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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Essay on Apartheid in South Africa

TOPIC:  Relying on the knowledge that you have already gained about South Africa, especially through reading Mandela�s Long Walk to Freedom, consider the ways in which life for Africans continued and changed under apartheid, making use especially of Mathabane�s autobiographical
account, Kaffir Boy. Which aspects of social, economic and political life remained the same, which changed, and in what ways exactly? Bring in other materials as well such as the documentaries you have watched and your reaction to the Ernest Cole exhibit.

Essay on Apartheid in South Africa

            The racial segregation that took place in South Africa has undoubtedly affected almost every aspect of its people, particularly the black South African. In fact, this ideology has affected their home, education, as well as their employment. One of the most well-known accounts that best captured this social injustice is the book “Kaffir Boy”.Written by Mark Mathabane, “Kaffir Boy” talks about various themes related to the apartheid of South Africa. Having a first-hand experience of this, the author explores the themes of injustice, racism and discrimination, abuse of power, poverty, as well as lack of opportunity among many others. The author grew up during the system of racial segregation as he thoroughly explained how his family’s lives changed and were affected by apartheid.
In the first few chapters of Mathabane’s book, he shared the different ways in which black South African are discriminated and segregated. In fact, the book starts with a sing that reads: “White Only”. This was plastered in the city of Alexandra which is a place reserved exclusively for white South Africans. The plastered signs similarly warned that those who enter the area without any permit will be prosecuted in accordance to the Bantu Consolidation of 1946. The Bantu Consolidation of 1946 was a policy that mandated particular urban spaces or location as “white space”. This means that the premises can only be accessed by white people. This act was a part of the grand apartheid which people are segregated based on their color and race. Under this regulation, non-whites are placed in a separate land from the whites. According to Mathabane, blacks were provided small lands despite the fact that they were the majority. Their white counterparts on the other hand, were provided larger space which was typically located near or within the city. More than this, the author explains that black South Africans were not given the right to own a house or a property. Additionally, one has to carry a permit in order to enter a “white-only” zone.[1]
This ideology of racial segregation also extended not only residential areas but in public places as well. This was mandated by the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953. This law mandates an official racial division in public places such as parks, beaches, rest rooms, and even public transport. The only areas excluded from this law were the streets and main roads. Under this law, blacks were given different facilities than that of the whites in order to prevent “mixing”. In practice however, the public amenities allocated to the blacks were often dilapidated and dirty.[2]
Education was another aspect affected by the apartheid.  Much like public facilities, the blacks were provided a separate schools and universities. However, most of the subjects in the black curriculum include manual labor subjects which will prepare them for low-skilled jobs. Apart from this, the schools for black South Africans were considerably dilapidated and at the same time, students were required to pay for their own tuition fees. This was largely different from the schools of white South Africans in which the curriculum followed the Western standards. Apart from this, education as mandatory as the fees were provided and shouldered by the government.[3]
These were just some of the injustices related by Mathabane in his book. Without a doubt, the racial discrimination has limited the opportunity of many black South African, and at the same time it has prevented them from enjoying their basic human rights and privileges.
Mathabane, M. Kaffir Boy: The true story of a black youth’s coming of age in Apartheid in South
Africa. (NY: Penguin), 10

[1] [1] Mathabane, M. Kaffir Boy: The true story of a black youth’s coming of age in Apartheid in South Africa. (NY: Penguin), 10.
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid

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