A family without a country

With the recent madness around the removal and destruction of statues depicting South African history, I have been very sensitive to comments made about white colonialist and white supremacy. Further to that, comments made in the media by Robert Mugabe “I don’t want to see a white face” and another by some professor at the University of Cape Town along the lines of “the people in South Africa take the peace for granted”. All of this had me thinking but a light went on when watching a “heritage” piece by the South African TV show Carte Blanche.

It was a piece about the Bokoni people but that is irrelevant. What is relevant is the use of the term “Africans” to describe the natives, before the colonialists. There in is the problem. While it seems to be a relatively “politically” correct description, the implications are far reaching and explain the divide that is being made bigger by all the talk of white supremacy and the eradication of it. Unfortunately, to get the point across clearly, I am going to have to describe ethnicity by colour, nothing personal.

The term “African” is often understood to be a native of the continent before colonialism. Why is it different in Africa? If one is born in Europe they are said to be European, without any attachment to ethnicity. Someone born in North America is said to be American, again without any attachment to ethnicity. The examples go on and on. For some reason, someone born in South Africa is not regarded as African. Why is that? If you are a citizen of an African state, why are you not classed as African?

I cannot be European, I need visas and permits to visit European countries, I am not Canadian, North American or Australian – my passport says I am a citizen of South Africa. If I was any of these things I would be able to go home without needing special permissions and documentation. I cannot get into my “home” land because my home land is South Africa. Surely, because of this I am African? If I am not African, or any other nationality, what am I? If I have no country, what do I leave to my children? What country do they belong in? Extremists in South Africa would have us believe we belong in Europe with our fore-fathers (many, many, many generations ago this might have been the case but no longer). I cannot go “home” to Europe, they won’t have me unless I get special documentation giving me temporary admission.

I cannot go home to North America, South America or the Middle East. I cannot go home. So we live in a country that we believe is our home but constantly face the threat of forcefully being expelled or killed in. Our home is one built on the fear of never actually belonging in it.

Perhaps this is the reason so few people stand up and fight against what I have just pointed out. Perhaps we figure that staying quiet and going about our business, as law abiding citizens, will let us fly under the radar. So if anyone has any idea where white South African’s can call home, please let me know. For now, we live as families that have no home land.