picture by: Lerato Maleswena; follow her on Instagram: @larryxtatum and on Facebook: @larryxtatum
You can only get to know a country by meeting its locals.
May I introduce you to Asanda, a local from South Africa.
In between the pressures of society and your needs
What would you do…
…if you love to be friends with people you can’t and shouldn’t necessarily be friends with?
…if your family and friends judge you and look at you as if you are committing a crime just by your hanging out with people that are not your skin colour?
…still stick to your principles?
…be influenced by what the society wants you to do and change your mind just to fit in?
Asanda is a 25 year old black, South African, Xhosa woman from a township near East London that in the scenario from before did not change her mind. She kept true to herself. Asanda enjoys being friends with people from all over the world, especially with people that are not her skin colour. Her family and friends, like many other in South Africa, are still influenced by the Apartheid era and still judge her for her choices in life.
What was Apartheid all about
For 33 years black, indian and coloured people had been segregated by law from white people in South Africa. Apartheid was also the time where townships and districts were created in order to keep the races away from each other. Horrible things were happening at this time. Black people were kept out of certain areas, black and white people were not allowed to marry each other, separate entrances were created and so much fighting was going on that many thought a civil war would begin- and this is just the surface of all that went on during Apartheid! It is therefore understandable that this is not easy to overcome judgements and past hurts for someone who had personally experienced all this.
What shaped Asanda
While parents often pass bad habits onto their children our society has still created people like Asanda. Even though Asanda’s father grew up during Apartheid he was different in thinking and thankfully passed this down to his daughter. ‘Back in the days’, he used to work in a restaurant in Johannesburg and had guests from all over the world. As Asanda was brought up in this environment she had been surrounded by people of different nationalities from the age of 3. She experienced that there are good people and bad people no matter what skin colour they are. These are the values she was taught and still lives by her father.
At the age of 24 Asanda started working in a backpackers in Chintsa and was surrounded by people and nationalities from all over the world again. She enjoyed listening to their travel stories, exchanging experiences and different ways of thinking.
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Changing someones mind isn’t that easy
In Cape Town and larger cities like Durban and Johannesburg, it is more common that people of different skin colours are friends with each other. Whereas in the rural areas where Asanda comes from it´s much more uncommon and people stick together with their ‘own’. Asanda told me that she is the only one from her family who enjoys having friends from different races. It must have been a tough time for Asanda as her family and friends from home never understood why she saw no problems with opening up her friendship circle in this way. They judged her and she had to listen to lots of criticism. Fortunately Asanda was not influenced by what they were saying. She would not change her mind but also realized that she wouldn´t be able to change their way of thinking, as the happenings of Apartheid have been ingrained so deeply in their mindset.
At the age of 24 she had her first white boyfriend. A guy from the U.S. He was keen on meeting her family. Asanda knew bringing a white guy into her township wasn´t a good idea considering South Africa’s history, and how people react to two different races coming together or being in a relationship.
Actually, Asanda once told me that she sort of understands why they see things like this. “They were kept separate, they never got to know each other, they never went to school with each other. Whenever a black person saw a white person it was a weird feeling. Also there were lots of crap stories about white people. People are starting to become more open minded, but it is still a long way to go”, she said.
Why I love the way she is
It has been 6 months now since Asanda has moved to Cape Town and she has become my closest friend in South Africa. Even though she is younger than me, I have learned a lot from her. One of her philosophies is not to judge people and what they are doing. “I was taught by my father that everyone is responsible for his or her own deeds and also if they do crap it will always come back to them one day,” she explained.
This woman sitting in front of me has already learned more from life than most adults. She is a strong, honest and smart person. She is always smiling, full of energy and attracts everyone with her positive personality. Her genuine laugh can be heard everywhere and she is the first black woman I have met with dreadlocks.
When asking Asanda what her dream is, she is telling me that she would like everyone not to see skin colour anymore. For me Asanda is not black nor white. She is just a wonderful human being.
Asanda is Xhosa. What is Xhosa? Watch my video and you will find out: