'Bruin ous-main ous' culture has us killing one another
I haven't said anything about the tragic killing of teenager Montreal "Monty" King from Newlands East, Durban. I've been silent because I felt his family needed time to mourn his passing and bury him without too much analysis of why coloured people find themselves in a never-ending cycle of killing each other.But I feel obligated to say something.King was stabbed to death in an altercation between two groups of men at the Durban Day music concert on Sunday September 6.I found a lot, not all, of the reporting and comments in the media on Monty's murder irresponsible.Some simply reduced it to a community turning on itself. Others played up the youth- need-help angle. One or two even blamed the ANC.What I found even more troubling was that some were hoodwinked into buying into the media concoction that a turf war is the root of the problem.That's not to say this wasn't a factor, but I want to separate the fiction from the reality and get to the fundamentals of why we are burying our teenagers.When trying to understand and analyse what led to the death of Monty King and countless other young people over the years, there's a bigger concern for me than "district politics". If anything, district politics is symptomatic of a deeper problem in our communities.I call it Coloured Bravado.It manifests at the lowest and highest levels of coloured life. I've seen it on the school playground and in boardrooms.It's the feeling that, because we are coloured, we must never back down from a fight. As in: "I'm coloured and I don't take shit! I'm not a sny! Don't vat me! You don't know me! I'll make you swak! Bruin ous are the main ous! Don't fuck with me, I'm coloured! I will steek you! With line! I'm going to make you rak vol!"It played itself out in front of thousands of people at the biggest outdoor event in Durban, East Coast Radio's Durban Day. For Indian, white and black people living in KwaZulu-Natal it was a disturbing window into a reality of coloured communities in Durban and other cities.Many people are still traumatised by what they saw. Even those coloured people who'd forgotten what Coloured Bravado looks like at its worst.It's a knife edge.Say the wrong thing, look at someone the wrong way, step on someone's shoe and it could be curtains for you.In 1999 I watched a guy get stabbed outside Xanadu nightclub for just that - stepping on someone's shoe.We have become ticking time bombs at home, school and workplace.This would have been an unfair description of my community for me to accept 15 years ago. But, after travelling across the world, I now feel it's not.I wasn't even aware of our aggressive nature until my first visit to England 15 years ago.I couldn't believe how polite people were there - so much so that I mistook it for weakness.But I don't want to just blast Coloured Bravado without exploring why it exists.Coloured communities here behave in a similar way to many minority communities around the world. Poor education and literacy levels, forced removals and relocations, congested living conditions, drugs, poverty and starvation are key factors.Having no vested interest in society and not being highly regarded by other races has forced us to find another way to earn respect.It's come at a high cost. Young lives.What's worse is that it has not earned us respect at all.Instead, it has created fear and panic and further alienated many of us from society. And for the most part we've taken our fight inside.We are fighting for respect on the home front against the home front. It seems to "them" as if we hate each other and killing each other is how we express that hate.But it's not true. It's not hate. It's insecurity. We are insecure about who we are and where we are going, about our place in community and country. We feel trapped and vulnerable.Coloured Bravado is an expression of our uncertainty and anxiety about ourselves.So what's the solution?The coloured community needs a new identity in South Africa but, importantly, within its own ranks.It starts with each and every parent. Do your children say things like "My mother don't take shit" when they are in trouble at school?Have we shown our children that we sort out our problems with violence?Do we applaud people when they tell someone off?Do we bask in the glory of how "I put him in his place"?Do we tell our children to "fight if someone interferes with you"? I know I have, and my son is only six.What sort of generation do we expect to raise if we teach them to respond to oppression with aggression?Twelve years from now will I be the one burying my son who was killed at Durban Day, because I taught him to stand up and hit back - not knowing the other kid's parent instilled the same idea in him? It will all end in tears.The community as a whole, at home and abroad, has a responsibility. We don't set out to raise murderers. But we have allowed a culture that does to take root in our communities.And the cycle goes on, generation after generation.Let's turn the tide before we drown in our own tears.