Mari van Heerden, a black South African woman, is slowly but surely creating a racial fire storm on Twitter, all thanks to an explosive interview in which she reveals that she considers herself white.
Van Heerden is a known soap actress, having starred in shows like Villa Rosa and 7de Laan. In an exclusive sit-down with media personality Relebogile Mabotja on her YouTube show Unpacked, she spoke candidly about her upbringing in an all-Afrikaans family in the North West and how it impacted her racial identity.
Mari Van Heerden: ‘I don’t identify as black’
In the clip, which has garnered close to 90 000 views, Van Heerden speaks of how she “never learnt” to be black.
“I don’t identify as being black. I was brought up white, so I couldn’t learn how to be black. So now, from the beginning, I was raised white… I always thought of marrying a white man. It’s not like I can’t identify with being black, it’s just that I never learnt how to and I never had the opportunity to learn from black people,” she said.
Van Heerden was brought up in Ramokokastad by her grandmother who worked for an Afrikaans family on a farm. Her grandmother had taken Van Heerden from her parents when she was just a toddler, allegedly because she was being ill-treated and was eventually adopted by the family.
Twitter reacts to Mari van Heerden clip
Twitter has been awash with reactions to the clip. here’s what some had to say.
‘I wasn’t black enough and I wasn’t white enough’
She has also revealed some of the social struggles which came with being a black girl in an Afrikaans school.
“It was difficult because I couldn’t fit in anywhere. I wasn’t black enough and I wasn’t white enough,” Van Heerden said.
Her adoptive father, Klasie van Heerden, featured in the interview and spoke of the change she brought into their lives.
“She was immediately taken in… There was no race discrimination among us. Our hearts were being changed as Mari grew into the family. We had to have our hearts change because it was a very difficult time. Living on a farm and living in a difficult time,” Van Heerden said.
Her full name is Mari Molefe van Heerden and said she’d decided to keep her biological father’s surname and stay connected to her roots.
You can watch the full interview here.