Saturday, June 11, 2011

You better fall back nigga.

I love the expressions “so and so needs to sit back down” or the now more popular “you need to fall back”. Both expressions encapsulate, “shut the fuck up” and “mind your own damn business” in catchy, non-swearing form.

Black South Africans (both poor and middle-class) have found the perfect scapegoat to excuse any socially reprehensible behaviour they indulge in; apartheid and white people. It’s disgusting. You may now call me a coconut.

After watching The Boondocks I came to a conclusion that even though black people try to deny it, nigga mentality exists. In South Africa it manifests itself in perpetual blaming of apartheid and white people for the most absurd of things.


Men peeing in public spaces like taxi ranks – For the longest time black people weren’t allowed in toilets because of apartheid so they had to pee anywhere! I suppose white people taught you that peeing where you will also have to walk or stand around all day is the thing to do huh? We must be thankful white people in South Africa didn’t take up cannibalism.

Bad grammar and misspelling – Bantu Education is to blame. Interestingly, even those who went to the so-called Model C schools are wont to blame Bantu Education when actually they could be victims of a typo or genuinely don’t understand where they are going wrong. Apartheid isn’t to blame for that, you are just dumb.

These are two are really just my pet peeves, but provide a perfect example of nigga mentality. My big problem, however, comes from black on black social etiquette and black on black discrimination.  

If you are on Twitter or Facebook then you will be familiar with the account @EngrishSpotter. The sole purpose of this account is to point out lapses in black people’s command of the English language in tweets. If you so much as tweet “give me a honest answer” EngrishSpotter will pounce on you with an RT and his/her followers will all have a good laugh at your expense. (It’s entirely possible that some people didn’t even notice the grammatical error in the sentence I just used).

When Mandoza first shot to fame his English was very poor, and this became a standing joke among black people all over the country, even those who were struggling to make ends meet and had no jobs. When Irvin Khoza said “may their souls rest in pieces” after the terrible tragedy at Ellis Park, many people found this more interesting than the horrible deaths of so many people. The quote became a household joke among black people.

And yet, when one of these people who makes a sport of laughing at people who do not know how to speak English, makes a mistake and is laughed at for it, he/she will cry; “Bantu Education” or the more common “It’s not my mother tongue.” Why can’t black people always remember that no black person is born English-speaking in this country? Why don’t the same people laugh at the foreign soccer coaches who battle to compose simple sentence on our TV screens every weekend? Why is it only funny when you are black?  And why is it only black people who are allowed to laugh? Remember the flack Gareth Cliff got over that whole “I’m not a Venda/or” comment while black people rolled on the floor laughing?

Then comes the inexplicable bashing of things, especially technological gadgets, which are popular among black people. When a handful of black people own certain a car, cellphone make or wear a certain designer label they are considered cool. But once more black people discover the same label or car or phone then black people start “hating” on those things.

A few come to mind.

The Mercedes ML – this is an amazing vehicle, but ever since more black people could afford to get it, it has a bad reputation. People called the car the “tender” because it was apparently the first thing people who had won government tenders bought.

Snaptu – a great social networking application for mostly Symbian phones, although it is available for smart phones as well. Niggas love to hate Snaptu, apparently they can judge a person’s income bracket by the social networking application he or she uses and Snaptu places you slam dunk into the loser bracket. As a huge Snaptu fan I can tell it’s better than UberSoc because Snaptu also has news feeds, which is kind of important if you are a smart person. But nigga mentality says that if you use Snaptu then you aren’t worth knowing.

BlackBerry Curve 8520 – this has to be the most vilified phone since the Nokia 3310. Niggas say you might as well not own a BlackBerry phone if you are going to buy a Curve 8520. Do niggas think Research In Motion gives a damn about nigga opinion? What is the value in owning the most expensive phone money can buy if that is not what you are about? Why should a person not buy a Curve if that is what they can afford? Why should they be made to feel worthless for that? Many of these naysayers are living in debt and live beyond their means, renting a dingy apartment while driving an expensive car. Who are they to dictate what a person should or shouldn’t buy?

What saddens me about those black people who engage in “bring him/her” down behaviour on Twitter or Facebook is that they are the popular black opinion shapers and celebrities. And in my white-people-intensive timeline I have yet to come across any who engage in this type of behaviour or look down on others because they cannot afford the same standard the individuals have set for themselves.

As long as black people in South Africa behave like niggas, they will always continue to find blame for the plethora of misfortunes that befall them outside of themselves. A white person doesn’t have to point out our flaws or laugh at our poverty; we’re already laughing enough for all of us.

Niggas need to fall back and sit down; and introspect.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Monsters We Live With

When a monster is in the backyard you cannot promise your children that they will be safe in your home. You cannot assure them that if they lock the gate then the bad people will stay away. You can’t fool them into thinking that danger comes from a stranger.

I lived with an uncle who attempted to rape my mentally handicapped cousin. I have never forgotten how my cousin looked the day after the attack. Three of her teeth were missing, her lip was busted up and she was limping.

He had broken her window and attempted to rape her. Were it not for the physical strength I now believe she was given to defend herself from those who would hurt her because they believed she was helpless, he would have succeeded. As it was, she hurled an electric generator at him while he was stripping naked, (I once tried to pick up that generator and it was a mission), slammed the door on his fingers and yelled for help.

The only other person at home was my grandfather, my uncle’s father. He was an old man suffering from cancer of the oesophagus, he witness the image of his youngest son poised erect above a child the entire family had raised and protected from harm from the day she was born. It never escaped my notice that my grandfather died two weeks after my uncle was sentenced to five years in prison for attempted rape, his father’s testimony having been paramount in securing his conviction.

“I heard noises, Mimi was calling ‘mkhulu, mkhulu’ I arrived him was standing above her, shaking his left hand (which had been slammed into the door) and holding his erect penis while she whimpered and cried beneath him.”

These words, translated to English, sound infinitely better than they are in Xhosa, our language. With these words, a father acknowledged in a court of law that his son had been a monster, his desires and appetites that of a monster. He admitted to having raised a person who would turn out to be worthless, therefore capable of acts that would lead others to question their own self-worth. When he uttered to those words, I like to believe he found release, not only at having told the truth and fought to protect his grandchild but rather, also having freed himself of guilt, that it was his child who was now the family’s mortal enemy. He felt relief at knowing that with his end fast approaching, his final gift to his family was to remove the monster from the backyard.

Two years into his sentence my uncle was granted parole into the custody of his eldest sister. I begged her not to accept, to refuse him his second chance but blood is thick and she allowed him to come home. He promised he had changed. And for a year he worked and kept on the straight and narrow, he contributed to the household and faint rumblings of “he’s really changed” began to surface.

And then:

“I walked in to the kitchen to check on Mbali who I had sent to pick up pitcher of juice five minutes prior and who wasn’t answering my calls for her. We had been sitting far from the house under the shadow of some trees as it was a very hot day and the juice had been cooling in the fridge. When she didn’t return within a reasonable time I went to look for her, convinced that like any other child she had been distracted by something else, like the TV. I walked in and saw him, pinning her to the refrigerator, a hand clamped on her mouth while another roamed in between her thighs which had been forced apart by his knee. I broke a vase on his head and attacked him until the other arrived and we called the police. She was 13 years old.”

Monsters are not only the strangers we caution our children against. Sometimes, we invite them to share our lives with us.