South Africa Is Not An African Country

And I got scared because I could see that I could not exactly relate or identify with them because neither do I uphold and promote their languages or politics, but have not done much to protect and preserve their culture, history and heritage, even in terms of ideological thinking and orientation.

Instead, I speak, write and, above all, think in English like the increasing number of other progressive South Africans. Many of our children are beginning to understand and speak English not just like White people (sic), but better than indigenous languages.

Of course, we come out of a history that produced John Tengo Jabavu or Pixley ka Seme or which gave us many ancestors, like seminal thinker WEB du Bois, who were educated in America and Europe.

A kind of reconciliation which saw us sacrifice and abandon whatever is our history and heritage happened to make it easier to disconnect with Africa in the name of modernity.

It is a strange kind of advancement and progress that we have attained.

But I think in one way it explains a lot about South Africa’s disconnection with its indigenous linkages.

As a result, there are two kinds of Africans: the kind of respectable and powerful ones who, essentially, are coconuts who do everything as Western culture dictates and those who really try to keep an intuitive connection with Africa’s past and heritage in the rural areas.

But many of us live more in the Western world and culture than in Africa. In a sense, we have lived up to the ideal that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, but more White than Black.

In a sense, we have only recreated ourselves, out of conquest to, for the first time, become African people who are proud of their Western identity, heritage and culture.

Our constitutional democracy, for instance, is the most renowned in the whole world. We have, to a large extent, recreated ourselves in the White European image.

It is for this reason that we are what American blues singer Billie Holiday called a “strange fruit”.

Kwenziwe njani? What is to be done?


– Memela is a writer and public servant. He writes in his personal capacity.


By: Sandile Memela