We thankfully made it to Hammenskraal in one piece. Our first stop was the chicken market—a tiny cement building located behind a petrol (gas) station and slightly hidden from the main street. Our aim was to buy chicken feet, livers and heads. Despite the already ridiculous scene of the vegetarian surrounded by five liter bags full of chicken heads and buckets of chicken feet, the whole scene officially became ridiculously awkward when the only other white person—a six-foot something Afrikaner—came over to speak to me.
Previous to this moment, I had been doing my best to have conversation in broken Setswana and English while Elise waited in the queue. I found myself as the novelty of the chicken market—the white American woman speaking Setswana. (This was not the first time nor do I imagine will it be the last time that I find myself such a novelty.) The Afrikaner—he never told me his name—came up and began speaking Afrikaans to me just as Elise returned from the queue. I was taken aback as I had not noticed him until then. I told him that I did not speak Afrikaans, and upon hearing my accent he asked where I was from. I told him I was from the
Awkward conversation continued in which I learned that he was a member of the
Finally he returned to his lorry (delivery truck)—which the point when I came to understand why he was in the market in the first place—but before we could leave, he returned. Apparently he had been on the phone with his boss—also a Zionist—and had been working some sort of deal for Elise to get a discount on chicken, um, products if she left her phone number so that I could be contacted later on. My new friend wanted to take me in his lorry to I’m not really sure where to meet the head of the
. Zionist Church
Elise and I decided it was best to leave without leaving a phone number for the unnamed Afrikaner. I didn’t think Peace Corps would appreciate me road-tripping in the lorry of an unnamed man. I didn’t like the idea very much either.
At this point in our stay in
It is difficult not to sit in judgment upon the Afrikaners and the South African English who allowed racism and prejudice to drive a huge chasm through the heart of this country—a rift that has not healed and will likely not heal for many generations. It is difficult to find any sort of love for them when I see the great poverty that still exists in the rural areas largely due to Apartheid. It is difficult to not say “them” and “those people,” remembering that my forefathers also set up awful systems of trade and politics that counted other people as less than human and certainly less than white. It is hard to come from a place where a nation gathered the courage to elect a black man as president. It is hard knowing that for much of my generation the color of that man’s skin had nothing to do with why we did or did not vote for him. It is hard not to think of myself as the better person, and it is hard to be a vessel of peace.
I believe this is an issue that I will struggle with through the length of my service in SA. But it is important that I find my place within all of the “tribes” of