Magnum Opus, from left, Rabbie Wrote, Sibusiso Ndebele and Thobani Mntambo. Picture: Lungelo Msibi

We listen to nonverbal cues that a person's DNA says before we decide how we will interact with them.
He looks, Nigerian. He looks Somalian, Ethiopian, Zulu.
These invisible walls have long scratched that itch on the knuckles of one brother with the face another.
We have long known that our tribes are divided.
Our fate in loathing one another has long been decided.

So well orchestrated, it is our second nature to say, “yes, we are all black, but you can see that he is Zimbabwean”.
We picket. Always on the watch for the enemy who looks like us.
We collect bones to pick apart ties that bind us.
Programed to not even recollect when they arrived on our shores.
It so easy to dismantle our core.
This is how we relate to each other.

These bones we collect, they are mementos of a history they wrote for us straight from a chapter of Sun Tzu’s Art of war.

Though in the long run they failed the conquer part. They have mastered the divide.
It is psychological. This warfare, we know not that we are still in it.
What worse death for a child's mind when a person from a tribe he has been told is the enemy, is being being necklaced?
What worse death for a people severed by a seed of detest growing in their hearts for their own.

In this country, this warfare was the last resort to a crumbling apartheid regime.
Do you remember how we were segregated by tribe under the guise of blacks together?
How townships in Soweto were allocated?
These invisible walls were streets.
A Sotho person had to think twice about walking across from Naledi to Zola.
Subconsciously we are gangs.
Now you know why they treat all of us as such.

We were made to believe that we are different.
The birth of the rainbow nation was conceived on indifference.
With a glimpse of a united people, the only arsenal at hand was mental pain and discombobulation.
The system of forced classification and segregation was a mere poster boy.
The eternal damage lives in the long distance relationship between our minds and hearts.
If we can not stand our kind in our country, what more of our kind from beyond white man’s borders?

Expired and self manufactured food too are the poster boy here.
Yes, these do not belong in township stomachs.
Yes, Somalis and other foreign owned spaza’s dispense these.
But, is this the core of our detestment for them?
It could be. Another school of guessing would say it could also be that we are still under the hold of the ghost of Verwoerd.
We will always remember that the black on our skin glows different.
The click in our tongues is a distinction.
Pronunciation is a dead give away.


The Saturday Star