[on the bedside table] Disgrace

This was my pick for my long weekend away in Adelaide (yes, I haven’t written about that yet). I needed something small, compact and I was already halfway through it for some time now.

Disgrace is a classic tale of white versus black saga. It starts off in the white-dominated city of Cape Town and follows the everyday life of a prominent white man in a well-respected profession.

Fast forward a few chapters which details a scandal and his fall from grace, we end up in a little town near (a slightly bigger town) George, along what is known as The Garden Route.

There he tries to start a new life, however short it is, with his daughter Lucy on her farm. Our first look at the white and black stereotype is when a black man is introduced as Lucy’s “help” on the farm.

This is quite common in South Africa. Maids and helpers usually the black or coloured population and are quite cheap and affordable for the white working class. This classification also occurs in the workforce. I have never seen a white person drive a cab or doing manual labour on road construction.

Second, we are subject to the theft of material goods and Lucy’s identity. Again, by blacks. While I was living in South Africa, most of the more “severe” crimes I ever read about, were conducted by non-whites. Now that’s a generalisation because sometimes, there is an outlier. Like the Oscar Pistorius case.

By the end of the story, we see a role reversal whereby Lucy is working for her ex-help. Despite her father’s pleas, Lucy has accepted it and makes the most of the situation.

The story speaks similarly of the BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) movement in South Africa. A not-so-thoroughly-thought-out scheme enabling the underprivileged to contribute to the economic growth of the country. Instead of taking the country to where it could be; major tourist hub, improved infrastructure and healthcare, equality, you get a reversed Apartheid situation. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not racist to blacks or whites, just my own kind. However this topic is very close to my heart as I have many white South African friends who are struggling to survive in their own country. And with that, that’s why so many of them become expats to find a living outside of South Africa. Away from their families, friends and pets.

Not something I want to see in a country which I feel has so much potential.


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