The story of Rego Modise of Rustenburg has me worried about the future of our kids, black and white, in South Africa.
Rego is a 17-year-old black school girl who loves playing hockey as a sport. She sees herself as a professional hockey player one day, perhaps even representing South Africa in future Olympic games.
When we were growing up, hockey was not known as the sport for us black people. We only played soccer, netball and perhaps rugby (for those in the coast). Resources offered to black children didn’t allow us to explore any other sporting codes.
Not much has changed for village children, and someone like Rego probably still lives in those kind of areas. But it seems like her parents want what’s best for her and managed to enroll her in a multiracial school, Wagpos Hoërskool in Brits, where she learnt how to play hockey.
When Rego heard of the Bokkie Week hockey trials happening in Rustenburg she was excited, knowing that lots of provincial and national scouts would probably be there – this could be her chance to be spotted and realise her dream.
She went to Hoërskool Grenswag where the trials were being held, but was denied entry – not because she wasn’t good at hockey, but because she was black.
We’re 18 years into our democracy and it’s sad that we still have situations like this in our country.
South Africa is currently grappling with a wave of racism and racist attacks and counter attacks: if it’s not someone calling a shopper a k***** on Twitter or Facebook, it’s some Afrikaner in Potgietersrus who still wants to be called baas calling a domestic or farm worker a baboon. And if it’s not someone spitting at a black member of a gym in some northern suburb of Johannesburg or Pretoria, it’s a would-be model who dreams of nothing but the ghost of Peter Mokaba coming back to chase all the white people into the sea.
What makes Rego’s sad tale even more worrying is that she was born after 1994, which means she probably wasn’t exposed to the serious racism of apartheid days, and that this incident happened in front of other white children her age.
What impact will this have on these white kids?
Will they love and coexist with Rego when they are adults, or are they being taught that white people can only live and play with whites – no one else?
I will draw parallels to a recent racial incident which sent shock waves throughout South Africa, starring model Jessica Leandra dos Santos. She’s only 20. She was only two years old when our country moved into multi-democracy, when a dream of non-racialism was born in 1994. And she didn’t know the difference between black and white then, she couldn’t have been able to utter the word “k*****” unless she was born talking.
So, one wonders: how did she learn to hate, and to use hateful words against black people?
Then when Rego’s story was published, I started to realise that teachers and, more importantly, parents have something to do with how these kids are raised. They are to blame.
The kids that Rego was planning to join at the Bokkie Week trials are her age and many of them probably see her just as a teammate, playmate or another of God’s creations who is just like them. They don’t see her being black and them being white. They don’t see her as inferior to them.
But the two white pupils who were in line with Rego as she registered, paid the R30 entrance fee and went to meet the coach Louis Koen, are probably wondering why she wasn’t allowed in.
They probably heard Koen asking Rego who sent her, and: “Didn’t they tell you anything else? Unfortunately this is open only for white children, sorry.”
That’s pathetic. How do you feel as a parent when you see the sadness in your kid’s eyes because she was turned away due to the pigment in her skin?
And will you be outraged in five years’ time when kids behave like Jessica and call Rego the K-word, or spit on her at a gym in Pretoria or refuse to share a room with her at a national hockey team camp?
It’s about time parents and teachers own up. We cannot go around teaching kids to hate. No kid was born hating. Koen and teachers at Hoërskool Grenswag should hang their heads in shame for failing their own children – the future of this country.
It’s the same as the Mpumalanga-based rightwing Afrikaner camp, Kommandokorps, where boys as young as 13 were taught that the black population in South Africa is the enemy, the “most under-developed, barbaric member[s] of the human race”.
According to the Mail & Guardian, camp leader Franz Jooste, 57, told the children in the camp that they were going to be real men and that blacks were inferior to whites and were unable to govern. “Who is my enemy in South Africa? Who murders, robs and rapes? Who are these creatures? The blacks,” Jooste proclaimed.
This would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.
Integration and racial tolerance, just like any other subject lesson, should start in schools. Actually, it should start with parents at home. No race grows up hating another race. No person grows up hating another person. Hate is taught, and anger is a state of mind. What happened in Rego’s case was a wasted opportunity to show those white kids that blacks and whites can coexist and play together.
News24‘s Essie Moses wrote a post earlier in the week highlighting this problem. Responses were even more racist than what her post was trying to condemn. Most of the commenters started shifting the topic to BEE and EE. Others talked of organisations such as the Black Lawyers Association, Black Business Council etc which, I believe, are irrelevant in the case of white children being taught how to hate, or a 17-year-old being taught that she’s inferior to whites and can’t play with them.
Affirmative action policies are an attempt to right the wrongs of the past. The inequality between whites and blacks has been, and still is, huge. No white person can deny that blacks are trying to catch up, hence the introduction of these policies. Whether they are working or not, they cannot justify us brainwashing our kids to hate one another.
It cannot be right to teach your child to hate. How about teaching them true humanity, and love?
They are just kids for heaven’s sake …
We are failing as parents if we raise more Jessicas.
My dream is to see my children grow up in an equal-opportunity South Africa, where they can coexist with whites, Indians and coloureds, and do what they want without any reference to colour, race or status. Wouldn’t you love that for your children? Wouldn’t we all be happy to see Rego and those children from Hoërskool Grenswag waving the South African flag in unity and with pride, playing hockey in one team at the next Olympics in 2018?
It’s not too late to help them realise that dream.