I’d waited in the queue for ages and when I got to the front the officer looked at me, looked at the paperwork, shook her head and pointed in the direction of another building.
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘Because you were not born here,’ she replied, in a dry unfriendly manner. ‘If you are not born in South Africa you apply for your ID document over there.’
I’ve lived in South Africa for forty years. I’m a citizen and as South African as they come.
But off I went to the ‘other building.’
This one was small, dark, hot and had a very long queue. Inside the people were mostly black, from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia, Rwanda and I could go on and on but you get it. They were people from all over Africa, living in South Africa.
With legal paperwork.
With the correct documentation.
Applying, just like me, for ID books.
But because we hadn’t been born in South Africa we were separated out and made to feel different. Shown to be different. Pointed out to be different.
May I say that I immediately had feelings of Nazi Germany.
Nazi Germany feelings are not good feelings.
I chatted to the people in this line. Good people. You get to know a person when you wait in a long line together. They were all here in South Africa for one reason – a better and safer life.
It took a while but we got our ID books.
I went home. Me with my lily white skin to my lily white house in a lily white suburb where I am safe and I am not a threat and therefore not going to be targeted by anyone xenophobic.
Not yet anyway.
But I’m not sure how the black people are feeling. The ones who are called ‘foreigners’. They go home to not so lily white suburbs, to much poorer areas, to a lot of hatred and baying for blood and to people who want them gone.
Today there is an anti-immigrant march taking place.
In South Africa, the rainbow fucking nation, an ANTI IMMIGRANT MARCH.
I am so ashamed.
I’m even more ashamed that we have no counter marches. Not one teeny little pro immigrant march.
And not a single leader who seems willing to organise one.