On the 27th of April, we celebrate 20 years of democracy in South Africa. Thanks to our democracy, we now have the liberty to explore and express love, without being restricted or inhibited by the colour of our skin and without any fear of being criminalised for it. Yet, 20 years later, interracial relationships are still seen as scandalous, why is that?
Wikipedia defines anti-miscegenation laws or miscegenation laws as laws that enforced racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sex between members of different races. In South Africa, as part of Apartheid, we had The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, Act No 55 of 1949 which was one of the first laws implemented by the National Party. This legislation was later repealed by the Immorality and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Amendment Act of 1985, which was passed during the presidency of P. W. Botha.
Even though this law no longer exists, people still shun interracial relationships. Most are not brave enough to do it overtly but there are those few that will walk up to interracial couples and hurl insults at them. Take Takara (19) and Phetogo (20) for example, who were publicly displaying their affection for each other, when an old lady said to them “Is this what you call democracy?” in a tone that showed pure disgust.
There are people who believe that the government was trying to protect them by implementing these laws. They think that because racial interbreeding combines two or more racial groups into a different one, it changes one’s genetics and destroys heterogeneity. Since whites are a minority race in South Africa, some believe they will get wiped out and for that reason they think racial interbreeding is genocide.
The fact that we still view interracial relationships as a rare phenomenon is disturbing, but at the same time, I believe that we need to have these conversations and get it over and done with so we can finally accept these relationships as just that: relationships. Not “interracial” relationships.
Do you think we will ever get over it? Follow me on Twitter and let me know.
Images taken by Thabiso Molatlhwa.