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South Africa’s Apartheid Years

The People Who Were “Held Apart”

The year was 1948 and it was the wrong time to be black in South Africa. They called it apartheid, literally translated it means “held apart,” but in practical--and unavoidable terms--it was racial segregation and discrimination. For nearly half a century, neighborhoods in this African country would be divided by race; a country quarantined by the color of one’s skin. The policy translated into 3.5 million non-white people being forcibly moved from their homes in one of the largest mass removals in modern history. Denied citizenship and representation, blacks and others of “non-white ancestry” were no longer legal members in the place they called home. Much like the former American South, the government segregated education, medical care, even public areas in a manner that was by no means equal to those of color. Interracial marriage was prohibited and many jobs were classified “white-only.” Apartheid was a systematic form of discrimination where hatred became institutionalized.


 Image: The Seal and Flag of South Africa; April KillingsworthFlickr

Today, South Africa is still being schooled in the lessons of the past. Just two decades after the end of apartheid, few have forgotten the injustices, or perhaps, their culpability. One can no more visit South Africa without confronting apartheid than visit Auschwitz without asking how something like the holocaust could have happened within the experience of the human condition. As citizens of modern-day South Africa still wrestle with the aftermath, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg seeks to unravel the many questions that remain: How did it begin? Who is to blame? How can we prevent future oppression? In addition to the multimedia exhibits that document the past, visitors are given a look at the challenges of life post-apartheid as well as a glimpse forward to a future where all South Africans have a say in how their history will be written.

For information on Travcoa's journeys to South Africa, call your Travel Agent or a Travcoa Journey Consultant at 1-800-992-2003, email and be sure to check out our private itineraries and small group tours to South Africa.

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Topics: South Africa