OPINION: Don’t shoot all the sparrows

Not all dogs are aggressive and bite, but when I was growing up my grandmother would always say to me, 'Uma inamazinyo iyaluma' (As long as it possesses a set of teeth, there's a high probability that it will bite your ass). So I always assume that all dogs bite. To me, all snakes are venomous and all guns are loaded. I don't take chances. What I'm attempting to say here is that given South Africa's history and the ongoing racist incidents, it is safe to assume that all white people are racist until proven otherwise. The danger is to act on that assumption because you will realise that not all white people are racists, and then what?

Confusing? I know, please bear with me. I will try and explain.

Let's say you met the sparrow on the street and she approached you with a bright smile, using her brilliant customer service skills to sell you a house. You wouldn't think she was racist until you visited her Facebook nest.

From 2012 to mid-2013 I was a member of Echo Youth Development, a youth organisation in Pretoria. The organisation is made up of mostly white people, but serves every race. At that time they had five houses in one street, and I lived at the main house with seven others (it's a huge place). For the major part of my stay there I was the only black person in the house. We shared almost everything there. We ate together, we played mind games after dinner, did community outreach and even visited each other's families. I felt at home. I enjoyed their crazy white behaviour and they were always taken by my stories from the valleys of the Zulu kingdom (many of which I would make up). I never experienced any discriminatory practices towards me or other black members of the organisation and its beneficiaries. If my house mates were racists at heart, they must have been secretly undergoing a very specialised training of tolerance techniques.

Have I ever experienced racism in my life? Oh yes, even today I still do. It's everywhere, it's a virus. I was once employed by one and I interact with them socially and professionally on a frequent basis. I'm an artist by passion but, among the other things I do to put food on the table, I provide isiZulu language services to corporates and individuals keen to learn a second/African language, with about 80% of my clients being white. I have come across some of who want to learn the language so that they can understand what the 'monkeys' are saying behind their backs. But on most occasions, it's just noble soles who want to understand the culture and certain African behaviour, to bridge the gaps. I have fun with all kinds of people. At the end of the day, my son's milk is paid for and I get to laugh at them when they battle to pronounce the click sounds of isiZulu.

I am almost certain that among the first of the few comments to this article, one will be from a 'clever black' who will ignore the rest of the article and quote a few lines and suggest that Bhoshambose is aiming to defend white people. Or a white racist who will do the same and applaud me for defending them. I'm not stopping you. But I can only be held accountable for what I write, I'm not responsible for other people's individual interpretation of my words.

It's been just over two decades of trying to clean up the social ills that were brought by apartheid, and I can say with confidence that the greater part of our carpet looks clean as far as racial issues are concerned. However, there is still evidence of remaining stains here and there. Let us deal with those stains, but let us deal with them without ruining the entire carpet. Trying to scratch out the stains using violence will damage the whole thing. There should be no tolerance for those who practice racial discriminatory or utter racist statements. There should be serious consequences.

Black, white, green or purple, this country belongs to us all. Peace.