28 September, 2020

A Coloured Sunshine

South Africa's experience of reservation offers many parallels, many possibilities

A Coloured Sunshine
In the years before apartheid ended in 1991, Peter Radebe, 48, lived in a Black township outside Johannesburg. The nearest he ever got to a brick-and-mortar house was working as a gardener in houses of the rich. But he used his wages to put himself through a public school in the township. "We never had any textbooks, and our toilets were broken," Radebe recalls. In 1997, three years after South Africa became a democracy, he managed to complete his tertiary (college or university) education. Radebe secured bank loans to establish a small IT-related business in 2000. His enterprise prospered because of the government's preferential procurement policies for Blacks under the affirmative action (AA) framework. Radebe now lives in what was earlier a White suburb; his children attend a posh private school in the neighbourhood. "We couldn't even walk on these tree-lined roads, let alone live here," he says.

Radebe is one of the many Black South Africans whose lives have been transformed because of AA policies successive governments have followed...


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