A racist is a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.
Growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid era, I didn’t get much exposure to black people. The only ones I came across were domestic workers or gardeners. They couldn’t speak much English and seemed to be uneducated.
It’s funny how not being able to speak a language prejudices people against you. In those days there were a lot of Portuguese people in Brakpan where I lived. They would stand in shopping queues and hold up everybody as they fumbled to find the right money and didn’t understand what the tellers were saying. I thought they were stupid.
It was only when my family went one holiday to Lorenço Marques, now Maputo, when the shoe was on the other foot. I couldn’t understand a word of Portuguese and I fumbled in my purse for the right money. I was holding up the queue. It was my turn to feel stupid.
by Ian Laxton
“A moment when you suddenly feel that you understand, or suddenly become conscious of, for the first time, something that is very important to you.”
Write On is delighted to publish the first story in our ‘What’s Your Story?’ series. This account of growing up in South Africa and awakening to the wrongs of Apartheid was written by Shelley Seiler, RUC’s Office Manager.
I was born in the 1950’s in the early days of apartheid and spent my formative years in a privileged white family in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. My parents employed a black man who worked in the garden (we lived on a one acre plot with a tennis court and a swimming pool) and a black woman who worked in the house. Both of them lived on the property in the ‘servants quarters’. As far as I was concerned this was normal. My parents were liberal, English-speaking South Africans who taught us to treat all people with respect and who modelled this behaviour.
The only black people I encountered were ‘servants’ or the children of our employees who came to stay with them in the school holidays sometimes. As I grew into my teens I was influenced by my sister who is five years older than I am. She opened my eyes to the wrongs of apartheid and in discussions with her and her friends I came to realise that the way we lived in South Africa in the 1960’s and 1970’s was not ‘normal’.
It was the name that caught my eye! I knew I was meant to attend the writer’s weekend retreat at the Good Shepherd Retreat overlooking Hartebeesportdam. My memoirs “Bands of Gold” was started about 15 years ago but after two chapters and a prologue everything seemed to come to a halt and no more chapters could be written no matter how hard I tried. The anointing had lifted. I learnt during the writer’s workshop that due to having professional assistance the style wasn’t “me”! It wasn’t MY voice! I was wearing someone else’s second hand clothes. Since then I have been motivated to start my story all over again. I am very grateful to Joan and Mandy for holding the workshop. At last the blockage has been lifted. One day when I am famous (ha, ha) they will get the credit for their obedience to the calling on their lives.
I thought writing was my dream. I was wrong. After spending about 5 years writing two novels and a children’s book, sending e mails to hundreds of agents and publishers, giving the books to friends to read, even I had to realize that I was not a writer. At least not a fiction writer.
Sure I can write sermons. At a retreat about 13 years ago Rowan Rogers talked about unopened treasures packed away in boxes right beside us. An image came into my mind of a pair of golden lips and a golden pen. As a result I became a Local Preacher in the Methodist Church where I was inducted in 2006 after two years of studying and practice.
My childrens book, “The Saddest Little Sugar Bowl in the World” was written particularly for children who were somehow “different”. I got a better response for that one but still nobody wanted to publish it. Finally I published 50 copies myself and then went from bookshop to bookshop trying to get somebody to sell them for me. I sold some at work but still have 20 copies left, lying abandoned in a pile.
Inter House Plays are produced and directed by Grade 11’s at my school every year. I have always enjoyed writing stories. Although my English marks at school were not that amazing, I still badly wanted to write a play and get it performed, if possible. Given my lack of experience and mediocre marks, I thought
Disillusioned by the craze that surrounds secular christmas every year, and desperate to live lives that are significant in all that we do, my hubby and I started talking about how we should celebrate the birth of our Messiah in a way that sets us apart from the craze. It was in a conversation with