continues to remain a morbid obsession among many who, apparently, find it hard to shake off.
Why, for example, do many institutions, including government departments, insist on people specifying their race on official documents?
How would many of our loud-mouthed populist politicians survive without using offensive racial slurs and threats to get their points across?
How would many of our comedians be able to hold onto their jobs without their repertoire of crudely racist punchlines on stage and TV?
We should be grateful to the Springboks for winning the Rugby World Cup, because that victory gave South Africans welcome respite from their political hang-ups.
It helped unify South Africans and gave us an opportunity to come together and celebrate for a change.
Everyone has their own recollection of the week that was - when the triumphant Boks touched down at OR Tambo International and were later feted by thousands of cheering fans lining the streets at victory parades across the country.
What was most heartening for me was that, throughout the celebrations, there was not a single white, black, coloured or Indian person in sight.
Just loud and proud South Africans.
And who better to endorse that sentiment than one of the founding fathers of the Rainbow Nation, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who told Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and his players they were victorious because “they were being carried by the love, respect and prayers of 56 million of us at home”.
While the majority of South Africans celebrated, there were also the naysayers, detractors and killjoys who persist in seeing everything through the prism of race.
Party-pooper number one was EFF spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, who was so sickened by the sight of such national reconciliation, he tweeted: “Congratulations to #SiyaKolisi... the rest go get your congratulations from Prince Harry.”
Close runner-up was a local comedian who poked fun at the Indian community whose only claim to rugby fame, he said, was that an Indian woman, Tanushree Pillay, was part of the squad’s physio panel. He forgets she’s just a South African who happens to be good at her job.
What about those talkaholic analysts on TV who tried hard to downplay South Africa’s iconic victory, even suggesting Kolisi’s selection as captain was “mere window-dressing”.
All their negativity was, however, drowned out by a spirit of Siyaphoria that washed over our entire country.