History 366 History of Southern Africa

History 366 History of Southern Africa - The Legacy of...

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Unformatted text preview: The Legacy of Apartheid In 1846, migrant workers in Natal experienced the implementation of the first institution of structured racial segregation in South Africa. The Shepstone System, which provided separate administrative and legal systems for blacks and whites, was put in place primarily to protect the Cape Colony from African economic competition. Decades later, African natives in South Africa were imprisoned in mining compounds in Kimberley. Historians have alluded to D.F. Malan's "frontier mentality", and his Sauer Report which both draw a distinct line through the history of South Africa from colonization to apartheid of White Europeans' discrimination and deprivation of African Natives in order to secure labor. Apartheid, which marked the official era of the South African police state, was a natural extension of this history of exploitation of Africans for capitalist gain. However, although the government-regulated African poverty which preceded the 1948 election of Malan and his National Party bears a striking resemblance to the status of Africans under apartheid, the two are not the same. In order to understand whether or not pre- and post- apartheid in South Africa differ, the legacy of colonial rule needs to be distinguished from the implementation of apartheid's racial separation on the grounds of white supremacy. Furthermore, just as colonial rule bled into apartheid, so to did apartheid bleed into present day South Africa. I argue that while the system of apartheid has ended in South Africa, the effects of the white supremacist, racialized institution may never be erased: on May 10, 1994 South Africans woke up to the same country but a different flag. Perhaps the most influential factor in the argument for a definitive end to apartheid is the understanding of land dynamics in the history of South Africa. This issue of land 1 has probably been the most contentious for the white and black races in South Africa, as it has been overwhelmingly associated with wealth and power while remaining tied up in the need to secure cheap labor. The Dutch East India Company's establishment of rule over the Cape as well as the Trekkboers take-over of Khoikhoi land established South African land dynamics. In the period of time that preceded apartheid, the colonial drive to secure labor motivated the South African Party and Botha to impose the Natives Land Act of 1913 which regulated the ownership and acquisition of land by blacks in order to allow poor, white, farmers a monopoly. Despite the similarities to apartheid legislation, the necessary distinction between the Natives Land Act and subsequent land regulation is the recognition that while the Natives Land Act was an effort to ensure white economic dominance, it did not have the same white supremacist undertones as laws passed under apartheid. Following the success of the Sauer report's "total segregation" ideology, South Africa moved quickly in establishing white supremacy as the basis for apartheid. Contrasting the colonial goals of white economic dominance, the legislation that would roll out represented an ideology that rivaled Nazi Germany in its drive to secure a permanent white, master race: "In a word, it is 'white supremacy, now and always'...It is not white self-preservation that is considered a sufficient motive force today; it is white supremacy, that and nothing less." (The basis of Apartheid 44) Whereas precursors to apartheid legislation had simply relied on securing white economic success, apartheid welcomed full racial classification under the Population Registration Act and the segregation of all public facilities, with no stipulation for equality, under the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act. As apartheid legislation 2 mounted, the most telling disconnect from the legacy of colonialism was the passing of the Group Areas Act of 1950 which gave the government the power to assign and remove racial groups from residential and business areas of South Africa on the basis of whether they were "fit" for occupation. In an obvious sense, the Group Areas Act rounded out the Natives Land Act by "defining the racial occupation of every inch of South Africa." Apartheid had taken the economic motivations of colonialism and infused them with white supremacy. As the resistance movement began to swell in South Africa, the government became more entrenched in asserting racial separation under white supremacy. Verwoerd implemented grand apartheid, despite recognition that the areas set aside for Africans would never, "even under the best of conditions" be enough land for more than twothirds of the population (basis 59). However, despite the economic success apartheid created for South Africa, the immorality of structured racism, and the absurdity of minority rule in a country dominated by Africans, forced the beginning of its collapse at the end of the 1980's. The first sign that apartheid had a definitive end in South Africa is the elimination of minority rule and the termination of the white supremacist foundation that dominated the second half of the 20th century. As the country faced reconciliation with Mandela ruling over the interim government it moved rapidly toward an acceptance for all citizens of South Africa. Despite South Africans' tendency to be very socially conservative, the new South African Bill of rights created a completely open society with no recognition of race, gender or sexual orientation. Gay rights activists successfully sued the government 3 for the right to marry and won because discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is now illegal. The elimination of white supremacist rule and the implementation of a democratic constitution in South Africa prove the end of the apartheid regime. However, the elimination of racist systems has failed to solve three hundred years social and economic injustice. Radicals argue that South Africa's apartheid will never end until capitalism has been removed for it is an "intrinsically racist and anti-Black system principally because it was founded on the backs of Africans" and survives on "cheap and coerced labor." (why apartheid changed its character in 1990). Most however, point to issue of land equality and misdistribution of wealth. Despite the regime change, the effects of white occupation of African land, has and will continue to play out in South Africa's economy in which 60% of blacks are considered poor, compared to only 1% of whites. 87% of the land in South Africa continues to be controlled by the white minority, who makes up only 13% of the entire population. The quantitative argument for the continuation of an unwritten apartheid is certainly overwhelming; however land inequality has been at the heart of racial debate in South Africa since the first colonization in 1652. The current government is attempting to reconcile those 3.5 million Africans who were forced off their land following the Native Land Act of 1913 however this will fail to take into account the repossession of African land during colonial rule. The (brief) Intellectual History of Christianity in South Africa 4 Religion, specifically Christianity, has had an overwhelming effect on South Africa's political history and in shaping the behavior of most classes in South Africa. Protestantism, which remains the most predominant branch of Christianity in South Africa, is comprised of two branches that diverge on their eschatological beliefs. The first missionaries which predominated at the turn of the 19th century in South Africa followed the postmillennialism school of thought. These missionaries had an optimistic outlook, believing that the kingdom of god would be formed through individual conversions and societal improvement. While these missionaries were British subjects, they often condemned imperial policies such as slavery and "political wickedness". That these Christians preached political action in order to eliminate social evils often brought them into direct conflict with the Cape Colony, for they lobbied to protect the African people from imperial rule by converting them en masse and then isolating them from unruly white settlers. Despite their strong moral convictions, as these missionaries pressed the African population toward Christian conversion and faced repeated failure, they began to blame tribal rule and argued for the extermination of chiefs in order "destroy their political existence; after which, when thus set free from the shackles by which they are bound, civilization and Christianity will no doubt make rapid progress among them."(341)That the postmillennial Christians were moving more toward an acceptance of imperialism may have been due to the imperial authority's protection of missionaries which they took as the empire reinforcing the Christian mission. Whether the change in viewpoint was a result of the need to align themselves with the empire in order to achieve more conversions, or a result of the influx of 5 premillennialist missionaries, Christianity in South Africa began to take a political turn in the late 19th century toward African Nationalism. Arising from the new empire/missionary alliance, African Nationalism had its roots in resistances like that of the Xhosa (who had previously followed traditional African beliefs in ancestry and sacrifice) against Christian missionaries. The Xhosa Cattle Killing movement that occurred between 1856-1857 was an example of this new non-military rejection of missionaries and also foreshadowed the total conversion of Africans to a postmillennial Christianity. Despite being influenced by missionary teachings, the Xhosa, like many African tribes influenced by missionaries, began to develop their own form of Christianity that allowed them to be Christian while remaining African. As these Africans became increasingly educated in Christian teachings they began to takeover the historically white leadership positions which allowed them to unify in a new African coalition in the fight for national rights. Continually influenced by postmillennial preaching of the possibility of progress, these new "African Christians" began to mount a resistance to the overwhelming repressions of blacks in a growing White South Africa. This vision of hope offered by postmillennial beliefs propelled the organization of the first public African organizations like the African National Congress (ANC) which was spearheaded by Reverend John Dube in 1912. These African political organizations drew on Christian values and argued that the liberation movement was more than an antiwhite opposition but rather the pursuit for the betterment of mankind through the imposition of things like democracy. However, despite the advances made in unifying the African public against South African racism, the failure of the churches to speak out against growing injustices created an undercurrent of cynicism. By the advent of 6 apartheid the Church had still failed to acknowledge, let alone speak out against the National Parties' affront to basic Christian morals, including human decency: they showed no resolute opposition to legislation such as the Group Areas Act of 1950 which provided for the separation of blacks and whites in places of worship. Despite outstanding efforts by select clergymen in the 1950's to align themselves with the Defiance Campaign, the church hierarchy was definitively absent from the movement. By the 1960's Africans were moving away from an alliance with Christianity and beginning to create a new sort of "Black theology" that re-examined the 19th century African adherence to western religious doctrine. Steve Biko in his explanation of Black Theology argues that Christian missionaries exploited the adaptability of Christianity in order to draw Africans into a perpetual student teacher dynamic in which the Blacks would be forced into the grip of the white man--to have him as their "eternal supervisor." This Black theology alludes back to more traditional African religions that incorporated worship into all aspects of life and "seeks to relate God and Christ once more to the black man and his daily problems". For Biko and the Black Theologians the only way for Africans to remove themselves from their exploitative relationship with South Africa is to completely exterminate the legacy of mission work that chains African Christians to the mercy of the White Church. The growing Black Consciousnesses and Black Theology movements of the 1960's and 70's grew in size as the 1980's anti-apartheid movement gathered speed and numbers as a backlash to the increasing social injustices committed by the South African police. South African churches were no longer able to ignore apartheid's affront to 7 Christianity and in 1977 the Southern African Catholic Bishop's Conference aligned itself with the South African Council of Churches (SACC) in its admittance of segregation within the Church. As they took the full leap and joined the liberation movement those church's committed to the rejection of apartheid faced increased resistance from the state and all white denominations such as the NGK, but continued to hold strong in its support of public uprisings like the Mass Democratic Movement. By 1989 F.W. de Klerk had seceded Botha as President of South Africa and began negotiations with the previously banned ANC while removing organizations like the PAC from its closeted role in the resistance movement. The church's anti-apartheid struggle culminated at a meeting of over 230 delegates at the Rustenberg Conference which including over 97 denominations, including the NGK, which had supported 1980's efforts to reform apartheid. The outcome of the conference was an overwhelming success denouncing apartheid as an evil sin and citing that South Africa's White elite would have to accept "affirmative acts of restitution in health care, psychological healing, education, housing, employment, economic infrastructure and especially land ownership." (397) The collapse of apartheid was a grand success for the SACC and similarly aligned churches. However, with the elimination of an institution of structured racism South Africa still faces a future of continuing white economic privilege and the churches have failed to create a coherent set of grievances against the continuation of social and economic injustices that are apartheid's legacy. Section B: 1) 8 Both the South African Native National Congress (SANNC), founded in 1912, and the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), founded in 1919, were African organizations formed out of a mutual realization that African interests were not being served by appealing to White politicians on an individual basis. Led by John Dube and comprised of mainly middle class men, the SANCC emphasized black self-help and began by protesting against the Land Act of 1913. Dube and the SANNC saw this as a betrayal of all British ideals and argued for the repeal of this Act through a London delegation on the grounds that it would not promote segregation but rather "intermingling", as more Africans were pushed into the cities. By continuing to call for moderate benefits for the middle class the SANCC, nervous of inciting a mass uprising, alienated themselves from the popular protest of the 1920's in their following of the liberal protectionist/pro-segregationist stance. In sharp contrast to the SANCC the ICU was a radical union that recognized the need for absolute change and a return to being African. With roots in worker militancy and rural resistance the ICU urged military vigilance to show the African willingness to be strong. However, despite the ICU's emphasis on radical labor movements, the Transvaal branch of the SANCC did identify with grievances of low wages, inadequate housing and tightening of the pass law and was able to give some support to the ICU led strikes in 1918. (Lecture 10/11, Nigel Worden's "White Supremacy, Segregation and Apartheid", 80-95) 2) The Drum Decade acquired its name from the 1950's founded Drum Magazine which was a forum for a new generation of Black writers who emerged from an era of urban 9 development and modernization: Can Themba, one of the pillars of Drum, boasted that he could not speak any tribal languages only Tsotsitaal and English. (Lecture 10/30) The writers and readers of Drum magazine aspired to be modern and intellectual as a political act against the apartheid base which claimed Africans were tribal and backward; this was not seen as black pride but as black equality. Along the same lines, the Black Consciousness movement was an intellectual movement that was propelled by Steve Biko and his philosophy that "the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." (92) Like Drum Magazine, the Black Consciousness emphasized language as a tool to eliminate the psychological inferiority, and followers of this movement argued that one was Black because of a history of political oppression not because of skin color--black people who weren't protesting could still be labeled "nonwhite", while Indians, Coloreds and Whites could be called "Black". Similar to the political satires and exposes of new African music in Drum Magazine, leaders of the Black Consciousness movement urged artists and poets to "conscientize" by creating political art in order to further the intellectual protest. (Steve Biko's "Black Souls in White Skins?" Lecture 10/30, Lecture 11/13) 3) In the 1940's as South Africa experienced a depression and increasing African dissent from African unions, political parties and squatters who demanded higher wages and better working conditions, the two major white political parties, Smuts' United Party and D.F. Malan's National party faced demands from white voters for tougher action against what they viewed as a growing crisis. In 1948, the two parties faced off in their 10 proposals for dealing with African urbanization: while both parties recognized the importance of African labor in the nation's economic growth they differed on the implications of the influx of African migration to the nations cities and possible solutions to the problem. The UP and its Fagan Report argued that complete segregation was "totally impractical" and outlined a plan for African urbanization that would include the eventual incorporation of blacks into South Africa. In contrast, Malan and the NP, entrenched in total segregation and a desire to protect the white character of the cities, proposed the complete removal of Africans from South Africa's economy and cities, allowing only male migrant workers access to menial jobs and arguing for direct government intervention in the black labor market to ensure equal distribution of the Black workers. In the 1948 election the country favored the total segregation Sauer report and the Nationalist party rose to power--despite opposition from Smuts and his proclamation that the system of apartheid would be an utter failure and his pointing to the Sauer Report accommodation of only 40% of the African population in its "Native Reserves". (Lecture Notes 10/16, William Worger's "The Basis of Apartheid", 40-46) 4) Fana Khaba was a popular South African DJ on Johannesburg's Yfm radio who rose to fame and fortune after overcoming an impoverished past. Khaba acquired HIV as a result of his carelessly promiscuous lifestyle and he made the decision to publicly disclose his status over the air in an effort to erase the stigma and ignorance surrounding the disease in South Africa. Despite Yfm's financial and emotional support--they promised to pay Khaba's medical bills (including ARV treatment) and keep his job open 11 until his health stabilized-- Khaba refused Western medical treatment and stopped taking the ARV's after only a week instead choosing to rely on African miracle treatments like "Africa's Solution"; an immune booster peddled by his bedside nurse Tine van der Maas. African AIDS concoctions like "Africa's Solution" have become a growing problem in the fight against HIV/AIDS as many South Africans remain entrenched in their beliefs of the futility of traditional African medicine and are easily turned against white/western insistence on ARV treatment. Many critics of these "miracle" solutions argue that they are simply efforts to profit off of South Africa's AIDS epidemic while proponents cite numerous examples of how treatments like "Africa's Solution" have successfully "cured" those afflicted with HIV (the difference between the western and African understanding of a "cure" as being the center of this contentious debate). (Khabzela: the Life and Times of a South African) Extra Credit! I read the entirety of Waiting for the Barbarians and still struggled to discern exactly what Coetzee was trying to get at. I recognized some themes throughout the book, but as I am not an English major or a truly great critic of Nobel Prize winning literature I don't know if Coetzee would agree. Boundaries: Coetzee is certainly interested in boundaries--those separating the civilized from the "barbarians", those separating the self from other and those separating the good nature of a witness from the evil of torture he witnesses. There also seems to a questioning of the boundary of morality--which I'm sure is a theme all in itself. 12 Torture: the magistrate sleeps with the woman who was a torture victim in order to fill a void (I think) but in turn insights a sort of self-inflicted torture because the woman refuses to offer him anything but her body. He then experiences real, physical torture himself. There seems to be a questioning of what exactly torture is: "but my torturers were not interested in degrees of pain. They were interested only in demonstrating to me what it mean to live in a body, as a body".... "They came to my cell to show me the meaning of humanity". (113) What? Interestingly, race was not a theme in Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians which most critics consider to be an allegory to South Africa. I haven't read anything else by the author but I have a feeling that he thrives in the ambiguity/vagueness of language as Waiting for the Barbarians could be about pretty much anything and I would have no clue. 13 ...
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This essay was uploaded on 12/14/2007 for the course HIST 3661 taught by Professor Magaziner,d during the Fall '07 term at Cornell.

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