Apartheid: Racial Discrimination

I was reading about the Marikana mine massacre which took place in August 2012 in South Africa in which the police shot dead 34 mine workers while injuring at least 78 others. This news led me to several texts about Apartheid. For the ones who do not know what Apartheid really means, I will primarily quote an understandable definition for this term. In general, apartheid is the status of being apart. It was a system of racial segregation which was enforced in South Africa by the National Party governments, who were the ruling party from 1948 to 1994. Under this system, the rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy was maintained. It is interesting to note here that the whites formed a minority in the population of the country yet the Afrikaner minority rule was maintained. This racial segregation in South Africa dates back to the British and Dutch colonial rule in the country.

apartheid-era

Apartheid was officially introduced in 1948 and the new legislation classified the residents into four distinct racial groups namely: white, black, coloured and Indian. The government segregated education, medical care and almost all other public services in a way that the blacks were treated inferior to the whites. There were different areas of habitation for the blacks and whites. Also, there was a prohibition on mixed marriages and on sexual relations between people of two different races. Different races had different streets, buses, hospitals, shops etc. as a result of which the blacks could only stand at the black bus stops and get into the black buses. The education system for the blacks was designed such that they were prepared to become a part of the labour class. I think I do not need to go into the depth of this subject matter because it is widely understood and known that the blacks have always suffered from acts of racial prejudice in different parts of the world, let alone in South Africa. People resisted the practice of Apartheid and carried out protests and demonstrations. In 1950, Nelson Mandela led a campaign of Civil Disobedience against the racial discrimination. A massacre similar to the Marikana mine massacre took place in 1960 in Sharpeville and it is widely known as the Sharpeville massacre in which 69 people were killed by the Apartheid police. Following this massacre, a state of emergency was declared in South Africa. Internationally the countries started to criticize Africa’s policy and South Africa was banned from the Olympics that year. Subsequently, the leader of the black populace, Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.

apartheid-protest

Finally, after 26 years of imprisonment and further oppression, Mandela was released from the prison and Namibia became independent. However, South African politics and society is still shaped by the remnants of Apartheid. Census shows that even today about eight out of ten South Africans are black and yet their incomes are lesser than those of the Whites. There is still a wide divide between the whites and blacks economically and also based on their conditions or position. I also read a write-up in which several black Africans claimed that they hated being black and took to using fairness creams or techniques to improve the colour of their skin. Such creams and chemicals have resulted in numerous skin diseases and different types of cancers in the people who used them. Sometimes, for an extensive black population, being ‘black’ is no less than a crime or a curse. It highly affects their sense of worth and confidence because this is how a majority of the world sees them. The conditions have improved, I agree but the real South Africa still suffers from discrimination and pain only because God didn’t decide to make them white. In other countries, the blacks have made a mark for themselves and in due course they are being respected and loved. The biggest example out here is the American President Barrack Obama. Still, by and large the discrimination persists visibly.

For now, shuttling back to the Marikana mine massacre, it is definitely a setback to the social reconstruction of South Africa after eighteen years of the abolishment of Apartheid. The actual reason for this massacre is the battle posed by a deserving black community for their rights. At the Marikana mine, the workers were striking to get better employment opportunities and higher benefits and compensation so as to put an end to the exploitation of the working community. The owners of the mine earned millions but the profits were not passed on to the workforce which was perpetually treated with disgust. The strike prompted the powerful authorities and the South African Government to carry out a shooting where numerous innocent workers were killed. In a petition started at Change.org, the Lonmi employers of the mine and the government have taken responsibility for the mass execution.

massacre-south-africa

So, I guess this is how it happens in most of the nations. They try to suppress your voice with violence of the worst degree. There is a lot more left for the Africans to put up with and fight for. However, they will wage a war against inequality and intolerance. The blacks deserve an acceptable and better position in this society and they ought to be respected highly for their tolerance and strength in a world ruled by colour  race, caste and creed. I understand that for some of you, this post might have been fairly dreary and irrelevant but I needed to write this because it’s mandatory to educate people about the manner in which millions of natives are suffering in their own homeland owing to their skin tone. I need to ask you, where did you get your complexion from?

References: Wikipedia, The Guardian, BBC, CNN, Rawstory, PressTV, JohnPilger.com, People’s World etc.

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