Locally-published book Rainbow Nation Navigation: A Practical Guide to South African cultures and one of its authors‚ Paula Marais‚ are at the centre of a Twitter storm as a result of some of the comments in the book.What was of particular concern to Twitter users on Saturday night was the book’s narrative on the culture of coloured people.
The book states: “Coloured People also have baby showers. If you’re invited to one of these‚ here are some hints: - Hand-me-downs are acceptable gifts‚ although in the younger generation‚ this is becoming rare. - Good gifts to give the mother include baby clothes‚ baby toys and useful baby items (like blankets and baby bags).”
“There’s a little (unacceptable) thing called ‘vat en sit’‚ which refers to a man moving in with his girlfriend and‚ often‚ letting her pay for his expenses. In some cases the girlfriend falls pregnant. She then returns to her mother and makes peace with her (usually by apologising). The girlfriend moves back in with her and then has the child‚ She then leaves the child with the mother and returns to the boyfriend‚” reads another extract from the book.
Twitter users‚ especially coloureds‚ did not take kindly to this and responded by lambasting the book and its authors.
'Coloured culture' as portrayed in the book Rainbow Nation Navigation.— Deirdre (@KlapperOlieAfro) February 11, 2017
I thought it was satire but this is non-fiction pic.twitter.com/TU56DAV1bf
@KlapperOlieAfro this is straight up Apartheid cultural stereotyping— Andries du Toit (@abdutoit) February 11, 2017
@KlapperOlieAfro @SAHRCommission this is beyond offensive. Are we still dehumanizing cultures in SA?— My Africa (@ZamatheAfrican) February 11, 2017
Paula Marais on Twitter said that the information was acquired through interviews with coloured people and then verified by people of that culture.
@easyleesie so sorry you feel this. All based on interviews w Coloured people. Each sectn written then checked by people frm that culture.— Paula Marais Writer (@Paula_Marais) February 11, 2017
Journalist Nechama Brodie replied and said that as publisher of the book‚ she should not pass the buck to people who wrote particular chapters within it to which Marais simply replied “don’t buy the book”.
You're the director of the company that published it.— Nechama Brodie (@brodiegal) February 11, 2017
Don't pass the buck by saying you didn't write *that* chapter. https://t.co/Xg0o6JBoK7
A petition‚ titled “remove racist and defamatory books”‚ was subsequently drawn up on amandla.mobi.@brodiegal well then don't buy it. You're the consumer. No problem.— Paula Marais Writer (@Paula_Marais) February 11, 2017
According to the site‚ the campaign was created by Jacqlyne Titus because “the information‚ particularly about Coloured people in South Africa is defamatory and racist”.
The statement on the site states further: “The information is ill informed and dangerous in creating assumptions about millions of South Africans. The publisher Paula Marais has taken no responsibility for the chapter by saying other people wrote it and it was verified by people of ‘that’ culture‚ further exposing her attitude towards accountability.”
One of the 50 people who so far have signed the petition is a user by the name of Kyle N‚ who said: “I signed because this woman is ignorant and clearly has a very misinformed opinion about our people‚ and lacks knowledge to be ‘educating’ others about Authentic coloured cultures and tradition.”
As a result of the online backlash from the coloured community in SA‚ the publishers of the book will be updating the section on coloureds.
“The book’s biggest aim is to create understanding between races and cultures in South Africa. So if you identify as part of this community‚ we are open for your input‚” the publishers said.