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During the recent Oscar Pistorius trial, many questions have been asked surrounding the tricky topic of equality, in particular, racial equality. We all know the traumatic past that has haunted South Africa in terms of apartheid and the consequences brought with it. So, is South Africa doomed to return to its old ways on racial inequality?! Well at this moment in time, it is looking likely.

A recent example of the past returning to this nation is the division caused over one of their national holidays. South Africans traditionally like to engage in an annual celebration on the 24th of September known as ‘Braai day’. This day traditionally consists of eating and drinking in their early spring time climate. However, this has caused a division within society come braai day 2014, as a ‘white man’ has been championing the notion to rename this holiday as ‘national braai day’. This has hit a nerve as not long ago Nelson Mandela changed this predominantly white celebration into a diverse occasion by naming this ‘Heritage day’, a day that can be celebrated by all races and cultures in South Africa. The Economist (2014) catalogues a South African columnist, T.O. Molefe stating that braai day is a ‘white supremacist-capitalist- patriarchy’s day of sponsored forgetting’. Therefore, is South Africa heading back to the future now Nelson Mandela has sadly passed away?

Robinson (2004) rightly stated that ‘Capitalism, and hence the capitalist class, for instance, has always been dependant… on the unremunerated labour of women and super exploited labour pools.’ It is evident that these black South Africans fall into the category of ‘super exploited labour’. This must be the case, in order for the white citizens to be doing so well, in a nation that endorses capitalism; the burden of inevitable inequality that capitalism so generously gives us has to be on the blacks. Through a BBC census conducted in 2011, out of a nation of 52 million, 79% of the population are black. Strangely, a white household income is approximately 365,000 rand (£26,000) compared to the black household income of 60,600 rand, which is frightful!

To try and explain this gap in some way, Cox (1987) states that there has been a rise of peripheralization of the labour force in advanced capitalist countries, which would be relevant to South Africa as the successful whites in the higher paid jobs are able to exploit the blacks into working in industrial forms of labour associated with the third world nations. It’s interesting that not many people will recognise this problem and this may be due to what Ravenhill (2011) mentions about ‘other sources of error may bias the poverty numbers downwards” and through the use of this bias, we would not instantly see this racial inequality in South Africa as an issue until we look in depth and see the actual facts.

So, what can possibly be done to solve the racial inequality problem? Do South Africans need a new Nelson Mandela to keep the equilibrium of equality? Or is this just a utopian idea that ceases to exist?

Right now, South Africa’s recurrent past is becoming too fresh in their future.

Claire Henry

BBC News (2012) South Africa’s consensus: Racial Divide Continuing. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20138322 [Accessed 9 November 2014].

Cox, R (1987) Production, Power and World Order. (Columbia University Press) pp324-325

Ravenhill, J (2011) Global Political Economy (OUP 3rd edition), pp. 386

Robinson, W (2004) ‘Global Class Formation and the Rise of a Transnational Capital Class’, A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class and State in a Transnational World (Johns Hopkins), pp. 34-36

The Economist (2014) TG it’s braai day’. Vol 412, pp 51

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