Let us not romanticize pain

By Vincent Mathosse

Black South Africans are a living exhibition of resilience, strength, and courage. As people, our history dictates that we selflessly dedicate our time, resources and emotions to a lifetime war against injustice and inequality. However, as a consequence; we have psychologically preconditioned ourselves to use the above qualities (resilience, strength, and courage) to cope against injustices and inequality. We unconsciously romanticize pain and suffering by showing how strong and resilient we are. one of the lowest-performing countries in mathematics. These are basics; when an individual dies, it is minus one and not the other way around. We try so hard to overcome pain to the extent that we downplay the magnitude of an event or situation.

“She did not die, she multiplied” (pull out quote)

When Uyinene Mrwetyana (19), a University of Cape Town student was tortured, raped and brutally murdered, people came up with slogans such as, “she did not die, she multiplied”, “we are Uyinene”. While we might mean well by such slogans, I think such coping mechanisms are toxic. We do not confront situations as they are but we try to show emotional strength by telling our brains that whatever has happened it is positive. I am aware that I might be attaching a literal meaning to words with a metaphoric meaning but neither connotation is pretty.  We do not have to wait for someone’s death to disseminate their ideas and views and ultimately see ourselves in them. We are not Uyinene and she is dead, she did not multiply.

“Our parents took care of households with R3000 salaries” (pull out quote)

Such sentiments are problematic in that they perpetuate the idea that our parents are content with their salaries. I doubt there is a parent who would refuse a better and reasonable salary for R3000 because that is what a majority of people get. The fact that my parents provide shelter, clothing, food, and education for me and my siblings with R3000-R10000 salary does not mean that it should be my only reference to providing for my household. Providing for a household with as little as R3000 is not romantic and ideal. R3000 is NOTHING and there is no fancy way to put it. It is not wise to tell people to get on with it when they point out that their salary is not adequate for their expenses because their parents endured the same faith.

‘Wathint’ abafazi wathint’ imbokodo’ (you strike the women; you strike the rock) is a title of a famous resistance song that symbolizes courage and strength. Unfortunately, even in contemporary South Africa, such sentiments that compare women to stones still exist. In reality, if you strike a woman, you strike a woman you do not strike a rock. Black South African women do not have to tolerate abuse, violence, discrimination because they are believed to be strong. And why are these resistance traits exclusive to black women?

I know that we mean no harm by attaching positivity to every unpleasant situation but we are not spin doctors. It is unnecessary. Our blackness is not a survival trait. Just any human being on earth, we also must recognize our existence under the moon and stars. We also deserve nice and beautiful things.

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36 thoughts on “Let us not romanticize pain

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