Sibusiso Mkwanazi
3 minute read
12 Jan 2016
6:00 am

Drown out the bad news

Sibusiso Mkwanazi

There I was, minding my own business and all anyone was talking about was that pet hate of ours: racism.

Sibusiso Mkhwanazi

It seems as if an indaba was held somewhere and a select few decided that 2016 would start off with a bang, but for all the wrong reasons. They would say the most vitriol speech and type the most insensitive words on social media to get this plan off the ground. Some of this I documented last week, here.

And it worked like a bomb. So then I started thinking about how the rest of us – the majority of South Africans – could do the same thing, but with different results.

People from all backgrounds, history, privilege and most importantly or this to work: colour, let us tell them some of our most fantastic stories of how we get along. For example, I went to my barber for my weekly haircut and shave on Sunday and was thoroughly surprised.

To put things into perspective, my barber is a burly Nigerian who speaks English with the most intriguing accent, and typically ends off each word with the vowel “o”. I arrived at his shop and he was playing all of Westlife’s albums, after each track he would punctuate with “I loveo these guyso!”.

The stupid thing with racism and all the other “isms” is that you judge a book by its cover and you make unfounded assumptions which often prove to be wrong. Clearly, not all burly Nigerian barbers listen to West African music and this is a lesson to all of us.

As peace-loving people, we need to drown out the news of racists and punt our own stories. We own our Facebook posts, Twitter feeds and all other social media platforms, where most of these shenanigans happen.

Let us write about thoroughly integrated teams such as 5FM’s Fresh@5 breakfast show team, led by @DJFreshSA (a black guy who rides motorbikes around), a Jewish co-producer who bounces his head to hip hop, an Indian news anchor who poses to be snobbier than the whole of the British Royal Family, a black maths genius who does the traffic and a white guy from the East Rand who speaks like a black guy.

To those who listen to this show, not once does the matter of race matter, as it really does not. Just like a whole lot of others out there, they are just being people, South Africans.

Each time we have laughed at a Nandos’ advert making fun of a particular situation, has anyone ever thought of race then? I highly doubt it, as it really does not matter. That is probably a multi-coloured team that is proving it can be done. Let us share these stories and we can quickly stop hearing about haters.

#someofmybestfriendsarewhite and that is a great thing as it allows me to have conversations about topics that I would not ordinarily even think about. Who knew that white people pay hundreds of rands for a haircut, the exact same thing I pay R30 for! How are white people going to know what a stokvel is if black people do not share such stories. We have done incredibly well in the last two decades and it is time to do even better.

It really is time for white people to pronounce black names properly and for black people to pronounce English names properly. The only way this is going to happen is if we all kumbaya to some Westlife and share incredible stories.