Racism in South Africa?

What South Africans think...

Several readers asked me about racism in South Africa. Some of you wanted to know about racism and safety in Cape Town for expatriates while other expats were worried if they could live in Cape Town with their black/white partner without being subjected to racist views and actions in the Mother City.

A while back a study which was conducted by futurefact who is tracking social trends in South Africa. In face-to-face interviews which were taken during three month of 2009 nationwide, it was found that most South Africans (53%) have got friends from other race groups and 64% of all South Africans are tolerant of people from other race groups, which represents a 9% increase in this positive attitude compared to a survey which was held in 1998.

The futurefact survey 2010 shows this: "While our society appears to be polarizing on race, Futurefacs indicates that the majority of South Africans are moving towards inclusiveness and a more tolerant frame of reference. This suggests that the polarization issue is blown out of proportion and that there is only a small minority at either end of the scale which is radicalized."

South Africa racism: What South Africans think

Some of the most current events like speeches by ANC youth league leader Julius Malema or the murder of Eugene TerreBlanche, often named ET by the media, the leader of notorious right-wing AWB (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging) prompted more and more South Africans to stand up against racism and raise their voices.

In 2010 a racism awareness group in South Africa was formed. They called themselves: The Greenskin Initiative grew tremendously and already after a couple of weeks had thousands of members, organizing marches and picnics against racism in all the major South African cities. Many cultural institutions have grown to stand up against any form of racism over the last years. 

Opinions on Racism in Cape Town

In 2010, Cape Tow newspapers there were some interesting readers’ letters which should be food for thought. The following opinions are cited from the Cape Times Monday, April 12, 2010:

NF Lusu from Gugulethu: Stop this madness

"South Africa is for all who live in it”, Nelson Mandela said after his release from jail. A country with narrow-minded leaders like Julius Malema has no future because they throw away the good work that the ANC leaders have done. (…) We have seen the bitter consequences of apartheid and we don’t want this country to be like Zimbabwe and other African countries. This madness will harm our economy and dent the image f the ANC. White people must not feet threatened, especially bye the ANC. We are known as a democratic nation worldwide. I love the ANC and my support for it is based on its merits. We handle things in a professional manner and we don’t create black versions of apartheid."

R Claasen from Stellenbosch: Letter Headline: Don’t look back.

"As a university student in Stellenbosch I am disappointed with student attitudes. We are scared to lift our voices – I was too. (…) Let us stand together, not be cowards and say nothing about the wrongs we see. Let us get involved, no matter how hopeless our peers may consider this fight. We have a say, we can make a change. No matter what race you are, let us stand together and build the South Africa that Nelson Mandela saw for us. Let’s make Madiba proud."

P Marais from Strand: Letter Headline: ET was no hero

"As the letter I have written to the Afrikaans media has not been approved for publishing, I am turning to you in a desperate attempt to let my voice be heard. Desperate, as I believe it is a voice representing thousands of fellow Afrikaans-speaking South Africans. Could the media please stop covering events around the death and funeral of Eugene Terre’Blance in such a manner as to create the impression that he was a volksheld. Almost every Afrikaner I know would be highly, highly embarrassed to be associated with the AWB, let alone be represented by it.(…)"

Dr B Hanekom of the Dutch Reformed Church Synod, Western and Southern Cape and Ds L Plaatjie of the Uniting Reformed Church of South Africa Synod: Letter Headline: Choose peace

"(…) we believe the majority of black and white South Africans long for peace and harmony. They sincerely believe our country has a bright future and will succeed. We therefore ask our fellow countrymen, although we fully understand how difficult it is, to refrain from any racist attitude and conduct. This includes any act or conduct that might be interpreted by others as a form of racism. Let us be reminded of the words of Nelson Mandela regarding such acts and live the spirit of reconciliation and tolerance.(…)"

Racism in South Africa? Well, this is what Capetonians think about the hyped up media reports. Regarding the spirit of tolerance and unity in South Africa, how about listening again to the South African National Anthem? Or even singing along? Just make sure you know the words... And when you visit any event in Cape Town, take note of the diverse people attending the event. I always find it wonderful to see how people of all colours, backgrounds and cultures come together in the Mother City to celebrate life - peaceful and in harmony!

Racism in South Africa? What do you think?

Racism in South Africa? Now it is up to you, any opinions on Racism in South Africa you want me to add on this page? Expats living in Cape Town, any own experiences? Please contact us and we will add a selected few opinions to round up this Inside-View on racism in South Africa. Find more insights on racism in South Africa here.

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Living in South Africa - Expat Guide Book by Regina Graeff and Derryn Campbell