My apologies for being out of touch for a while. Since we last shared time together (me writing words; you reading them…) I have been to, and returned from, South Africa. I travelled with Blessman Ministries, an organization based out of Urbandale, Iowa that Growing Hope supports financially. What an amazing time I had. I couldn’t include in one blog post all that I experienced so I will share periodically about the various things I did and thoughts I pondered while on my trip.
Our primary interest in Blessman Ministries’s work in South Africa has to do with the development of their farming program. However, none of the work being done in South Africa can really be understood without having a basic understanding of a political policy that was insituted in South Africa in the late 1940’s called “apartheid.” If you will forgive me for doing so, I am going to include two somewhat lengthy paragraphs here taken from Wikipedia, offering a brief summary of this particular policy which continues to adversely affect the nation even today. As I said, without having at least an elementary grasp of what apartheid was (apartheid ended with the democratic elections in the country in 1994), it is difficult to move forward from the question, “why do the blacks struggle so much in South Africa?” The answer to that question is complicated, and it begins back in the late 1700’s, but was most impacted by the deliberate segregation of non-whites – apartheid (literally “apart-hood”) – which began, as I already noted, in the late 1940’s. The following two paragraphs are copied from Wikipedia:
Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times under Dutch East India rule, until 1795 when the British took over the Cape of Good Hope. Apartheid as an officially structured policy was introduced after the general election of 1948. Legislation classified inhabitants into four racial groups—”black”, “white”, “coloured”, and “Indian”, the last two of which were divided into several sub-classifications—and residential areas were segregated. From 1960 to 1983, 3.5 million non-white South Africans were removed from their homes, and forced into segregated neighbourhoods, in one of the largest mass removals in modern history. Non-white political representation was abolished in 1970, and starting in that year black people were deprived of their citizenship, legally becoming citizens of one of ten tribally based self-governing homelands called bantustans, four of which became nominally independent states. The government segregated education, medical care, beaches, and other public services, and provided black people with services that were often inferior to those of white people.
Apartheid sparked significant internal resistance and violence, and a long arms and trade embargo against South Africa. Since the 1950s, a series of popular uprisings and protests was met with the banning of opposition and imprisoning of anti-apartheid leaders. As unrest spread and became more effective and militarised, state organisations responded with repression and violence. Along with the sanctions placed on South Africa by the international community, this made it increasingly difficult for the government to maintain the regime. Apartheid reforms in the 1980s failed to quell the mounting opposition, and in 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid, culminating in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela. The vestiges of apartheid still shape South African politics and society. De Klerk began the process of dismantling apartheid with the release of Mandela’s mentor and several other political prisoners in October 1989. Although the official abolition of apartheid occurred in 1991 with repeal of the last of the remaining apartheid laws, nonwhites were not allowed to vote until 1993 and the end of apartheid is widely regarded as arising from the 1994 democratic general elections.
I will discuss in subsequent posts how, although apartheid has ended in South Africa, the country is still working to find its way to a better future for its people.
Until then, my message is as always: be aware, my friends, for the world remains, and forever shall be, a complicated place.