Confessions of a kafferboetie

Johannesburg

Johannesburg

At a hospital in the black township in which he works, Theodoor attends the black nurses’ graduation ceremony. He writes:

The graduation was an occasion of immense local pride, for a nursing qualification was highly regarded; and my presence was welcomed with a celerity and generosity which made me feel ashamed. I was the only white who turned up for the ceremony, though white doctors worked in the hospital, and I was at once accorded the place of honour though I knew that I had done nothing special to deserve it other than be white. Refusal of the place of honour would have offended, of course, and so I took it, instead of a black clergyman scheduled for it. What was so moving about this was that there was absolutely no resentment in it.

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Herstigte Nasionale Party

Fraternisation

On another occasion, he drives the black nurse in his clinic home to her house in the black township.

I asked her to sit beside me in the car, rather than in the rear, which she found remarkable: it would have been enough by itself to give me a local reputation as a kafferboetie. (‘And if you can’t call a kaffer a kaffer,’ the mother-in-law of the man who employed me wanted plaintively to know, ‘who can you call a kaffer?’) A white sitting in the back of a car driven by a black would have been a man with his chauffeur; but a black in the back of a car driven by a white would have been as good as chattel.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 22.40.52Gesture of equality

The nurse, who knows Dalrymple is British,

concluded en route that I must be a member of the British royal family to act in this fashion, for only someone of the highest social status would dare do such a thing or be sure enough of his position not to feel it endangered by such a gesture of equality.

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