2. While I could speak, and now still understand, Afrikaans well, the correlation the Apartheid powers established between the language and white supremacy did not sit well with me, and I turned my back on the language.
It is only in the last 10 years or so that I have understood the origins of the language as actually being among the enslaved and downtrodden. In fact, the earliest known written Afrikaans was a student's payer book from the early 19thC. It's written in Arabic script.
3. Now that we no longer live in SA, it's quite hard to square the circle, acknowledging my tweetalig upbringing, and trying to relieve myself of excess baggage while at the same time remembering the harnessing of language to evil ends.
In that article, I was on the other side of the divide during the 1976 riots, when the Apartheid government wanted to force black education to be exclusively in Afrikaans. We (privileged boarding school) were petrol bombed, and were in some danger.
4. But with a few exceptions, I think we understood why we were petrol bombed, why people might lash out at us. We did not represent the state, but we did represent the state's privilege.
So I'm profoundly grateful for that article. It offers a welcome to me and those like me conflicted about the past we did not ask for, but in which we found ourselves.
As laws are bent, humanity is set aside, and corruption reigns now in the Britain, I wonder at how long the tail of our own evil days will last.
Addendum: Again, I can't put myself into the shoes of the writer of the piece.
But I got a glimpse as a 9 year old. I went to the library, & spoke to the librarian. I was told to speak Afrikaans. I recall my embarrassment and, yes, anger. I now wonder if she was covering up her own poor English, & neatly made it my problem.
But if that still stings with me all these years later, how much more did Black people of the era have to endure, what depths of forgiveness have they found in their hearts?