South African Journalist Reflects on his Interracial Marriage after Apartheid

How has the end of apartheid changed the relationship between black and white marriage and dating? African journalist, Mpho Lakaje, found there was opposition on both sides of the issue. During apartheid, interracial relationships were banned in South Africa, and even though it has been twenty-four years since the end of the white majority rule in South Africa, Mpho Lakaje still felt opposition when he met a white woman who would soon be his wife. Here are some of his experiences and thoughts during his relationship.

“In 2007, I met Daniela Casetti-Bowen, who had come from Chile to study tourism in South Africa. We became friends and later started dating. Two years later, against her family’s will, we moved in together.”

“Daniela’s uncle, who arrived in South Africa in the early 1980s, was extremely skeptical about our relationship. He refused to let me inside their house. Daniela’s white South African friends also warned her about dating a black boy from Soweto. Daniela and I had to make a conscious decision to disregard those opposed to our relationship.”

“Most of my relatives told me it did not matter to them whether my partner was black or white, South African or not. While I was a bit shocked by their open-mindedness, I also saw their actions as a demonstration of their authentic commitment to Mr. Mandela’s dream of a Rainbow Nation.”

“But post-honeymoon, reality hit, and we started experiencing challenges that come with interracial relationships. Some of Daniela’s relatives discouraged us from starting a family. They said, “mixed-race children always had a tough upbringing because they do not have an identity.”

Ignoring their advice, they had a beautiful baby boy, Mpho Jr.

“Interestingly, relations between myself and Daniela’s family have improved tremendously in recent years. However, problems started to arise from my side of the family. Questions were being raised about Daniela’s “lack of commitment” to our traditions.”

“Daniela and I both agreed that culture evolves, and therefore, we would only follow what is practical. But some members of my family remain opposed to our views. They feel that Daniela needs to follow or perform most of our traditions.”

“For example, shortly after our son was born, Daniela was supposed to spend ten days at my mother’s house with the baby. But for us, this was not practical. However, there are many things that Daniela has agreed to do. For example, my family insisted on shaving our son’s head at three months as opposed to my wife’s belief that this should be done immediately after birth.”

It is clear from Mpho’s experience that things have improved, but there are still remnants of the old ways that have to be overcome. The success of any relationship is based on its strength to overcome the obstacles it will face.

© EthLeen


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