With the end of apartheid, South Africa worked to confront its past, reshape its national identity, and establish a government that represented all South Africans. This final chapter delves into the lasting legacy of apartheid and the issues the country continues to face today.

Essential Questions

  • Why is it important to address the past in the wake of mass violence and division?
  • What are some effective ways to come to terms with past conflicts and atrocities, and how can the needs of victims of past oppression best be met?
  • What steps has South Africa taken to build a strong democracy, and what challenges remain?

Democracy & Civic Engagement

Transition to Democracy

Explore the moments of challenge and hope during South Africa’s transition to democracy, as well as the country’s social, economic, and political issues in the aftermath of apartheid.

Reading 1 of 8
Democracy & Civic Engagement

South Africa's First Nonracial Democratic Election

South African poet and activist Mazisi Kunene reflects on his experience voting in South Africa’s first non-racial democratic election in 1994.

Reading 2 of 8
Democracy & Civic Engagement

The South African Constitution

Review the preamble and bill of rights of South Africa’s 1996 Constitution, a collaborative document that contains considerable protections on civil rights.

Reading 3 of 8
Democracy & Civic Engagement

The Equality Clause: Gay Rights and the Constitution

Marian Drew writes about the strides taken by South African members of the LGBTQ community in earning additional rights after their inclusion in the South African Constitution.

Reading 4 of 8
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Creating a Shared Identity for a Democratic South Africa

Former Minister of Justice Dr. A. M. Omar addresses South Africa’s struggle to achieve a single national identity considering the country’s inherent diversity and its legacy of apartheid.

Reading 5 of 8

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Read excerpts from the testimonies of Nomonde Calata, widow of political leader Fort Calata, and Johan van Zyl, the officer who oversaw Calata’s murder, during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Reading 6 of 8
Democracy & Civic Engagement

The TRC: A Need for a Moral Bottom Line

Bishop Frank Retief shares his concern about the ineffectiveness of the TRC in achieving justice for victims of apartheid and reconciling South Africa in a 1998 interview.

Reading 7 of 8
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Overcoming the Past and Becoming a Single Nation

South African writer and poet Antjie Krog explores democracy and change through a narrative about a common sporting event that gives voice to both white and black South Africans.

Reading 8 of 8
Democracy & Civic Engagement

The Housing Clause in the South African Bill of Rights: The Continuing Struggle

Confront South Africa’s ongoing housing crisis through the words of Shamiela Fataar, a homeless black South African single mother, and AbM, a grassroots organization working for housing rights.

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