South Africa: Does Race Segregation Still Exist?

History of Apartheid

The idea of apartheid, or racial segregation, was introduced by the National Party after WWII. The whites were segregated from other racial groups and were provided with better services and goods. As time wore on apartheid was abolished but racial tension still exists today.

Twenty years after apartheid has been repealed, race relations seem to be present in South Africa today. The apartheid movement was started by the National Party who was in power from 1948 to 1994. Native African’s rights were stripped away even though the majority of the population was black. Afrikaners, or the European inhabitants, had the majority rule, even though they were a small fraction of the population. Apartheid had always existed with the British and Dutch settlers in the colonial period but became an official “policy” in 1948. Under apartheid, the population was divided into four racial groups: native, white, colored and Asian.

An End to Apartheid

The groups were kept apart in living spaces, educational and medical facilities and even beaches. Non-white residents received lower quality goods and services. Anyone who was not white could not run for offices or politics starting in 1970. There was an obvious resistance to the apartheid sparking riots and the arrests of anti-apartheid leaders. Frederik Willem de Klerk, who was president in 1990, sought to end apartheid. His platform culminated in 1994’s presidential election where many races were able to run for office. Nelson Mandela won the election in 1994 and was president until 1999.

Apartheid in the Economy

Apartheid still seems to exist in South Africa, more so in the economy. On June 27, 2012 President Jacob Zuma stated that the South African economy seemed to be mainly in the hands of white males. Zuma said that he wanted economic changes so that inequality and poverty could be eliminated. The African National Congress is blamed for doing very little to help poverty and discrimination. One of their mistakes has been the slow return of land to the people who were forcibly removed during the apartheid. It is reported that 10% of South Africa’s population is white yet they own over two-thirds of the land.

The Racial Divide

Critics of the ANC want more native Africans to own land in the hopes that it will give the economy an upswing. Unemployment rates in South Africa are among the highest in the world. The lack of jobs seems to cause more crime and growing unease in the once racially divided country. A March 2012 article that ran in The New York Times looked in depth at the attitude toward blacks in Cape Town. The city seems to be deeply divided between races, especially in the Western Cape. The Western Cape is not run by the African National Congress but by the Democratic Alliance which still borrows ideas from the apartheid movement.

Cape Town Still Stuck in Apartheid

President Zuma has said that Western Cape has an “extremely apartheid system”. The Democratic Alliance is trying to squelch the ANC from trying to gain control of Western Cape. The Democratic Alliances surmises that the only reason the ANC claims Western Cape is racist is because they do not control it. A study done by the University of Cape Town in 2010 found that many black residents saw few opportunities for jobs or business ventures in Cape Town. An increased feeling that Africans do not get far in their careers is still present. Beaches that once were segregated are now open to everyone but the majority of visitors are white and blacks do not feel welcome there.

The Future for Cape Town

The feeling of segregation is more subtle instead of enforced like in the era of apartheid. Even so, some Africans say they have been refused a table even though the restaurant is empty or have been told there are no available rental cars despite the full lot. Geoffrey Mamputa is from Cape Town and says that blacks are not helping the racial divide if they continue to perceive themselves as outcasts and are adding fuel to the notion that they do not belong. Since the end of apartheid, there has been a “voluntary segregation” where whites stay in white groups and blacks stay in black groups. Young black people do not want to stay in Cape Town because they say it is racist and there are not many opportunities for them.

Racial tension is still prevalent in South Africa today. Despite the fact that apartheid policies have been abolished for nearly 20 years, whites and blacks have voluntarily segregated themselves. There seems to be no progress in erasing the invisible racial divide in South Africa.

The Arab Spring of Northern Africa – Situation Update

Status in Summer 2012

Waves of revolutionary protests and demonstrations in the Arab community have spread throughout the Middle East since last year. As of February of 2012, the rulers or Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia have been forced to step down. Protests in Algeria, Jordan and Morocco have also broken out as the call for fair government is spread. As the summer goes on, it seems these countries are progressing in the right direction.

History of Arab Spring

Civil resistance was most often used by implementing protests, rallies and marches. Social media was also used to show the truth about what was happening in countries that have Internet censorship. The response from authorities has been violent. The protestors, in turn, have rallied right back with their own form of violence. The Arab Spring has been likened to the anti-Communist revolts in 1989 which occurred mainly in Eastern Europe. The disconnect between little government reform and more educated people is also considered a catalyst for Arab Spring.

Tunisia

The protests started in December of 2010 and lasted until January of 2011. The main concerns of the protestors were government corruption, poverty-like living conditions and restrictions on their freedoms of speech. As a result, Political prisoners were released, Prime Minister Ghannouchi stepped down and the political police disbanded. Despite the civil resistance that the crowd used, authorities still shot tear gas at the crowd to control them. On June 15, 2012, more protests about the media’s exaggerated take on the Tunisian revolts took place in downtown Tunisia but were considered peaceful.

Egypt

Egypt’s protests began in January of 2011 and were successful in February of 2011. Violence was common for the Egyptian protestors as evidenced by the 846 casualties. President Mubarak and his family were prosecuted for killing protestors and his presidency was overthrown. The Constitution was also suspended and democratic elections were held to find a replacement president, Mohamed Mursi. On June 24, 2012, protestors arrived at Tahrir Square to condemn the military and its grab for power by electing Mursi. The Muslim Brotherhood is adamant that their candidate was elected fairly.

Yemen

From January 2011 to February 2012, Yemen protestors called for the overthrowing of their autocratic government. Sparked by the Arab Spring, uprising protests became violent resulting in over 2,000 casualties. The Prime Minister Mujawar and President Ali Abdullah Saleh were forced to step down from power. Democratic elections were held and former vice president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was elected. In May of 2012, a suicide bomber killed 90 people near the presidential palace. The attack found weaknesses in Yemen’s security forces. In June of 2012, another suicide bomber killed Major General Salim Al Qatn.

Libya

In August of 2011, Libya’s government was overthrown after a 7 month long revolt. Rebels who were against Gaddafi created their own government but Gaddafi refused to step down from his position. Gaddafi used Libya’s air force, despite his call to a ceasefire, in order to wage war on the Rebels which resulted in 25,000 casualties. President Gaddafi was overthrown and later captured and killed. On June 19, 2012 Libya was supposed to hold democratic elections to select a new president but it has been postponed until July 7, 2012.

Syria

Over a year has passed since Syria began their revolt. As of July 2012, 15,000 casualties were reported as a result of civilians getting shot. The increase in violence is rampant as Damascus and Aleppo were attacked by suicide bombers. Protestors are calling for the resignation of the government and Parliament officials and for the formation of the Free Syrian Army. As of June 20102, President Assad is saying that they will face a real war, which leads authorities to believe that the struggle will be ongoing.

Many of these protests sprang from dictatorships, violation of human rights or corruption within the government. The growing unrest in these countries has caused their economy to take a turn for the worse. Food and oil prices are expected to rise in the future as a result of these protests and government reforms. As the summer continues, it seems these countries are headed in the right direction for their political future.

Background Feature: How the States of Africa were Formed and Created

Introduction

Each of the states of Africa has a rich culture and a vast cultural history. Most of the African states were claimed or won in wars by several European powers. However, the natives of these states sought to gain independence from the West in order to become their own nations.

Colonial Nigeria

Home of the Yoruba culture, Nigeria is the point of origin of the many of the slaves who were sent to America. Northern Nigeria was home to the Fulani Empire around 19th century. From 1750 to 1900 much of the population was slaves. Traders from Portugal and Spain were among first to trade with Nigeria in the 16th century. They used the ports in Lagos and Calabar. In 1900 Nigeria was under British rule. The native Nigerians fought several wars to regain their independence. Nigeria was divided into a northern and a southern province. South Nigeria had more interaction with Europeans due to coastal trading.

Nigerian Independence

As a result of European trading, South Nigeria had a better economy and adapted many Western traditions and educational ideas. Slavery was outlawed in 1936. After WWII, the British government pushed Nigeria toward self-government and it finally gained independence in 1960. The Nigerian’s People’s Congress emerged and consisted of Northern Nigerians of Islamic faith. The National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons were made up of Christians. The Action Group was a liberal party. In 1965, the Nigerian Democratic Party came into power. The Nigerian-Biafran War lasted from 1967 to 1970 and was sparked by attempts of Southern Nigeria to secede as the Republic of Biafra.

Colonial Ghana

Ghana, located in West Africa, was a part of the Ashanti Empire which was one of the most influential empires of the time. The Portuguese first came to Ghana because of the gold trade in 15th century. At the end of the 15th century, Dutch inhabitants had moved to Ghana. French and English trade came next and the French nicknamed Ghana’s beautiful coast, Côte d’Ivoire or the Ivory Coast. Malaria was common in Ghana at the time and Europeans were very susceptible to it.

Struggle for an Independent Ghana

The Dutch pulled out of Ghana in 1874 and the British made it their protectorate. In 1806 came the Ashanti-Fante War. The natives won a few times but lost the Ashanti-British war in 1900’s. The natives did not like the British and after WWII, their thirst for independence grew. Riots in 1948 led to arrests prominent independence seekers. The Convention People’s Party was formed by Kwame Nkrumah and he was arrested for instigating an uprising. In 1957, Ghana gained independence after negotiating with Britain.

Colonial Kenya

Arab and Persian settlements were among the first to spring up beside native peoples. It was a mostly agricultural state, growing tea and coffee. Kenya was one of German’s coastal protectorates in 1885 by the Sultan Zanzabar. Germany then handed control of Kenya over to Great Britain. The British commissioned the Kenya-Uganda railway, which was met with much disdain from the local inhabitants. The Nandi tribe was sent to a reservation by the British authorities so they would not interrupt the building of the railroad.

Independent Kenya

In the early 20th century, British farmers began to gain wealth by growing coffee and tea. In the 1930’s, about 30,000 white immigrants lived in Kenya. Between 1952 and 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency which stemmed from the Mau Mau rebellion. In 1957, the first African president was elected in Kenya and the British relinquished control in 1963. The next year, the country was renamed The Republic of Kenya. Today, Kenya’s main draw is tourism as well as their beaches and game reserves.

Colonial South Africa

South Africa is home to some of the oldest fossils in the world. It is estimated that humans have been in South Africa for over 170,000 years. Two groups native to South Africa are the Zulu and Xhosa people. These two groups had come from other parts of Africa thousands of years before the Europeans. The first European voyage was led by Dutch explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1487 and in 1652, Jan van Riebeeck set up a “refreshment station” at what is now Cape Town for the Dutch East India Company. Slaves were brought from Indonesia and India to work in Cape Town due to the discovery of diamonds and gold.

The Fight for South African Independence

The Anglo-Boer War began because of these valuable resources and the British wanted to control South Africa’s mineral wealth. In 1806, the British gained control of South Africa. The Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaner groups also fought for the rights to the land. In 1909, the South Africa Act started the creation of the Union of South Africa but was still under British rule. In 1931, South Africa was officially independent from any European nation. The Nationl Party came into power in 1948 and they encouraged racial segregation through apartheid. In 1990, President Frederik Willem de Klerk sought to end apartheid and in 1994, South Africa had a black president, Nelson Mandela.

Today, there are 55 sovereign states on the African continent. Each African state has an interesting back story on how they came to be independent states. Each state has a rich cultural past that still lives on today with distinct echoes from the past.