Safe Haven:

(A tale about the "good" racist)

We have all had "that" one guest who seems so lovely when you just meet that you can't help but think that you have been blessed the person has chosen you as a friend.

Then the trouble starts!

You open the bread bin and discover that your guest has eaten the last slice of bread, with no thought of replacing it. Instead, they can be found sitting on your favourite armchair, drinking coffee from your mug (even though there are plenty of others in the cupboard) and flicking through the tv channels to watch something you have no interest in.

You wake up one day, and you realize that the home that used to be yours and your safe haven from the world has now become a place you don't want to be in.

You no longer "recognize" the "special "smells" of your home. You attempt to seek solace by "escaping" to your room, only to discover that your guest has been in there and has rummaged through your belongings.

You're uncomfortable and twitchy because it doesn't look and feel like home anymore. Something is amiss, but you can't quite put your finger on it. Your guest has never been rude to you, is polite, and isn't aggressive or hostile. Your instinct kicks in, and you start looking at your home with a critical eye, and everywhere you look, every room you go into, every nook and cranny has something of your guest lying around!

You panic and start feeling "threatened" and find that you're experiencing terrible mood swings. Your guest seems oblivious to it all and looks at you while asking if you're having trouble at work or if you're having marital problems and you think you've entered the twilight zone!

Coming home now feels like watching a re-run of an Alfred Hitchcock movie; even your children are using words and gestures that you know has your guest's signature all over them.

What can you do, though?

This is your home!

Where can you "escape" to when your safe haven is now unsafe?

You begin to feel trapped, and your guest shows no signs of even understanding a simple request such as respect for your boundaries! Panic attacks and hyperventilation have become part of your daily "routine. The pills you take to help you sleep are ineffectual because you can still hear your guest's voice in your head and see their face as you close your eyes.

Finally, it dawns on you that your life has forever changed and the 3 years your guest has been in your house was an invasion, not a short visit. You recall the good times before your guest got there and pine for the carefree days- days you spent soaking up the African sun and watching the children playing whilst their laughter brought happiness and an answering smile from you.

One day you decide, that TODAY you will tell your guest to leave.

At work, you paint various scenarios in your head about how this will play out, but you know it has to be done. Your lack of focus has resulted in you getting a warning from your manager because your work has deteriorated. On your way home, you speak to yourself, and for a moment, you realize that your guest actually has nowhere to go. So you, being the kind person you are, decide to give the back part of the house including a separate entrance to your guest because you don't want the person out on the street.

As you open your front door, your guest is standing with suitcases packed, and immediately you thank the gods, and inwardly you are smiling. Your guest, though, is unsmiling, and with no greeting, hands you a piece of paper. You glance down and read the contents, the paper slips from your hands, and your knees feel as if they can't hold your body.

You are in the throes of a nightmare!

This can't be true!

It’s impossible!

"What's happening to me," you ask yourself, as the front door suddenly opens and you are being escorted out of your safe haven by the police that your guest had ready and waiting.

"That's not fair," you scream as you try to run back into your house.

“Where am I going?”

"What will happen to my children?"

You plead for someone to understand as the front door shuts firmly on what was your home, your life, your sanctuary!

Are you outraged?

Are you angry reading this?

Well, this is an analogy about what happened to Black and Brown people during apartheid! This is the story about the "good" racist, the polite one. Except I never used words such as invader or colonizer; using "guest" is me being polite to sketch the picture.

Understand that no amount of one-roomed “brick shacks” also known as RDP houses being built will ever give Black and Brown people back the sense of belonging we felt in South Africa or compensate for the losses we suffered and are suffering.

We never came from RDP housing!

We never came from "nothing!"

And giving an RDP house to "appease" the conscience of the powerful and privileged is NOT equity and redress!

In fact, it's an insult!

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Thesna Aston

Thesna Aston

CRT Practitioner, (life requires brave people), Writer @ The Fair Digest, Human Rights Activist, Motivating you (There are enough mean people)Member SahariTHJ