Apologies for my first 'daily log' but I've been moved to write and feel this is the best place. I should come clean at the start that I am an Englishman and usually proud of it. I'm also a newbie and pretty proud of that too. Today, every day for me since I found this place last month, I decided to read a few random nodes and contemplate. Via today's log I came across anglophobia. StrawberryFrog's writeup was interesting though towards the end I was disturbed with: "I hope... I never learn to speak like that, or pick up some of the drearier aspects of their culture"
I was going to reply, maybe even flame - the pride of the English was at stake. Rather than suffer a tide of downvotes though, I thought I'd have a read of SF's home node first and calm down a bit. SF has an interesting home node and reading some of his writeups was informative. A good writer and something I'd like to aspire to if I have the time on E2. I noted with interest the rant on trolls which made me think SF was being slightly hypocritical and it made me think of my experience of SF's home.
Ten years ago I was fortunate enough to spend several months in Southern Africa including four or so weeks in post-Apartheid pre-Mandela South Africa. It was a fantastic holiday to a marvelous country and I will never forget the trip. Being a rugby player, I received quite a welcome from the Afrikaans community although all races were marvelous - a really friendly people on the verge of real nationhood. I look forward to going back. Saying that, two specific conversations that I had whilst there stuck in my mind and the memory's been rekindled today:
The first conversation was with a black seamstress in Johannesburg. I was invited to a dinner, needed to dress smartly (I was backpacking) so bought a suit off the peg in a departments store and had to go to the seamstress for adjustments. She argued that, although Apartheid was over, I shouldn't have come to her country. I shouldn't have supported the whites and I wasn't welcome in her country. She was full of hate and wasn't ashamed to let me know. I felt bad. I felt she hated me. I tried to explain why I was there but nothing seemed to justify my tourism. I left her feeling disappointed with the new South Africa - where was the forgiveness.
The second conversation that sticks in the mind was whilst hitching between Cape Town and Johannesburg. A couple of middle aged Afrikaans guys picked me. They were from the Orange Free State which I understood to be a conservative stronghold. The spent the next three hours duration of my lift explaining how they weren't racist at all but the problem was that... and here they filled in with any prejudice they could think of from "they are all lazy" to "they are naturally thick" with they being anyone who was not white. I was begging to be set down...
At the time I concluded from these two conversations that the South African situation was far from sorted. I judged quickly and I judged harshly. It wasn't "dreary aspects" of culture that I was scared of, but the volatile mixture of national pride and prejudice that seemed to affect all sided of the cultural divide. It left a bitter taste in my mouth. I felt superior. I felt glad to be English. I felt glad not to be South African. I hoped we never had those sort of problems. I guess that I still felt that way to this day. SF's write up, although only loosely connected has made me revise my thoughts. We have those problems. We have that prejudice. SF has said that he hopes not to pick up some aspects of the English culture. Instead of flaming I agree. I have learned something today about myself. Thank you E2. Thank you StrawberryFrog.