Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Anthony Leisegang

Apartheid started in 1948 and ended in 1994,  under that time black people were treated as if they were worth less than white people. It was an unfair system. During that time Anthony Leisegang, was born, in 1964. Leisgang is an expert on apartheid, and has experienced that time as well. He is also half danish-norwegian.
Apartheid was a system that supported the white privileges, and suppressed the rights for black and colored people. If  black people sat in the wrong seat on the bus, entered the wrong door in the store or sat in the wrong bench, black people would be arrested, while white people would only get a warning and be asked to move. Summed up it was an unfair system.

We asked some questions to him, and he replied. Q stands for question and A stands for answer.
Q: Anthony Leisegang How do you think something like apartheid could happen?
A: Apartheid ("separateness") occurs everywhere. My Norwegian grandfather used the word "Svede" for people he considered ill-mannered, uncouth, uncultured -- and no doubt the Swedes had a word for people from the west of Norway. However, he grew up in and admired traditional Zulu culture. His father, born in Schlesvic Denmark before German annexation and trained by the Norwegian Mission Society in Stavanger, became the first permanent missionary allowed to serve at the Zulu royal village. Throughout history tribes and clans of like-minded people seeking a common survival goal have practiced ethnocentricity -- forming gangs, sects, tribes etc, and often developing their own language or dialect – and the Zulu leader Shaka defeated most other tribes in southern Africa before formal white colonisation. There were Muslim slave traders long before white settlement by the Dutch then English, and the Bantu tribes of eastern southern Africa were themselves settlers from the Congo before that. Usually physical boundaries come to separate people, but a "gang" or self-serving distinctive group can operate also within the broader community. Think of the Mafia in the USA, the Communist Party in the old USSR – where, at best, only 5% of people were invited to join (the majority were "White Russians"), yet they controlled the vast USSR and an empire abroad. The word "apartheid" was created by the Dutch/Afrikaans South African academic Hendrik Verwoerd to formalise long-existent separation of migrating and part-urbanised black workers who left tribal circumstances to work on the mines. Far from being "uncivilised", the tribal background was in fact well regulated in terms of community health, access to water, food and similar. However, in coming to the city, escaping such controls and not having to answer to "white" leaders, civilised tribal practices including community health were discarded. This was largely a communication and authority problem, nine main "black" tribal languages being spoken – British (English, Irish, American) and Afrikaans (a mixture of Dutch, German and some French sharing up to 60% Old Norsk words but grammar Germanic) by "white" miners. It was on the gold mines of The Reef either side of Johannesburg that the first (yet to be named) discrimination was made formally on the basis of skin colour following the failure of miners to impose black tribal laws on migrant black using tribal leaders ("indunas") failed -- the migrants from tribal areas simply said there were not their own indunas (nine black tribes, one with 17 clans in one case) and would be ignored. Urbanisation and migration has always presented such problems, generating "apartheid" of one sort or another – modern cities like New York and Toronto show this, people choosing to live in an area where they share a common ethnic background. In South Africa a minority white society imposed formal separation and denial of rights in urban areas to people of black skin, gradually removing right of mixed-race "Coloured" people (largely in the first-settled Cape) too. Both in time were physically moved from upper-class and privileged white areas to segregated areas, where commuting or migration brought them to work in "white areas". This "apartheid" scheme gradually became one of "separate development", where new urban districts and consolidated tribal regions became "home" to people of ethnic, colour or tribal type. Some tribal area became formal "homelands" where local universities and industries, and special tourism or other business incentives and attractions (eg casinos), were offered. In a positive sense, today's black civil service is largely a consequence of homeland development and rule, some bastion against what would be a post-colonial "return to the bush" like other countries -- which today's South African leadership gang or "mafia" nevertheless is trying to impose to serve personal enrichment. Urbanisation and migration has always presented such problems, generating "apartheid" of one sort or another. There is growing resistance to entry of migrants into American and European countries, particularly Muslim ones. There is a new apartheid in South Africa – racially-based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and Affirmative Action (AA) – which has led to the country being rated the most corrupt in the world, its currency valued at “junk status”. If you are not "black enough" (and millions of mixed-race, Indian, Malay, eastern lands are not) you are excluded from "the gravy chain". And, unlike the Afrikaner apartheid, there is no "separate development".
Q: What was the cost of opposing Apartheid regulations?
How did the consequences of anti-apartheid activities affect different populations groups?
A: This is a difficult question to answer because there were so many types of action by such differing people and institutions, and the majority chose to cause change from within the system.
The Cold War was a key factor in opposing and supporting apartheid and separate development.
On a personal level the cost has been just as high in the post-apartheid era -- opponents of the "old apartheid" now having to fight the new "black apartheid" with its incompetence and corruption today. The United Democratic Front has fought both.

Leisegang, as you can see, answered many of our questions we had about Apartheid and South Africa in general. It helped us get a better understanding of apartheid, and it was great to talk to someone who had their own experience of this time period. Talking to Anthony Leisegang really improved or way of learning.

This post is written by Hlin-Såga.

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