A holiday from race

Candice Nolan / Jan 15, 2020

A holiday from race


It would be so lovely to go on holiday to a place where the colour of my skin isn’t an issue. It’s not really about the colour of my skin, per se. I could pass for white. But I have been classified as coloured. This comes with a burden of stereotypes that has proven cumbersome, to say the least.

One year, we spent New Years at a place called Klein Kariba. It’s owned by the Afrikaans language and cultural organisation. Basically, old boere who yearn for the South Africa of yesteryear. These are the self same people who institutionalised racism. It wasn’t even their idea, they inherited it from the British and simply made it law.

They crafted a racial classification known as “coloured”. Mostly, we passed the pencil test but fell far short of being classified white (which, apparently, is prime racial real estate). To tick the white box on a censor form was to live in a world of opportunity. It was like America for white South Africans.

They were forced to relinquish power circa 1994. But they remained bigots. And because they own the economic gears of power, one is forced to live in pockets of apartheid. A coloured person cannot simply go on holiday to the coast, for example. In shopping malls, on beaches at restaurants, one has to run the gauntlet of stares, snide remarks and sometimes monkey noises.

At Klein Kariba, when we got into the heated indoor pool, all the white folks jumped out. As if our pigment might contaminate them. Sure, we told ourselves, at least we have the pool to ourselves. But it still stung. It’s no fun being on holiday in a place where you are not wanted.

This happens everywhere. Holiday accommodation is largely white owned, and even if the proprietor is open minded, the clientele are stuck in the dark ages (pardon the pun). Last year we discovered this nice little spot on the Vaal. As usual the white folk let us have the pool to ourselves but our hosts were very accommodating. Well, for someone that is used to substandard service.

Kedu River Lodge offers glamping. That’s what attracted me to them in the first place. We went over Christmas in 2018. The company was stellar. And the groundsmen sorted out nesting wasps in our tent. We really had a lovely time. As I say, not much interaction with the other guests. Not even a friendly smile or nod and of course we had the pool to ourselves.

This year, we visited over the New Year. The manager, Lynne, even allowed us to have day visitors on the last day. She said that because there was no guests after us, we could use the facilities until 14h00. Our braai took longer than expected, so we overstayed by about two hours. No gripe about this. My complaint relates to the way Lynne handled the situation.

Apparently somebody complained, and Lynne came down on me, in front of my guests, from a dizzying height. “I said you can stay until 14h00! what’s this now! And after I gave your guests a discounted rate! This is completely unnacceptable! Would you like to pay for another night?!” and on and on. I took the abuse on the chin, as I was trained to do.

Coloured people do not speak back to the madam. We tuck our tails between our legs and thank them for showing us the error of our ways. Yes, baas! So, I didn’t say anything. When we knocked at reception to return the key, she hid away inside. After walking the place flat, we eventually called and she opened! She seemed sheepish. “They don’t even give me a holiday! I need a break from this place”, she explained.

We offered to pay full price for our visitors. She declined. This would have covered the overnight fee she threatened us with earlier. “No, no, it’s fine! Book early and see you next Christmas!” LOL. I don’t usually LOL, I reserve it for special occasions of whatthefuckery! Anyway, she ended up witholding the key deposit (citing a broken cupboard door), which would have covered our extended stay in any event!

So it all kind of worked out in the end. And, as long as I remember my place next time, I will be more than welcome to swim alone in their nice fiberglass pool 🙂 But, I’m afraid, there won’t be a next time! Our next holiday will have to be an island or somewhere on the continent where being coloured doesn’t mean second class citizenship.

Now, I need a holiday from the holiday. After purposefully avoiding the racist coastal belt of South Africa, and being unable to find recourse inland (with the so called “verligtes“), I feel boxed in and oppressed. They are happy to accept my money, but not my pigmentation!

In future, I would be more than likely to go it on my own. Find a nice camping site and really rough it up.

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