Since the eradication of apartheid in 1994, many South African residents have gradually seen improvements in their quality of life. Nevertheless, poverty still plagues the lives of many South Africans, and residents of the capital city of Johannesburg are no exception.

An estimated 20 percent of Johannesburg residents live in abject poverty, the Johannesburg government website reports. These residents often live in informal settlements that lack electricity, proper roads or any other form of direct municipal services. Another 40 percent live in “inadequate housing,” with insufficient municipal services.

More specifically, the Johannesburg City Council reports that 16 percent of households in Johannesburg lack municipal sanitation, 15 percent do not receive municipal electricity and unemployment stands at 30 percent.

Poverty in Johannesburg still generally falls along distinct racial lines, with black residents making up 72 percent of Johannesburg’s “poor,” according to the government website.

The government attributes much of the city’s poverty to apartheid’s enduring legacy. During apartheid, Johannesburg was divided into a series of local districts segregated by race, with the white districts being substantially wealthier and more self-sufficient than the black districts. Today, racial districting has ended, and the Johannesburg municipal government has been tasked with overseeing seven times the population it had under apartheid.

Illegal immigration also places major stresses on the city, the Johannesburg government reports. In sufficient numbers, migrants from other African countries can strain city and provincial services, which are “allocated on the basis of legal population.”

In response to these issues, the Johannesburg City Council has identified a series of reforms to be implemented, including progressive tax cuts for low-income property owners, low-income senior citizens and low-consumption water users; greater funding to community health services, such as reproductive health care; immunization programs; investment in housing infrastructure; and an overhaul of the city’s transportation system.

As a nation overall, South Africa ranks poorly in several global indicators of national health and prosperity. According to the World Bank, nearly one in ten South Africans live on less than $1.25 a day, one in four are unemployed and one in five are infected with HIV.

– Katrina Beedy
Sources: City of Johannesburg, World Bank 1, World Bank 2, World Bank 3
Photo: Flickr

South Africa has a complex history when it comes to race. The apartheid that persisted for much of the 20th century and ended in 1994 caused huge international scrutiny and debate. Since the end of apartheid, how have the black communities fared in terms of mending the years of damage this event caused? A look at one of the most disadvantaged groups in South African society, the black woman, will help us understand if South Africa has progressed.  

The most recent study by the Department of Labor in South Africa was conducted in 2011. The report shows that only 31 percent of black women in South Africa were employed, which was the lowest number for all groups. Compare this to the most advantaged group, white males, at 73 percent employment. It should be noted that all other categories — black men, white women and Indian/Asian — all had higher employment than black women in South Africa. However, only the extremes between the most advantaged group and the most disadvantaged group will be compared in this case to exemplify the shocking disparity.

Looking at the rest of the numbers, we see that 14 percent of black women were unemployed, which means they did not work the week before the survey was taken but they were actively looking for work. To be fair, 14 percent unemployment does not seem relatively high, but there is another number to account for the rest of the women. Forty-five percent of black women were considered not economically active (NEA). This category includes discouraged work seekers who were not employed during the week of the survey, but wanted to work and could not find work due to a lack of available jobs or lost hope of finding work. Compare that to 4 percent unemployed white males and 23 percent of white males as NEA.

These numbers show a glaring disparity that exists in the labor market between black women and white males. Apartheid supposedly ended two decades ago, so why does this inequality still exist? One of the main reasons is education. A lack of education and usable skills are characteristic of the chronically unemployed and, conversely, those with a tertiary degree have the lowest rate of unemployment.  

In South Africa “the large majority of black students come from low-income families that do not have the financial resources to support the pursuit of higher education.” About 9 percent of black women in South Africa advance to schooling past grade 12, compared to 40 percent of white males. However, a 2013 report from the county’s Council on Higher Education (CHE) states that the university dropout rate for black students is over 50 percent. From this we can estimate that only 4.5 percent of black women even receive a university degree. Clearly, black women are not being given easy access to higher education and are therefore suffering in the job market. 

If there is low unemployment amongst people who have tertiary degrees, it would seem that the South African government needs to spend more time and money on making higher education available to lower-income individuals like black women. Higher levels of university graduates will help the South African society and economy grow in numerous ways. Reversing racism and, in this case, also sexism, is of course quite a difficult task. With such obvious structural racist and sexist disparities between white males and black females in South Africa, it is clear the country has not progressed enough. We can only hope that those working hard to change this unfair situation have success in the near future.  

— Eleni Marino

Sources: CHE, SA News, South African DOL, Statistics South Africa, The Guardian
Photo: Jaunt to Joberg

South Africa's Children
South Africa is a nation developing with echoes of trouble still lingering from apartheid. It has a myriad of issues that still need to be worked on in order to fully develop. There have been several reports that have delved into the issues that still need to be corrected.

According to a UNICEF report, South Africa’s children are bearing the brunt of this developing nation’s difficulties. The report states that 1.4 million children live in homes that rely on dirty streams for drinking water. In addition, 1.5 million children do not live in homes that have working restrooms. Also, 1.7 million live in shacks with no proper bedding and no cooking or washing facilities. Worse, four out of 10 children live in homes where no one is employed; in more extreme circumstances, the number rises to seven out of 10. An estimated 300,000 children are also infected with HIV and 40 percent of them die annually.

While South Africa is still a developing nation, it has a legal framework with anti-poverty laws that should be keeping children above the poverty line. For one reason or another, these laws are failing to help those children who so desperately need support. Aida Grima, South Africa’s UNICEF representative, stated that two-thirds of childhood deaths would be preventable with simple improvements in primary care for kids.

To complicate matters even worse, corruption is a large part of South Africa’s society as well. According to Transparency International, an organization that monitors international corruption, South Africa is one of 36 countries where the police force is seen as one of the most corrupt institutions in the nation.  A study done by the South Africa’s Statistician General found large discrepancies between the well-being of black and white children. The study noted that while 94 percent of white children have access to piped-in water to their homes, only 27 percent of black children do.

South Africa is a nation that possesses some of the world’s richest diamond resources and is well on its way to becoming a leader of the African continent. However, South Africa must address inequalities within its own borders before it can turn to helping neighboring nations who are even less fortunate.

Arthur Fuller

Sources: Huffington Post, Telegraph, CIA World Factbook, Transparency International, RT, Wall Street Journal
Photo: Revista

An oft heard phrase, some cynics go as far as to call the title of this piece, which is also a famous quote, corny, utopian  or unrealistic. Yet the individual who said it would be defined by the antithesis of the spirit behind those words. As it stands, Mahatma Ghandi is remembered as the father of a nation, much like the way that we refer to our founding fathers: Thomas Jefferson, Benajmin Franklin and James Madison to name a few.

Gandhi is certainly one of those historic figures of the past that a great many people have at least heard of. Especially concerning his bravery and courage to stand up to an empire, beginning just with himself. His choices and principles inspired a people to rise up against authority. Few have truly come to understand how, and maybe even more importantly, why he choose to do what he did.

Mahatma Gandhi is, for the most part, unanimously regarded as the leader and motivational spearhead of the Indian Independence Movement that overthrew the British empire. Almost exclusively using his rights of civil disobedience, always grounded in non violence, he managed to topple one of the largest and most sophisticated military conquerors in history.

Born on October 2, 1869, to a prominent father in the local empirical government, and to a mother whom was the fourth wife of the former. At the age of 14, as was customary, he wed by an arranged marriage, and by 15 had his first child that died soon after birth.

In his early adulthood he moved to South Africa for a job prospect. What he experienced, through the Apartheid segregation system, profoundly affected him. Soon he began learning civil disobedience tactics, and became a social activist. In 1915 he returned to India, equipped with the knowledge and skills he would employ and later became revered for.

It was not long before Gandhi became deeply involved with the independence movement. Through his steadfast persistence in following the Sacred Male and Sacred Female behaviors, he became the figurehead and emotional leader of the campaign.

The Salt March is one of his hall mark actions, when he lead a walk through rural India, encouraging civil disobedience and non-compliance to the British Empire imposed salt tax. Though he was arrested many times during the action, it is considered a pivotal point in his rise to prominence amongst the Indian people.

Babo as the Indian people affectionately call him, achieved one of his major goals on August 15, 1947. That is to say, on this day, India became independent from the ruling British empire.

On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.

His legacy of forgiveness, non-violence in the face of overwhelming odds and his persistence have left a deep impression of the conscience of the world. We end this piece as we started. The brevity and truth behind his words cannot be improved upon.

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
– Mahatma Ghandi

Tyler Shafsky

Sources: Times of India, MensXP, PBS
Photo: Daily Photostream

Nelson Mandela’s legacy looms large over South Africa. Everyone agrees that his death will mean something significant to the country, but few agree on what that will be. Mandela’s death on December 5 left behind a country still rife with painful inequalities, an African National Congress no longer bolstered by their famed leader and a new generation of “born frees” who have never known the pain of apartheid though they live its aftermath every day.

South Africa’s Persistent Inequalities

Though it has made huge strides since the end of apartheid, South Africa continues to be plagued by massive racial inequalities.

Between 2001 and 2011, the annual income of black households nearly tripled while percentages of the adult black population who have completed high school have grown and are continuing to do so. There has even been an increasing, if only by a tiny amount, segment of the black population going to college. These numbers seem to represent real progress, until they are compared to the statistics for whites. In 2001, white households earned an average of $17,000 more than black households, a disparity that grew to $30,000 by 2011. And while a national increase in high school education for blacks certainly represents some positive change, this is a barrier most whites, who have also attended college at higher rates than blacks since apartheid ended, will never face. Unemployment among young black people is, furthermore, at an all time high. Such statistics make it clear that there is much more work to be done.

ANC at the Polls

With the loss of its most beloved leader, the ANC may be facing its most competitive election yet. The party, which came to power in 1994 with Mandela’s election, has lost its “biggest link to its glorious past,” says William Gumede, the author of numerous articles and a book concerning the ANC.

Despite his retirement from politics, many believed Mandela to still be involved in the decision-making of the party which allowed the ANC to enjoy the electoral bump that the legend provided for many years. Now, without him, the party is forced to confront the staggering economic and social inequalities that they have done little to eradicate. Not only are allegations of corruption abound, but the party has been unable to both alleviate unemployment and reduce crime rates.

Moreover, it is likely than many disillusioned ANC supporters will accept how far the party has fallen from its revolutionist ideals now that Mandela has died. Some predict that the weakened party will splinter and fall out of favor. As the ANC is proving, in many ways, to be an inadequate leader of South African democracy, perhaps a change is necessary.

Born Frees: The Next Generation of South Africans

The “born frees,” as the generation born at the end or after apartheid are called, make up about 40% of South Africa’s population according to census data. As one of the largest population segments, their views on the future of the country have the potential to change much of it.

Many born frees feel that the best way to honor Mandela is to focus on the future of South Africa instead of dwelling in the past. They often resent the frequent references to apartheid from their elders, wanting instead to address the problems currently facing the country. Such focus tends to cause tension with older generations, who often feel born frees are too distanced from the harsh realities of apartheid to fully understand the importance of political involvement.

“It’s not a matter of not understanding apartheid; it’s just a matter of us having different challenges,” Akhumzi Jezile, a 24-year-old producer, television personality and speaker, told the New York Times. Jezile cited youth-run efforts to reduce drug use, crime and HIV rates as evidence of changing priorities.

A 2012 Reconciliation Barometer report revealed changes in the born free generation that may hint at a changing social and political landscape for South Africa. The report found that born frees were more likely than older generations to be friends and socialize with people of a different race. The report also found that they were less likely to trust political leaders.

– Sarah Morrison

Sources: The Guardian, New York Times: A Test at the Polls, New York Times, New York Times,Real Truth

Last month, one of the greatest inspirational figures this world has ever seen died. Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, and long-time sufferer and activist to end South Africa’s apartheid, died on Thursday after a battle with lung infection. People across the world are mourning Mandela’s death and honoring his long life and incredible achievements. Below are five amazing things about the life of Nelson Mandela.

1. Nelson Mandela broke the rules in order to bring peace In 1943 Mandela became a member of the African National Congress. Five years later, when apartheid laws were instituted across Africa Mandela began an intense defiance campaign against the apartheid system. In 1956 Mandela and over a hundred other political activists were charged with treason. Four years later the African National Congress was banned, and Mandela formed an underground military group called The Spear of the Nation. After leading a guerilla movement, Mandela was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison, but went on the run.

2. Mandela was sentenced to life in prison, but remained politically active After Mandela was recaptured after fleeing from his five-year imprisonment sentence, he was tried for treason and sabotage and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela began his sentence at age 46, and spent the next 27 years in prison. During his imprisonment Mandela was often forced into labor, which consisted of breaking rocks into gravel. While in prison he was only allowed one visitor a year and could only write or receive a single letter every six months. Despite Mandela’s harsh imprisonment conditions he remained significant in leading the movement against apartheid. He was able to organize protests from his prison cell, and help rally activists to make gains in ending apartheid.

3. Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize Mandela was released from prison in 1990. After the ban from the African National Congress was lifted, Mandela joined and became the president. In 1993 Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize.

4. Mandela was elected as South Africa’s first black president After huge political gains were made in the fight to end intense racial segregation, Mandela was elected as the first black President of South Africa. Mandela stressed peace and unity, encouraging Africans to forgive the white governments that had treated them so brutally.

5. Mandela extended peace to whites, including his prison guards On the 20th anniversary of his prison release Mandela partook in a huge celebration held in his name. Even Mandela’s former prison guard was included in the celebration. At the age of 91 Mandela took this day to celebrate and further emphasize his message of peace to both blacks and whites.

Chante Owens

Sources: Nelson Mandelas, BBC, The Daily Beast, ABC News

Nelson Mandela, former South African President, was highly regarded by leaders all over the globe. His legacy will live on in South Africa and in the hearts of past and present influential leaders.

Soon after the announcement of Mr. Mandela’s death, President Barack Obama praised the South African leader as an influential and inspiring leader who motivated people all across the globe, including the President himself. President Obama solemnly stated that he could not imagine his life without the example set by Mr. Mandela.

Previous U.S. Presidents, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, also commended Nelson Mandela for his role in the anti-apartheid movement and outspokenness.

F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last apartheid leader, also commended Nelson Mandela for his willingness to compromise and passion for the betterment of South Africa. De Klerk stated in 1990 that though his relationship with Mr. Mandela was “often stormy” “they were always able to come together at critical moments.”

The Dalai Lama, a fellow Nobel Peace laureate, recently said that he will “personally miss a dear friend” and that Mr. Mandela’s “spirit will go on” even though he has physically departed.

Though his controversial position in South Africa during the Apartheid, Nelson Mandela has become a world-renowned leader and activist. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hopes that Mandela’s legacy will continue to motivate people across the globe to work for a better world. The White House flags are set to fly at half-staff through Monday.

– Lienna Feleke-Eshete 

Sources: All Africa, Yahoo
Photo: News Discovery

With the abolishment of apartheid came new possibilities: for black and white South Africans to coexist bearing the same rights and allowed the same opportunities. However, 19 years later, racism in South Africa still segregates socially and economically, hindering the opportunities for many to escape the burdening shadow of the apartheid.

During the apartheid, whites were given a systematic advantage; they were the only ones allowed to vote; allowed a higher standard of living with the segregation of schools, hospitals, housing and leisure facilities; they also benefited from having the most skilled jobs reserved for them.

This dramatic disconnect between blacks and whites created a social divide that still exists today, 19 years later. This social divide contributes to inequalities, unemployment and pockets of deep poverty suffered by many black South Africans, the majority of which reside in rural areas. Because of the strong correlations between race and rural location, and rural location and high levels of poverty, this leaves black South Africans in rural areas at a disadvantage to obtain the same education and job opportunities.

Although the income differences have narrowed in recent years, a large income disparity still exists between the two groups, with black South Africans making $65,000 less, on average, than white South Africans.

Isolation may also be a contributing factor to the racial attitudes expressed by South Africans. Socially, South Africans still harbor racial differences. An annual survey by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) revealed that 43.5% of South Africans rarely or never speak to someone of another race.

Class and racial disparities that are present today impede development efforts for the nation as a whole. South Africa isn’t able to truly escape the effects of the apartheid with the racism that lingers in the country.

– Maris Brummel

Sources: BBC, UNRISD, The Guardian
Photo: WordPress

Nelson Mandela's Childhood

Nelson Mandela’s life has been exemplary in many ways. Through his patience, his perseverance, his strength and his courage, he managed to lead South Africa through troubled social and economic times to become one of the world’s largest emerging economies and bring an end to apartheid to establish a new “Rainbow Nation” in honor of its racial diversity.

Nelson Mandela’s childhood is no less remarkable than his career. From a family that was traditionally powerful – his father was in line to be chief until a dispute robbed him of the title – Mandela came from humble beginnings. After his father was dispossessed of his status, his family was forced to move to a small village, where he was raised in a hut and lived a very simple life, eating what they could grow and playing with the other village boys. His first name was Rohlilahla, meaning “troublemaker” (an apt name for the man who would later become the leader of the African National Congress). He adopted Nelson when he began formal schooling and was given an English name.

After his father died, he was sent to live with Jongintaba Dalindyebo, a regent of the Thembu people, who began raising Mandela to assume a position of leadership when he grew older.

Mandela’s interest in African history is said to have started during his lessons next to the palace, where he studied English, Xhosa, geography, and history. He became interested in the effect of the arrival of the Europeans on the nation and the people. Later, in a coming-of-age ritual in the village, Chief Meligqili, a speaker, uttered words that would greatly influence Mandela.

“He went on to lament that the promise of the young men would be squandered as they struggled to make a living and perform mindless chores for white men. Mandela would later say that while the chief’s words didn’t make total sense to him at the time, they would eventually formulate his resolve for an independent South Africa.”

From the village, Mandela would go to boarding school and later university, which would feed the fire of his emerging interest in the rights of South Africans.

Mandela disproves the common conception that one needs to come from an established background in order to be successful; what made the difference in Mandela’s case was the education afforded to him by Dalindyebo, and later through boarding school and university. Mandela’s understanding of his own country’s history and his exposure to multiple facets of life gave him insight into the lives of many of the different citizens of the country.

Much of Mandela’s strength stemmed from a humble background and the early lessons of hardship and the value of each opportunity.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Photo: The Guardian