What would life be like if I were a white South African

There are a lot of tensions inside South Africa right now and it’s not so good for the people living there. 

Maybe even more so if you happen to be white.

I wrote another article on South Africa and I promised some of its people i would write another on this very subject. I’m sure some of them would like for me to just mind my own business but things are so severe there that I believe the rest of the world should be aware.

I’ve been trying to keep up with the reports coming out of that country and it makes me wonder, what would life be like for me if I were a South African?

I’m 53 now and a grandfather of 7. I would’ve been about 28 years old when apartheid ended. During that time it probably wasn’t that great to be a black South African.

What was Apartheid?

Apartheid, (Afrikaans: “apartness”) policy that governed relations between South Africa’s white minority and nonwhite majority and sanctioned racial segregation and political and economic discrimination against nonwhites. The implementation of apartheid, often called “separate development” since the 1960s, was made possible through the Population Registration Act of 1950, which classified all South Africans as either Bantu (all black Africans), Coloured (those of mixed race), or white. A fourth category—Asian (Indian and Pakistani)—was later added. It’s not a pleasant part of this countries past and not a good subject to bring up but to understand present day tensions inside South Africa you should know a little of its past. 

  • At the end of apartheid, white South Africans (who made up some 10% of the population of the country) owned roughly 90% of South Africa’s land as a result of a series of Land Acts.
  • More than 3.5 million black South Africans were forced to live on arbitrary reservations called Bantustans, depriving them of political power and pushing them into poverty.

What Changed?

An oil embargo and Nelson Mandela helped end apartheid in South Africa. 

In 1991 the South African government repealed apartheid laws. F.W. de Klerk, the president at the time, brought the apartheid system of racial segregation to an end and negotiated a transition to majority rule in his country. He and Nelson Mandela jointly received the 1993 Nobel Prize for Peace for their collaboration in efforts to establish nonracial democracy in South Africa.

President de klerk

Being a white South African is a perplexing identity to occupy.  If I were a white South African living there today I would probably be of Dutch origin, from a family who has lived in South Africa for many generations. In this present time though, I may seriously be thinking of immigrating to another country. I may be really concerned about what life would be like for my grandkids coming up there. Why?

Crime in South Africa 

South Africa has seen a 1,320 increase in murders, from 19,016 in 2016/2017 to 20,336 in 2017/2018. An average of 57 people are killed a day in the country, 46 of which are men, eight women and two children. A person is more likely to be murdered than die in a car crash. It’s not safe. 

Its clear that relationships in South Africa remain largely affected by race. And there’s certainly no ignoring that the history of imperialism, colonialism and white supremacy on South African soil is one of violence and economic exploitation. Hmm…that sounds familiar. That sort of sounds like American history. Like South Africa, America is marred with racism in its history and the crime stats here don’t appear very positive either. Thankfully, good men stood up and said that slavery was wrong. And we recovered? Or did we? 

“The end of apartheid was signalled by a great gesture of forgiveness and hope, one that must have seemed to transcend the war still being fought at the time: the decades of violent oppression, the cities, families, farms and people torn to shreds – all in the name of a clapped-out, narrow-minded nationalism.”

The Solution?

There’s a lot of room for healing in South Africa. There are many races in that country and I hope that collectively they can come up with a solution. The world is watching. I for one am praying for South Africa and its people.
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