I grew up with financial privilege wiltingly heaped on my silver spoon. Learning in private institutions, spending family time at luxurious resorts, travelling cross-country just to go on shopping sprees to buy clothes I couldn’t afford to be spotted in the year after – all this, while being immunized from the harsh realities of the outside world.
According to me, Botswana was a monolith of great wealth and safe, peaceful people. I never saw the true realities of not only another Motswana, but a black person.
I saw a glimpse of the war of race when I received admission to a boarding school in South Africa. There, I quickly learnt that because of the colour of my skin , I was insanely different. An inferior alien. I had to work harder, speak more eloquently, disrobe any hints of my cultural pride to adapt to a society dominant in Western values. I had to adapt to a society that had oppression, segregation and violence as values once upon a time.
In the midst of my teenage years, unclothed in my culture, I scurried to a lighter race for a form of identity.Having robed myself in an identity unlike me to look less alien, I transferred to another institution which, unlike my earlier school, had more black people of diverse backgrounds. I was then, again an alien, being called a coconut, a oreo or (thanks to Julius Malema) a double agent. But that didn’t bother me, for I would feast on social white acceptance in public forums and competitions, where I would receive backhanded compliments of how well I speak for a black girl, or how my etiquette proves that ‘I am not one of them.’. Insinuations of how well I fit into their society seeing that I ma a carrier of ‘barbaric blood’.
It was at that point I realized where I was; perched at the window with my fellow coconuts dogging into the white privilege house, hoping that at least one of us could make it in. That aha moment was my understanding that I was part of the growing cancer of self-hate. a cancer that can only be cured through black consciousness, through understanding that skin colour plays no effect to behaviour or personality. That in order to heal, I must unlearn cultural smudging in order to adapt to a blurred out society and love my skin, appreciate my culture, through that, enabling self-identity thus becoming a part of a diverse tolerant society.
The truth is, although we have sought political independence adn are at war with economical independence, we are stilll lagging behind in the psychological aspects of colonialisation and segregegation. We still see shades of melanine as better or worse depending on the richness of colour. Although the teachers of black consciousness have died a long time ago, their teachings remain relevant to this day. We, both black and white need to unlearn the aspects of race coinciding with personality and mentality.