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Prejudice and Discrimination

Prejudice and Discrimination: South Africa

The Republic of South Africa is a country in the southern tip of the African Continent. During the period of European contact, some indigenous tribal communities; chiefly, the Xhosa and Zulu migrated from other parts of Africa and became dominant. In 1952, the Dutch East India Company had founded a refreshment station in Cape Town, which later became a British Colony in 1806. The settlement expanded as the Boars (Europeans: the Dutch, German, Flemish, and French) lay claim to much of the land in the East and North part of the country, which later led to conflict with other groups who competed for the territory such as the Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaner.

A conflict (termed the Anglo-Boar war) initiated shortly after the discovery of diamonds and gold; when the British and the Boars fought to establish control of the South African mineral wealth. After defeating the Boars in 1910, the British only granted a state of ‘limited independence' to South Africa, as a British dominion. Principally, among the Caucasian South African group, anti-British policies were centralized on independence within the country and racial segregation was informal, although the colonists held the power during this point in history. In the subsequent South African government and the Boar Republic, the entire system had become legally institutionalized by a segregation known as apartheid. They had established a three class; blacks or indigenous natives, whites, and colored (mixed-races of European and African origins, in addition to Asians). Established by law in 1948 , apartheid, along with other legislation, hardened the legal boundaries such as the Immorality Act; barring individuals the right of relations foreign to their race. However, political movements of the mixed-race individuals, the indigenous (native) groups, and those Caucasians who opposed apartheid to hold and developed. Formerly, the Communist Party had actively supported racial justice in the region. In the aftermath of apartheid a considerable amount of research into the changing nature of discrimination in the South African (SA) labor market has been undertaken (Moll, 1992, 1995; Rospabe, 1999; Hinks et al., 2000). Thus far, the focus of this work has been race and little concern has been shown for gender discrimination. Consistently through the region, black males hold considerably higher occupational measures; e.g., wage, managerial positions and workforce accountability than do Black women.

Largely, South Africans endured in confinements of racism, which although levels have lessened unfortunately racism does exist today. Before slavery was based upon the ideals of racial ranks in Colonial Africa, thousands of these men and women served the European Colonist; paralleling other Europeans serving a period of indentured servitude. In some occurrences, a term of service for African slave included the stipulation of a land of grant and freedom afterwards, which in most cases went unrewarded, and even a smaller number former slaves were rewarded in the context of ‘property-owner'. Dual labor markets existed, and to some extent have remained an omnipresent force. Sexism, classism, and racism created a unique economic, social, and political environment among South Africans. However, racism in South Africa, on a global plane, is broader than the animosity toward the Black African.

And what of race and ethnicity? Race is described as any one of the groups into which the world's population can be divided — on the basis of physical characteristics such as skin or hair color, whereas ethnicity has direct linkage to heritage; nationality, racial, linguistic, religious beliefs; without emphasis placed on country of residence. Although, race and ethnicity are quite dissimilar, many individuals do not correctly associate, comprehend or distinguish the exclusives of the two. These concepts carry universal importance; not isolated to South African society. South Africa is one of the most diverse countries on Earth; therefore, it is vital to acknowledge and comprehend other ethnicities. Stereotyping is an example of rhetorical devices which may carry in its basket, racism. According toallAfrica.com(2008),“Racism can be defined as a phenomenon which refers to a complex set of beliefs, attitudes and behaviours predicated on pseudo-scientific and wholly erroneous assumptions about the "nature of human diversity. Racism is both an ideology and a set of practices”(¶10).

South Africa has 11 languages ‘recognized' in its Constitution. As mention earlier on, this region is rich in cultural diversity, religious belief and language; English being the most common form of communication used in commercial and public arena. Bilingualism helped people in South Africa develop a broader cultural understanding and multicultural sensitivity, social harmony, and greater tolerance. In fact, individuals who communicated in multiple forms of language had a distinct advantage because it raised personal problem-solving skills, increased visual-social abilities, allowed better formation of concepts, further logical reasoning, and supports cognitive flexibility. The supplementary benefits of bilingualism are that it: can raise a person's self-esteem, stimulate outward creativity, increase adaptability or flexibility, develops social sensitivity and in most situations serves as a motivator. Some advocates argue that even if bilingual education is effective it is still not a noble scheme for the country because it threatens to undermine the sense of national identity and separates us along ethnic lines. Their fear is that it any government recognition of minority languages would encourage the immigrants to believe that they can live in the country without learning English, there; considered “sending the wrong message”. The South African society is currently lacking translators for certain languages that could help the government in certain departments such as the intelligence operations, military, and other diplomatic issues.

In 1961, South Africa emerged as a Republic; an era when it achieved its political independence. Despite resistance from within and outside the country, the leading National Party legislated for the continuum of apartheid. In 1990, former president Frederik Willem de Klerk (commonly, F.W. de Klerk) started to dismantle the resident apartheid. “Apartheid seems to have resulted in a duality of consequences for Black South Africans. It appears that racism results in lowered mental health and psychological damage”. (Hocoy, 1997)

South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994, Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) rose to power, thereafter; South Africa rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations. Although many strides remain and the journey has been long, the path to tighten prejudice and discrimination in South Africa is promising and shortening.

allAfrica.com.(2008).South Africa: Understanding.Retrieved from http://allafrica.com/stories/200805150390.html

Hinks, T.(Nov 10, 2002).Gender wage differentials and discrimination in the New South Africa.Applied Economics,34,16.p.2043 (10).RetrievedNovember 29, 2009,fromGeneral OneFileviaGale. Gale Document Number:A94870568.

Hocoy, D. (1997). Apartheid, racism, and Black mental health in South Africa, and the role of racial identity.Ph.D. dissertation, Queen's University at Kingston (Canada), Canada. Retrieved November 29, 2009, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text.(Publication No. AAT NQ22466). ProQuest document ID: 736753801

Moll, P.G. (1992). The decline of discrimination against coloured people in South Africa, 1970-1980, Journal of Development Economics, 37, 289-307.

Moll, P. G. (1993). Black South African unions: Relative wage effects in international perspective.Industrial & Labor Relations Review,46(2),245. Retrieved November 29, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID:529870).


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