Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

White Friends

On Saturday, my German friend and I accompanied my coworker to a couple parties in Soweto.  She told me that they next day her phone was constantly beeping with messages from her friends.

“How do you do it?” they asked her.

“Do what?”

“Make friends with white people.”

Professional as always, we were almost falling out of our chairs laughing when she shared this story with me (our boss was in a meeting so we felt free to converse above a whisper).

“Well, first of all,” I giggled, “they have to get rid of that attitude.”

“Exactly!” my coworker said.  “That’s what I’m going to tell them from now on.  I mean, really!”

I’ve heard similar sentiments from other people while living here.  Another intern worked in a small office Braamfontein and used to say that she wished she had more black friends.  The other two interns and I worked with black people in Hillbrow, but she was stuck in the respectable area of the CBD.

“Are you kidding?” we used to laugh.  “You can go grocery shopping at Woolworths during your lunch break.  You have good restaurants that you can walk to.  You can take the bus to work.  What are you complaining about?”

Because, let’s be honest, no one actually wants to work in Hillbrow.  We just endure it then brag about it later to appear badass.

To get back to the point, however, the brutal truth is that it’s not that hard to make friends with black people – surprise surprise!  Just like it’s not that hard to make friends with white people!

Just try to stop seeing skin colour and you should do fine.  Perhaps easier said than done, but probably not as difficult as you think.


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