The writer says she has been left feeling exasperated by the ugliness of the unabated outbursts of racism.
The writer says she has been left feeling exasperated by the ugliness of the unabated outbursts of racism.

Rainbow nation fallacy exposed

By Koketso Sachane Time of article published Jan 5, 2016

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We are sadly caught up in a frequently repeated cycle of outrage when it comes to issues of racism, writes Koketso Sachane.

The much debated “black people are monkeys” statements by real estate agent Penny Sparrow and economist Chris Hart’s assertion that black people feel entitled and hate minorities lays to bare, I believe, the fallacy behind the idea of a rainbow nation.

One only needs to look at the number of people who either agree with Sparrow or defend her statements to see how the “we are free, black and white together” idea of 1994 has either not come to reality or never existed to begin with.

An image of a revolving door comes to mind, as we seem to forever be repeating the same process.

We are sadly caught up in a frequently repeated cycle of outrage when it comes to issues of racism.

Whether it is in response to Dianne Kohler-Barnard’s sharing of an apartheid nostalgia Facebook post or the time when Darren Scott called a colleague who owed him money “the K word”.

We have been here before.

The question that needs to be answered as we react to Sparrow and Hart is: For how long are we going to be returning to this place?

How many more times must this happen before we realise the need to honestly and bluntly tackle the issue of racism?

And how do we embark on this enormous task? Is it enough to be outraged on social media through a hashtag – or on platforms such as radio Cape Talk?

Will addressing the issue of the ownership of the economy and land be enough, or is there a need to dig deeper and question the psychological impact of apartheid on its citizens and how they in turn relate to one another?

Listening to and reading some of the outrage, has me wondering if some of us are surprised that people such as Sparrow still exist.

In an interview, she dismissed her sentiments as her “merely stating a fact” and her daughter is quoted as saying her mother “doesn’t know what the fuss is all about”.

In his analysis of what is required to achieve economic growth, Hart felt the need to refer to a sense of entitlement by black people and a supposed hatred of minorities.

He and those who share his views are in turn seemingly surprised by the outrage.

What we are dealing with are people who genuinely think that what they believe and say is right.

We are confronted with not only a sense of entitlement and lack of acknowledgement of white privilege but also a mindset developed from being a beneficiary of structural oppression.

Coupled with this is the pain of living in the aftermath of apartheid by its victims.

The dismissive attitude of “get over it” and “it’s been 20 years, move on” not only downplays the impact of apartheid today, but also nullifies the scars left behind by its policies and effects of its social engineering.

While late former President Nelson Mandela’s forgiving spirit and approach was noble, that is not where I believe it was meant to stop.

Neither was the TRC process overseen by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

What lacks is a frank and honest debate on the impacts of not only apartheid, but also centuries of colonialism.

We cannot ignore the truth that for as long as the legacies of apartheid and colonialism are treated with kid gloves, we will continue to foment anger and resentment.

A truly transformed nation will not only be achieved through addressing the land and economy issues but through some form of TRC that speaks to our mindset.

For as long as that is not done, we will be here again next week.

* Koketso Sachane is a media practitioner and host of Early Breakfast on Cape Talk.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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