Category Archives: Personal

Jou Plakker

Ons Boere is baie vining om polêre teenstrydighede te skep
Inderdaad is die doel van ‘n teenstrydigheid ‘n teenstryerigheid
Links teenoor regs
Liberaal teenoor konserwatief
Progresief teen… Regresief
Die wat laer trek en die wat voort trek

Almal noem my liberaal omdat ek
uithang en werk en veg saam swart Afrikane…
maar ek weier om as ‘n liberalis beplakker te word
Ek is konserwatief. Ek is radikaal in die sin dat ek staan vir
‘n terugkeer na ons wortels.
Wortels wat my anker in waar ek vandaankom en hoe
ek grootgemaak is.
Ek is konserwatief omdat ek glo in konserwatiewe waardes:
Christelike naasteliefde
Wat is ‘n Afrikaner sonder Christelike naasteliefde?
My oortuiging dat my medemens ten spyte van velkleur
Ten spyte van opvoeding of behuising, ten spyte van aksent
my broer is… is in lyn met Jesus se vertel van die Samaritaan
Hierdie is old school waardes.

Dis konserwatief vir ‘n Afrikaner om nie ‘n selfsugtige poephol te wees nie
maar om jou speelgoed te deel met ander
Dis konserwatief of nie geldgierig te wees en mammon na te streef nie
Dis konserwatief om nie ‘n materialis te wees nie
Dis konserwatief om nie af te show met die blinkste kar wat jy op skuld koop nie
So baie van ons dink ons is boere, maar ons is eintlik klein Trumps in kakie…

Ek laat my nie mislei en verlei met liberale sienings
gegrond in humanistiese individualisme nie
‘n Goeie boer kan nooit een wees wat vir gemak en self leef, bo sy pligte tot die samelewing en gemeenskap nie
‘n Konserwatiewe Afrikaner is braaf en nie bang nie
Ek laat my nie mislei en verlei deur byderwetse tendense om myself as slagoffer te bestempel nie
Ek kla nie oor my elke dag en uitdagings nie
Ek pak die bul by die horings

Ek glo in konserwatiewe waardes soos dankbaarheid, ek kyk na wat ek het
Ek fokus nie op die behoud van my regte nie, maar die deel van my voorregte
Afrikaner gasvryheid- vir almal.
Vir my is ‘n goeie Afrikaner een wat glo in waardes,
waardes wat ons nie altyd uitgeleef het nie
maar waardes wat ons opgehou het en aan ons kinders probeer leer het.
Ek glo leë blikke maak die meeste geraas, ek glo in werk voor plesier
Ek glo in een drag maak mag en ek glo in aanhouer wen
Nie konserwatief nie? Se gat

So los my plakker uit
As jy wil plakkers uitdeel, beplak jouself
En vat sommer die liberale plakker
Moenie my probeer plak
omdat jy te slapgat en halfhartig is
om verby jou gemak en klein homogene groepie te kyk nie
As ons van Europa kon trek Kaapstad toe en van Kaapstad af Transvaal toe
Kan ons waaragtig nou in die Nuwe Suid Afrika intrek
En ophou bang en grumpy wees omdat ons nie meer baas genoem word nie.
Die wortels van die Afrikaner is wortels van werk,
nie van baas speel en baasspelerig wees nie

Ek is seker nie reg of regs nie, maar ek’s ook nie links of verkeerd nie.
Ek’s geanker en vooruitstrewend. Eks inklusief en lief.

Daar’s vir jou ’n plakker.

Some Same Schalk

At the same time I can think SA might follow the road of Zimbabwe
At the same time I can hope it doesn’t
At the same time I can despise corrupt government
At the same time I can submit, serve and collaborate with government
At the same time I can be depressed and in dispair
At the same time I can be hopeful
At the same time I can love and see beauty
At the same time I can hate and see evil
At the same time I can be inspirational
At the same time I can be pathetic
At the same time I can pray
At the same time I can stress
At the same time I can be blind
At the same time I can see
At the same time I can be weak
At the same time I can be strong

Same time. Some time.

Take Your Pick

We give things away because we need to,
we literally learn to give gifts
to strangers, with labels
to fix ourselves.
We do this as a process
until we are ready to be the gift.

I give and give and give
until I learn to be the gift.

This is not clever word play, it is the normal path.
Small kids are taught to share, we celebrate when they share food and toys.

Then we lose it, for pragmatic justifications of comfort and safety.
Life becomes small as we become big.

As a youngster I used to be very active in church life.
In my twenties I lived in a rural Mozambican village for six years.
I got a Masters in Development Studies.
I’m leading a large national non-profit.

Yet, I’m learning most, seeing most, from ordinary people around me
ordinary people being extra-ordinary generous.

I present four life giving, mind blowing examples:

Thulani, picked up a disabled abandoned baby in Umlazi, he and his wife took this baby under their care, despite living in a RDP house and having very little themselves.

My sister Sunelle and her husband, after having three amazing biological kids, Adopted a black baby called Joshua. They too are not wealthy. Much wealthier than Thulani, but on a tight budget and vulnerable compared to other Afrikaans families.

Thulani and Sunelle might be so good and courageous that we don’t associate with them, we
play games in our heads that call them special or gifted, unlike us…

My other sister Irma and her husband went on holiday in December and took a young white girl from their kid’s school with them. The girl, Leanne lives with a single mom, has never seen the ocean and never had a Christmas gift. She is very poor, by any standard, but enjoyed a fantastic December with our Van Heerden family, and she was a gift to us.

My friend Adri-Marie van Heerden, opened up their fancy family home in the bushveld, and not only invited Anathi (from Zandspruit Informal settlement), but allowed him to pick who goes away to the house for Easter weekend. Luckily I got invited. As I drove the open Toyota game viewer by myself, between wild animals, I felt privilege, free and lucky. So did Anathi. He told me that usually everything has to go right, and then after 30 years of work one might be able to enjoy such a weekend.

That is when I was reminded, not just of heroes like Thulani and Sunelle, but smart courageous
non-assholes like Irma and Adri-Marie who chose to realise a human hospitality that pulls ubuntu out of dictionaries, power-points and philosophy books and cleaned our eyes with it, wiped our faces fresh and folded around our hearts.

It is that easy.

So, take your pick.
Too scared to adopt an abandoned baby?
Take someone on holiday, your holiday.
give the kind of love that smells of respect and looks like dignity…

We have to give,
until we learn
how to be
the gift.

Sunelle's child
Sunelle’s child
At the beach in Port Alfred
At the beach in Port Alfred
near Thabazimbi at an Afrikaner holiday home...
near Thabazimbi at an Afrikaner holiday home…

 

Thulani's adopted baby
Thulani’s adopted baby
Thulani coaching a community female football team
Thulani coaching a community female football team

Ke Nako

The end of words – this can refer to the last words or the goal of words. For me the ending of words takes us into the meaning of the preceding words. In simple terms, talking is important only if there will be a time of non-talking. Dialogue as preface to action is a beautiful thing. Discussion can create or reduce distance. When my partner in love says: “liefie ons moet praat” I don’t get excited. The “ons moet praat” often opens up issues where I heart her and my subsequent guilt makes me move away. Still, we have to talk. If its doing based talking.

I’ve been mostly silent on issues of race. Mostly because I doubt people’s sincerity. Politics, race and religion share the same temptation of intellectual masturbation and pseudo heroism. When I was young I spoke a lot. Often I spoke nonsense: a 17 year old Schalk would say: “apartheid was bad, but the developmental effect was good compared to the rest of Africa” or “God’s plans with Israel failed so plan B was Jesus and those who now reject Jesus will burn forever”. I was so smart back then, so smart and sure.

These days, I’m not so sure anymore and the things I’m surest about I don’t like speaking about. Most of my replies nowadays are tears or smiles, both of which can be filled with joy or sadness.

I have my own story. Smart people call a story a narrative, as they call talking dialogue. It’s actually funny, for the poor we speak of life-skills and the rich life-coaching. Resilience and co-creation replaced character and working together. Words are very naughty and tricky little things. We often mix words into sentences and sentences into constructs, without an appreciation and awareness where they come from. Yet every picture in our head comes with baggage. I mention this, because the topic of race comes with more baggage than a Sandton girl going camping.

I wont try to represent or duplicate all the theory on race. On my journey I came across certain no-brainers though: Race is not just about colour, it has to do with power. Race is not just about the colour of skin but with the link between poverty and that skin colour, be it material or emotional poverty. Sometimes race is not about skin colour at all, but culture and ethnicity. In chats about race, we all have our ‘buttons’ those words or ideas that get’s us defensive and upset, those statements that stops our listening and activates our fighting mode. Emotional maturity and patient, respectful listening remains elusive, even amongst us so called adults.

I’m going to give a white example now, not because I equate white history with black history, but simply because I am a white Afrikaner, and I will always speak first and investigate my own history, issues and constructs. The lessons I learn or parallels drawn from that to the situation of others is something I consciously resist. Understanding my own people does however help me to open up my imagination and understanding of other people’s issues. White Afrikaners and English speakers in South Africa look the same, yet they are often very far apart. I’ll spare you stories of the Anglo-Boer war, concentration camps, derogatory action, etc. But I will tell you that my own father, a lovely and great man, learnt to speak perfect English and made a relative success of his life, but he is still insecure about white English South Africans. For my dad, at 70, the struggle continues, there is a ‘us’ and ‘them’ that will stay with him until he dies. It is 100 years after the war, the Afrikaners got out on top, took over the country, but the issues persisted. Some Afrikaners moved on and have no issues with amaBritish, others didn’t. I have a thousand times less issues that my father, but I still have issues. I love it when my black friends tell me: “I’d rather work with an Afrikaner than English, at least we know where we stand with you, you are more real than the fake snobbish English who smile in front and gossip behind our backs”. I resent white English South Africans and all whites in Europe who after years of building their empires on black slavery talk about Afrikaners and apartheid as something they had nothing to do with. When I’m honest with myself, I see my issues with whites that are not Afrikaners. The big issue is: if I meet an English person today, how do I look at him or her, what do I think and how do I act? It’s a journey.

Staying on the topic of white, I also have a relationship with my own tribe, the Afrikaners. To be honest, I’m very proud to be an Afrikaner. They way I was raised by the Afrikaner subculture I was exposed to makes me proud and I think there are many fantastic things about Afrikaners and Afrikaner culture. There are also many stupid things. I resent the Afrikaners before me for implementing apartheid, I’m proud that 68% of whites voted in the referendum to stop apartheid, I resent the millions who ignored or spat on Mandela’s gracious forgiveness, I’m embarrassed by poor Afrikaners dumb opinions and classless expressions of coolness. Today I view the majority of Afrikaners as selfish cowards who are too scared and narrow minded to go on the next Groot Trek, a Groot Trek into South Africa. Yet, when I meet an Afrikaner and instantly judge their class, intellect, style and character, I enter the same battle as when I stand before any other tribe. What is the story behind the story, why is this person like this, here, today? Will I give each new Afrikaner, not only a neutral chance, but a positive expectation in love and hope?

Sometimes I’m surprised by an English person, a Jew, an Australian or even an Afrikaner. Sometimes I’m disappointed by them. What is weird is that the good surprises I link to individual uniqueness and individual beauty. The bad experiences I bank in my racial or ethnic stereotype memory… I discover my racism when I catch myself thinking: “tipies” or “that’s not surprising” when someone does something stupid.

Considering the above, I’d have to be crazy to act as if I don’t have black racial issues and stereotypes. In fact, as I got closer to ‘black’ people I inherited further issues whereby I’m tempted to view certain tribes as arrogant, lying, stupid, violent, etc. As Afrikaner and white, I inherited much baggage about ‘black’ people. The issue is not how true these stereotypes are. Even if something might be true for 80% of a tribe of race, where does that leave you with the other 20%? Whites are trapped in a struggle where they genuinely believe their negative racist stereotypes are true. We think, yes, there are exceptions but most of them are like this and they will always stay like this. Again, what I learnt is that this estimation is a completely unhelpful and damaging exercise. Whether 20% or 80% of Afrikaners are racist, whether 10% or 90% of Zulu men beat their wives, whether 40% or 70% of Nigerians are involved in crime is not the issue, not smart questions to ask and it is a way of thinking that is fundamentally flawed. Yet we are trapped in stereotypical judgments and somehow call that realism; to what end?

I discovered that racism is most poisonous and paralyzing when discussed on broad terms, meta-narratives, bulk assumptions, abstractions and generalizations. These discussions seldom lead to life giving internal revolution and outward reconciliation. The antidote, for me is not so much in the content of the topic but the vehicle that houses the discussion or interaction. Generalizations easily paralizes and easily hurts. The antidote, is a movement to the individual, one on one level. This, let me immediately say, is not a compromise in denial of structural injustice or societal violence that needs to be addressed. No, instead of being a cop out it is the essential legitimizing act that gives credibility to the whole process. I cannot talk racial reconciliation or diversity if I don’t have my own story, my own friends and my own actions. My modelling of the end-dream is what validates all my words, all my appeals. My constant learning and changing is the engine that keeps the whole discussion real. The notion to start all racial reconciliation and integration at a one-on-one level is not an escape, it is an appropriate first step.

People throw around the word ‘restitution’ and say they won’t talk before restitution, before the average black man and white man has the same level of wealth, education and privilege. Is that a sentiment aimed at voicing frustration or a real proposal aimed at a real outcome? Restitution is not something white people need to fear. Nor is it something black people need to fear. Unless you are greedy governed by desire for power, money and increasing luxury. Poor whites, and there are many cannot make restitution in many ways, some of them don’t even have professional nor life-skills to share with others. Many whites don’t have much to share and due to their social circles, lack of education, lack of money, and self-destructive behavioural patterns, they do not even have access to ‘white privilege’. They become psychological victims of anglo supremacism, BEE punishment, renting wealthy members of their tribe, stuck in petty arguments and struggles with friends and family members and all sorts of mental traps they create for themselves, they have a victim mentality. Victims never see themselves as privileged and their lack of gratitude sucks the joy out of life. Whilst many of the challenges facing poor whites are real, like with all poverty, the add-ons, the self perpetuating destructive thought patterns and habits is what keeps them poor. I drink because I’m depressed about my poverty and the drinking escape keeps me poor… Poverty has no colour. Yet, some colours have been dealt bigger servings of poverty inducing circumstances. That is why I made a decision not to spend my money in South Africa on poor whites. That will infuriate many people, but each person must make his or her own decisions. And the first lesson of charity is that you can’t help everyone.

So, some whites will struggle with restitution due to their own material, psychological and intellectual poverty. The flip side of that coin are the millions of privileged blacks who are smart, educated and part of a middle class that could reach out and share in skills, connections, opportunities and dignity. What does the black South African with a degree, driving a Jaguar want from the white South African with grade 12 who drives an old Etios? An apology for apartheid? Friendship? Introduction into his/her circle of friends? Many white people call themselves middle class, but they are really rich. Compared to everyone. Many black people do not realize that the cash and toys they have today is way more than what the average white family had during apartheid. The “it’s our time now to eat” is one of the most distorted views and sentiments currently doing the rounds. If it is a competition between the super rich of then and the super rich of now competing to drink R600 bottles of whiskey, wear R3000 shoes, drive Ferrari’s then its fine, compete and waste your money on nonsense. 90% of whites never lived like that. We were one of the richer families in our town, yet we never bought a new car, never went on holiday and went to the restaurant twice a year. I compare that with what I see around me today in Joburg. Why do I make this point? To deny white privilege, to negate black struggle? Not at all, in fact the opposite. Back then and now if the rich, the privileged of whatever colour, spend their resources and luck on self gratification, the poor, the majority black poor, will never get their slice of the pie. Individuals need to look inside and decide what is right. If its cool to buy a Ferrari while your neighbor is hungry, then it will be cool for white and black. Entitlement is a disease that doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor, black or white. Nor is materialism and consumerism. What people often think is (and was) an issue of race or religion, was really issues of power and money, with race and religion as legitimizing excuses. If we deny this basic human tendency towards greed we will never crack the race issue. It pertains to macro-policies, structural adjustment, neoliberalism etc, but firstly it pertains to you and me, what happens in our hearts and in our wallets. Don’t run from that, white or black. Our planet either runs on morality, human right and ethics of communal care or it runs on survival of the fittest where the strongest survive. Whether Shaka chases another tribe due to greater strength, the British take control due to having guns or whether you buy a Aston Martin whilst paying someone else minimum wage; survival of the fittest and smartest will always stand in contrast with human dignity and compassion. Integrity: you cannot speak against apartheid on the basis of human dignity and then live a life based on ‘strongest and smartest will survive’. If you think people are entitled to take what they can, to make what they can without a shared responsibility, you behave the same way as a slave owner. If race is not about colour, but about power, we all have to look at what we do with our power and money. If we don’t do that the conversation, the dialogue will never have legitimacy and race discussions will always be hi-jacked by individuals with hidden agendas and selfish motives. Black or white, if you cant bring your wallet to race talks, you are playing games.

All poverty is not linked to race. In South Africa, black poverty is linked to race. The fact that millions of black people today are out of poverty and that a fifth of whites struggle with poverty is evidence that skin colour is not the only issue at play when it comes to poverty. Average white, average black stats can be a very unhelpful way of thinking. It is good to know as a starting point, but using such to stir the pot without pragmatic solutions and next steps perpetuates hatred and resentment. Sometimes we get excited with stats and new quotes. We share it with enthusiasm, but without a plan. I cannot deal with racism if I don’t gave a clear picture in my mind of what a good person looks like and what a good life looks like. Sometimes race becomes a tool to ensure we are the ones who end on top. The old masters make way for new masters and life for the poor remains the same. The poor in Africa will probably always be predominantly black, and so racial resentment is fueled and perpetuated. We fight when we don’t know how to build. And we don’t know how to build because we a) do not know what we want to build and b) are not willing to be affected personally by the new vision. Never underestimate personal comfort and self-interest.

Yet, even if we are all willing to share and contribute, there are still little foxes that can eat away at the integrity of the process. Helping in patronizing ways can be very harmful. Help in itself can perpetuate unequal power dynamics. Good intentions doesn’t guarantee the absence of wrong thinking. Yet, the learning has to come from the foundation of mutual trust and friendship. I discover wrong thinking about race, about black stereotypes every month and I will still discover many ways in which my thinking is immature and reactionary. But I can discover these insights within the context of loving friendships with real black people. These are not things to be argued about, thrown around. Humans have a great capacity for compassion and care, which leads to sincere connecting. The moment you sacrifice that in the name of resentment, being right or anger, you cut off your own leg. Which inevitably leads to more noise. If someone stands in front of me I should firstly see a human being. There are infinitely more that binds us, that we have in common than what divides us. Part of who stands before me is skin colour or gender. Skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, income level and many other things will be part of my journey with this human being, but none of them can be the main thing. The thing walking through your door is neither a white nor a black. The thing has a name, the thing is a person with a personality. Missing that, will shackle you to the extent where every sentence aimed at freedom tightens the chains of distrust. Hardkoppigheid maak mens hardegat. Almal kan hardegat raak en daarom is dit belangrik om versigtig te wees met jou eie hardkoppigheid.

Most of the militant black pride, anti-white stuff I hear come from people who are not the poorest of the poor. They might say that that is precisely the point, the poor are too blind or stupid to speak up for themselves, so the wealthy blacks and wealthy white liberals generate a lot of noise around white privilege, racism, apartheid, colonialism, slavery, etc. You might think I exaggerate, but I often hear youths who actually complain about what the Romans did, slavery in the 1700’s and so forth. Clearly apartheid will be part of the national psyche for many years to come… We are 20 years beyond apartheid many whites want us to ‘move forward’… By moving forward, they mean of course, forget about it and leave me alone to make money and enjoy my life. It wont be left. But to what end? My family was in British concentration camps, how does that affect my relationship with English people today? Should it? It’s been hundred years. I think the answer to the question of “how many years” is simple: the years will be determined by when you feel equal to the previous oppressor. If after 3 years you feel free and equal, you can move on and look forward. Some will not feel and be equal for hundreds of years. World history has proven that. Inequality is not just a feeling however. There are vey real things that make people feel unequal: he racial mix of patrons and waiters in a restaurant, the colour of faces you see on TV, the ethnic profile of people in jail, who drives the truck and who sits on the back, and thousands of other small and not so small things. When to look forward? I personally think you can only look forward if you are willing to embrace and fix the past. Moving on, beyond apartheid or slavery, is only possible when both parties agreed the wrong and commit to walk forward in reconciliation and restitution. Fixing things is a journey and I think, a privilege. When this journey is demanded instead of invited, things gets tricky. That is why I continue to say that if you are very clear of your future picture, you will be able to choose a mature strategy that won’t become counter productive.

We all have many wrong perceptions about the other party. We can learn about that through cross-cultural friendship. Spreading the love. I wont jump for every person throwing around accusasions of racism or calls for unity. For me to take another human serious, I want to see how they treat their ‘other’? How they treat their Muslim, Nigerian, Zimbabwean, Shangaan, gay or political opposition. That is how I discern and differentiate who wants to talk to me, learn with me and journey forward, and who are the ones who wants to make noise. There’s a fair share of ‘hardkoppigheid’ in me and I am no Jesus. Part of my Afrikaner heritage and war with British is a pride that won’t stand for unfair abuse. I can be soft, I can listen, I can say sorry, I can help, I can be vulnerable, but I can also say no.

Whites I speak to are also trapped in a fight. Instead of wanting to change they feel entitled to some form of fairness and justice. Here’s how they think: Blacks tell me to learn isiZulu. Yet amaZulu doesn’t want to learn English or Sotho? Some will say, teach your kids to love all people and not be racist, yet xenophobia is commonplace. They say share your money with the poor, don’t build high walls, yet the first thing a poor black man does when he buys a house is build a wall and everyone just looks after their own biological families. Sometimes I share these questions or frustrations. Yet, Goodness 101 teaches us that our decisions and morality must be intrinsic and not dependent on other people’s actions. We have to be the example ourselves. If you try and be the example and then still get accused of silly things, let that just roll of your back and don’t open your heart. That’s why we have to decide who we engage with, who we learn from, because there are many foolish people on both sides of all divides.

A confession: as I mentioned I am not perfect at all, my struggles are many and daily. Many things in my head are angry and reactionary. I want to give an example of the automatic ‘Afrikaner’ emotions and thoughts that sometimes tempt me: Here is where I get genuinely upset. No surprise, it pertains politicians and media: I don’t have a problem with the great majority of the country. But I do feel frustrated with politicians and those who echo their statements in the media. Some blacks, like the ones who wear t-shirts saying kill all whites, like to group all whites together and urinate on any attempt at growth or reconciliation. In my moments of weakness I want to ask them: ufunani? What do you want? Who wants what from whom? Who must pay and who will benefit? The land taken in Zimbabwe and bought in South Africa benefited elites, not the poor. I wish I could farm, but I know as a white man in Africa I cannot own land and a farm, some teenager will kill me and still think he has the moral high ground, that he did what was right, that the boer got what he deserved. So, where I’m different is, I say, take all the land if that is what the majority of people want. If there is a drop in production and food needs to be imported, make higher tax and buy food from other countries. If you have political power you can do what you want. So no need for crying and fighting, vote for those that will give you what you want and take charge. Nationalise the mines, take the land, increase tax, make a white tax, double BBBEE implications or whatever. Do it. Take charge and live with the consequences. I don’t mind all of that, whatever system is in place many Afrikaners will dig in and make the best of that, we will comply and we will excel. Afrikaners are not good at being blamed. I share this paragraph to show that liberalism or conservatism are not clean cut constructs that drop into our heads from above. We, I, have to struggle with many competing thought patterns. That is okay, as long as I keep going on the journey.

Liefde Wen (Jammer Madiba)

In this world, in this country, we find different kinds of people.
Some are fun and some are kind.
Some are sad and some are hurt.
Some are inspirational and some are courageous.

We should never allow sad individuals to hijack a conversation introduced by inspirational examples.
Septic hurt easily turns into resentful anger and cheap hatred.

Maar Liefde Wen.

Faced, face to face with a generous and kind person, someone with honest integrity, our stereotypes melt away and we recognise a shared humanity.

Madiba did not sell us out. He opened a door, he opened a door in the most beautiful way possible.
For 21 years (too)many refused to walk through into the invitation. Our selfishness stopped us from responding.
That was our mistake: we were cowards and uninspiring to the extent of killing his magic.

Let’s look in the mirror and search for courage and beauty, instead of vomiting disdain on the father of a nation. Hatred and resentment are sad expressions of cowardly frustration.

Maar Liefde Wen.

If we’re smart and brave enough.

The Colour of Money

The end of words – this can refer to the last words or the goal of words. For me the ending of words takes us into the meaning of the preceding words. In simple terms, talking is important only if there will be a time of non-talking. Dialogue as preface to action is a beautiful thing. Discussion can create or reduce distance. When my partner in love says: “liefie ons moet praat” I don’t get excited. The “ons moet praat” often opens up issues where I hurt her and my subsequent guilt makes me move away. Still, we have to talk. If its doing based talking.

I’ve been mostly silent on issues of race. Mostly because I doubt people’s sincerity. Politics, race and religion share the same temptation of intellectual masturbation and pseudo heroism. When I was young I spoke a lot. Often I spoke nonsense: a 17 year old Schalk would say: “apartheid was bad, but the developmental effect was good compared to the rest of Africa” or “God’s plans with Israel failed so plan B was Jesus and those who now reject Jesus will burn forever”. I was so smart back then, so smart and sure.

These days, I’m not so sure anymore and the things I’m surest about I don’t like speaking about. Most of my replies nowadays are tears or smiles, both of which can be filled with joy or sadness.

I have my own story. Smart people call a story a narrative, as they call talking dialogue. It’s actually funny, for the poor we speak of life-skills and the rich life-coaching. Resilience and co-creation replaced character and working together. Words are very naughty and tricky little things. We often mix words into sentences and sentences into constructs, without an appreciation and awareness where they come from. Yet every picture in our head comes with baggage. I mention this, because the topic of race comes with more baggage than a Sandton girl going camping. My story and my baggage results in my thoughts and opinions.

I wont try to represent or duplicate all the theory on race. On my journey I came across certain no-brainers though: Race is not just about colour, it has to do with power. Race is not just about the colour of skin but with the link between poverty and that skin colour, be it material or emotional poverty. Sometimes race is not about skin colour at all, but culture and ethnicity. In chats about race, we all have our ‘buttons’, those words or ideas that get’s us defensive and upset, those statements that stops our listening and activates our fighting mode. Emotional maturity and patient, respectful listening remains elusive, even amongst us so called adults. So bear with me and try to hear the whole story even if some sentences brings back unpleasant feelings.

I’m going to give a white example now, not because I equate white history with black history, but simply because I am a white Afrikaner, and I will always speak first and investigate my own history, issues and constructs. The lessons I learn or parallels drawn from that to the situation of others is something I consciously resist. Understanding my own people does however help me to open up my imagination and understanding of other people’s issues. White Afrikaners and English speakers in South Africa look the same, yet they are often very far apart. I’ll spare you stories of the Anglo-Boer war, concentration camps, derogatory action, etc. But I will tell you that my own father, a lovely and great man, learnt to speak perfect English and made a relative success of his life, but he is still insecure about white English South Africans. For my dad, at 70, the struggle continues, there is a ‘us’ and ‘them’ that will stay with him until he dies. It is 100 years after the war, the Afrikaners got out on top, took over the country, but the issues persisted. Some Afrikaners moved on and have no issues with amaBritish, others didn’t. I have a thousand times less issues that my father, but I still have issues. I love it when my black friends tell me: “I’d rather work with an Afrikaner than English, at least we know where we stand with you, you are more real than the fake snobbish English who smile in front and gossip behind our backs”. I resent white English South Africans and all whites in Europe who after years of building their empires on black slavery talk about Afrikaners and apartheid as something they had nothing to do with. When I’m honest with myself, I see my issues with whites that are not Afrikaners. The big issue is: if I meet an English person today, how do I look at him or her, what do I think and how do I act? It’s a journey.

Staying on the topic of white, I also have a relationship with my own tribe, the Afrikaners. To be honest, I’m very proud to be an Afrikaner. They way I was raised by the Afrikaner subculture I was exposed to makes me proud and I think there are many fantastic things about Afrikaners and Afrikaner culture. There are also many stupid things. I resent the Afrikaners before me for implementing apartheid, I’m proud that 68% of whites voted in the referendum to stop apartheid, I resent the millions who ignored or spat on Mandela’s gracious forgiveness, I’m embarrassed by poor Afrikaners dumb opinions and classless expressions of coolness. Today I view the majority of Afrikaners as selfish cowards who are too scared and narrow minded to go on the next Groot Trek, a Groot Trek into South Africa. Yet, when I meet an Afrikaner and instantly judge their class, intellect, style and character, I enter the same battle as when I stand before any other tribe. What is the story behind the story, why is this person like this, here, today? Will I give each new Afrikaner, not only a neutral chance, but a positive expectation in love and hope?

Sometimes I’m surprised by an English person, a Jew, an Australian or even an Afrikaner. Sometimes I’m disappointed by them. What is weird is that the good surprises I link to individual uniqueness and individual beauty. The bad experiences I bank in my racial or ethnic stereotype memory… I discover my racism when I catch myself thinking: “tipies” or “that’s not surprising” when someone does something stupid.

Considering the above, I’d have to be crazy to act as if I don’t have black racial issues and stereotypes. In fact, as I got closer to ‘black’ people I inherited further issues whereby I’m tempted to view certain tribes as arrogant, lying, stupid, violent, etc. As Afrikaner and white, I inherited much baggage about ‘black’ people. The issue is not how true these stereotypes are. Even if something might be true for 80% of a tribe of race, where does that leave you with the other 20%? Whites are trapped in a struggle where they genuinely believe their negative racist stereotypes are true. We think, yes, there are exceptions but most of them are like this and they will always stay like this. Again, what I learnt is that this estimation is a completely unhelpful and damaging exercise. Whether 20% or 80% of Afrikaners are racist, whether 10% or 90% of Zulu men beat their wives, whether 40% or 70% of Nigerians are involved in crime is not the issue, not smart questions to ask and it is a way of thinking that is fundamentally flawed. Yet we are trapped in stereotypical judgments and somehow call that realism; to what end?

I discovered that racism is most poisonous and paralyzing when discussed on broad terms, meta-narratives, bulk assumptions, abstractions and generalizations. These discussions seldom lead to life giving internal revolution and outward reconciliation. The antidote, for me is not so much in the content of the topic but the vehicle that houses the discussion or interaction. Generalizations easily paralizes and easily hurts. The antidote, is a movement to the individual, one on one level. This, let me immediately say, is not a compromise in denial of structural injustice or societal violence that needs to be addressed. No, instead of being a cop out it is the essential legitimizing act that gives credibility to the whole process. I cannot talk racial reconciliation or diversity if I don’t have my own story, my own friends and my own actions. My modelling of the end-dream is what validates all my words, all my appeals. My constant learning and changing is the engine that keeps the whole discussion real. The notion to start all racial reconciliation and integration at a one-on-one level is not an escape, it is an appropriate first step.

People throw around the word ‘restitution’ and say they won’t talk before restitution, before the average black man and white man has the same level of wealth, education and privilege. Is that a sentiment aimed at voicing frustration or a real proposal aimed at a real outcome? Restitution is not something white people need to fear. Nor is it something black people need to fear. Unless you are greedy governed by desire for power, money and increasing luxury. Poor whites, and there are many cannot make restitution in many ways, some of them don’t even have professional nor life-skills to share with others. Many whites don’t have much to share and due to their social circles, lack of education, lack of money, and self-destructive behavioral patterns, they do not even have access to ‘white privilege’. They become psychological victims of anglo supremacism, BEE punishment, renting wealthy members of their tribe, stuck in petty arguments and struggles with friends and family members and all sorts of mental traps they create for themselves, they have a victim mentality. Victims never see themselves as privileged and their lack of gratitude sucks the joy out of life. Whilst many of the challenges facing poor whites are real, like with all poverty, the add-ons, the self perpetuating destructive thought patterns and habits is what keeps them poor. I drink because I’m depressed about my poverty and the drinking escape keeps me poor… Poverty has no colour. Yet, some colours have been dealt bigger servings of poverty inducing circumstances. That is why I made a decision not to spend my money in South Africa on poor whites. That will infuriate many people, but each person must make his or her own decisions. And the first lesson of charity is that you can’t help everyone.

So, some whites will struggle with restitution due to their own material, psychological and intellectual poverty. The flip side of that coin are the millions of privileged blacks who are smart, educated and part of a middle class that could reach out and share in skills, connections, opportunities and dignity. What does the black South African with a degree, driving a Jaguar want from the white South African with grade 12 who drives an old Etios? An apology for apartheid? Friendship? Introduction into his/her circle of friends? Many white people call themselves middle class, but they are really rich. Compared to everyone. Many black people do not realize that the cash and toys they have today is way more than what the average white family had during apartheid. The “it’s our time now to eat” is one of the most distorted views and sentiments currently doing the rounds. If it is a competition between the super rich of then and the super rich of now competing to drink R600 bottles of whiskey, wear R3000 shoes, drive Ferrari’s then its fine, compete and waste your money on nonsense. 90% of whites never lived like that. We were one of the richer families in our town, yet we never bought a new car, never went on holiday and went to the restaurant twice a year. I compare that with what I see around me today in Joburg. Why do I make this point? To deny white privilege, to negate black struggle? Not at all, in fact the opposite. Back then and now if the rich, the privileged of whatever colour, spend their resources and luck on self gratification, the poor, the majority black poor, will never get their slice of the pie. Individuals need to look inside and decide what is right. If its cool to buy a Ferrari while your neighbor is hungry, then it will be cool for white and black. Entitlement is a disease that doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor, black or white. Nor is materialism and consumerism. What people often think is (and was) an issue of race or religion, was really issues of power and money, with race and religion as legitimizing excuses. If we deny this basic human tendency towards greed we will never crack the race issue. It pertains to macro-policies, structural adjustment, neoliberalism etc, but firstly it pertains to you and me, what happens in our hearts and in our wallets. Don’t run from that, white or black. Our planet either runs on morality, human right and ethics of communal care or it runs on survival of the fittest where the strongest survive. Whether Shaka chases another tribe due to greater strength, the British take control due to having guns or whether you buy a Aston Martin whilst paying someone else minimum wage; survival of the fittest and smartest will always stand in contrast with human dignity and compassion. Integrity: you cannot speak against apartheid on the basis of human dignity and then live a life based on ‘strongest and smartest will survive’. If you think people are entitled to take what they can, to make what they can without a shared responsibility, you behave the same way as a slave owner. If race is not about colour, but about power, we all have to look at what we do with our power and money. If we don’t do that the conversation, the dialogue will never have legitimacy and race discussions will always be hi-jacked by individuals with hidden agendas and selfish motives. Black or white, if you cant bring your wallet to race talks, you are playing games.

All poverty is not linked to race. In South Africa, black poverty is linked to race. The fact that millions of black people today are out of poverty and that a fifth of whites struggle with poverty is evidence that skin colour is not the only issue at play when it comes to poverty. Average white, average black stats can be a very unhelpful way of thinking. It is good to know as a starting point, but using such to stir the pot without pragmatic solutions and next steps perpetuates hatred and resentment. Sometimes we get excited with stats and new quotes. We share it with enthusiasm, but without a plan. I cannot deal with racism if I don’t gave a clear picture in my mind of what a good person looks like and what a good life looks like. Sometimes race becomes a tool to ensure we are the ones who end on top. The old masters make way for new masters and life for the poor remains the same. The poor in Africa will probably always be predominantly black, and so racial resentment is fueled and perpetuated. We fight when we don’t know how to build. And we don’t know how to build because we a) do not know what we want to build and b) are not willing to be affected personally by the new vision. Never underestimate personal comfort and self-interest.

Yet, even if we are all willing to share and contribute, there are still little foxes that can eat away at the integrity of the process. Helping in patronizing ways can be very harmful. Help in itself can perpetuate unequal power dynamics. Good intentions doesn’t guarantee the absence of wrong thinking. Yet, the learning has to come from the foundation of mutual trust and friendship. I discover wrong thinking about race, about black stereotypes every month and I will still discover many ways in which my thinking is immature and reactionary. But I can discover these insights within the context of loving friendships with real black people. These are not things to be argued about, thrown around. Humans have a great capacity for compassion and care, which leads to sincere connecting. The moment you sacrifice that in the name of resentment, being right or anger, you cut off your own leg. Which inevitably leads to more noise. If someone stands in front of me I should firstly see a human being. There are infinitely more that binds us, that we have in common than what divides us. Part of who stands before me is skin colour or gender. Skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, income level and many other things will be part of my journey with this human being, but none of them can be the main thing. The thing walking through your door is neither a white nor a black. The thing has a name, the thing is a person with a personality. Missing that, will shackle you to the extent where every sentence aimed at freedom tightens the chains of distrust. Hardkoppigheid maak mens hardegat. Almal kan hardegat raak en daarom is dit belangrik om versigtig te wees met jou eie hardkoppigheid.

Most of the militant black pride, anti-white stuff I hear come from people who are not the poorest of the poor. They might say that that is precisely the point, the poor are too blind or stupid to speak up for themselves, so the wealthy blacks and wealthy white liberals generate a lot of noise around white privilege, racism, apartheid, colonialism, slavery, etc. You might think I exaggerate, but I often hear youths who actually complain about what the Romans did, slavery in the 1700’s and so forth. Clearly apartheid will be part of the national psyche for many years to come… We are 20 years beyond apartheid many whites want us to ‘move forward’… By moving forward, they mean of course, forget about it and leave me alone to make money and enjoy my life. It wont be left. But to what end? My family was in British concentration camps, how does that affect my relationship with English people today? Should it? It’s been hundred years. I think the answer to the question of “how many years” is simple: the years will be determined by when you feel equal to the previous oppressor. If after 3 years you feel free and equal, you can move on and look forward. Some will not feel and be equal for hundreds of years. World history has proven that. Inequality is not just a feeling however. There are vey real things that make people feel unequal: he racial mix of patrons and waiters in a restaurant, the colour of faces you see on TV, the ethnic profile of people in jail, who drives the truck and who sits on the back, and thousands of other small and not so small things. When to look forward? I personally think you can only look forward if you are willing to embrace and fix the past. Moving on, beyond apartheid or slavery, is only possible when both parties agreed the wrong and commit to walk forward in reconciliation and restitution. Fixing things is a journey and I think, a privilege. When this journey is demanded instead of invited, things gets tricky. That is why I continue to say that if you are very clear of your future picture, you will be able to choose a mature strategy that won’t become counter productive.

We all have many wrong perceptions about the other party. We can learn about that through cross-cultural friendship. Spreading the love. I wont jump for every person throwing around accusations of racism or calls for unity. For me to take another human serious, I want to see how they treat their ‘other’? How they treat their Muslim, Nigerian, Zimbabwean, Shangaan, gay or political opposition. That is how I discern and differentiate who wants to talk to me, learn with me and journey forward, and who are the ones who wants to make noise. There’s a fair share of ‘hardkoppigheid’ in me and I am no Jesus. Part of my Afrikaner heritage and war with British is a pride that won’t stand for unfair abuse. I can be soft, I can listen, I can say sorry, I can help, I can be vulnerable, but I can also say no.

Whites I speak to are also trapped in a fight. Instead of wanting to change they feel entitled to some form of fairness and justice. Here’s how they think: Blacks tell me to learn isiZulu. Yet amaZulu doesn’t want to learn English or Sotho? Some will say, teach your kids to love all people and not be racist, yet xenophobia is commonplace. They say share your money with the poor, don’t build high walls, yet the first thing a poor black man does when he buys a house is build a wall and everyone just looks after their own biological families. Sometimes I share these questions or frustrations. Yet, Goodness 101 teaches us that our decisions and morality must be intrinsic and not dependent on other people’s actions. We have to be the example ourselves. If you try and be the example and then still get accused of silly things, let that just roll of your back and don’t open your heart. That’s why we have to decide who we engage with, who we learn from, because there are many foolish people on both sides of all divides.

A confession: as I mentioned I am not perfect at all, my struggles are many and daily. Many things in my head are angry and reactionary. I want to give an example of the automatic ‘Afrikaner’ emotions and thoughts that sometimes tempt me: Here is where I get genuinely upset. No surprise, it pertains politicians and media: I don’t have a problem with the great majority of the country. But I do feel frustrated with politicians and those who echo their statements in the media. Some blacks, like the ones who wear t-shirts saying kill all whites, like to group all whites together and urinate on any attempt at growth or reconciliation. In my moments of weakness I want to ask them: ufunani? What do you want? Who wants what from whom? Who must pay and who will benefit? The land taken in Zimbabwe and bought in South Africa benefited elites, not the poor. I wish I could farm, but I know as a white man in Africa I cannot own land and a farm, some teenager will kill me and still think he has the moral high ground, that he did what was right, that the Boer got what he deserved. So, where I’m different is, I say, take all the land if that is what the majority of people want. If there is a drop in production and food needs to be imported, make higher tax and buy food from other countries. If you have political power you can do what you want. So no need for crying and fighting, vote for those that will give you what you want and take charge. Nationalise the mines, take the land, increase tax, make a white tax, double BBBEE implications or whatever. Do it. Take charge and live with the consequences. I don’t mind all of that, whatever system is in place many Afrikaners will dig in and make the best of that, we will comply and we will excel. Afrikaners are not good at being blamed. I share this paragraph to show that liberalism or conservatism are not clean cut constructs that drop into our heads from above. We, I, have to struggle with many competing thought patterns. That is okay, as long as I keep going on the journey.

In a way we are all racists. We can all discriminate based on ethnicity and we can all misuse power in selfish ways. How personal we make that recovery will set the tone for the bigger dialogue. Luckily, the power is still in our hands.

Love is not easier than-, but it is stronger than hatred.

Grounded, Growing, Good.

I’ve decided to make public (*) that I am part of a Secret Order.

The point is not to make the Order known, nor to gather support.

Rather, I want to ask:
Do you have a commitment and space
that is unspectacular and regular
where you repeatedly make a statement to yourself
that you care?

We have to manage and train ourselves.

Auto-pilot inevitably leads to self-destruction.

I have to save myself from myself.

Grounded, Growing, Good…

* make public to the three readers who already know!  :-)

Regrettably Ironic Support

Round One; and a spectacular fail
A marriage of silence and doubt:
Delivered a tragedy of violence and regret.
A lack of discernment and wisdom
complacent and complicit
In a choice that should never have been chosen.

Round Two; on the brink of beauty
A unity of love and life:
Poised and pregnant with love and joy.
The very same lack of discernment and wisdom
resurfaces, in vain attempts to right the past
this time a noise that kills a choice
made in heaven and on earth.

You were silent when you should have spoken
Now you speak when you should be silent.
In a fleshly attempt to vindicate your care
you repeat, you perpetuate your failure.
In attempts to prevent self-projected disaster
you introduce it, through fear and guilt.

If there’s any love
if there’s any humility

Rest in God
and pray for grace
to see.

Too often
good intentions
lead to regrettable
ironic
disaster

Catch Me if You Can – a Writing for Whites Only

The same thing will mean different things to different people. The same sentence will evoke different memories, emotions and constructs depending on who reads it. For this reason, it is very difficult to write about race, religion or politics. My view is unique, because I had a unique life. What I can state boldly can not be understood by some and should not be repeated by others. I wonder if there could ever be a concise way to communicate the heart of my thoughts? The next few paragraphs might reveal that.

I understand Biko in a certain way. I believe his radicalism and separateness was needed under a regime where whites had all the power. I guess, the thing Biko fought for, one man one vote and all that that would entail, changes the rules of how he should be read. He spoke of sitting down at an African table. When? When Apartheid ended and we have black people running their own country, or when all blacks are richer than all whites?

Here is a question I doubt many radicals like to answer: When should we sit around the table and be brothers and sisters? I see a lot of struggling around me these days, some of it blatant, most of it hidden. When you want to struggle, it means that you normally feel ‘under’ the one you are struggling against. So for some, apartheid will never be over. For those, Biko will always be a call to fighting. As for me, I am done fighting and struggling. Nevertheless, in respect of those bearing anger and hurt, I will employ Biko in a literal sense, without considering context, and I will turn to my own people, I will write this piece for whites only. I write to whites only, because a white man dares not have anything to say to a black man… I say that with a sad smile of irony, not because I think it should be so, but because it is what I hear and read every day. So, this is for whites only, I am allowed to talk to whites, as an Afrikaner.

I have a few normative and moderate assumptions and I have a few radical assumptions. These basic beliefs I hold isolates and estranges almost every single person I come across. Let me drop the bombs and if you are still around after that we can deconstruct and reconstruct in order to find an appropriate current stance: First, although I am not a fan of historical ’Christianity’ or mainstream churches, I am a fanatical believer in what the historical figure of Jesus taught. I sum that up with don’t be selfish, live for others: to reach love, start with respect. Nothing more and nothing less. Screw the little rules and regulations. Get the big idea right. This should impact all areas of our lives, especially our work, money, families and social activities. If you are not serious about this basic move towards others, you can never understand my position. You cannot understand my politics if you don’t understand my religion, because the two are not separate and the latter trumps the former every day, every time.

Let’s plunge right into our continent and it’s realities: I can love Africa and it’s people, I can live here, my family can be rooted here for 300 years and call it home. I can say all humans descend from Africa, so my ancestors are from Africa, went to Europe and came back. I can do and choose and associate all I want, but, the reality is: as a white man in Africa I will never be at home. Not because it should be so or I want it to be so (it is obviously the only home I know), but because of hundreds of years of evil and uncivility, the chance of me being at home in Africa will not happen in the next 600 years. The price white people have to pay for their cleverness, dominance and incivility is to forfeit ever being ‘at home’. Our punishment is not BBBEE, our ultimate punishment is to never be able to be at home.

Never mind the story of the Bushman kicked out by migrants from central or northern Africa, that is not a story for us… the comparison of movement and dominance and disrespect for ‘weaker’ indigenous people will help you nothing, forget about it, it is a dead-end, simply because you are the one thinking about it. Your story, the one you can not escape, is the story of Europeans (read white) coming to Africa (read black). 300 years of colonialism will require 600 years of non-colonialism to even out. Just as 80 years of apartheid will require at least 160 years of non-apartheid to even out. I am using general figures and large statements here, not to make a specific prediction, but as metaphorical constructs to illustrate a principle. If you bully me for 10 years, then I grow up and become bigger than you, I will also bully you for ten years, but probably more, because you scarred me. If I get given a stick, but I never really grew stronger than you, I might try to beat you up for much more than ten years, because I still do not feel stronger.

Africa will perpetuate distrust and resentment indefinitely. It is just too easy for radicals to point to colour and spread hatred, fear, distrust and resentment. You have to expect that and deal with that, or leave. The fact that we can leave already infuriate others and should tell us something about privilege. Opposed to easy hatred and distrust stands love. I say love, not ubuntu, since I have heard many times that ubuntu is a construct f how black people lived together; xenophobia amongst black Africans revealed the death of ubuntu in practice. 60% of South African declared that they wil never house a refugee of war. Ubuntu, like Robert Gabriel had a great start, but is currently in danger of dying. So I stick to love, not ubuntu. Love is so much more illusive and harder to feel and live than hatred. Forgiveness is so much more elusive than hunger for mob justice. A Tutu will never win a black crowd when confronted with a Malema, no matter the merits of their intellect or lives. Until the average African is richer, better educated, stronger, smarter and more disciplined than the average white person, the ghosts of the past will not disappear. How long will that take? How long that will take depends on two things: how much whites want to protect and how much blacks want to compete. Note, I say compete- not blame or demand.

I comment here on black sentiments I see and hear, not to teach or advise any black man, but to illuminate the reality for my fellow Afrikaner. As long as black Africans feel angry and resentful, the white man will not be welcome, the white man will not be welcomed. If you are suborn, like most of us Afrikaners are, you will say I don’t need their welcome. It’s my country too, I have a right. Once you catch yourself saying that, know that you are the cause of the problem and you are the one giving fuel to black radicals (read red barrette). History does not afford the white man strength. Black people, despite 20 years of voting the ANC into Power and occupying all branches of government, do not feel free, because whites still have the money. (read economic freedom). Do’t be silly and think of poor whites in squatter camps or Patrice or Cyril. The average black is way poorer and less educated than the average white. That makes many people angry. And even if you think that anger should in part be self-directed or at their own leaders, the easy and constant target of that anger will be the whites. Most whites, by their actions and words perpetuates and gives legitimacy to the anti-white sentiment.

Blacks will remain distrustful and hateful at large. Unless miracles happen. Mandela was maybe one tenth of a miracle, but because there was no white Mandela that could lead white South Africans to a grateful response to kindness and mercy, the next black leaders were naturally less miraculous. White people found in Mandela, relief. We never had the consciousness and intelligence to publicly express our gratitude in words and in actions. We took grace for granted. Perhaps due to stupid right wingers who said this was our country which we built. Reality check for whites: we didn’t give anything up in 1994. We should have. Not being pro-active and voluntary, is now coming back to bite us. Roelf and FW stopped the madness, that was their job. There was no-one to grab the white imagination and lead us into true integration, sharing and reconstruction. Mandela came forward, people applauded, but no one joined him. Where was the white leader to match Madiba in brave moral leadership? In a microcosm this still happens every day in South Africa. Individuals grow and become enlightened, they make the Madiba move, they reach out. But being new at it, the lack of reciprocity, the persistence of blame and spreading of hate, soon makes the young human rediscover their white or blackness. Again, trapped in colour. Humanity lost. How many good people don’t give up? Besides being victims and prisoners to crime, we are all in prisons created by our skins.

These paragraphs created context for and eluded to my next big belief: as a white person, you don’t deserve anything. The saying ‘the world doesn’t owe you anything’ is particularly relevant for whites in Africa: This country does not owe you anything. Your tax money is not there to build you roads, it is there to fix the mess of apartheid. Whether JZ builds Nkandla or schools, does not change that. If blacks want to take Potch university or Stellenbosh, give it to them, make it English. That already happened to the RAU where I studies, that is now the infamous UJ. If you want an Afrikaans university, build it yourself, without state subsidies. Let is go… We are in a time, and era where many crazy and silly things will happen. A mix of protest and Chivas, shacks and Maseratis will characterize a phase of mixed excitement, confusion, party and funerals… until the drunken honeymoon is over and things become normal and pragmatic. That time of rational rebuilding is not here yet. And don’t expect it to arrive soon. People are still angry and hurt, they feel they ‘deserve’ some relief after years of torture. Give them a break.

The big question the state of affairs leads us to ask is: where does this leave me as white person in South Africa? Let’s get the easy answer out of the way: if it is all too much for you, leave: go to Australia, England, USA or wherever you feel you will be happy. If you stay because you think SA is still the place on earth you think you can have the highest quality life for the least effort, then stay but shut the fuck up about black people. If you stay because you feel called to do so, either by birth loyalty or religious beliefs, then there are some avenues to explore that can help you on your journey. I find myself here, in this paradoxical place where I can hear myself say: ‘I belong here’, although I also hear a voice in my head reflecting hidden sentiments of Mzansi saying : ‘you do not belong here’. This tension of being home, but not at home has more of a nagging and niggling effect than we realize. One can quickly feel sorry for yourself, but smart people know that the easiest way to look stupid is for a privilege white to feel sorry for themselves amongst a word of suffering black Africans. So swallow or hide the self-pity, quickly, before you look stupid. Feeling sorry is one of the things we lost in the repayment of our past sins.

It is my opinion that, as a white person, you can only make sense of staying in South Africa, if you believe in a bigger, better picture and if you are willing, no, dedicated to making that work. The trick is, that this better bigger picture is a mental construct, a picture in our heads. That is what you stick to, believe in, fight for. The white man’s struggle is to keep the dream alive that one day, we will be able to sit as brothers, equal around an African table. Perhaps envisioning a Mendela-esque figure serving us communion of bread or pap, with wine or black label as we share our humanity. To keep the dream alive, we need to be prepared: the reality that you face around you every day will shit on the dream. Criminals raping and stealing, taxis driving like selfish bastards, poor people too poor to know they are littering, corrupt tenders buying Ferrari’s, loud mouths and empty heads with red barrettes, marching and dancing masses, corrupt politicians, disregard for courts and law, denial of media freedom and balance, extreme poverty of millions, unemployment, bad roads, failing electricity, scarce water, mall robberies, HIV-Aids, drunken denialism, football games starting late because fans can’t show up on time, hilarious accents on TV reading elementary speeches so slow you can’t keep up or quotas in sports teams… these are all things white people will see, or think they see, and if any of these affect your belief in the dream of The Rainbow Nation, then realize this: you are not believing in the dream, you are still trapped in expecting a reality in the material word around you, that suits you.

If you get upset by things around you that the majority of black people are not getting upset about, you should realize that instead of believing in a beautiful dream for ‘one-day’ you are in fact projecting your immediate desires onto a situation that can not satisfy your demand. And projecting unrealistic expectations too quickly onto a situation or a person is a sure way to make things worse. As a white, you need to learn to take a punch, without retaliation, getting angry or feeling despair. That is how you keep the dream alive- by giving it up. For now. Please don’t think I’m a schizophrenic person devoid of feeling. This giving up on the dream is terribly sad and painful and the extent of sadness depends on the extent to which you have and are willing to fight for this dream. It’s bloody sad, that’s why it’s so easy to get angry and depressed. Still, we can not remain children who throw our toys when we don’t get our way. We have to grow up and be smart. The first step in this smartness is to make changes in our expectations and time-lines.

If being smart was easy, everyone would have been smart. So here is the tricky part. Not expecting the dream today does not mean not expecting the dream. I said it’s tricky. Knowing and being prepared today to face tough and silly things does not mean we do not look out for beautiful and good things every hour of every day. Not expecting gratitude and kindness does not mean we do not look for every opportunity to be kind and grateful. And here the tricky context of white survival intersects with an old truth: the darker the surrounding the greater the light from a flame. The very thing that wants to make you give up becomes the thing that draws you to the dream. The very thing that wants to make you feel abandoned, scared and hopeless- becomes the thing that activates hope, courage and dedication. These things can not be sustainably faked. You need a very deep commitment and resilience born from gratitude and self-knowledge, or the winds of change will upset you as it’s discomfort trumps its potential. In a way, Mzansi only has space for radicals, radical believers of good and beauty. If you believe in beauty and goodness with 70%, our country will defecate on that you think you hold dear. If you believe in beauty and goodness 100%, nothing can affect your love and humanity, because you believe more in the ideal than in your expectation of an immediately happy life.

We cannot change the big picture. We don’t have to change the big picture because the pig picture will always reflect the sum of all the little pictures. One of the first bridges one has to cross on the road of making a difference is to realize how very small our influence is and how little we can achieve. In a sense you have to give up, before you can start. Don’t read that to fast, it is excruciating to give up on your desire to make good. Once we have left the childish desire to change the world behind, we can engage our immediate reality with more clarity. As a whitey, you will meet different kinds of black people, there are not just blacks and clearly realizing different types and groupings will help you survive and thrive. There are different groups of whites and blacks in response to and depending a myriad of situations. The one I want to elaborate on now deals with the legacy of colonialism and apartheid. Most people will agree that white privilege exist. History left white people in a position of power and advantage. Despite a black government and BEE, what is between our ears, leaves whites privileged and to use a more blatant word: lucky. We are privileged, not because we are inherently stronger or smarter, that is just the way history played out, that one racial group devised structures that benefited them in the long run. That structuring was not morally justifiable and today we face the predicament where our strength is our problem. Blacks are happy to talk about privilege, but none wants to call it what it is: strength. Strength is the manifestation of power- whites and blacks could do well to be real and blatant about the problem, if they wish to move on with authenticity. To this problem, of white power, black people will react in different ways:

1.) Some will deny it, the very idea of admitting whites are privileged, connected, educated, strong or smart bothers them and they will say ‘all is equal’ let’s play. 2.) Some blacks will admit the privilege and differences and blame whites for it while refusing help or collaboration. They say whites caused the problems, so only blacks can fix it. Whites should not try to help. 3.) Some blacks will affirm white privilege and ask whites to assist them reach an equal level. 4.) Some blacks are too poor and destroyed to articulate any opinion on the matter, they just try and survive without engaging all these constructs.

There are two groups therefore that wants you to do nothing when it comes to rebuilding. They might want to ignore you, they might want to punish you or they might want to take your things. They are tricky groups to deal with, because although it is easy to say ‘ok, I won’t help you or mix with you, good luck’, others will be more aggressive and you will have to decide when to flee, when to protect and when to hand over whatever they want. I think, at times we have to do all of the above. Yes, you can take my university, yes, you can take my farm, no, you cannot take my house or car, no you cannot have my wife, I won’t talk to you about my feelings on this matter, no, I can’t become stupid or unread on your behalf, no you can’t hit me, yes you can strike, but I can avoid that, etc. Many tricky responses and decisions needed in reply to the black people that think you are not good and who will not ask you for collaboration. The biggest danger is to respond to this group with equal animosity or aggression. Don’t get angry. Take the metaphorical punch. We will need to sacrifice many things. And we need to know exactly what we are not willing to give up. For me, getting a job from government is not a human right, sometimes you must even except a hijacking or housebreak for pragmatic and survival reasons. But as a white person you are still a human being and although there are many more areas to pay back, there are also areas where we can say no. Sometimes I will listen to generalized accusations and insults, because it helps to bring about healing. Sometimes, I will walk away from hatred, because it is not good for anyone. These two groups that wants nothing from whites, do not really want nothing from whites. They want a lot, they just don’t want to give the whites the satisfaction of giving it, not to mention the satisfaction of being asked. I have sympathy for that, because I am a stubborn individual and my natural inclination is also towards this type of proud hardkoppigheid.

Although I should be able to give a warm, sympathetic and sincere smile to the above group and wish them well in their homogenous struggle, I should never allow their sentiments to affect the way I behave to the other two groups. Just as no arrogant white person can speak on behalf of all other whites, so no clever black person can speak on behalf of all other blacks. It’s funny that those who criticize the most (on either side) normally does and sacrifice the least. In fact, before I listen to people, I want to see how they organize their lives and how much they sacrifice for who. Of the two groups that do not prohibit whites from helping, the easy group is the third, the one that point blank says: I want to learn from you and connect to you until I catch up or overtake. This group can be engaged and helped easily. When it comes to them the burden is on us, to strive towards equality and not perpetuating power and patronizing paternalism. When we help we fight for our own freedom and we have to be humble helpers learning as much as we teach. How to help without harm is a long topic by itself, but at least there are two sides that wish to collaborate.

The last group, that of poor and uneducated blacks that say nothing as they try to survive requires lots of wisdom, discernment or plain guesswork! Some, although they don’t know how to say it or are too scared to ask, needs your help as fellow human being and you should help. I will give three examples: an injured person hit by a car lies next to the road bleeding- you help, even without being asked. A disabled or desperately defeated person requires food, clothes or shelter for survival, you have abundance- so you help. A person who has been brainwashed all whites are bad and who fears white people might need a sign of humble compassion so you reach out, pay school fees, make an anonymous donation or react in a way you feel shows reasonable human response, you make the first move across historical and racial divides. Then there are others who might be trapped in poverty, but they need to find ways to lift themselves up by themselves or that needs to be lifted by other black people, so they can become free from feelings of racial inferiority. Sometimes we have to do nothing indeed.

Here lies the secret: do not allow one group to influence your reaction and response to another group. If you feed a sick homeless person, don’t assume a young black academic needs anything from you. If a black diamond tells you whites should leave blacks alone, don’t let that stop you from making friends or giving money away. Treat every single person, every single face in front of you on their own terms. Respect the individual in front of you and respond appropriately to his or her opinions, needs or desires. “Take it or leave it”: can you say that without resentment? Can you be praised or insulted wearing the same smile of compassion and love on your face? As members of the white tribe of Africa, we have many issues and shadows to deal with. Extraordinary braveness is required to conserve our own humanity, not to mention the humanity of those around us. Anger and frustration, fear and despair speak of weakness- we need to grow up and be so strong that we can be weak.

So, to the angry and confused whites, let us learn to lay down our lives. Most of us claim to follow Jesus. We need to decide if Jesus is fake or if He is everything. Our country takes away the middle ground, you and I will be crazy Jesus freaks or practical atheists. I don’t always know which one I am, or even which one I want to be. But I know what I don’t want to be: I do not want to be a practical atheist living for myself and my small group of biological or linguistic clan members. I want to follow the Famous one who modelled love for the Other- Who died for others. Ironically, as an Afrikaner (not being a Jew) I am the Other He died for.

Can we proclaim to be Christians and not follow Him? In South Africa, we need to decide if we will be seduced by rhetoric of rights and demands or if we want to follow Jesus and live for others, picking up our cross every day? There is no better place to live as a true Christian. It is all or nothing. You are either self focused and live to preserve your own little group, or you are inspired by Jesus who reaches out and beyond- sacrificing everything. Jesus is calling you: ‘catch me if you can’. He won’t stop loving and reaching out, no matter how you cry or complain. Get with the (His) programme or stay behind. Walala wasala, if you sleep you stay behind. We do not have great white leaders today. Each of us have to take up the responsibility of stepping out: in response to Jesus’ love and Mandela’s grace- as a white Christian South African, you have to lay down many natural inclinations and start the hidden journey to love. We have to take our old ideas of Afrikaner culture and language to the cross and discover new ways of being, just like our forefathers did when they got on a boat, from Europe to the Cape, we need to prepare ourselves for a journey into a new world. The door to the new world is respect. If you respect yourself, learn to respect others. Don’t be naïve, don’t be hard.

I will try to run this race. Saying this is a commitment, a scary declaration that I will try. To my white Christian counterparts: I won’t beg you, nor will I wait for you. Catch me if you can. Walala wasala.

To any black brother or sister that were insane enough to read through these ramblings of a lost Umlungu, my overall sentiment to black people is the following: catch us if you can, and for those who want help, I will try to give my best for you to overtake me. For those who do not want my help or friendship, see you on the other side.