The Silent Racist – Woe Betide Your Hue


I was about to throw in the towel, I had called too many times before and sadly, to no avail. Not that I had much of a choice, I urgently needed a roof over my head. Needless to say I just had to keep pressing on in search of accommodation. There are several ways to secure a flat and this method ranks among the best:

  • Step 1: Buy the local newspaper – freshly released on Friday mornings.
  • Step 2: Scan through (usually the last two pages) for newly advertised rentals and note options within your budget range.
  • Step 3: Contact the flat owners immediately for viewing arrangements. You want to be first in line to stand a better chance of securing it.

But what happens when you meticulously follow these steps and still get nowhere? Week after week I was told – “Sorry, the place has already been taken” despite the fact that I was first in the enquiry line. It would make sense if my house hunt had started late – perhaps mid-week, thus limiting my chances of getting a place, especially in a small University Town where several students need housing. But nope, I’m first in line to buy the newspaper and yet I’m told sorry, it’s already been taken! I started to smell a dead rat, and a huge one at that.

Reading between the lines

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this “already taken” pattern was the experience of many of my African counterparts. The message hit home one day when a white colleague suggested I call a place which turned out to be – you guessed it, already taken. When she called, it suddenly became available, only a few minutes after my enquiry. So there you go my darlings – Mandela’s United and Loving Rainbow Nation. So what do you do when housing availability is hue dependent? Search me, I don’t have a clue!


You can imagine my pleasant surprise when during one such enquiries a mature female voice attempted to make small talk. I usually never get far before I’m told to save my breath. I was therefore elated that this owner sounded friendly.

“Are you spiritual?” She had wanted to know.

“Certainly!” Was my enthusiastic response.

Her deep calm voice made me conjure up an elderly woman, mid-sixties perhaps, a doting grandma, salt and pepper hair, loving, caring. We would definitely get along, hallelujah! I was about to paint a very pious picture of myself when the phone went dead. I quickly redialed the number and began to mumble an apology but she interjected with a curt – “F*ck off, I’m an atheist!”

PS.‘Stellies’ Diaries (Those in the know, would know).

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