Racism doesn’t exist, it’s a lie

It is as though it was yesterday when I ran to my uncle and asked if I could help plough as we prepared the ground to start planting maize.

I had no idea the lesson I had prepared for was going to lead me to another long term lesson. I can still remember my uncle’s words, “In order for you to plough straight, you need to look ahead of you at all times; if you don’t, you will mess up the whole plan.”

It was that simple, in order for me to be successful and look back at my grandfather’s yard full of maize with pride; I could not afford to look back, not even for half a second, so I ploughed and I successfully completed two straight lines.

In many ways, my lesson in ploughing has taught me a lot about life and most recently; about the future of South Africa.

Listening to conversation on social media recently, I realised that South Africans have a long way to go in terms of making peace with the past.

Former president Nelson Mandela made a statement which emphasised the feeling I had always had regarding racism. I always feel like we don’t have ‘born racists’, we have people taught to be racists.

Mandela wrote in his book Long Walk to Freedom, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.

“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

These words are proof that as much as it is easy to recognise those who are targets of racial attack as victims, we do not see those who are believed to be racists as victims.

Recently, a friend of my mine replied to my posts when I suggested that South Africa should replace the term Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) with the term Broad Based South African Economic Empowerment (BBSAEE) by saying, “Some South Africans have only been free for 20 years, others have had several lifetimes to have economic empowerment.”

No South African was ever free because in my book, hatred can never be associated with freedom. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of the pain of someone being taught to hate. By being trained to ‘hate’ someone, you are deprived of the freedom love brings. You are deprived of the peace of knowing your fellow could love you as much as you would them.

Economic empowerment is only the fruit of this freedom we are speaking about, the freedom to be. A black man should not seek revenge against a white man who was as much a victim as he was; though circumstances were different, all South Africans were victims of Apartheid.

We need to fully understand Mandela’s speech when he said, “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities.

“It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

This statement in its fullest shows that Mandela was against domination of any kind. Having read his book, Long Walk to Freedom, I realised that he fought for equality, not based on colour, but based on the fact that we are all humans.

Yes, he wanted to see a black man liberated, but what most do not realise is, Mandela wanted all South Africans liberated. From what I gather, he did not see a white man as the enemy, rather a fellow human being.

The reason I say ‘racism is a lie’, is because none of us were born with it, the concept is something fabricated by society; it is nothing more than a self-inflicted parasite which we have allowed to rule our lives.

We should focus more on what is real and more natural, love. The truth is, love is something we are born with.

South Africans were taught to hate; white people were taught to hate a black man based on his appearance, while black people were taught to hate because of what was done to them. Therefore, today we are left with a generation scarred by the foolishness of the past.

I may never be able transform anyone’s mind, but the truth is that racism is a lie we chose to believe, no human being was ever born with it; since no one was born a racist, we can never label anyone as such.

Racism can never be reversed by policies to give preference to black people, or the so called ‘previously disadvantaged’ people, it can only be redressed when we begin to teach one another how to love…

With that said; “We can never build a united South Africa by continuously looking back, otherwise we are going to ‘mess up the whole plan’.”

Malcolm Maifala

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