Meschac Gaba- Ensemble (2011)
South Africa is the only country on the African continent whose name is defined by its geographic location. It is considered to be a developed country on a developing continent. Nonetheless, this young democratic country also has its flaws that have long been perpetuated in the media; all you have to do is Google its president, apartheid and the immigration policies and more if you are uncertain.
Being South African I have seen and experienced how we treat our fellow Afrikans. In case you did not know dear South African you too are a part of Afrika as a whole, you will never be considered a part of Europe even though your previous colonial rulers tried to turn some of your cities into Marquette’s of Europe. Found on various organisations is a quote of the reason there is a move to spelling Africa with a ‘K’
“In the spelling Afrika, a ‘k’ is used rather than a ‘c’ because for many activists the “k” represents an acknowledgment that ‘Africa’ is not the true name of that vast continent. When one speaks of Afrika, they’re bringing an Afrikan-centered view to the meaning. Therefore, the Afrika spelled with a ‘k’ represents a redefined and potentially different Afrika, and also it symbolizes a coming back together of Afrikan people worldwide. Let it be understood that when one speaks of Afrika, and when most whites think of ‘Africa’, they are coming from two different worldviews. One view supports the Afrikan ethos, while the other view supports the European ethos.”
With this being said, South Africans have been unwelcoming and have shown the worst form of prejudice where in 2008 a sweep of what the media called ‘Xenophobic’ violence, marked a true reflection of our failure to escape the doctrine of self hatred that apartheid instilled amongst the black community. This in effect was Afrophobia – a fear, hate, or dislike of Black Africans and Black African descendants and not Xenophobia- a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries. I say this because the violence was targeted at a specific kind of visitor; one that is stereotypically considered a foreigner opposed to a tourist, one that was black and yes, from some of the countries within the continent.
I have painted a rather bleak picture of the relations amongst Afrikans within the continent but on the other end of the spectrum there are some positive stories. In trying to find cross-cultural African love stories from a Post Colonial era, I found it hard to believe that there is very little documentation on the Internet. However, if you consider that in the past, Africans archived their stories through oral history, then you realise that this could be the reason that such histories are difficult to find, and not that they did not exist. I did however learn about the story of King Solomon of Israel who is said to have fallen in love with Makeda the Queen of Sheba from Ethiopia after several months of the queen spending time in his city.
In a more contemporary time, I, a South African am currently in a relationship with a Zimbabwean for some years. Here are 10 things I learned about myself, an African dating him, an Afrikan.
- When you’re annoyed allow your native tongue to come out
You have to learn each other’s language one way or another.
- Not all Zimbabweans are the same
Or any other nation for that matter. I am with him for many reasons one of them being that I love him because he respects me as a person.
- Joke and tease each other
There’s funny things about any culture celebrate them but know each other’s limits.
- You can only empathise
As a South African I can never understand the hardships of being Zimbabwean in the “Oh so welcoming South Africa”. Allow your partner to voice their feelings and support them.
- ‘Black Accents’ will inevitably surface
Whether you’re South African or Zimbabwean your English Accent may slip, laugh about it and embrace it.
- Meeting the parent is daunting
Brave whatever lies ahead together
- Take time to learn his culture
As he does yours in your country.
- Treat food as an adventure
Sadza and Pap is not the same, he’ll like it his way and you yours, find a middle ground.
- Polygamy is not a norm for all Afrikans
Discuss monogamy, polygamy and relationships in general.
- Permit issues may arise,
This means going back home. During that time connect in other ways. Hide personal notes in his luggage, make a video message and post it on social media etc.
Relationships are without their highs and lows. The nationality of your lover should not deture from pursuing your search for happiness.
There’s a Zulu Proverb that goes: Induku enhle iyagawulwa ezizweni. I consulted my grandfather about it’s meaning and in his direct words were as such: “You will never find a beautiful girl in your own area you have to travel far to a different place, tribe or country to find her.”
So it is important to re-evaluate our understanding of relationships and community because sometimes you may fall in love with someone who comes from a place from far far away.
KwaZulu Natal born, Sethembile Msezane, grew up in Soweto Johannesburg. She completed her BFA degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town in 2012. Msezane is an artist and a writer who explores issues of identity that are centered on her being a young 90s born Zulu maiden, growing up in the township and later leading an urban lifestyle in a metropolitan city. Along side her artwork, Msezane is currently working on an eBook on her blog titled Goldilox- Peroxide Rasta: http://goldilox1.wordpress.com/ that releases a new chapter with a video snippet weekly.