Apartheid was more than a political system. It was a truth white people consumed from the time they were at their mother’s breast. It taught us that we are better, that the country is the better for our presence, that, without us, it will go “the way of the rest of Africa ”
Apartheid is a system based entirely on lies. The lie that colonialism was simply a migration and not a cultural and literal genocide. The lie that the black man is a violent, uncultured heathen who needs to be oppressed in order to be kept in check. The lie that we are brighter, better, more. The lie that, without us, the country is doomed to failure.
Those lies, under Apartheid, became writ into laws aimed at reinforcing the lie.
With democracy, most of those laws have been overturned.
The lie remains. The lie is there in the way we cross to the other side of the road when a black man walks towards us. The way we pearl clutch at protesters and use words like “savage” and “ungrateful”.
The way we avoid eye contact and whisper behind our hands. The way we watch the plummeting Rand and bemoan “those people” at braais. The way we smile tightly at social functions.
The way we still think we are better, brighter, more.
Apartheid is not dead. It’s simply gone from being a looming behemoth to a sly and insidious whisper, which still passes its poison down, from mother to child, as the fathers watch on.