Meet Iain Thomas, the 36-year-old South African poet who is famous all over the world except in SA

Trevor Noah has pulled out at the last minute from hosting the MAMAs 2016, due to 'a severe upper respiratory infection'


Why can’t we all just get along?

2010-10-21 12:47
I love being white and English-speaking. Not that I’m proud or anything: ethnic pride is for underachievers who are compelled to inflate their self-worth by taking credit for the fact that their parents fucked. But I was born with a jackpot combination, and it would be churlish of me if I didn’t at least acknowledge that there’s absolutely nothing "previous" about my advantage.

How advantaged, you ask? Well, my definition of poverty is not being able to shop at Woolworths in the last week of the month, which is a biggie, because I take great pleasure in the hypocritical dichotomy of buying organic and imported fruit. Financially, the absolute worst thing that could happen to me is being forced to move back in with my parents (shiver). And every day I’m thankful that being white means I can walk around dressed like a hobo and nobody is ever going to think I’m about to stick a knife in their guts and steal their wallet.

Being English-speaking means that when I go overseas, everyone can understand me – and if they can’t, I just speak louder and slower until they apologise and scuttle off to find someone who can. I’ll never have to learn another language, which is fine by me, because they all sound like the result of a chronic ENT condition. If someone speaks to me in Afrikaans or Xhosa or whatever-the-hell, I simply repeat "What!?" in a variety of accents until they get the message. Fact: If anyone has anything worthwhile to say, they’ll eventually say it in English.

Now I know I should feel guilty, but I don’t. If it’s any consolation, I do feel a bit guilty about the fact that I don’t feel guilty, but why should I? It’s not my fault that every other race, language and culture on the planet sucks balls. Want to know the secret to world peace? Here it is: Speak English and act like a white man. Problem solved.

Or it would be if everyone would just co-operate. The monkey wrench in this otherwise perfect solution is the fact that everyone seems to feel this way about their own culture – which is extremely arrogant, if you ask me. In South Africa the very definition of suburban life is being challenged by neighbours who can’t agree on whether a braai begins with laughter or slaughter (a creepy compromise would be both, simultaneously).

The cultural clash in Germany and other chunks of Europe could be easily resolved if everyone just spoke English and acted like a (mostly) white South African writer of Irish/German/Portuguese descent – but nope, you know how stubborn Johnny Foreigner can be. German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative and triply oxymoronically named Christian Democratic Union has said that immigrants must learn to speak German and basically, act more like Germans.

But unfortunately, Turkish and other immigrants don’t seem all that keen to start barging into queues, obsessing over their bowel movements and complaining loudly about everything. There’s a similar resistance in France, where Muslims are refusing to exchange their burqas for berets.

Back in South Africa, we don’t even need immigration for a full-on cultural cold war (although it helps). According to this week’s News24 front page poll, most readers believe Merkel’s view that "multiculturalism has failed" in Germany is also applicable to South Africa.

And here’s a comment "AngryJ" wrote under a previous column on ritual animal slaughter to illustrate that view: "How about respect for our culture – I am required to respect African culture, they can respect our culture – and that means not slaughtering animals in suburbia."

What’s the bet AngryJ is a DA supporter? Just saying.

Much like affirmative action, multiculturalism’s biggest obstacle is pissed-off white people who were on the losing side in the South African civil war for independence.

The only obvious similarity between the German, French and South African situation is the proliferation of presently advantaged, self-entitled whities who have retreated to a position of gatvolheid because their uncompromising culture of anger and aggression is way too reliant on the concession of others. This makes them come across like a sulky schoolchild who can’t get their friends to abide by the rules of their made-up game.

It’s easy to make multiculturalism work by simply not caring. Can’t speak English? Not my problem. Want to kill and/or cook meat in your back yard? Couldn’t give a shit. Want to dress up like a ninja in the middle of summer? Sucks to be you. Off to watch grown men in shorts chase an eggball around a field in the freezing rain? Have a great time. Off to your place of worship? Tell your imaginary friend I said hi.

I’m not going to change, and apart from thinking exactly like me, neither should you. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Recent News

And the ship sails on...

2014-03-12 11:56

In a very touching column, Koos Kombuis bids farewell to Channel24. Read this review

Channel24 columnist Koos Kombuis shares one of the most unforgettable evenings of his life: meeting well-known performer Herman van Veen. Read this review

inside channel 24

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.