Bad behaviour by rich blacks leaves bitter taste

I was standing in a queue a few months ago when I noticed that the woman behind the counter did not want to serve me.

I was standing in a queue a few months ago when I noticed that the woman behind the counter did not want to serve me.

When, finally, a colleague asked her to serve me she agreed, but did so reluctantly.

She then started working on my query. She was very efficient and knew her job backwards.

As she continued, it became clear that this was someone who knew what she was doing and did it very professionally.

So we started talking. Then, out of the blue, she said: "You will have to forgive me if I did not seem too keen to serve you.

"It is just that I try, as much as possible, not to serve black people."

I was astounded by this declaration. I am black and she is black. Why would someone not want to serve her own people?

"You see, we have a problem here. We get a lot of very wealthy black people. You will usually see them by their big 4x4s, their pink shirts and massive cellphones.

"You must understand, I am happy when I see black people doing well.

"It is something that I personally also aspire to and so when I see a wealthy, successful black person then I know that there is a future for me.

"However, you can ask all the people who work here. Our own people treat us like absolute rubbish. No matter how hard we try to please, we get shouted at and treated as if we are slaves. It is terrible to see.

"It seems to me that the more money we make as black people, the more we want to show the others of our own people that we are better and higher in status.

"I am sometimes shocked that people who grew up in my area, with the same sort of teachings about humility and ubuntu, now want to treat everyone in here like some lowly insect or despicable animal.

"That is why I did not seem keen to help you. It is just too much hard work and pain for us," she concluded.

Her story struck a chord in me. In the months after my conversation with her, I asked a number of people if they had observed the same thing, and one friend laughed.

He told me that I must be blind not to have seen this phenomenon.

"I am not saying all successful black people do that. In fact, I know a lot of really humble, respectful black people who do not throw their weight around simply because they have money.

"However, look at all the people who show off their big 4x4s to poor people and treat even their mothers with disdain," he said.

What is one to say about all this? Since that young lady opened my eyes I have personally noticed some seriously bad behaviour by rich blacks in particular. I have seen a very wealthy black man treating his domestic worker as though she was a slave.

I must say I am appalled by what we are becoming. Did we achieve our freedom merely to treat our brothers and sisters the way racist whites used to treat them? Is access to money and power making us a lesser people?

There is something worthy about some of the values we were taught as kids.

Respect for even the most humble person was one of these. Respect for other people in general was always stressed.

We will know that we are lost when our own people start to fear and loathe us for our actions. It needs to stop now.