That queue please, you’re foreign

I’d waited in the queue for ages and when I got to the front the officer looked at me, looked at the paperwork, shook her head and pointed in the direction of another building.

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘Because you were not born here,’ she replied, in a dry unfriendly manner. ‘If you are not born in South Africa you apply for your ID document over there.’

I’ve lived in South Africa for forty years. I’m a citizen and as South African as they come.

But off I went to the ‘other building.’

This one was small, dark, hot and had a very long queue. Inside the people were mostly black, from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia, Rwanda and I could go on and on but you get it. They were people from all over Africa, living in South Africa.

With legal paperwork.

With the correct documentation.

Applying, just like me, for ID books.

But because we hadn’t been born in South Africa we were separated out and made to feel different. Shown to be different. Pointed out to be different.

May I say that I immediately had feelings of Nazi Germany.

Nazi Germany feelings are not good feelings.

I chatted to the people in this line. Good people. You get to know a person when you wait in a long line together. They were all here in South Africa for one reason – a better and safer life.

It took a while but we got our ID books.

I went home. Me with my lily white skin to my lily white house in a lily white suburb where I am safe and I am not a threat and therefore not going to be targeted by anyone xenophobic.

Not yet anyway.

But I’m not sure how the black people are feeling. The ones who are called ‘foreigners’. They go home to not so lily white suburbs, to much poorer areas, to a lot of hatred and baying for blood and to people who want them gone.

Today there is an anti-immigrant march taking place.

In South Africa, the rainbow fucking nation, an ANTI IMMIGRANT MARCH.

I am so ashamed.

I’m even more ashamed that we have no counter marches. Not one teeny little pro immigrant march.

And not a single leader who seems willing to organise one.

34 thoughts on “That queue please, you’re foreign

  1. I am exactly like you, living here as a SA with an ID book, but not born here. Now I dread having to go at some point to get the new ID card. I am putting it off as long as possible. This singling out of people never does any good. I really hope we are not at the level of Nazi Germany.

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      1. I did not know this. How stupid! Makes no sense, as all you need is that different number in your ID code and everyone knows you weren’t born here. So much for consistency and trying to stop forgeries! sigh

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a dreadful experience. I lived in South Africa for 2 years back in the 1970s and on arriving at Johannesburg airport I was taken to one side by armed guards because I was holding a copy of Cosmopolitan magazine ( which unknown to me was banned in SA). I was made to feel like a criminal, my passport stamped to show that I had brought in illegal goods and was then returned to my husband under armed guard.
    Fortunately the vast majority of people I met were lovely, the country is beautiful and the experience ended up as a positive one and I am so glad I went there even though it was still during apartheid. It made me value the freedoms of the UK and I have never taken them for granted since.

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      1. So this is the crux: ‘Not awful that you need one, but awful the way it is done.’ It is not Nazism by farrrrrrrr. It is the attitudes that annoy…not yet steered toward one form of fascism or another, but the aloof arrogance.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry, but did you just compare being made to stand in a different line with an evil empire that murdered millions of people and tried to conquer the world?

    Is it possible that your feelings might be a bit unreasonable?

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  4. First words that popped into my head:
    Papieren Ein Bitten
    ….give or take the ‘n’ at the end. Sounds chilling in any language. Brrrr…

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