Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa


Whenever I start thinking that I have a handle on racial issues in South Africa, something happens to completely blow my assumptions out of the water.

Two things happened last Sunday that made me realize that I have no clue what I’m talking about when I try to comment on and analyze this country’s racialization.

First, I was chatting with an opinionated Jewish man who suddenly erupted:

“I’ve had family die in both the Nazi concentration camps and the British concentration camps – and you know what?  I hate the British more!  Brits have never stuck to a single treaty in their whole history.  All they know how to do is manipulate and backstab for their own gain.  I’ve held up my glass to toast ‘Death to Britain’ on more than one occasion.”

I don’t harbor anger like that towards anyone or anything.  I can’t imagine carrying that much resentment all the time.

The second incident was with a friend who told me he was shocked when his Afrikaans friend described how often black men tell her that they’re going to rape her.  Even as she drives by, men will say it casually yet vehemently.

Can you imagine living with so much hatred directed towards you? 

I can’t.

My imagination has reached its limits.  I spend a lot of energy trying to understand issues from opposing points of view, but I can only stretch my own paradigm so far.


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