It has been 20 years since the end of the white minority rule in South Africa. What many people don’t discuss is how the end of apartheid has changed the relationships between black and white people when it comes to marriage and dating.

During apartheid interracial relationships were banned in South Africa, and even though South African journalist Mpho Lakaje, met the white woman who would be his wife, he still felt opposition. His childhood friends from Soweto said they wouldn’t dare date someone who wasn’t Zulu, let alone white. Also, his girlfriend’s family didn’t feel he was good enough for her. 

From The BBC:

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 take 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 inter-racial 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.

Again, we ignored this advice and went on to have a baby, Mpho Jr.

Interestingly, relations between myself and Daniela’s family have improved tremendously in recent years.

Lakaje says that even though there was resistance at first, he feels that he had it better than most of his friends in interracial relationships. He notes that one friend in particular, Jake, whose mother is white and his father is an African-American, born and raised in West Virginia, is now married to a black woman from Soweto.

“At times somebody would refer me as a white person. There are times I would say: ‘Wait a second, I’m black’,” Jake says.

He says they get “the looks” when walking through the shopping centre with his wife but he is not too worried about it.

“This racial classification is very engraved,” he says. “It’s like in the psyche of South Africans.”

What’s interesting to note, is that Lakaje realizes that even though things have changed in South Africa, there are still remnants of old thinking.


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  • Moe

    I was raised by a very militant family, that I thought was going to have a heart attack when I told them I had a white boyfriend. Surprisingly, they were ok once the initial shock was over and really liked him.

    Once we broke up, I got to hear all the rants they had about interracial dating, but it till doesn’t effect me. I date who I want to date regardless of how he looks, and at the end of the day- my family’s only concern is that I’m treated well.

  • ashleydark

    uh oh

  • ALM247

    Their baby is cute. He looks like Tia’s son.

    It’s interesting that the journalist expected so much push back from his own family. I am not surprised that his family didn’t give him a lot of trouble.

    There seems to be some type of intent to pretend as if Africans and African Americans have issues with interracial relationships, but all other races and ethnicities love and encourage interracial relationships.

    Recently on “The Steve Harvey Show” an African American woman was on the panel with her teenage daughter and her daughter’s Asian boyfriend. I noticed that a point was made to grill the mother about her opinions on the relationship. Her opinions were based on the safety of both teenagers after an ugly incident at a subway station. The mother was not being racist. She was worried about the couple being physically attacked in public as a result of physical threats made to the boyfriend. The young lady’s mother also felt as if the two teenagers should focus on college and their education.

    What was even more interesting is that the Asian boyfriend’s parents were NEVER EVER brought up in the conversation. What was their opinion?

    By leaving his parents out of the equation, the show promotes a fallacy that African and African American people have an issue with interracial dating, but everyone else is okay with it.

    • deniseHux

      I agree with this. I dated a Korean boy and we pretty much broke up because he said his mother would never accept me and he would never argue against her. My parents, as much as they kid about wanting me to marry a black guy, could care less. It’s usually not “us” in my experience.

    • MsSmeeg

      I see what you mean, other races (non-Blacks) are for the most part not accepting of interracial marriages/ relationships, their mentality that Blacks are so inferior etc. There are even incidents of families abandoning their child if he/ she is in a relationship with a Black person. I know a Black guy who has a child with an Asian woman (of Indian or Pakistan descent I think) and her family have disowned her (so I have been told, I don’t know her personally).

  • Anthony

    In my experience, there is a much wider cultural gap between black and white South Africans than there is between white and black Americans. It is important to remember that black South Africans were never slaves. They kept their languages and cultures, if anything, urbanization and industrialization molded black South Africans into one people, but maintained the divide between black and white. Culturally, Coloureds are closer to the African American experience because Afrikaans is their first language, and there were slaves also. Marriage between Coloureds and Whites in South Africa seems to be fairly common. In fact, before Apartheid, many families consisted of white and Coloured branches. One of the cruelest aspects of Apartheid was thT it broke up such families.

    • Ivory

      There is something so cool about South Africans. They just seem to have the most style and beauty.

  • MsSmeeg

    Their son is cute, What I found interesting was that Daniela’s close circle (Whites) did not agree with this interracial relationship, yet Lakaje’s relatives (Black): ” Most of my relatives told me it did not matter to them whether my partner was black or white, South African or not.”