I woke up this morning thinking what do I really know about my heritage? What does heritage mean to me? For some reason that struck a chord within my soul and reminded me of an experience I had. If anyone tried to put me in a box again by asking ‘what race are you?’ I’d probably chuckle and my response would be the same as it was about two weeks ago when I think about that conversation I had with that single minded individual.
While minding my own business and trying to relax he overhears me speak and suddenly asks ‘what are you? in my head I had a thousand responses that included ‘I don’t know? I think I might be an alien? So I tried to handle it gracefully knowing where this conversation was heading I responded “all you need to know is that I am South African” , he then shifted his gaze to me, while I was desperately trying to avert his and asked “What language do you speak” , aha! he had to ask a different question this time and was waiting on my answer so he could place me in box I saw the look on his face that has been placed there by society – that look that our society has created by pushing aside intelligence ,creativity, individuality, identity … So who? What am I ? You might still ask and wonder??
Well I am a South African woman who was born to a light coloured skin mother and a dark skinned father (an egg donor I like to believe) whom I have never met/seen. I have a heritage of white, black, and even of the San people/ Bushmen. Yes my heritage and family lineage races back to the ancient times when Jan Van Riebeeck and the Dutch came to Colonise the Cape hence I have an English name with a Dutch surname. Therefore I have come to the conclusion I am South African in every sense of the word African. Don’t judge me on the colour of my skin, the ethnic hair I wear on my head, the languages I speak or don’t speak and most importantly on the way I speak .
I am Black. I am White. I am Heritage.
© Melanie Arendse