My roots – distant roots – lie in Africa, it seems. I had suspected as much. Nevertheless, it was nice to hear my distant origins lie somewhere near the vineyards and beautiful landscape of Johannesburg.
I have not been there yet, but have drunk something labelled Droë Rooiwijn – with pleasure. So: no problem with the place. Especially not with the beautiful pictures in travel brochures, showing cute white houses. According to these brochures, this is what a South African vineyard looks like.
If you are from Johannesburg, or from South Africa, you are sniggering by now. I know: these brochures do not breathe a word about the hard life there. They do not reveal the high alcoholism among the poor working among the vines. Anything which does not fit the pretty pictures is glossed over, erased, obliterated.
Not that my very distant cousins or grandpa and grandma would have seen vineyards. If they looked at the South African landscape, they would probably have seen savannah or jungle. Perhaps, they occasionally got tipsy or blind drunk – on very ripe fruits.
For distant grandpa and grandma were living in a cave, somewhere in the bush, well before Johannesburg and vineyards existed. I’m talking about the archaeological discovery of loads of bones in a South African cave.
It is always nice to be able to trace your family tree. Mine is multi-coloured, multi-culti, multi-continents. Rumour already had it, the Cape figured in the family tree. Seems a few relations are buried there. Before the Suez Canal got dug, ships trawling between Asia, Australia and Europe visited harbours along the South African coast.
So it is no shock to my system that part of my roots lie in South Africa and are coloured. On the contrary: it’s jolly nice news. Another excuse to go and poke around there for a while, in a distant future. To drink some decent wines, dig into a few local dishes, meet folks and have a look at spectacular landscapes. After all: kin is kin, regardless of the distance.
But when the news was announced last week, I wondered.
How do the skeletons in the cave fit into their philosophy, thinking, behaviour, acts, theories, politics – and everything else? After all: the skeletons may kind of share a brain the size of a coconut with us, but the reconstructed face has more of gorillas, orangutans, chimps.
So how do people – and please note I’m specifically not limiting myself to Neo-Nazis or Ku Klux fans – … How do all such racists and zealots, using colour, religion, whatever excuse – square such bones with their claims to supremacy over the rest of us, while sharing sharing common ancestors?
Will they erase the news from their minds? Do they obliterate all family history and ancestors, which do not fit their prettified pictures? Do they gloss over all the facts which do not fit a specific propaganda bill?
How do they cope with such news? How do they deal with facts that we share common ancestors and that roots lie in Africa? How do they manage to incorporate it all into their narrow tunnel vision of things great and small?
Or do they simply continue in denial mode, with a license to kill everybody who does not deny facts?