Boesman and Lena - a Uniquely South African Play

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Boesman and Lena depicts a brief period in the lives of a non-white couple, struggling in Apartheid era South Africa. The play begins with the couple on the move, after being forcefully removed from their home. The harsh reality of the Forced Removals and Group Areas Acts, which the government passed to separate racial groups.

Although the play does identify many universal themes, such as the destitution of homeless people, I feel the play is uniquely South African, as the circumstances for the poverty and homelessness is different. South Africa passed laws that discriminated against non-whites, and these laws were strongly enforced. This did not occur in other countries, although racism was evident elsewhere, it wasn't actually law.

Boesman and Lena perfectly represent the plight of the millions of non-whites that suffered during Apartheid. Primarily, the forced removals from homes and dispersing of communities caused the destitution in South Africa. Non-whites were not afforded the opportunity of settling down in a home or community, and this led to great depression and loss of meaning in their lives. This fact is perfectly illustrated by Lena's desperation after being forcefully removed.

Boesman's feelings towards Outa show the racial tensions between different groups of non-whites. Boesman believes he is superior to Outa. He is frustrated by the situation in South Africa and he vents this frustration on other non-whites. Outa, being very frail and unresponsive, is an easy target for Boesman, and this is evident in the way he treats Outa.

Fugard has presented a play on the plight of non-whites in Apartheid South Africa, and I feel that due to certain circumstances, such as the forced removals, the play is uniquely South African.
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