Mandela's Dream for South Africa Is in Ruins
On June 16, 1976, thousands of Black South African children poured out of their classrooms to peacefully protest the government’s decision to forcibly teach them in Afrikaans, the language of Dutch settlers. As a young foreign correspondent, I covered the chaos as police fired noxious plumes of tear gas and then live bullets at the kids in Soweto, an impoverished Black township outside Johannesburg. The children’s courage, amid poverty and political depravity embedded in national laws, was stunning. This month, South Africa witnessed the worst violence since the end of the apartheid era. Hundreds died; 40,000 business were vandalized or burned. The government eventually had to deploy 25,000 troops to contain the violence around Durban, the port, Johannesburg, the financial hub, and Pretoria, the capital. “It almost brought our country to its knees," a cabinet minister, said. Tragically, South Africa is today among the world’s most unequal countries, the World Bank reported in March. Inequality has only worsened since apartheid formally ended in 1994. Riddled with corruption, divided politically, unsettled by deadly turmoil, and overcome by the pandemic, the state is increasingly unable to address its people’s woes. South Africa teeters. Read on...
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