For outsiders, Cape Town can appear to be a symbol of post-apartheid South Africa. The coastal city is promoted as a top destination for its diversity of food, landscapes and cultures. But for black South Africans, life in Cape Town is steeped in the lasting legacy of
apartheid – the system of white minority rule that has left the country’s black
majority poor and powerless. Though apartheid was officially terminated in 1994, throughout South Africa neighborhoods remained structurally
segregated, and the vast majority of black citizens remain locked in grinding poverty. I’m going to show you how Cape Town was designed to keep racial groups separated, and how those divisions persist today. Cape Town’s layout provides a striking
example of the clear socioeconomic divisions between South Africans. I’m
standing in a township that reflects the living conditions of most black Capetonians: poor and under-resourced, without access to running water, sewage
or even electricity. Just next to it is a white suburb that’s worlds apart. There’s no easier way to see this than with a drone. From above you can see the state of the bustling black township I’m standing in, called Imizamo Yethu. It’s a barren, informal settlement made up mostly of shacks and government-built
homes. Literally next to the township is a white suburb that’s overflowing with greenery. So here’s what life looks like for most white Capetonians: nice suburban homes with running water, protected by walls and alarm systems.
Some even have signs specifically warning black Africans, in their language
of Xhosa, of dogs inside. And the disparity isn’t just black-and-white. Here’s the color township of Manenburg to the left, and the informal black
settlement of Nyanga to the right. Unlike black townships, the ghettos of
colored people are made up of small homes, rather than shacks, and have basic services like running water. Before we go any further, I should break down how racial groups are classified here. “Colored” is a centuries-old community of
diverse heritage that might be called “Creole” in the U.S. or Caribbean. They’re
distinguished from “Africans,” who are the city’s Xhosa-speaking black population. While Africans are the vast majority in most of South Africa, in Cape Town coloreds are the largest group. Africans are a close second. Whites are only 15%, followed by Asians and others. The segregation we see from above is the
legacy of an apartheid system that was instituted by South Africa’s National
Party and lasted from 1948 to 1994. Apartheid further expanded the policies
of white domination and racial segregation that were already in place
since the colonial era. Under the 1950 Group Areas Act, the government created racially segregated areas and forcibly removed people from neighborhoods
reserved for white people. From 1950 until 1983, one of the largest mass removals in modern history took place. Here in Cape Town, District 6, where I
currently am, had been a booming area in the heart of the city, with more than
60,000 colored residents. But in the ’70s, the government bulldozed their homes and forced them into windswept housing projects on the Cape Flats, far from the
city centre. Apartheid dictated where people could live and move about.
Africans were issued a “pass,” for an ID document stating where they could live
and work. They would be arrested if police found them in a white
neighborhood not designated as their place of employment. The system was used to bar most Africans from moving to the city in search of jobs. Instead, they were confined to living in three blighted townships. In the ’80s, hundreds of
thousands began moving to the periphery of the city, building shacks and informal
settlements. The legacy of that migration remains today in poor townships like
this one. Part of apartheid ‘s divide-and- rule scheme was to give coloreds
priority over black Africans for jobs and housing. But coloreds were also
systematically displaced at the expense of whites. And today, the white minority
continues to live near the city centre and in lush suburbs like this one. And
the inequality isn’t limited to neighborhoods. Under apartheid, Cape
Town’s more exclusive Atlantic Coast beaches, like this one, used to prohibit
blacks. Whites enjoyed their own beaches like these, while blacks and coloreds had
their own beaches, which looked like this. Today, beachfront areas like Camps Bay still cater to mostly whites. But now, it’s all about who can afford the nice
restaurants and shops. It’s this kind of unspoken disparity that continues to permeate Cape Town society. Studies by local researchers have found that black Africans are almost always less successful than white people in moving
up career paths in Cape Town, a phenomenon labeled the “ebony ceiling effect.” The inequality here is so stark that
Cape Town’s GINI index, which economists use to measure inequality, is 63 out of
100, that’s one of the highest in the world. So why has Cape Town failed to
deliver a better life for all since the end of apartheid? Some blame Cape Town’s governance. Cape Town rests within the province of the Western Cape, which is
the only one of South Africa’s nine provinces not run by the governing
African National Congress. That’s the anti apartheid party of Nelson Mandela. Instead, it’s run by the Democratic Alliance, which grew out of white liberal establishment politics, but includes remnants of the old National
Party and black middle-class support. The Democratic Alliance dismisses any claims that Cape Town remains racist. But it’s hard to deny the structural segregation and discrimination that still exists, even if it is more subtle than it was under apartheid. Now that Cape Town grapples with a water crisis the world has never seen, the stark disparity between the haves
and have-nots is on full display. Many black Capetonians have always lived without running water. Now, others in Cape Town are getting a glimpse into that experience as they line up to collect a ration of water. But what about everything else? Will the dream of a truly equitable society ever become reality here? Hey guys, it’s Dena in the township of Imizamo Yethu. Check out the next video in our playlist that looks at Cape Town’s
severe water crisis and how it’s affecting everyone. Be sure to comment,
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