1994, Nelson Mandela becomes President of the Republic of South Africa, the era of apartheid, of white-black separation is now over and a new period of reconciliation and forgiveness begins. The oppressed black-majority of South Africa are finally free to participate in public life as equals to their white primarily Afrikaner oppressors.
That period of optimism and hope is now long gone. Mandela has passed away, and while his party the ANC (African National Congress) is still in power, it is beset by widespread corruption, economic stagnation and rising racial tensions.
On university campuses in South Africa tensions between black students and the white minority have risen over the past couple of years. It has lead to an interesting turn of events, the white minority feels its self threatened, in a country where they only make up 5% of the population, facing off against young black South Africans who believe that white South Africans still enjoy significant advantages over them.
In this piece, the magazine Foreign Policy, have explored these tensions in South Africa from the perspective of an organisation called AfriForum. They claim to represent the interests of white people, specifically Afrikaners, under black-majority rule. They boast 200,000 members, have a strong presence on South Africa’s campuses, even petition the United Nations claiming they are a beleaguered minority.
This piece asks fundamental questions in our age about the past, the present and the future.
Is it fair for white people to identify themselves as an embattled minority, given their long history of dominance?
To what extent should young Afrikaners, many of them born after the end of Apartheid, be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors?
How much of a role should race play in society? Especially one like South Africa where race is such a sensitive issue.