South Africans are their own obstacle in the fight for unity

South Africans are their own obstacle in the fight for unity

Bok captain Siya Kolisi shows of the RWC trophy to 2019 Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi | Image: Boksburg Advertiser

This past week, the nation imagined Rachel Kolisi and Zozibini Tunzi into a non-existent rivalry for Siya Kolisi’s heart.

Despite being a people that are so hungry for unity, we sure are quick to sow seeds of division in moments of collective jubilation.

The latest example of this was the imaginary war created by social media users between Rachel Kolisi and Zozibini Tunzi for Siya Kolisi’s affection in the wake of the Springbok’s return to home soil.

Those who were watching at home imagined a moment between Siya and Zozibini based on their shared Xhosa heritage and at the same time imagined what Rachel’s reaction to her new romantic rival would be.

Both the imagined relationship and rivalry trended on social media and progressed without any input whatsoever from the parties involved. Actions and statements were attributed to them without their knowledge, leading to a game of broken telephone of sorts and Rachel became the springboard from which social media users’ vitriol against black women took a swan dive.

The discussion was sparked by a tweet by @MpenduloMkay which has since been deleted wherein he claims that Siya was lucky to have married a white woman because a black woman would not have taken care of his siblings.

When questioned about his reasoning, he tweeted: “Cos it means Siya won’t be buy here weave or make up etc…..Some Black women are dramatic….they be like ‘siya your sibling eat too much’.” (sic)

“#RachelKolisi decided to be a woman to Siya Kolisi, she never chased after temporary things and fake lifestyle, she was never here screaming men are trash because she was building her man. She knew one thing and that is her power to produce a king! Real women nurtures!” tweeted @dumiez77 in response.

“Dear black women. You are not the victim here, you tried to diss #RachelKolisi for being a makoti, doing her job, supporting & loving Siya and his siblings. When black men question you… typical black women drama…you throw tantrums,” added @Malavi_Mapimele.

“Leave #RachelKolisi alone she built with Siya….Yall don’t wanna build with man y’all want him built that’s your problem….. Siya hana stress sa Weave, Make Up le Nails” [Siya does not have to stress about weave, make up and nails] tweeted @MpenduloMkay.

All this transpired in the same week that the majority of the nation was calling for unity and decrying the utterances of both Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Ntsiki Mazwai.

This got me wondering how the very same people who seemed so desperate for us to all get along felt so comfortable pitting two strangers against each other on the basis of race and gender against the backdrop of a man’s affection as the grand prize.

As a married man who has openly declared his love for his wife and family, his affection should not even be up for discussion.

Additionally, the public dragged the discussion out so far that they used it to come down on black women as a whole despite claiming to want a united South Africa.

To be honest, achieving unity is not as hard as we make it seem.

If anything, the exchanges mentioned above are but an example of the true obstacle to the unity the nation so desperately craves.

South Africans harbour so many unacknowledged negative feelings and beliefs about groups that they perceive as “other” but they try so hard to bury them all for the sake of the rainbow nation. When faced with enough tension, however, those negative feelings and beliefs will always come to the fore.

Perhaps we should give those feelings a few years to ventilate and dissipate before we can truly achieve the united utopia we imagined off the back of the jubilation provided to us by the Boks’ victory because ignoring them clearly is not working.

Kaunda Selisho.

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