Free to love – interracial dating in South Africa #FreedomMonth
6 Apr 2018 LIFESTYLE
By: Natasha Archary
Twenty-four years post-apartheid and race issues still plague the country like a bad rash that just won’t go away. We go on with our daily lives because what other choice is there? But have you ever stopped to think about why the colour of our skin weighs so heavy on who we are, where we go and who we love?
This month, on 27 April, South Africa celebrates twenty-four years since the apartheid regime fell and the country held its first democratic elections. Freedom at long last. Or so we thought. The shackles of racist mindsets have not completely released their grip on all South Africans.
Interracial couples still find themselves at the receiving end of uncomfortable stares, whispered gossip and at times blatant retorts about their partners. While Gauteng is a lot more forgiving due to its multi-cultural and liberal views, there are parts of the country that still can’t come to terms with mixed-race dating.
According to numbers
A study by the North-West University found that interracial dating trends has changed over the years. In 1996, the ratio of interracial couples were 303:1 but in 2015 the number increased to 95:1. This could be linked to a number of obvious factors that include: awareness of race issues, heightened tolerance, increased social contact and education.
Black men were said to be more likely to marry outside their race than black women. With interracial marriage being more prominent amongst the black, coloured and Indian race groups. White people were least likely to marry outside their race and interracial relationships were more common between black people and coloured people.
A research report by Claire Lisa Jaynes, from the Faculty of Humanities, WITS, suggests that despite the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 being repealed, interracial marriages are still a highly controversial topic in the country.
Culture and ethnicity were the most influential reasons for the controversy. Many cannot fathom how the cultural traditions are to continue by marrying outside their race or religion. Fear of the unknown is often what causes the divide amongst families when a loved one enters an interracial relationship.
Love in technicolour
Are we any closer to obliterating racism in South Africa? The sad reality is that we may never be. With racists being called out almost daily on social media platforms and more racially charged violence than ever before in the country, it’s a dire fact and one South Africans just tolerate. That being said, it’s refreshing to see more interracial couples in Gauteng. Johannesburg in particular, unlike other parts of the country (Cape Town, Pretoria, Kwa-Zulu Natal, P.E, George…to name a few) embraces multiculturism and mixed race couples.
The northern and southern suburbs of the city are more receptive to the notion that love knows no colour. Tighter culturally influenced cities like Durban and Cape Town, not so much.
People with strong foundations in tradition have narrow views of what is normal. Shunning anything out of the ordinary purely because they are not willing to open themselves up to more modern ideals and mindsets. Creatures of habit, humans are programmed this way from a young age.
These are often people who have never left home, haven’t travelled, have not socially integrated into post-apartheid South Africa, let alone travelled abroad.
So no, we’re not any closer to closing the lid on racism in South Africa.
It’s an individual and yet societal mindset that needs to change before we’re any closer to really embracing each other in a way that skin colour is looked at differently.
Are you in an interracial relationship? How has your relationship been received? Share your story with us using #KayaOnline