I had the privilege of going to a private, as opposed to a state funded junior school. I was exposed to all sorts of things I might otherwise not, and the level of education was fantastic. It came at a price though.
We couldn’t afford to pay the full fees so I had a bursary. I was a poor kid (in my eyes at least) in a sea of rich kids. I felt inferior because I didn’t always have sports kit, or if I did, my stuff, from pencils to shoes, didn’t quite match up. And then there was the racism. It was in junior school I was called a kaffir, a coon, and all sorts. I had teachers tell me that my language was ugly. And the prevailing sentiment from staff and students alike was that all things African were inferior to those European.
For all long time, all I wanted was to belong. Years later, living in Europe, it feels like an old ghost has come back to haunt me. And in the words of my Polish housemate, who uses her limited English vocabulary sparingly, “it’s stupid!”
It’s stupid that we all seem incapable of not judging a book by its cover. It’s stupid that although theoretically all people groups are equal, some are more equal than others. It’s stupid that the Irish are welcome to visit my country at will (maybe 10% of my classmates in junior school were Irish), but God bless the Zimbabwean that wants to come here! And do you know what, I’m not angry, just hurt. It pains me almost physically there such naked injustice doesn’t make the world blush. The most stupid thing though is that my country can’t seem to get things right and the thought of just going back home is very quickly replaced by reality.
Still, it could be worse. I could be a Muslim. Black and Muslim…then I’d really know what discrimination looks like!