Past prejudices still haunt rainbow nation

Utata Mandela was released from prison and came back to us with a bag full of goodies.

Utata Mandela was released from prison and came back to us with a bag full of goodies.

We all became citizens of our own country. The men are no longer allowed to beat us up. Gender equality is written into the Constitution. Even children have a rights charter.

The downside to the fruits of liberation is the injunction to clean up our minds and free them from all prejudice of the past. We had to change our mind-set and use politically correct language.

We embraced this concept without thinking about how difficult it would be.

The other day I burst into hysterical laughter when I heard someone in the taxi describe a long line of people as "like an election queue".

The unPC description used to be a "Shangaan line". There are many discordant slips which can be hilarious and confusing at the same time. We are forced to interpret and translate PC (Politically Correct) speak, silently in our heads, into the old mental pictures and memories.

I offer this long explanation for the new unPC description of our rainbow nation, which goes: Where do you find the Xhosas - Ephalamende. Where do you find the Zulus - Erankini. Where do you find the Tswanas - KaMuhle.

Where do you find the coloureds - Etavern.

The odd picture about this picture of our nation is that whites - English and Afrikaners - are not mentioned at all. It could be that they are still a closed book to us.

Auntie Emma, who knows these things, says there is still a little illicit shading in our relationship with whites. We are afraid to show how much or how intimately we know the former enemy.

Auntie Emma says if your remarks about whites are too revealing, people examine the slope of your nose, the thickness of your lips, whether you have the African beauty, exuberant seat, or are as flat as a chalkboard.

But she was more interested in the stereotypes in the e-mail joke making the rounds. She has a cousin who is Zulu and is the head marshal at a taxi rank in Venda.

She claims this is not surprising since the Zulus are great adventurers. She cited Mzilikazi, who cut a swathe in our country and ended up in Zimbabwe. I do not know what the historians would make of this version of our history.

Penny, our Model C, chimed in to say that the most influential tribe in South Africa are the Venda. Everyone in Limpopo speaks Venda and its cousin Shangaan.

Our driver that day, a Mopedi, said it was the polite thing to be able to converse with your neighbour in his language.

He also said Venda women are beautiful and respectful to men. So we now know that being multilingual is driven by the beauty of another tribe's women. Which brings up the mystifying fact that few outsiders speak any Indian languages. After all, Indian women are acclaimed for their comely looks the world over.