Letters to the Editor: March 23 to 29

"The favourite tactic is to keep a line between “us” and “them”," one of our readers write in (John McCann/M&G)

"The favourite tactic is to keep a line between “us” and “them”," one of our readers write in (John McCann/M&G)

Shout and burn down the fences

I am responding to Milisuthando Bongela’s article “Some histories to keep our interracial friendship honest”. I acknowledge the biases of my “female whiteness” and that it will take an entire lifetime of knowledge to deconstruct my perceptions of the world.

What I find troubling is your failure to recognise you are engaging in the same colonial discourses that encourage segregation propagated by those “acerbic-natured disciplinarians and high-voiced disciples, devoted to shouting”. I am very familiar with those relics of colonialism: it extended well beyond racial lines and blasted anything nonconformist or “other”.

The favourite tactic is to keep a line between “us” and “them”. We are forbidden to cross into the world of the other and the African was always the other. Now, according to your article, I have become the other. This is perfectly acceptable but it does have implications. I believe you are falling into a trap I have spent my entire life trying to escape.

You left white friends because they failed to understand you as “complex African person” and the responsibility was left at their feet.

How is this different from colonial attitudes that endorse separate fields of existence? The other cannot understand a different form of cultural identity and so must remain isolated in their ignorance.

The whiteness you describe as stable and unmoving can no longer exist. The colonial protective bubble is a historical construct that is being demolished.

Whiteness is forced to re-examine itself as it is exposed to the truly hybrid nature of humanity. You underestimate the powerful forces of democratisation.

Does this mean white racial prejudice does not exist? No. But racial discrimination is no longer the dominant discourse in white ideological concepts of existence, and the white woman in your article is more than capable of challenging them.

We are no longer passive recipients of historical ideologies.

The only way to truly fight colonialist ideological discourses is through dialogue across cultural difference, and not by maintaining the status quo of separatism and otherness.

Any race or culture is capable of adapting or falling for the seductive discourses of otherness and natural difference. I know you do not encourage an ideology of separatism, because you hope that we can one day reach “a plane where light can reach”. But there is still the fence of the “historically imbalanced power dynamic”, which will remain as long as everyone still fears it — as colonialism intended.

History and democratic revolution have ripped wide holes in that fence, and now its remnants must be torn down. We challenge it daily by interacting across racial divides and by promoting friendships across cultures.

Shout at the white woman as you would your African friend.

As long as you remain silent, she will not understand. Shout at her boldly and loudly, and she must hear. You will notice how quickly the fences burn. — Tammy Dalldorf


Archbishop didn’t ignore complainant – he sent me

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s role in the events covered in your report, “Man accuses the Anglican Church of ‘silencing’ sexual abuse” needs elaboration.

The archbishop was unable to meet the complainant because the archbishop might eventually have had to handle any appeal.

The counselling I undertook, which you reported on, was given at the request of the archbishop.

We acknowledge that the church’s response to sexual abuse needs improving.

But the archbishop cannot be accused of a lack of sympathy. — The Very Reverend Michael Weeder, dean of St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town


Get your act together on Ingonyama

I have already corrected Paddy Harper once on the history of the Ingonyama Trust Act. Why must I do it again? (Mchunu tries to defuse Zulu land row).

The Act was the last piece of legislation passed by the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly (KLA).

It underwent every stage of legislation required of any Act of the KLA. Like all legislation, it was published in the Government Gazette. There was nothing secretive about it.

Moreover, this was no “sweetheart” deal between the National Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party, as claimed in your editorial (When a king turns on his subjects). The KLA was well within its rights to pass legislation of this nature.

Indeed, the Act had nothing to do with negotiations. It was passed after the signing of the solemn agreement by Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and me, on the basis of which the Inkatha Freedom Party re-entered the 1994 elections.

The intention of the Act was to preserve the land left to the Zulu nation after colonial conquest and racial dispossession so that it could continue to be administered in the best interests of traditional communities. — Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, president of the Inkatha Freedom Party


Thanks for all the good writing, M&G

Paddy Harper’s article “A sickening case of listeriosis”, was a great read. Reminds me what good writing can be — on point, funny and yet so real. I totally enjoyed the writing and the piece raises important issues but with so much ... I am not sure what to call it. But the point was perfectly understood of this very sad, though really meaningful, insight. Thanks for the good writing.

I also enjoyed Milisuthando Bongela’s piece on interracial friendships and her experiences with Model C schools in the 1990s; even now interracial friendships are always difficult and, for me, virtually impossible. The friendship, if one can call it that, is always functional and more aimed at attaining some end, be it a business project or other such things. Yes, Milisuthando, there are a lot of silences in the relationship — many, many things that are “unsharable’’.

There are no fights. In fact, a fight is in all cases the end of the relationship. But I remain an optimist. I have kids, beautiful smart boys, and I believe they will get to the bottom of all this drama and show all of us that plane where light can reach.

Of course, Eusebius McKaiser was on point, as always. We need more philosophers in the country — people who think about things and talk about things for the hell of it. And do good research. This is really needed.

Keep at it, Mail & Guardian. — Tshepo Masoeu

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