WHO DO I RELATE TO?
By: Mfundo Mabaso
South Africa has one of the saddest histories in the world because of apartheid.
The apartheid government instilled acts that separated one racial group from another.
These acts included the Group Areas Act of 1950 which assigned regions to certain race groups, Reservation of Separate Amenities act of 1953 where amenities in public areas like universities, hospitals and parks were labelled separately according to particular races and the Bantu Education Act of 1953 which segregated national education in S.A.
Our country is now 20 years into democracy and we indeed have ‘a good story to tell’. Although we still face challenges at the end of the day, no country is perfect. Racial segregation is one of the common challenges that our country is facing and it is happening everywhere. South African learning institutions are filled with mostly the ‘born-frees’ but racial segregation exists amongst them too.
Late former president, Nelson Mandela believed that sport is the only thing that will unite South Africans. His statement was proven correct during the 1995 Rugby world cup, 1995 AFCON, 2010 FIFA World cup and the 2013 AFCON. In these events South Africans forgot about their backgrounds and cheered for the same purpose, which was the South African teams to win.
Every time such events occur, one would swear that the people of S.A are from the same family the way they unite.
The Minister of Sports and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, also said that sports unite different race groups that is why he always emphasises on the point that educators must play a role in making sure that sports are active in higher and lower learning institutions.
The government always emphasised that born-frees are the future of this country but it seems like the racial stereotypes have not changed for a number of students since you still find racially segregated groups in the most public places and that hinders a bright future expected.
Armando Carneiro, a student at the Graphic Design department at the Durban University of Technology said, “I think racial segregation in learning institutions has to do with the whole acceptance thing, I get along well with the other race groups.”
The majority of students said that it is all about choice. Choosing who to be friends with and who you relate to.
“I think it starts at home where parents instil certain values as children and we grow up to make the right decisions. I choose to be with the people that I relate with because there are other white people that I don’t relate with,” said Brad Purchase, a Graphic design student at DUT.
One has to know who they are in order to know where they belong therefore every person takes their own decision based on their beliefs. For as long as racial segregation is based on ‘who you relate with’ and not on racial stereotypes, there is less cause for concern.