Growing up in South Africa


I feel as though I have lived in two countries. I lived in Apartheid South Africa from 1972 to 1990 and in post-Apartheid South Africa from 1990 until now. It was strange how we became comfortably numb to the fact that only white people were in our schools, our busses, living in our neighbourhoods and sitting on our beaches. Being white, I lived a comfortable life, recevied a top class education and lived in a very safe neighbourhood with green lawns and quiet streets.

But not far away in the neighbouring townships, people were living in awful conditions with poor services, very poor education and most importantly, no right to vote and little hope that their situation will change. In the late 80's I began to become very aware that things were not right and joined a race relations organisation that helped introduce me to black teenagers my age. We had home exchanges, met on camps and watched banned movies about what was happening in the country. I even got kicked off a taxi by a law enforcement officer because it was strictly designated for black people only. These experiences opened my eyes to the injustice that was being unleashed on black people by the Apartheid machinery.

All that changed after the historic speech by FW de Klerk in 1990 to release Nelson Mandela, unban the ANC and work towards a full democratic election. 16 years into the countries freedom, lives have improved for some black people and a handful of the poor but for many black people and a small group of white people, living conditions are still very poor. I was given an unfair priveledge by Apartheid. The question for myself and my generation is what we do with this priveledge - do we use it to build a more just and equal South Africa and defend the cause of those who have been scarred by Aparthied or do we continue to entrench this priveledge.

Here is a presentation about me growing up in South African mixed in with some facts and history of the country.