The “Indian Problem”

When I wrote The curse of the Charou and the “civilised” blacks, I wrote it with an ardent hope that someone would hear my message, that someone would start having different conversations, that someone would help to turn the tide. And maybe, just maybe, as is the hope of any writer, my words did find resonance in the hearts and minds of some of readers. But I write this now, feeling like my voice is too little to be heard, that my words hold no weight. I write this now worried about our country in a way that hurts my throat and moistens my eyes. I write this now worried about the “Indian problem” in Durban and in our country.

In the last week over various social media platforms we all saw the smiling face of a woman who could all too easily be called beautiful. A Durban born beauty who spewed nothing but hate, a young woman lost in the lowest, most self-serving form of delusional grandeur. She was the woman whose actions would further serve to divide and we would grow to despise her. If you have not yet heard or read of her story and how she chose to serve herself through hate, you can read it here. I have no desire to rehash it now. I am tired and I am sad. I have the desire to reach for the back of my neck and pull at the cricks that tense and tighten there and that gather around my shoulders. How does a young woman get to be that blind? We have a serious problem and it’s not going be resolved with further hate and anger, that I know for sure but I still don’t know how it is to be resolved. A friend comments on the article shared to Facebook and when I read the comment stating “This is our country”, I almost weep with the beauty in that simple thought. It is only when I read further that “They should go back to India” that I realise that my version of “our” was different to that of the commenter. South Africa belongs to all of us, bigoted or not, brown or not, united in our diversity. I feel those words so strongly they might as well be etched onto my heart instead of written in a constitution so beautiful it should make every South African weep with pride.

Here’s what I hate, I hate that part of me agrees with Malema when he talks of how racist Indians can be, when he talks of the superiority complex that seems to grow within the minds of many South African Indians. I hate that it’s a large part of me because I’ve heard the talk of people close to me, I heard the talk when I go to Durban and I know that it is true. With the prevalence of racist comments or remarks that serve to denigrate Black people in our country, I am ashamed to be called an Indian. I want to scream “That’s not me” because I know it isn’t me, but I also know it is. I also know that within my family and the families of those close to me, there lives this hate. I also know that when people younger than I am talk of how “Black people drive nice cars” there is almost no one who says “So what?”. When the old aunty tsks that she has black neighbours, no one says “That’s great, we’re moving forward as a country!”, instead we commiserate, we console. We are saddened that our place in the hierarchy is so delicate, we are saddened that those who we deemed so unworthy are now doing so much better than us. Maybe we carried with us notions of the caste system that is still prevalent in modern India when we crossed the ocean and arrived in South Africa? Maybe when the White man told us that there was another version of the caste system that he had labelled apartheid we were all too eager to comply, at least we weren’t at the bottom of the rung, that would have been too much. So comply we did, because we knew we were better, we would not sully ourselves with the Blacks. Personally, I am disgusted with the thought that people who were born here, should “go to back to their country”, this country belongs to all its people. But maybe, just maybe I hear the anger and the pain that simply says “those who hold on to ideals of a broken past, those who hold on to delusions and those who sow hate, you have no place in our country”. The trick of course is that is is our country, bigoted or not, brown or not, but we are not united in our diversity.

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