A few years ago I wrote a piece on this blog called Racism Must Fall, and so today’s happenings in a suburb called Brackenfell in Cape Town are rather close to my heart.

WATCH | Winde ‘deeply disturbed’ by Brackenfell clashes, calls for calm

Just some background for my international readers – Matric is one’s final year in High School in South Africa and in South Africa there is a leader of a political party called Julius Malema. The political party is called the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). EFF protesters gathered outside a high school in one of Cape Town suburbs today because they were unhappy about a matric party that only white pupils attended. The party was privately hosted – not officially organized by the school due to COVID19 restrictions.

Once upon a time I would have called the EFF a left wing party, however the actions that I have seen come from that party now are uncannily similar the actions and sentiments of our old apartheid government. Far left, appears no different to my perceptions of far right when I was growing up. Using fear and hate speech to gain popularity? Really South Africa…. we’ve done this before, we have the t-shirt and the video. We on different sides of the coin now but seriously, are we really going to fall for this again?

From my point of view, the EFF stirs up emotions to get support. That’s the only source from where they get their power and any faux credibility from.

I wonder if South Africans born in the 1970s remember when white people jumped to conclusions thinking that if you were classified coloured or black then you have to be dangerous? I know that I can’t speak with sure authority about what it must have been like for black people in our country, but I know for a damn fact what it felt like to be a very dark skinned coloured girl walking in a white owned store in the 80s, having people look at me and assuming because of the colour of my skin I have to be a threat to them.

I recall being one of only six coloured girls in a predominantly white residence in Edmund Street in Pretoria where I completed my undergrad degree. Whenever ‘we’ coloured girls had a gathering in one of our dorm rooms, we would draw attention from others because of course ‘what were we trying?’… Surely it had nothing to do with just being kids and just wanting to hang out with our friends? We surely had to be plotting against the white girls, no? In retrospect I recognize that at root of all of that is fear.

Fear of the fact that we looked different. Fear of the fact that we behaved differently. Had different taste in music and different preferred styles of clothes? Fear of the fact that even though we are only six of more than 200 girls in the residence that we would somehow morph into something more threatening? At that point all we wanted to do was defend ourselves and our right to just be…. to be normal teenagers.

So let’s just look at this slightly differently…. What if we were actually white kids who were part of a population that was majority black and coloured? Would that make it ok or even justifiable for the majority to threaten us? Would it Julius Malema? And how is that any different to what happened in Brackenfell today?

I guess I want to speak to Julius and his EFF supporters directly on this one….. so what if a bunch of teenage kids who had a really difficult matric year got together and had a matric party? So what?

As I watch this video clips on social media and on the news today, it was impossible to not feel emotion about it. Impossible to stay impartial. My 18 year old son is in matric and if someone threatened to protest outside his school while he was writing final matric exam I think I’d have also wanted to do whatever I could to protect him. These poor kids. Really? Do they really deserve this Julius? They made more sacrifices than any other matric class in the past quarter century, just to get to this point.

Julius are you so angry, bitter and twisted that you really don’t care about traumatizing these kids who are supposed to be the leaders in our country tomorrow? That you will use these kids as pawns for your own political gain? And do you really expect their parents to do? Those parents played right into your mastermind hands. Oh wait hold on…. you knew that would happen all along. That’s always been your tactic. It’s a game to you – to secure power. I have to hand it to you – credit is due for that. You really are so smart Julius. You really are So very smart.

Ok, so you using me and other parents today. Who are you going to use tomorrow?

If that was my kid at Brackenfell High, you’d have successfully used my emotions against me – manipulated me into reacting or responding. I would not have been able to behave in any way other than wanting to protect my son from any thugs trying to disrupt his matric exams especially against the backdrop of COVID19 and 2020.

Eish Julius, I suspect that you do actually realize that we made sacrifices but you don’t care. Trample on anyone for your political gain. Who would have thought that you and ‘Die Groot Krokodil’ have so much in common?

One of the sacrifices that we made in our household is my son is not allowed to attend his white girlfriend’s birthday party because there were more than a certain amount of people going to be there – … and you know probably mostly white, because you know like white people have other white family and friends no? No fraternization with those white people? …. Gosh, oh dear Julius, does that make me racist too?

Die Groot Krokodil

*****Another explanation for my international readers – ‘Die Groot Krokodil’ I referred to earlier is PW Botha – arguably one of the worst if not the worst apartheid presidents in South Africa