On Wednesday night, Isidingo viewers were shaken to their core as the show ended in quite a violent, racially charged scene as Sechaba Moloi-Matabane (played by Motlatsi Mafatshe) was verbally abused then attacked and buried alive by two white Afrikaans men.
The show received as many complaints as it did praises from viewers who received the scene differently with some even going as far as to enquire how they can report the show to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA).
Yes, the scene was uncomfortable, I myself was furious - not with the cast and crew of Isidingo but with the fact that what was being shown is a fictional depiction of a very real problem in South Africa. And what better time to bring this conversation up than the day before Freedom Day?
Time and time again, we are confronted with tales, both in traditional news media and on social media about racially motivated attacks. The media does not make these things up, they merely share the facts of what has transpired. The fact that these things keep happening and these stories keep coming up is proof of the problem at hand.
But there is another problem: the unwillingness of white people to a) admit that racism exists and b) have a frank conversation with non-white people about it. Yes, there will be the occasional individual on both sides who would rather insult people than actually speak, learn and understand but that doesn’t mean the discussions shouldn’t happen.
It seems as though white South Africans are afraid to admit that racism exists. Partly because as much as they like to reiterate that racism doesn’t only take place between black and white people, they feel like admitting it exists would equate to admitting that they themselves are racist (which isn’t always the case, we know that).
Just because you acknowledge the existence of rape, doesn’t make you a rapist. The same goes for racism.
Another obstacle is their unwillingness to listen to black people about racism because their first default position is to remind us about sporadic farm murders in a “my pain matters more than yours” contest.
Their second default position is to pull what I like to call “the rainbow nation card” aka “The Tata Madiba card” which only exists in a world where racism disappeared the day F. W. De Klerk stepped down and we magically became a united nation who never disagrees. These types believe that if you ignore the problem (i.e.: racism), it will go away.
Again, that is not the case.
Racism is a real problem, a problem that we have to keep discussing until we are blue in the face, because ignoring it will never make it go away. It is not “in the past” as so many of you like to claim and it does not manifest itself in the violent ways that were shown on the show last night.
Racism is as subtle as white people claiming you speak so well while they themselves will half-heartedly butcher a Xhosa sentence and think it’s cute or funny before telling you it’s because you know they can’t speak “that language”.
Racism is a black girl not being able to wear her hair in it’s natural form to school or work because it is seen as “untidy” and “unprofessional.”
Racism is a black person feeling unwelcome in a predominantly white space because of the stares, whispers and snide comments from the people in the room.
I could go on but you get the point.
Every once in a while, said racism manifests itself violently and we are left discussing it before things quiet down until the next incident causes the discussion to flare up again as it has now.
In the discussion, buzz words like “rainbow nation,” “unity,” “farm murders” and “white genocide” have been thrown around but they are just that, buzz words. Until I can earn the same as my white counterpart until my future child can wear her dreadlocks freely and until a white person doesn’t feel the need to call me a monkey when they are unhappy with me, the need to discuss this will never go away.
Some Isidingo viewers have expressed an irrational fear that every black person who saw last night’s scene will wake up today, drive to a farm and kill white people, I highly doubt it.
Do you think that we are so incapable of reasoning, rational thought and humanity that we would attack people based on a fictional TV scene? Respect us and give us more credit. It’s the least you can do if you do not want us to place you in the same pool as the fictional Afrikaans men shown in the show.
It is for those reasons and more that Isidingo was spot on by showing what they showed last night. The same reasons that every South African show needs to tackle issues such as reproductive health, xenophobia, domestic violence, rape and more.
TV is meant to educate, entertain and inform and Isidingo did just that tonight, what you choose to do with what you know now is completely up to you.
I dislike that it had to be Munchie but at least it has shed light on the reality of living in South Africa.
Disclaimer: The views and opinion of this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of ZAlebs.
Main image credit: facebook.com