Chapter Ten – I have a Dream
I could have got from Cape Town to Pretoria quicker by foot! That is how Louise Burrell felt as she exited the bus. At least the trip had given her a chance to get to know Lindiwe Buthelezi a bit better. The CNN reporter had a good understanding of South Africa and the country’s racist policies, but some of the things that Lindiwe told her were still quite astounding.
Blacks using blacks-only toilets at public areas!
“I am going to Mamelodi now and I will catch up with you in the morning at the Vosloo Grill,” said Lindiwe with a tired smile.
“Let me come with you,” said Louise.
“That won’t work as you as a white person need a pass to be in the townships,” explained the law student.
Another rude awakening went the way of Louise. “What! A white person needs permission to be in a township? That can be only in South Africa!”
Louise’s shoulders slumped as she began to accept that she would have to spend the night alone in a Pretoria hotel.
Lindiwe bid her friend goodbye and climbed on to a taxi which would transport her to within one kilometre of her home.
One day she would put her whole life story into a book for her children and grandchildren to reflect on. She had been to Robben Island even though she never got to see Mandela. Few blacks ever got to see Cape Town never mind the island.
On board the taxi, she peered out of the glass window and saw black people on the streets going through their usual routines from gardening, to looking after kids for the whites.
The police seemed to be out in full force too. She saw a huge Afrikaner cop gesturing with his hands in an aggressive manner to a black man. This was South Africa. Most whites understood that blacks were sub-human.
There was Lindiwe Buthelezi, with a white father. The average white person would not want to hear this. Multiracial relationships were another form of treason in the eyes of white South Africa.
Once at home, Lindiwe threw her two small travel bags on to her bed and flung herself down next to them. She had tried to sleep a bit on the bus trip, but the vehicle’s seats were not at all comfortable.
What if South Africa would not change as Louise had led her to believe? What if ‘Black and White’ would be separate forever?
‘I have a dream’. Where did those words in her head come from? They certainly weren’t Mandela words but rather those of Martin Luther King Jnr, who delivered them in an emotional speech in a bid to strive for equality for jobs and freedom back on 28 August 1963.
Lindiwe drifted off into dreamland and white privilege flowed through her mind. How would life be if she, Lindiwe Buthelezi was white and married a white man? She certainly would not be living in Mamelodi, that’s for sure.
Imagine having a driver’s licence or even sitting in the passenger seat of your white husband’s car? Or even to be sitting on a train in a whites-only train carriage or in a whites-only restaurant?
White people wouldn’t stare at her for being with a white man. Now they would doubt her abilities. They always did when a black person began to climb the ladder of success. This situation would be totally different if it was a white woman living in a plush white suburb with her white husband. There would be no more Group Areas Act issues for Lindiwe. She could walk and live where she wanted too.
Lindiwe went deeper into the dream. There would be no more of the white mentality that blacks breaded by the dozens. Many white people believed that if blacks did eventually move into the house next door to them, half the township would squash into the house too, like eight in a room.
Then Lindiwe’s dream went more positive. She saw the back of the head of a white man kissing her on the lips. It was clear that this was her future lover. She couldn’t quite make out the face.
Would she fall in love with an English speaking man or, thought of all thoughts, an Afrikaner?
Personally, Lindiwe did not have a problem with the Afrikaners. Her life had never been directly impacted on. No Afrikaner had yet called her the derogatory K-word to her face. (The word Kaffir is banned in the New South Africa and as hurtful to a black person as the word Nigger is to a black American).
“More juice, darling?” asked the white man to Lindiwe in the dream. At least Lindiwe was still a tea toddler in her dream. She stayed far away from alcohol entering her mouth even though she worked in the Vosloo Grill.
After consuming some juice, she kissed the white man goodbye as she headed off to work. Where was she going? Ah, an upmarket law firm in the centre of Pretoria. Hang on; something was seriously wrong in this dream! Lindiwe was travelling in a yellow cab taxi with two white women next to her.
Was this a taste of the new South Africa?
“Hello, Lindiwe,” greeted the one woman with a strong Afrikaans accent.
“Oh my God, how did this Afrikaner woman know my name?” thought Lindiwe out loud.
“Don’t worry, dear,” said the other white woman in the taxi.
“This is a different South Africa now. We are all equal since Mandela came to power.”
“Never, never and never again, shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”
“Who said that?” thought Lindiwe again out loud.
Those words were certainly not of Martin Luther King Jnr, but of Nelson Mandela.
She saw herself climbing out of a taxi at a busy street in Pretoria.
“Hello, Lindi,” greeted a familiar voice.
Lindiwe looked up into the face of Louise Burrell.
“Louise, what is going on?” asked Lindiwe.
“No more tray days for you now that you are on the brink of marrying a handsome white man?” said Louise with a smile.
Lindiwe battled to take in air in order to breathe.
White man? What white man?
“This may sound quite stupid but what is the white man’s name again?” asked Lindiwe, pretending to joke with the American.
Louise ignored the comment and Lindiwe never got her answer.
“Let’s do steak and chips for lunch, on me,” said Louise as she pointed to a classy restaurant in Church Street.
Wow! Lindiwe Buthelezi set to eat with a knife and fork instead of pap (mielie meal) en vleis (meat) with her hands like the way that most white people thought blacks ate their meals!
Lindiwe stared at the restaurant with the name Koos’ Kitchen on the door. She knew it used to be the home of firebrand Afrikaners when they wanted to treat their women to a class meal.
With Louise leading the way, Lindiwe followed and stopped in her tracks at the door, in front of her, stood a large Afrikaner man in an apron.
“Oh, it is the bride-to-be, I am sure that you must be excited,” said the man.
“Let me send some complimentary bread rolls to your table while you look through the menu.”
Lindiwe gulped. Bride-to-be? This was all becoming a bit much, and since when did white men send complimentary bread rolls to the table of a black person? Hello, Lindiwe, don’t you get it? You are not are black person anymore. You are white now, she reminded herself.
“My name is Koos,” said the large man in a deep Afrikaner accent.
Again, Lindiwe was taken aback. She had never called a white Afrikaner man by their first name. What if she pronounced it wrong and the man took offence and called her by the K-word? Lindiwe, for goodness sake, white people don’t call other white people by the K-word!
“What would you like to drink so long?” asked Koos.
“Seen that it is a special occasion, perhaps you would like some fresh juice as I know that you don’t drink alcohol.”
Lindiwe was stunned. Why did so many people seem to know so much about her life and she knew very little or nothing about them?
“Thank you,” said Lindiwe with a smile.
As Koos headed off she popped the most important question to Louise.
“What is the story that Mandela is out of jail?” she asked.
“I did get my exclusive interview with Mandela and I suppose it was only obvious that he would be the first President of a democratic South Africa,” said the reporter.
Phew. This good news was mind-boggling to Lindiwe.
“Now, enough of Mandela and the New South Africa, tell me how it feels now that you are about to become a lady of leisure?” asked Louise.
Lindiwe gritted her teeth together. How could she find a way to get Louise to release the name of her husband-to-be without looking stupid.
What is it like living in Waverly?” asked Louise.
“A step up from Mamelodi, I am sure?”
Lindiwe grinned. Property in the Waverly suburb in Pretoria was anything but cheap. It was the most sought after physical address in Pretoria.
“I am still proud of my Mamelodi roots and upbringing, but yes, there is nothing wrong with a change,” replied Lindiwe, as she still tried to make sense of how she had transformed from black to white.
“So those years of studying law did work out well for you after all,” said Louise.
“I mean that is where you met him.”
Him? Come on, Louise, you got to give me a break here, thought Lindiwe.
“I bet you ever even forgotten what it is like to travel on a township taxi,” teased Louise.
“You really have landed with your butt in the butter, so to speak,” went on Louise.
“Well, I didn’t ask for any of this, it just kind of happened,” replied Lindiwe.
“Tloo banana, oa tseba hote o lula o batla sena (Come on, girl, you know you always wanted this),” said a familiar voice in her mind.
For a split second, she saw the face of the speaker. Gogo Albertina Buthelezi, Lindiwe’s mother’s mother!
“That is how love works, it has no barriers irrespective of race or creed,” quipped Louise.
“Here is your juice, Lindiwe, enjoy,” said Koos, as he placed a glass of orange juice in front of the lawyer.
Lindiwe wiped her face with her hands.
“You know, Louise, life has been going so fast, I can’t even remember all the blessings that have come my way but I am oh, so grateful.”
“Well, I am just so glad that we met up at Cape Town station on the way to Robben Island,” said Louise.
“It was fate that drew us together. Things happen for a reason. I believe that you deserve everything that is coming your way.”
“U na le karolo e kholo eo u lokelang ho e bapala (you have a big part to play),” said that Gogo Albertina’s again.
Lindiwe thought hard before making her next comment. She was afraid that she was losing her mind.
“Tell me, Louise, have you ever felt like you went forward in time, you know to like twenty-odd years ahead of where you were in life?” asked Lindiwe.
“What do you mean?” questioned the reporter in return.
“No, forget I even asked,” said Lindiwe.
“You have been watching too many space movies, I think,” commented the political reporter.
“Nothing special happens in my life, although my work has allowed me to travel the world. Outside of that, it is just me holding a microphone looking into a CNN television camera every day.”
Lindiwe decided to press her friend further on the time element.
“Sometimes I feel like I was put in the 1980s to gain the experience to live out in the 2000s,” said the lawyer.
“I will tell the waiter to take it easy on whatever they are putting in your orange juice because it is making you go crazy,” said the American.
“I am not making sense to you, am I?” questioned Lindiwe.
“No, you are not,” replied Louise.
A thunderbolt of lightning struck the Mamelodi East area and Lindiwe Buthelezi woke up to reality.
What? No Louise? No husband-to-be? No wedding? No Koos’ Kitchen? No Koos? No house in Waverly? No law firm? No Mandela out of jail as the country’s new No 1?
So Louise hadn’t been to the future. It was just simply Lindiwe’s mind running in a dream of how life as a white woman in love with a white man would be.
The black girl began to shed tears. One day everything will work out, Lindiwe, and that day is not too far off, she told herself.
Suddenly, she felt a pounding feeling. Was there about to be another blast like the one at the Vosloo Grill? Surely not as there were no gas pipes at the house in Mamelodi!
The pounding feeling was not coming from anywhere external. It was coming from Lindiwe’s heart. What was causing the pounding?
Pieter Erasmus! There was something about the Lieutenant that made Lindiwe weak at the knees. Come on, Lindiwe, this was 1987 and a ‘Black and White’ relationship would never work out as it would not be acceptable to most white people.
Even some hardline blacks would find such a relationship difficult to accept. However, Lindiwe was mature enough to know that she could not live her life to please family members. She needed to follow her heart, but was determined that Pieter should make the first move if there was to be one at all.
Oh, Lindiwe, who are you kidding? How could an Afrikaner look at a black girl from Mamelodi from a sexual perspective?
Of course, Lindiwe had no proof that Pieter was the husband-to-be that Louise and others had referred to in the dream.
What she wouldn’t have given to have has just a peak at the face of the man who gave her something to drink in the dream before she headed off to lunch at Koos’ Kitchen.
Her thoughts returned to Pieter. There was something about this Afrikaner. It was like he had a sense of fatherly-figure about him.
No, Lindiwe. Louise was right. Cut back on whatever you are putting in your orange juice before you embarrass yourself.
She could have almost any black man that she wanted to have, but Pieter was Pieter. Something could happen here at any time and she was sure that in one way or another, Pieter must feel the same. The ball was in Pieter’s court. Little did she know, but Pieter was ready to play!
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