Interracial relationships in Post-Apartheid SA

by Dimakatso Komape

More than two decades have passed since the apartheid government’s Mixed Marriages Act and Immorality Act had been abolished, but mixed couples still cause a stir and are likely to do so for years to come. Yesterday Sowetan Live reported that popular model Mirriam Ngomani was left with a broken leg after she and her fiancé, Tobias Zehetleitner, were allegedly attacked at Time Square in Menlyn, Pretoria. This speaks volumes about where we are as a country in terms of embracing and accepting each other’s differences. It is our duty as a country to deal with these issues and find solutions for them.

Relationships are the bedrock of a gratifying, healthy, well-lived life. They’re also intricate and personal, as two people co-create their own unique little world over time, with norms, practices, habits, understandings, and history that are theirs alone. This applies in any relationship and with any race.

The shackles of racist mindsets have not completely released their grip on all South Africans. Interracial couples still find themselves at the receiving end of uncomfortable stares, whispered gossip and at times blatant reactions about their partners. While some parts of South Africa are more forgiving due to their multi-cultural and liberal views, there are parts of the country that still can’t come to terms with interracial dating.

According to a study done by the North West University, black men were said to be more likely to marry outside their race than black women. With interracial marriage being more prominent amongst the black, coloured and Indian groups. White people were least likely to marry outside their race. Culture and ethnicity were the most influential reasons for this controversy. Many cannot fathom how cultural traditions are to continue by marrying outside their race or religion. Fear of the unknown is often what causes the divide amongst families when a loved one enters an interracial relationship.

With all that said, are we any closer to obliterating racism in South Africa? The sad reality is that we may never be. With racist being called out almost daily on social media platforms it’s a dire fact and one South Africa. People with strong foundations in traditions in tradition have narrow views of what is normal. Shunning anything out of the ordinary purely because they are not willing to open themselves up to more modern ideals and mindsets. Humans are programmed this way from a young age.

It is an individual and yet societal mindset that needs to change before we’re any closer to really embracing each other in a way that skin colour is looked at differently.

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