Xenophobia takes shine out of life

One of the saddest off-shoots of colonialism is xenophobia, which, we are told, is an outward expression of self-hate.

One of the saddest off-shoots of colonialism is xenophobia, which, we are told, is an outward expression of self-hate.

We attack those who look like us while we continue to welcome and even bow before those of a different hue.

An old associate of mine got caught in the madness. He is as black as the night - and as South African as "after tears".

It is his blackness that got him nabbed by the police who accused him of being a "lekwerekwere", a derogatory reference to black non-South Africans, if anybody still does not know.

He spent a couple of nights in police detention until someone brought his ID to secure his release. Just to make sure, the police put him through demanding tests to determine his "authenticity".

One of these is to ask him if indeed the South African national anthem is "Ha e duma ya tsamaya" ... Lately, I am told, the question has been adapted to "Mshini wam."

I always thought he was courting trouble - what with his floral jackets, shine-shine pants, yellow socks and Don King hairdo. But surely the brother is allowed to look foreign without it being assumed that all that glitters is foreign.

I do not have any contact with him, but if you read this mate, sue the jacket off the arresting cop's back.

My associate might have been lucky to escape a stint at the horrid Lindela repatriation centre or even repatriation.

A nutty, naughty childhood friend ended up in a nut-house when a bunch of his mates decided to pull a prank to fix him up once and for all.

When they bundled him into a car he thought it was all an unfunny joke and nothing would come of it.

The three friends overpowered him and delivered him to the staff of the mental facility where they made spurious claims about his "strange and violent" behaviour.

At that time he realised the seriousness of his situation, although, he says, he was beginning to think he was perhaps bonkers and just did not realise it.

Burly security personnel at the facility appeared out of nowhere to restrain him just in case the worm in his head awoke.

My mate realised he had to do something fast to prove he was sane. So he asked the hospital staff: "What can I do? Ask me my name. Ask me anything. Ask me to count. You [his friends] play badly. Or let me keep quiet to prove that I am not mad?"

That clinched it, if there had been any doubts. He was really sounding insane.

"Okay papa, of course you are not mad. Who said you are mad ... ?"


The burly boys moved in and swiftly yanked him off his feet and disappeared into the wards with the "sick" bugger literally kicking and screaming.

I do not know exactly what happened after that, but years later the bitterness is gone and he has decided it was the funniest experience of his life.

But now, how does a pitch black South African with a taste for glitter, bright colours and the unusual prove he belongs here?

Does he have to prove anything?