Reflections II – black and white

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Our regular trip to the shopping mall (by Uber taxi – we did try the bus once, but it never came – takes us past Jeppe (pron. Jeppy) Boys, which appears to be lifted straight out of a 30s English school story (think Jennings or Billy Bunter): a stately red brick building with manicured playing fields out front, on which boys wearing caps(!) are playing cricket. But just to upset the stereotype, it is Jeppe that is the government school (though one of the best in the country), while just a stones-throw away, DCS, without a playing field to its name, is Independent (though also one of the best in the country.)

South Africa is famously defined by black and white, but it is nothing like as straightforward as that sounds, even without including the various shades of brown and yellow. DCS’s learners are almost entirely black, but are drawn from many tribal groups, speaking several languages. The teaching staff is remarkably diverse: the black teachers from almost as many different cultures, the white ones split equally between English and Afrikaans- speaking. They are mostly strong Catholics, but include Hindus, a Muslim, agnostics and atheists – all fiercely proud of and committed to the School’s Dominican ethos and tradition.

South Africa undoubtedly faces challenges: 50% of its young people are unemployed, and the scars of the past will take generations to heal. But to our eyes (just three weeks in!) the future is full of hope. At least in the middle class shopping malls, black, white and brown are seen living, working, socializing together. Nkosi sikelel’ Afrika…

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