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SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1933. Volume 4. Number 6.

Characteristics of the Bantu

Characteristics of the Bantu.

One of the outstanding qualities of the Africans is their courteousness. They are courteous in their contact with others and in their expressions. Senior people must be addressed as father, mother, brother, or sister. Laughter is their outstanding characteristic. They laugh even in the most trying circumstances. They have a deep sense of gratitude for kindness or favour done. An African sometimes presents an ox to a descendant of people who did a good turn to his ancestors two or three generations back. They have a sense of humour. Most of their humour is expressed in action more than in words. They have a gift for languages—English, Afrikans, Greek and Latin do not form a stumbling block to African students.

They are communistic people. If an ox is strangled in one home, members of the tribe are entitled to the feast. They are friendly and sociable, but can be very unsociable and unfriendly when they have cause to do so.

They have a soul for music. When working on the roads and in the fields they work with a musical accompaniment, one man being the precentor, others joining in the chorus.

Nature has given them remarkable patience. They have patience in their work and with others. Their patience might be judged by the way in which they have borne white domination for so many years without civil disobedience.

They like living in peace, but when they take to the fight either they must be destroyed or their enemies.

They have world-wide renown for their loyalty to friend and Master. One New Zealand gentleman has asked me to look up a native servant who was faithful and loyal to him during the South African War.

On the other hand, Africans are very independent. If an African accepts a gift from one, that person should be sure that that African honours and respects him.

This spirit of independence is due to the fact that tribal custom did not permit dependence on others. A man who did not possess cattle did not enjoy state rights to the same extent as those who possessed cattle.

Although not suffering from race pride, they are very proud of their race and colour. Nothing makes an African think of apoligising to any race for his colour. Africans are extremely sensitive. A facial expression or slight deviation from the recognised form of speech might be taken as a deliberate insult by an African.

Such, then, being the racial characteristics of the African, no Bantu student would think of living in a foreign country, where he would constantly meet with unpleasant remarks levelled against foreigners. Personally I would not live iu a foreign country even for the sake of saving my life.

Sometime back there used to be a narrow slogan, Asia for Asiatics, Africa for Africans, and West for Western people, but our economic and educational interests are so interdependent that such a narrow slogan cannot be put into practice without hindering the progress of the world.

What remains, therefore, is that each country should respect interests and desires of people in other countries. One writer expresses this view well in these words:—

"What we need at the present time is a clear, honest thinking and a realisation of this fact that the things we most need are needed by people in other countries."