No Kidding

This evening, we enjoyed some South African Pap and Chakalaka, a local version of grits and sauce, at a restaurant in Melville, a neighborhood in Joburg. We then headed to a nearby comedy show that featured black comedians who joked about apartheid. One of them said, “Yes, I have a white name and it confuses everyone … That’s the result of colonialism for you.” Another comedian made a much more explicit joke: Whenever dogs die in movies, they really die. It’s sad and all, he said, because dogs are supposed to be man’s best friend. But only white people say that. He said black people scratch their heads wondering how in the world they think that. He said all that dogs did was chase his people during the apartheid. The audience roared with laughter, but my classmate Liz, and I were surprised that people here talk so openly about racism. Yet another comedian joked about how he was robbed by a white man in London. He said his Nigerian friends trapped the thief, whipped out their cellphones—and then took selfies with him because they were so surprised by his race.

–Mohini Tangri