As much as the world would like to believe that race is no longer an issue in post apartheid South Africa, the reality is that most South Africans still use race to ‘identify’ and define each other. So why after 20 years of freedom is race still an issue in a country called “the rainbow nation”?
According to Heribert Adams and Kogila Moodley, political writers of an article pointing out how South Africans are still affected by Apartheid, “The tension between the ideal of colour-blindness and the need to diminish the reality of colour inequality lies at the heart of the South African dilemma.” With racial tensions in South Africa at a high due to back-and-forth racist rants from both black and white politicians, the topic of race has been opened up once again.
Although Apartheid affected millions of people in South Africa, each being affected in a different way, the four leagacies outlined below could offer possible explainations as to how Apartheid still affect South Africa today.
Firstly, what is a legacy? In simple terms it is an ideology left behind from a period of time and passed on to another, later, period of time and one of these legacies which is still prominent in South Africa is education. In South Africa’s case, it is a case of one generation’s actions impacting a future generation’s future.
In the apartheid era, the majority of funding for education was allocated to ‘white only’ schools. This meant that white students had the best learning resources available while black, coloured and Indian students had to make do with whatever the white government had left over.
Although the unfair allocation of resources has ceased, schools that were privileged during the apartheid era remain far better off than most schools in other urban areas and townships in South Africa. The often poor standards of education in township schools have seen more and more black children enroll in former white only schools, in search for a better education.
This is the legacy that apartheid left on education as learners who now attend formerly white schools are still blessed with having the better resources than learners who attend former black only schools.
This legacy is further embeded in the education system as black learners who attend these schools are forced to learn and be tested in Afrikaans – often thier third language.
Without a proper education, even dreaming of a financially comfortable future can be a bit far-fetched. Defined as “Economic Racism” by Heribert Adams and Kogila Moodley, those that benefited from receiving the best education in apartheid are still reaping the rewards sown into them by the apartheid government.
High managerial positions are still mostly held by the white minority who benefited from the unfair system of apartheid. At the time, children in ‘non-white’ schools were mostly taught to only be semi-skilled, while white pupils were given the best education available.
So what has this have to do the economic legacy left behind from apartheid? To put it simply, the more educated you are the better your chaneces of receiving a high paying, high status job. Now black children who suffered under the apartheid education system grow up to be under-educated adults, with low paying jobs who can’t afford to send their own children to school.
This continues the cycle of poverty and keeps the economic riches in the hands of “the old regime.”
With South Africa being a multi-ethnic country, it is surprising to note that only a brave few have managed or even dared to cross the lines of race when it comes to the dating world with only a small percentage This could be due to social stigmas around interracial dating, which dates back to the apartheid era when it was illegal for people of different races to get married or be in relationships with each other.
This legacy created an “…us and them…” mentality which still grips the country today, 22 years into democracy. Adams and Moodley describe this as “formal segregation” as in many social situations people tend to “stick to their own groups.”
Nothing unites South Africans like sport does. This was evident in 1995 as people of all races celebrated the Springboks winning the rugby world cup on home turf. In trying to promote diversity in South Africa, sports officials have called for more black players to be included into previously ‘white’ sports.
This has caused somewhat of a stir in some white communities as they feel that good white players will be overlooked for black players who are not as good, thus affecting the competitiveness of the team. The legacy apartheid left on sport is that the majority of white players have benefited from the unfairness of apartheid.
White players often had the best sporting institutions, infrastructure and coaches to help them improve their skills while non white players had to make do with whatever they had. As a way to fix this dilemma, Adams and Moodley suggest that the “government should not force coaches to pick players of formerly disadvantaged backgrounds, but fund community sporting initiatives in places which are currently disadvantaged.” This would help develop young players in those communities into future sport stars of South Africa.
It would be naïve to think that the abolition of apartheid meant the end of racism. The recent spate of racist remarks made by high ranking politicians, shows the world that while South Africa may be a rainbow nation, many of the same inequalities still devides a country that has 11 official languages. The legacies of apartheid mean that there are still many social injustices which have yet to be resolved and 22 years is nowhere near enough time to turn a country around.
By: Lincoln Kyle September (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Source: [This was a first year politics assignment on how apartheid still affects South Africans. I achieved an A* for this task and it was used as a study template for first year politics students leading up to exams.]