On nationalism & racism

On one of the funding analysis trips we took into a very poor township we visited an amazing entrepreneur who had started a crèche catering for babies through to six year olds (we only went to school at six in SA)…. and as we walked in a small child, unlikely older than 3 saw our white faces and began screaming in terror. In response to my concern, my colleague suggested it was probably that the child had never seen white people before (this was only at about the time Mandela was released) but in my soul, I know that cry was not one born of something strange, but rather, a deep fear. It still keeps me awake at night, some nights. But my point is that just one throw away comment perhaps, overheard from a conversation can introduce a fear too deep to undo into a child. And I can’t help but think that nationalism of the flavour we see rising up across the world – the intolerant, ugly, xenophobic flavour is ultimately about telling people they need to fear and then introducing the other – an easily eradicated foe, named as the enemy to be overcome.

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