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Angelina Sithebe

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

UFS Cuisine

For many it will be: where were you when you heard about the UFS stew?

On an innocent day I was watching the news expecting the usual menu of crime, mayhem and celebrities in and out of rehab when it hit my screen. CNN played it over and over until I could anticipate the next scene like a favourite movie.

I was so outraged I wanted to run to the Free State, I couldn’t wait for the bus or to consult and share with my trusted the details of that video. Across the world there was outrage. Except for some South African whites who were angry crime didn’t draw as much attention – it was, after all, just a stew with the unusual ingredient. They didn’t see that this was not about them, it was about the humiliation of the humanity of others, who also happen to be the first target for criminals.

Why the anger? When only less than two months earlier a white man mowed down four people in Skierlek. Their community was in pain, but there were no large multi-racial demonstrations and bus loads to Skierlek. In our typical apartheid amnesia, after shaking heads when we saw the rows of coffins at their funeral, life returned to load shedding and our own lives.

Why then are we so outraged? I don’t know about others. I know my outrage was because I was those women who were eating the stew. I eat pee stew every time I jump and race to the beat at being told what, when and how to do to feed my children. I saw myself in that woman who swallowed the indignity and laughed, flirted and promised to bring more whores for cheap liquor and beer. I have laughed at cameras when deep down I knew I was just being a token, something to bring colour to a picture. I have even flirted with somebody’s bad teeth because I couldn’t look at his full face. I have watched myself from a distance while being torn apart by a virulent bigot in the guise of literary critic, my reward being the applauded dignity with which I handled the indignity. I entered the age of scrutiny. I saw racism in every white person I encountered. I questioned my black pride, I need to have more.

Yesterday, just when I was getting comfortable in the hate zone I had a flat battery. The young black man who was sitting in a car who I asked to help me jump start my car continued to play with his cell phone while he told me he couldn’t help me. A security guard came back with a white woman who left her work, soiled her white shirt, cheerfully helped me and wished me luck.

To be Continued……..

 

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