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Conscious Cliques

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In previous articles by myself and Eata Fajita I think we’ve both agreed that like-minded souls tend to band together and therefore socialise together because they have common beliefs and interests. Eata Fajita ended her last article by saying that “Consciousness can be manifested in the action one takes: how you treat the next person, how you behave. If one just respects the self and the next self you are manifesting consciousness”, I think this can be taken further and it ties in with something I’ve often wondered aboutin my holistic questioning of what consciousness refers to: whether the people you hang around with, call your friends, socialise with and have relationships with, reflect your consciousness? Are you selling out by having white friends or lovers? In order to show our consciousness and respect and drive to push black consciousness does this mean that we should only socialise with only people of our ilk (black people)? I’ve never been a fan of limiting myself in any way because I believe that one of the greatest benefits of us attaining emancipation as a people is that “the world has become our oyster” and that we aren’t limited to having to do things in a particular way. My inner group of friends or clique is predominantly made up of black people but I also do have people from other race groups that I consider “my peeps” (I’m talking about genuine friendships that are not used to qualify racist statements by allowing you to add that “I do have black/white friends” while referring to a person you went out for a drinks with once as part of a work team-building exercise) and I have had relationships at one time or another with a girl from another race group as well (even an Asian girl who had just arrived in our beautiful country where our conversation was limited to the statement “Like you very much”).

I like hanging out with people who have diverse personalities, from the straight-laced average Joes who I can share mellow times with to the eccentric and plain crazy people I can let my hair down with (I have no hair but that’s the way the expression goes) and just go nuts. I think I should list an example of a friendship I have and a previous relationship to illustrate the point that I’m trying to make. I have a white friend that I met when I started my first job and we just clicked because I was intrigued by the differences between us. Let’s call him Joe (for fear of embarrassing him). Joe is strange. The first time we spoke was a Friday and I asked him what he was getting up to that weekend and he told me that he had a DIY project that was keeping him busy at home, I was shocked. I’ll unashamedly admit that I don’t ‘Do it Myself’ ,if I have the option I’ll always organise to get a professional to do it for me. My logic in never ‘doing it myself’ was solidified the first time I went to Joe’s place because he showed me his little DIY project. He had made this wooden table with legs that were uneven and chairs that I would never consider sitting on for fear of my health (I would’ve been embarrassed to tell anyone that I made that but he took so much pride in showing me). He then showed me around his place and I was intrigued to see a single bed in his bedroom. For a bachelor who constantly lived with the fantasy of luring pretty little things to my place, having a single bed was a no-no because on the off chance that I got lucky I think the ensuing conversation could’ve been a little embarrassing.

I asked him why he had a single bed and he told me that he lived on his own so why should he waste money on a double-bed…like I said, Joe is crazy. He does other things that I consider crazy as well, like: jumping off bridges, spending the whole day hitting and following a little white ball and giving himself headaches by ‘banging’ his head while listening to his music which has no rhythm. However there are certain things that are great about him: he’s ambitious, works hard and pushes me to better myself and looks out for my best interests and that’s why he’s my friend even with all his craziness. Now for the controversial topic of inter-racial relationships. I say it’s controversial because I’ve heard lots of people ask why black men think once they have a little success that they are too good for black sisters and think they should show that they are now even “good enough” to be with a white girl. I’ll admit that as a kid I found it hard to understand why a black man would forego our beautiful black sisters with their hourglass bodies and beautiful skin and hair to go out with a white woman with hair like a mop and an ironing board behind (weaves hadn’t become part and parcel of our society back then and I clearly remember taking all my sister’s Barbie dolls and cutting their hair off to make them look more like us). I’m a big movie fan and I was disappointed to discover that a great actor like Sidney Poitier was married to a white woman, as a pioneer for black people in the industry I felt he would’ve driven his point home by arriving at events like the Oscars with a beautiful black woman on his arm etc.

However as I grew up and my mind was open to all possibilities I realised that love is not always controllable and you can never judge a book by its cover. You fall in love with a person and not their skin colour. I met a girl on a beach in Mozambique on holiday once and we got on like two weed-heads in a garden of the holy herb (people in Melville will enjoy this example). We agreed to connect when we both got back to Joburg and after meeting a couple of times we found ourselves in a relationship together. Let’s call her Amy (this is her real name I don’t care if she’s embarrassed because we aren’t together anymore). Amy loved animals and we spent many a day at places like the Lion Park (as a 6 year old my gran told me that white people love animals more than black people and this constantly rang in my ears as we trawled these parks because I would catch myself wondering if Amy would throw me off the tour vehicle as cat feed if she thought that the lions look hungry). She also taught me how to play the guitar (not the petrol can variety), made me acquire a taste for seafood and enjoyed spending days swimming laps in a pool (I can swim but I preferred to mostly sit on the side of the pool having a cold beverage) but the one thing that I really liked about her was that she had a big heart, she genuinely cared about the welfare of others and not in a condescending Madonna or Angelina Jolie kind of way.

She studied medicine and ended up leaving SA to go work for the UN to provide healthcare to kids in Angola and Malawi and the one thing I learnt from that relationship was that there are different ways to give back and help others. To sum up my little rant I think that as people we shouldn’t keep ourselves in little boxes because we live in a diverse country and there are lessons that can be learnt from people that come from various walks of life (regardless of their skin colour). These little lessons are then things that we can take back and apply and spread in our communities for the betterment of our people as a whole, one community at a time. I’m saying that we should be open (obviously if dealing with the son/daughter of Eugene Terblanche tread carefully) and give all people a chance before painting them all with the same brush because by doing that we create the opportunity to involve the Joe Slovo’s of the future in aiding to advance our causes with an open heart and without requiring anything in return.

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