South Africa is a beacon of racial harmony. I saw that in Johannesburg, in Durban, in Cape Town…Blacks live side by side with whites and coloreds. Gone are the days of apartheid. Black kids play by the beach of Durban along with white kids. At OR Tambo, White Afrikaner flight attendants work harmoniously with a Zulu purser. This is a brand new South Africa where the legacy of Nelson Mandela is well and alive.
But with these superficial observation of mine, there is a subtle tension within South Africa. Locals would say that apartheid is being replaced by black empowerment. Poverty is still rampant, crime is on the upswing and scandal upon scandal would rock the national government and all things that represent South Africa. Is South Africa truly a poster nation of racial harmony or was it all just a myth?
Personally, despite of many shortcomings, I still believe that South Africa is a beacon of racial harmony. That is why I am so appalled to read some comments saying that Rolene’s victory is just another case of Afrikaner victory over the blacks. Some claims that it is still prevalent somehow in South Africa that whiteness is being equated to beauty. It just sickens me. This is not the South Africa that I know and I hope that these comment were made by some internet trolls lurking around and dropping racists comments at will.
Racism is a two way street. To deny a white girl with the Palesa on the account of her skin tone is racism. The Miss South Africa pageant is well known to be a pageant of fairness and equality where the color of ones skin is immaterial. Where the content of character and the degree of confidence are the important factors in determining the winner. Where Bokang Montjane stands in the same pedestal as Melinda Bam and Tatum Keshwar.
The South Africa that I know is color blind. It is a nation with traumatic pasts but is marching towards a brighter future despite the challenges that it is facing right now. It is a confident nation which should be not afraid to be represented in the international beauty pageants either by an Afrikaner, a woman of Indian descent, a Zulu or a Xhosa. It is a rainbow nation and Rolene Strauss will be representing all South Africans regardless of their skin color. Rolene is truly a beautiful beauty queen and totally deserving to wear that Palesa. That is why it is only right and just to judge Rolene by her beauty, by her character, by her charm and not by her skin color or by her ethnicity. After all, when all South Africans would unite under the banner of multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity, there is no stopping their nation from achieving greatness – in sports, in business and yes, even in beauty pageants.