Group Areas legislation is a subject that has been close to my heart from the time I realised how it destroyed the lives of so many people I knew and loved.
It is a period that stretches into decades
Yesterday, in commenting on Twitter about the political views of a teenage Tim Noakes, I brought up the issue of forced removals again….
Noakes, a Bishops pupil, was interviewed by the Cape Argus in the 1960s about his experiences in the USA. What he said left me in open-mouthed disbelief: He was 19 years old and a National Party supporter when he told his interviewer that during his many discussions in the US he had explained South Africa’s apartheid policy and tried to present a balanced picture to people who did not understand South Africa’s problems.
And, in giving his views on the black people he had met there, Noakes reached new heights in the dark arts of racist patronization: ‘I FOUND the negroes pleasant people with a wonderful sense of humour,’ was how he put it.
I responded by saying: ‘When I was 19, I hated apartheid. I didn’t, and will never forget, that the National Party kicked us out of our home in Diep River in terms of Group Areas legislation.
When I ‘confessed’ that my parents did not own our house in Diep River – we rented – I had an interesting response.
It was an ‘arrogant white person’ response that I’ve run into before….
‘So, all along you have rented properties, which was owned by a landlord,’ said one triumphant responder. ‘Therefore, you have no land claim, which is why you were never in a position to lodge a land claim.
‘Thanks for clearing that up.
‘No story here.
‘Let’s move on.’
Before I say, ‘Fuck you’ very respectfully, and before I note yet again that the Christian-National education system devised by the apartheid government was beyond useless (it was just plain propaganda and nothing else), there is something I must stress yet again, even though I’m aware most people of my generation already know this.
We rented – just as most ‘coloured’ people of that generation rented – because we couldn’t afford to buy a house. And we couldn’t afford to buy a house because job reservation legislation reserved the best jobs for whites. And even when we did have decent jobs, we were paid less than whites – much less – because, well, we were classified ‘coloured’.
In any civilized society, whether you rented or not, you would have been entitled to live where you wanted to and could afford to. We should not have been shifted out in one fell swoop from where we were happily living, close to places of work and other conveniences, to godforsaken places on the Cape Flats, far from everything, and where children were swept into the evils of gangsterism..
Then … then … those who did own their houses were forced to sell for next to nothing to friends of crooked Group Areas inspectors.
I just thought I’d throw this in.
Considering what hundreds of thousands of us – and probably many more – lost, it would be asking a hell of a lot to follow the patronising gob of so many white people and ‘move on’.
And yet, when we ask very nicely about getting our land back, how many of them will throw up their hands in horror and accuse us of theft in advance.
So, let me get back to what I wanted to say earlier on: ‘Fuck you!’