The Legacy Of Apartheid and the South African Mindset

It is a historical fact that during the 40 plus years of the National Party’s Apartheid regime that government carefully controlled what the people were told or could learn.

The following quote from describes the situation: “The National Party struggled to implement their policy of apartheid for 30 years. During this time the media was heavily censored and there was a total lack of freedom of speech so many whites living in SA were completely ignorant of the plight of the blacks. Many that were aware of the plights chose to simply look away”.

So as I see the situation the citizens of South Africa were the subjects of a 40 year propaganda campaign which shielded them from the truth and taught them strictly the Party Line. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, is often quoted as saying “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” I believe that the mindset of all South Africans, regardless of race or colour is still largely shaped by the Apartheid “lies that became truth”.

The Apartheid Government was not the first or last Government to rule by fostering fear in the citizenry. George W Bush was a master of this approach. But let’s examine one of the prime claims of the National Party. They claimed, without reservation, that if the Mandela was released, and the Native Africans allowed to vote, the streets would be awash in Boer blood, if not the blood of all white South Africans. In fact the blood that flowed in the Townships leading up to the election of Mandela was all Native African blood, shed by the extreme right elements of the Apartheid regime. So if this was just a propaganda lie why should we still believe, and live our lives based on, so many of the other “truths” the Apartheid propaganda machine taught us?

I use “we” in this discussion because even though I have only been here 10 months I now consider myself a citizen of South Africa. One of the things that upsets, or troubles, me the most is that the people most persecuted by Apartheid, the Native Africans, seem to have accepted many of the Apartheid “truths”. One would think that South African Blacks would be more sensitive to racial injustices than other ethnic groups. But I don’t think this is so. Here is my illustration. My partner, born and bred in South Africa of English decent, has been mentoring two young South African athletes from the Orange Farm Township for about three years. These two young men, now in the ranks of élite athletes, often reside with us and as a result I’ve had the opportunity to talked with them about many things. To my chagrin they absolutely accept and believe that there is a race of people called, or differentiated as, Coloured.

I also understand that the people grouped under this abhorrent and artificial racial epithet believe and accept this designation. Let’s look at this Apartheid “truth” I think it is the easiest one, after the bloodshed one mentioned above, to dispel. Race is largely a social construct. In the case of the “coloured” racial classification or differentiation it is a construct exclusively of the Apartheid regime. I do not believe that any other country in the World recognizes a “coloured” race.

The very existences of this race encourages and fosters Racism . The Coloured people object to being called Black because they think that their classification is superior. This then is not a neutral differentiation. This is out right racism.

Mahatma Gandhi fought the Apartheid oppression and abuse of Indian and Coloured races. He went to jail in South Africa for his activism. Does anyone really think that Gandhi would accept Coloured as a valid differentiation?

I hope these examples will encourage South Africans to examine their concepts and prejudices about Native Africans and other non white citizens of our country. Where did we learn these things? Is it possible it was from Apartheid propaganda? How can we really become a Rainbow Nation until we see each other as individual human beings? Some good, some bad, but not all condemned by racial prejudice propagandized by the Apartheid regime.

In another article I advocate a Vision for South Africa. I don’t think a new Vision is possible until we shed the mindset propagandized by the National party

by Bob Wakfer

re-blogged from:


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