Racism in South Africa today
February 12, 2011
South Africa. What do people picture when hearing those words? Some imagine vast open spaces, full of beautiful wild life, roaming free along the prairies. Or peaceful, glorious landscapes ready to be painted. The people who populate South Africa have a different story to tell, about the life in South Africa. These are the people that live with the prejudice and discrimination every day. It is hard for others to imagine the turmoil, without having to ever witness the effects bigotry has on the people of South Africa.
It is easy for people to shut their eyes to things they do not witness, like bigotry, racism, and the cruelty of South Africa. According to Obi Akwani “It has been nearly a decade and a half after the end of apartheid” and South Africans are finally realizing there is a problem with racism (Akwani, 2008).
This realization occurred after white students from the University of the Free State, made a racist video. This video showed the students degrading and humiliating four black workers. The racism portrayed by these students was said to be deep-seated. These students even went so far as to allegedly, urinate in the four black workers food (Akwani, 2008). In 1994 a man was fed up with his black worker, so the black man was fed to the lions (Akwani, 2008). This type of cruelty is not as common as it once was, but any act such as this should not be allowed to take place in the free world. Imagine living every day in fear, never knowing what the day is going to be like. What about tomorrow? This behavior is something most people never have to experience in their lifetime, but what about those that get to witness these events first hand? The violence and hatred that has caused a country to live in fear, was said to be a symptom of globalization, by a country that calls itself a “Rainbow Nation”, yet was not supposedly about racism at all (Perry, 2008). 3
It became apparent in 2008, when 42 black people were killed. These people were raped, beaten, robbed, and burned alive. This type of loathing has divided a country (Perry, 2008). These types of incidents have diminished over time, but are still evident in the culture. The cultures in South Africa are many and most are still high in the masculine beliefs. Ethnicity is the differences in culture and is diverse in South Africa. The many different tribes and people have similar yet different beliefs. Race refers to the social construction on the difference of skin color, or nationalities (South Africa and its Culture, 2011). Polygamy is still carried out and a dowry is still permitted in most of South Africa’s cultures. Cattle are a sign of wealth and also used as a symbol for sacrifice. The Zulu is one of the strongest surviving black culture in South Africa (South Africa and its Culture, 2011).Xhosa are also a strong presence in the South African culture, and are referred to as the red people. The red people are called this because the red dye they use on their clothing, worn by most adults. The Ndebele are related to the Red people, but live in the North-western corner of what now is called Mpumalanga, in vibrant painted homes (South Africa and its Culture, 2011). Then there are the Dutch settlers along with the British, these people are known as Afrikaners, and are the majority of the South African population (South Africa and its Culture, 2011). Surprisingly there is a large Jewish population that resides in South Africa; no doubt the survivors of Hitler and his brutal rein. Brutality is not the only problem that has affected the people of South Africa. Because of this racism the poverty level has remained a problem. If a company only hires white people to work, how are people of color ever going to rise above poverty? The jobs available to black people in South Africa are almost non-existent. If there are no jobs then there is no money to be made. No money means no food, no shelter, and no means to support a family. This is another instance of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. 4
Are people so blind and callused, as to not care how the actions and the words thrown out will affect others? What about the future of innocent souls to come? Why is one color any better than another? Who gets to decide these types of things? If a person were to close their eyes and solely judge another based on their personality, or the way they are treated by a person, our world would be a different place to live. Discrimination has kept the people of South Africa in poverty for way to long, it is time to break the chains of bigotry and learn to live together in a peaceful place. A place where color does not mean you are rejected for a job, or for housing. A place where everyone is color blind seems ideal, does it not? Education is a factor for the people of South Africa. People are more concerned with finding a job; instead they are worrying about whether or not they can attend school. And the sad part about that is that in order to get a good job or even a job, education would be beneficial. This is one of the excuses for not hiring people with black skin, they are not as educated. This is one way companies get around race (Ruiters, 2001). The companies use this as their reason for hiring the white person applying for the job and not the black person. It is a vicious circle for the people of South Africa. This is also why these people cannot get out of the poverty they are trapped in. It is like a rut they are in with no way to emerge from. South Africa is not as advanced as once thought, the racism and bigotry is running ramped in so many different races and cultures. This keeps the country segregated and divided, which is unfortunate. It is unfortunate, not only for South Africa, but for the entire world. To witness these types of travesties is wrong, and unjust. 5
Akwani, O. (2008, March 29). Racism Alive and Well in South Africa. Retrieved February 12, 2011, from IMDiversity.com/EBSCOhost: http://www.Racism Alive and Well in South Africa.html Jeff Handmaker, P. (2001, Nov 1). Migration,refugees, and racism in South Africa. p. Vol.20. Manning, J. (2004, July). Racism in three dimentions: South African architecture and the ideology of white superiority. Perry, A. (2008). South Africa Violence:Beyond Racism. Time . Ruiters, G. (2001). Enviromental racism and justice in South Africa's Transition. South African Journal of Political Studies , 95 to 103. South Africa and its Culture. (2011). Retrieved February 13, 2011, from South Africa tours: http://www.south-africa-tours.com/south-africa