Assalaamualaikum (Greetings, peace and blessings to all)
It is almost on a daily basis that we are inundated with news reports and accounts of terrorism, warfare and violence from around the world. What is also evident is that in almost all of these accounts, there seems to be a common factor linking the majority of the perpetrators: their religion.
There is a rather large group of students who sit at the tables provided outside the Student Centre on the pathway to Tuks FM, Pie City and Tukkiewerf. I do not have a problem with these students but instead with the following things that they do:
In the past week, a friend of mine as well as a classmate committed suicide in his residence in Sunnyside. He was a final-year student at the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.
Racial discrimination is not just a thing that foreigners in South Africa experience. In the university, even Tsonga and Venda people go through it every other day. I personally have been through more than I can ever mention, but the thing is that we have to understand where we come from as black South Africans. The system has always made sure that we find, or only see, our differences and rank ourselves in terms of culture and language, with Zulus and Xhosas ranking themselves first among black people while Tsonga and Venda people are last on the list. So even when it comes to services that we have to render to each other (for example, at the cafeteria as last week’s letter stated) culture and language seem to play a role and the attention you get revolves around it.
The issue of racism has been circling quite a bit now. What I am about to share isn’t exactly racism in the conventional sense, although it is discrimination partly based on the colour of my skin.
As a black international student I am faced with quite a challenge: the language barrier. I have come to notice that because I am black, people tend to assume I speak one of the local languages (excluding Afrikaans) and because I don’t speak it, some people assume that I am one of those black snobs who only speaks English and thinks themselves too good to speak their mother tongue (which is quite silly). I am specifically talking about the workers at the residence dining halls. Time and again I have been made to feel like an outsider, even more than I already am, simply because I greet them in English.
The following are a couple of examples of the reactions I get when I greet them in English: they don’t greet back, they pretend they didn’t hear me, they look the other way, they mumble a half-hearted hello or they even greet me in their mother tongue.
Aren’t they like that with everyone? The answer is no! I have observed carefully how they respond to different people based on their race and the language they speak.