Every now and again I try to use this column for the greater good of mankind. Like Superman, Batman and Catwoman (okay maybe she’s not such a good example), I take my civil duties quite seriously.
I’ve often noticed how we continuously misunderstand each other as a nation. Black people in particular often feel as though they have to explain themselves to their fellow white brothers and sisters. This is normal for a 20-year-old democracy. However, I do believe the time has come for some things to be set straight and myths be busted.
Therefore, my South African people, being the model citizen I am, I have put together a little guide which should help accelerate the positive trajectory of race relations in our beautiful country.
1. Let’s just get this out of the way right now. Yes, black people wash their hair. Do I hear you ask how often? As often as any other race: every day for some, twice a week for others, once a month for others. Get the picture? Great. Let’s consider the matter buried then.
2. Criminals scare us, too. We don’t feel comforted by the fact that someone who’s the same race as us is robbing us. Crime is crime. So sit down, Steve Hofmeyr.
3. “You speak so well” is something you say to a two-year-old who’s just learned how to talk. No matter how well you mean it, stay away from that phrase – it makes you sound like a WASP berk.
4. Most of the time when we speak an African language, it’s not to exclude you or that we’re gossiping. There are times when the Queen’s language just doesn’t suffice. My Afrikaans people, you feel me, right?
5. If you have to say: “My black friend Lucy”, then you have a problem. We will automatically put you in the same box as closet racists. Sorry, I meant to say uptight liberals.
6. We’d also move to Australia (see point 2) if only they had Hip Hop Pantsula, vetkoek, DJ Fresh, the Big Five, Riaan Cruywagen … actually, I take that back. We wouldn’t move to Australia.
7. Calling black women “sisi, sister or girlfriend” doesn’t make you down with the people – it makes you sound patronising.
8. None of us represent the entire black race, so blanketed enquiries about why black people do this or that won’t get you anywhere. We’re individuals first before we are black.
9. We love it, oh do we love it, when you speak an African language. Not funnagalore or a patched-up version of Sotho. I’m talking about the real thing. If you speak an African language, or are making an honest attempt to, give yourself a high five right now.
10. Speaking of language, until the day you can say Nongqawuse properly, cool it with the constant pronunciation correction. You wouldn’t do that if the person was French or Italian – you’d think it’s cute.
11. Contrary to what the majority party’s youth league would like you to believe, we actually want you to stay and enjoy being here. South Africa wouldn’t be the same without you.
12. As the black team, we’d like to trade Jimmy Manyi for Michael Mol. Yes, we don’t want him that much.
13. There isn’t enough space in this column to express how intensely it bothers us when you grin when you make eye contact with a black person. It makes us feel like you’re afraid we’ll take your wallet. Next time you make eye contact with a colleague or stranger, either walk past or say “howzit”. Just don’t grin. It’s not warm, it’s fake.
14. We can swim. Oh come, don’t act like you weren’t thinking about it. Some of us can even scuba dive and snorkel.
15. And lastly my dear, fellow, beloved white countrymen, as the festive season looms and office parties start being planned, please note that there’s one song that should henceforth cease to be played at these parties. This is probably the most important point of this entire column.
The following is said with love, as we know how much you’re fond of this song. And we get it, at one point we were right there with you. However, there’s no easy way to say this and so I’m just going to go ahead and say it: We are sooo over Mandoza’s Nkalakatha. We’d like you to join us and press stop.
Written by Lerato Tshabalala, first appeared on Times Live