A self-published South African book that navigated "coloured culture" so badly it caused an outcry will be revised, said the lead author. The authors wrote pompously about how to avoid an "awkward situation resulting from a minor cultural difference" in South Africa, but did it so offensively they ignited a social media storm when the book was picked up again this week.
"I thought it was satire but this is non-fiction," wrote an outraged Deirdre (@KlapperOlieAfro) on Twitter at the weekend when she found it at the weekend. Her disgust sparked similar responses online.
'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
The book is "Rainbow Nation Navigation: A practical guide to South African culture", written by Paula Marais, Carl Marais, Nicola Marais, David van Wijk, Bulelwa Mfingwana and Teri Glass. It was published by Logogog Press -- directors Paula Marais and David van Wijk -- in Sandton, a few years ago.
On Sunday, lead author Paula Marais promised a rewrite of "Rainbow Nation Navigation" and asked for input.
"Due to recent feedback from the Coloured community, the publishers (Logogog) have decided to update the Coloured section of RNN. 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, they are open for your input.
Please email info[at]logogog.com with any feedback on what you believe most typifies the culture in terms of: traditions (births, deaths, marriage, engagements, rites of passage); dress; food and drink; religion; language (special sayings from the community) etc.
They look forward to making that chapter better with your help!"
— Paula Marais, on paulamarais.com
The book was listed for sale on online bookshop Amazon. It has however since been taken down.
This is Amazon's listing for the book:
With 11 official languages and an abundance of cultures, interacting with South Africans can be very complicated. We need practical guidance to help us understand South Africa's diverse cultures, and that's exactly what Rainbow Nation Navigation offers.
What will you find in the book?
• background information on each culture
•interesting facts about beliefs, rituals and ceremonies
•general etiquette guidelines (what to do and what not to do)
•essential phrases in all 11 official languages
•quick reference guides so you'll be culturally clued-up at work and also when greeting, giving and receiving
•an overview of milestones like weddings and funerals, including tips for guests
•a glossary to clarify any confusing terms
•written in Plain English, accessible to second-language speakers
•advice on some of the best ways to experience the different cultures ... and more!
Why should you buy it?
How often have you found yourself in an awkward situation resulting from a minor cultural difference? Have you ever wondered why someone behaves so strangely? Ever wondered which handshake to use or if you are greeting someone in a polite way? If you live in or are travelling to South Africa, it's guaranteed you'll meet people from various cultures. Understanding more about them can make your interactions so much more interesting and productive. This book will help you do exactly that, both from a personal and business perspective.
Marais describes herself on Amazon as an "avid traveller" who has visited 70 countries and has a string of books, mostly romantic novels, to her name.
Twitter uses tweeted, with scorn, sections of the book and commented on it.
@KlapperOlieAfro 'in spite of their friendly and welcoming nature...'— Nechama Brodie (@brodiegal) February 11, 2017
@KlapperOlieAfro this is straight up Apartheid cultural stereotyping— Andries du Toit (@abdutoit) February 11, 2017
@KlapperOlieAfro nice touch was ensuring the image of the coloured guy didn't have any front teeth. *eye roll*— Botany (@sid_kane) February 11, 2017
@KlapperOlieAfro how did it even get to be published? The stereotypes and condescending tone must come from a distant and privileged place— Paledi (@SaniGlenn) February 11, 2017
The Huffington Post South Africa has published more thoughtful views on coloured identity. Have a look at how filmmakers Kelly-Eve Koopman and Sarah Summers are braving those difficult conversations while the Curating Coloureds photographic exhibition in Cape Town is a creative woman's homage to her peers.