Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Annals of South African race relations 

The TigerHawk au pair this year hails from South Africa, as do a great many of the au pairs here in Princeton. Since au pairs are by design fairly young, she became politically aware in the post-aparthied world, and is very proud of her country. She has also brought a new awareness of South African culture and society to the TigerHawk household, which is nice since cultural exchange is one of the points of the au pair program.

In any case, the TigerHawk au pair occasionally calls our attention to news from home. Given the state of American race relations and our own struggles, this story seemed particularly blogworthy:

'Steal from Whites' - headline, news24.com, March 23, 2004.

Johannesburg - The leader of a Pretoria-based youth organisation has issued a controversial statement by telling youth to go and steal from white people in the suburbs.

Faraday Nkoane, the leader of Uhuru cultural club, told 100 youngsters who attended the Human Rights Day celebration at Lebanon township park to go and steal from the whites because "it is the right thing to do.

"Stop stealing from black people because they will deal with you in an African way. They will bewitch you and you will go crazy. The whites have stolen from us since April 6, 1652. Our ancestors' cattle, goats, sheep, chickens and others are in the hands of the whites, while we are left with nothing. Go and steal from them because it is right.

"Taking from whites is not a crime because you repossess what belongs to you. But make sure you are not caught," said Nkoane, addressing the youth, most of whom were in Rastafarian colours.

In light of the histories of South Africa and North America, I am reluctant to make any comment other than to remind my American readers that there are places in the world -- even English-speaking places -- where racial, tribal and religious conflict make ours look more frivolous than the average faculty meeting.


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