By Azwihangwisi Mufamadi
When Seretse Khama, who later became the first president of Botswana, first announced his marriage to Ruth Williams he was answered back with fury and rage from both his family and Williams’. As a result of his marriage to Williams, Khama forfeited his chieftainship and was prohibited from entering Bechuanaland (now Botswana) for five years unless he had special permission. This was the price he paid for marrying an
English woman. His story is a typical example of the prejudice that many inter-racial couples go through every day.
Although inter-racial relationships were prohibited in many countries in the past, this did not stop people from getting involved with people from other races. Although these
rules were strongly enforced, they were obviously not as powerful as love because in the history of every country inter-racial couples got married even though there were rules
in place against these marriages.
Although the rules against interracial relationships have long been abolished, many inter-racial couples still suffer the same prejudice that other couples suffered while interracial
marriages were still prohibited.
At Rhodes, for example, I know for a fact that there are inter-racial couples but how many do you see in public? The only time you will see them in public is when they are out
drinking or the morning after when they are engaged in the ‘walk of shame’. Despite the South African government’s campaign on the rainbow nation, there are people who still
make it their personal mission not to listen to this message. For some people inter-racial couples bring anxiety. People stare at inter-racial couples as if they are from another planet. They stare at them to the point where they start suspecting that they have something on their faces. Whispering when these couples are passing is as common
as Angelina Jolie adopting children.
If the man in the relationship is white, the whispers are about whether the other partner is in the relationship for finances or not. People no longer believe that some people marry for love and nothing else. The latest I have heard is something as stupid as arguing about what children from inter-racial marriages will look like. South African history had a role to play in this but it is also clear that we are the problem ourselves. Some people even go
further to say that God created the races separately and placed them on different continents because he did not intend for the races to mix. I wonder which God they are referring to because the one talked about in the Bible did not create races separately.
Irrespective of social scientists’ explanation that races do not exist, the connotations around the word are as real as the water shortages that Grahamstown experienced in
the past few weeks.