The very name and idea of pre-1991 South Africa, for many decades, conjured up an image of widespread political repression, endless racial and ethnic conflict, and economic impoverishment, to say nothing of serving as a reminder of Europe’s colonial legacy across the whole of…
Though the transfer and sharing of political power is long a matter of the past, the leveling of economic disparities among the non-White peoples of South Africa remains an elusive and as yet unrealized goal.
Africa in general, though South Africa in particular, has in the last twenty years been a testing ground for a variety of programs and initiatives to heal racial divisions and remedy racial and social inequities. “At a more general level, there is Africa’s role in the broad redefinition of international morality and law. Africa, perhaps more than any other continent, has helped to make domestic racism in a particular society an issue of international relevance” (Mazrui 304). The paradox is such that though South Africa led the way in redressing the political wrongs left by colonialism, it has largely faltered in fixing the socio-economic ones. It is that disparity which stands before us here.
The Union of South Africa was formed into a dominion of the British Empire in 1910, whereupon racial segregation and economic isolation became an institutionalized policy of the white-dominated government (South Africa 1998). Looking back, this was by far the decision which would have the greatest consequences upon the future of the country. Even if the ways and means whereby race-based economic disparities continued to plague South Africa’s black population throughout the 1990’s were as widespread as the disparities themselves, one area for which the country should receive praise is in the realm of literacy rates and infant mortality. By 2000 literacy rates had risen from their pre-1991 level of some 77% to approximately 88% of the population, a marked increase. This successfully solved the lack of basic reading skills in those members of the population who had until then been ignored or denied basic access to education. As well, infant mortality levels have dropped from 49% in 1990 to 46% in 2007, a change which can be directly attributed ...
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