Why South Africa is still so segregated

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Vox

How centuries of division built one of the most unequal countries on earth. Subscribe to our channel and turn on notifications (🔔) http://goo.gl/0bsAjO For decades, South Africa was under apartheid: a series of laws that divided people by race. Then, in the 1990s, those laws were dismantled. But many of the barriers they created continue to divide South Africans by skin color - which in turn determines their quality of life, access to jobs, and wealth. Racial division was built into the fabric of cities throughout South Africa, and it still hasn't been uprooted. That's partly because, while apartheid was the culmination of South Africa's racial divisions, it wasn't the beginning of them. That story starts closer to the 1800s, when the British built a network of railroads that transformed the region's economy into one that excluded most Black people -- and then made that exclusion the law. Sources and further reading: If you want to learn more about the railroads and how they impacted Cape Colony’s economy, check out this paper by Johan Fourie and Alonso Herranz Loncan: https://academic.oup.com/ereh/article-abstract/22/1/73/3930943?redirectedFrom=fulltext To understand segregation in South Africa’s major urban centers, take a look at this paper about segregation and inequality: https://www.seri-sa.org/images/SERI_Edged_out_report_Final.pdf For more information on post-Apartheid cities, you can read this paper by Edgar Pieterse (who we feature in the video): https://www.africancentreforcities.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/post-apartheid_geographies_pieterse_15dec09.pdf To explore the history and legacy of District Six, visit the District Six Museum website: https://www.districtsix.co.za/ Thanks for watching and let us know what you think in the comments! Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com​. Watch our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyE​ Follow Vox on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06o​ Or Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5H Subscribe to our channel! http://goo.gl/0bsAjO

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Video Transcript:

This strip in cape town south africa divides the beachside community of strand from the township of nomzamo they're only a few meters apart but the people on each side live very different lives strand has backyards and driveways nomzamo is much more dense and the people here have fewer basic services less piped Water less internet access and nonzamo is majority black while the area across the line is majority white if we use dots on a map to represent race you can see how stark that divide is if we zoom out to the whole city we can see it's actually everywhere and this is the case across much of south africa the color of your skin here Often determines where you live it also determines your quality of life this map shows where jobs and opportunities are primarily concentrated in cape town and this is where most of the city's black people live in informal settlements called townships on the city's periphery people have to move by public transport for up to three hours a day and they can't take care of the obligations in the Community with the rest of the family because they're always working and they're always travelling for decades south africa was under apartheid a system that wrote segregation into law a white minority controlled where non-white people could live work exist many were forced out of their homes in 1994 a democratically elected government Took power and ended apartheid it was supposed to be a new beginning but a lot of the country still looks like this and that's because south africa's legacy of racial division goes back centuries in the 1600s the dutch took over the southern tip of africa to supply ships with food along the trade route to asia 150 years later britain seized it and named it cape colony many dutch colonists moved Here further inland to escape british rule and continue exploiting enslaved people just like the dutch the british used cape colony as a strategic location for trade it wasn't economically significant but in the 1870s that changed when the british started mining diamonds there suddenly cape colony was one of britain's most prized and exploited Colonies in order to get the diamonds out of the country they built railways to connect the mines up here to the coast the railways allowed the british to access a global diamond market through the port city of cape town soon the economy of cape colony was centered around the railroads especially this main route the green areas on this map show the Black regions of cape colony largely left out of the railroad economy racial inequality in cape colony was being reinforced by a location [Music] to keep it that way the colonial government started writing segregation into law the native lands act of 1913 pushed black people into these areas only eight percent of south africa's land and restricted them from owning land Everywhere else or relocated them to the edges of the major cities to work for white people these laws began to shape the region cape town's growth from the increased trade turned the port town into a major city many migrants from the rest of the colony and elsewhere moved here to what was then the outskirts of cape town where former enslaved people merchants Artists and immigrants were forming a neighborhood called district 6. as the city grew around district 6 so did the neighborhood for decades district 6 was a thriving integrated community [Music] we were a very cosmopolitan you could say family almost because there were people from all different nationalities from all Different walks of life this was the statement your child is my child but it wouldn't last [Music] in 1934 britain's legal hold in what was now the union of south africa officially ended the remaining white minority the descendants of dutch colonists took control and they built on the foundation the british were leaving Behind between 1949 and 1971 the all-white government passed 148 laws solidifying apartheid a pub date allowed for the full realization of the ambition of the fascist project in south africa in 1950 the population registration act officially classified people by race white colored and native or black and eventually asian then they made laws saying where people could live around the country black south africans were Moved into these areas called homelands or bantustans bantustans were rural areas and had underdeveloped economies many of them were in the areas britain had already excluded from the railway economy and where black land ownership had been restricted to black people were forced to carry past books that specified where they were allowed to work or Travel to [Music] in cities like cape town the group areas act moved the remaining non-whites into separate urban areas the most prime land and the land closest to higher valued property was allocated to white people in 1966 the government declared that district 6 was now a whites only area the residents of district 6 Received removal letters like this one that said living there was illegal because they were not white bulldozers drove into district six and raised it to the ground we loved you we had a life here it was very traumatic for a lot of people it's like ripping out someone's heart more than 60 000 people were forcibly removed from their homes This kind of violence against non-white people was commonplace around the country but after decades of pressure both from within south africa and abroad apartheid rule finally came to an end the new government lifted restrictions on where people could live millions of people who had been excluded from economic development for centuries migrated to major cities Looking for basic services and economic opportunity for any family with no prospect of employment the most rational logical choice to make is to migrate to an urban center they settled where there was empty land creating townships on the peripheries of major cities like cape town the government built millions of homes and expanded clean water and electricity But it had a number of unforeseen consequences the most important of which is that the only land that could be used for the public housing program was on the periphery of the city and for that reason a brilliant intention to overcome the apartheid legacy unintentionally reproduced the very same legacy it was trying to undo today 60 percent of the mostly black population Of cape town lives in these townships at the edge of the city the thing is cape town city center has land to develop but because of its location it's valuable so it usually gets sold to private developers who build luxury apartments nearly a billion dollars worth of them are going up by the coast but right in the heart of cape town by all The expensive developments district six remains largely untouched the former residents have fought against private development and they've actually succeeded some have even managed to return to houses built by the city i wanted to to to come back yeah where i was born which was part of our family's heritage i couldn't believe that i was back it was a sense of relief but there are still hundreds of Claimants waiting to get back to district 6. we haven't done the difficult and the painful work to confront what the intergenerational consequences are of colonialism of apartheid the story of cape town and south africa's racial segregation starts far in the past but it's very much entangled with the present apartheid And colonialism here are over but many of the barriers they built have yet to be dismantled the kind of psychic scars that's left on individuals and on communities we haven't begun the work of saying how do we live together right in the face of that history [Music]

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