My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
Unlike with kaffir, when the word “coolie” came to South Africa through the slave trade, it slipped into the local languages. Growing up, I cannot recall any other Setswana word to describe people of Indian origin other than as makula. I perceived no malice (and I believe that none was perceived) in its use except when conferred by tone or context in much the same way that the words “whites” or “blacks” are innocuous except when an inflection or the context gives clues to an underlying prejudice. Batswana and Basotho don’t usually use makula in a derogatory sense… while its etymology is derogatory the current use is not. – Osiame Molefe over at Daily Maverick on Julius Malema’s use of the word perceived by some to be racist.BACK TO TOP