Interviewee Name: Romilla Nkosi
Photo courtesy of Romilla Nkosi
Romilla is a 38 year old woman from rural KwaZulu Natal. I met her while she was staying at her mother’s home in Cato Manor. Romilla is of Indian descent. She has been married to a black Zulu man for nine years, and she has a twenty- one year old half- Zulu son from a previous relationship. She described how she lives alone, as her son is at university and her husband works far away. Her extended family consists of her six siblings with 13 grandchildren and 5 great- grandchildren in the family. Romilla works for a non- profit old age home in Inanda outside of Durban. This past week she was visiting her mother, and nieces and nephews in their Cato Manor home. I interviewed Romilla to inquire what she has witnessed and her experiences with Afro- Indian culture in and around Cato Manor.
A: When did your family first come to Cato Manor?
R: My mother has lived in Cato for over fifteen years now. She must have come in about 2000.
A: Do you feel that there are tensions between Indian and black populations in Cato Manor?
R: I would say that you see tension in all areas. It’s not exclusive to Cato. There are even tensions where I live in the rural areas, since I’m an Indian and most people are Zulus. But tension comes from not wanting to communicate constructively. Communication comes in levels. Some people only want to talk about the negatives. If you have one person that wants a real conversation and the other person only wants to talk about what’s bad, it creates tension. If both people only want to talk about the negatives it creates tension. You have to be willing to communicate well in order to move forward, but there are some people who don’t want to do that.
A: What would you say are some of the success of the government post- apartheid?
R: Now we have freedom of rights. We are no longer oppressed from exploring our futures, our careers, schools, and traveling; we can go wherever we want now. We get to interact with different people are at schools now. I think it’s so good that we good to school with people who come from different cultures from our own. And because we can explore our own futures and careers we have control of our own lives.
A: What are some of the failures of the post- apartheid government and society in these past 20 years?
R: Overall in the past 20 years, the government has not been failing. The government is failing now. Despite developments, they are lacking in their promises. The presidents now are different. Mandela focused on education because he knew education is freedom for the future. In the rural areas where I live, I work for nonprofits for kids who have so much potential but they have no future because the schools are bad, and then the government doesn’t care to make them better. Now all we hear from our leaders is about their wives and personal lives. No one cares about education. People now will vote but our leaders are not keeping their promises.
A: Are people in the rural areas in high support for the ANC?
R: Yes, people in the rural areas still love the ANC even though they aren’t keeping their promises, but they are still voting. The leaders will say whatever because they know the people will vote. They don’t care about making improvements for education.
A: What are your thoughts on the mixing of Afro- Indian cultures in South Africa, along with interracial relationships and marriages between the two groups?
R: In terms of interracial marriages, people need to see that we are all one. It [race] doesn’t matter because we’re all people. You must learn to respect the culture, the religion, and the people, and see each other as people. I would say when it comes to people’s opinions on interracial relationships, 70% of people are in support, 25% of people would say maybe, and 5% say no. Definitely most people are for it and would consider being in one, some people are not sure, and there are a few people who have the same mentality of before.
A: That’s all I have for you! Thank you so much Romilla for speaking so openly with me.
R: You’re welcome, and thank you so much for speaking with me. I think it’s so important for when American students come to SA to talk to people about the issues we are currently going through. I hope you can come to the rural areas and see what education is like out there, and how are the kids there work. We are always excited to see American students who want to help and work with the nonprofits.