Why South Africa continues to be so segregated

How centuries of division created one of the most unequal nations on the earth.

For decades, South Africa was under apartheid: a litany of laws that divided folks by race. Then, in the Nineteen Nineties, those laws were dismantled. But many of the barriers they constructed continue to divide South Africans by skin color – which in turn determines their quality of life, access to jobs, and wealth. Racial division was constructed into the fabric of towns throughout South Africa, and it still has not been uprooted.

That’s partially because, while apartheid was the decisive moment of South Africa’s racial divisions, it was not the start of them. That story begins nearer to the 1800s, when the British created a network of railroads that transformed the region’s economy into one that excluded most Black folks — and then made that exclusion the law.

Sources and further perusing:

If you want to be taught more about the railroads and how they impacted Cape Colony’s economy, check out this paper by Johan Fourie and Alonso Herranz Loncan:

To know segregation in South Africa’s major city centers, take a look at this paper about segregation and inequality:

For more info on post-Apartheid towns, you can read this paper by Edgar Pieterse (who we feature in the video clip):

To investigate the history and heritage of District Six, visit the District Six Museum webpage:

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