South Africa: the Struggle for Equality

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Running Head: SOUTH AFRICA1

South Africa: The Struggle for Equality
Martia S. McNeill
April 8, 2012

SOUTH AFRICA2
South Africa: The Struggle for Equality
The biggest challenge that has faced South Africa in the past, in the present, and in the foreseeable future continues to be racial and ethnic inequality. While numerous laws and policies have been passed to correct the problems of discrimination, inequality, and the resulting poverty, the implementation and interpretation of those laws is, yet, another matter. Implementation of equality has proven to be difficult because South Africa has a very long record of discrimination and stratification against blacks that is not easily diminished or forgotten and which has ongoing negative consequences (Jagwanth, 2000). Even though South Africa is post-apartheid, racial and ethnic inequality continues to exist to the detriment of non-whites (the majority) because its long history is difficult to overcome, social stratification is still unofficially in place, and educational policies are not truly race-blind.

First, racial and ethnic inequality is difficult to overcome because its long history is deeply rooted in South Africa. South Africa, with its limited resources and many diverse groups, has been submerged in conflict for hundreds of years. South Africa, as it is known today, is the direct result of the conflict between its indigenous people and the European colonists. Early European ships traveling to and from India, sailing around the southern tip of Africa, were in need of a refreshing station. In 1652, at the Cape of Good Hope, the Dutch East India Company established that station and the colonists came to stay. Hottentots and Bushmen, the local indigenous people who were easily overpowered, were unable to fulfill the needs of the colonists. The colonists soon brought slaves from the African interior and more people arrived from the Dutch East Indies. In spite of the hierarchy system in place between the colonists and SOUTH AFRICA 3

the indigenous peoples, races mixed creating what is known as the Coloureds today (Marger, 2012).
Many more Europeans arrived, Dutch, French, and German, and the colony grew at Cape Town. For the next 150 years in a movement called “trekking”, many of the colonists moved inland to the north and east establishing farms. Known as Boers, Dutch for “farmer”, these colonists came into continual conflict with the interior indigenous people and the migrating African tribes over land and cattle. The Bantu-speaking people (the major African linguistic group) are known to have been in South Africa since the sixteenth century and possibly earlier. Unlike the Hottentots and the Bushmen, they were fighters and thus, did not easily surrender. The Kaffir wars, the battles between the Boers and the Bantu, lasted for many decades until the Boers finally dominated even though they were greatly outnumbered by the Bantu people (Marger, 2012). South African society was formed from trekking, forever shaped by this movement, and from it emerged the unique white South African group.

As time went on, the Boers moved further away from their own European roots. They became autonomous and isolated. Most affected were their language and their religion. Their language morphed into a unique dialect over several generations that barely resembles the Dutch language today. They moved away from the enlightened Protestant faith of the day towards primitive Calvinism, with ideas of predestination and individualism (Marger, 2012). From this movement the Boers became known as the “Afrikaners” (white Africans) of today. It is thought that it is from this very long period of friction between the Afrikaners and the Bantu that the ground work was laid for a future that included apartheid. SOUTH AFRICA4

Near the beginning of the nineteenth century, the British moved in, were hostile to the Afrikaners, and...
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