In the summer of 2011, Associate Professor Donald Rallis led a group of seven students to South Africa for a study abroad trip focusing on the effects of apartheid on the geography of South Africa. We journeyed through various townships, provinces and cities to study how the physical, cultural and economic structures have been affected in Post-Apartheid South Africa.
This site is a collective reflection of our experiences. We each chose topics we were interested in and are imperative to the understanding of post-apartheid South Africa , and most of these topics are interlinked maintaining a holistic approach allowing you, the reader, to share in the multiplicity of our experiences.
The topics on this site more specifically are about cultural diversity, history and geography of apartheid, international aid to South Africa, immigration and xenophobia, the impact of mining, and the urbanization of South Africa. The site also includes a historical and political background of South Africa as well as a demographic and physical overview of the country.
Background of the Trip:
For three weeks in August 2011 the authors of this site (plus two professors) from the University of Mary Washington spent three weeks in South Africa learning about the issues of development and inequality in post-apartheid South Africa.
In 1994, white rule in South Africa was abolished when Nelson Mandela became president in the country’s first democratic election. The country today has one of the world’s most progressive constitutions, the largest economy in Africa and has become an important player in world affairs. However, the country still faces tremendous problems. South Africa has one of the world’s most unequally income distributions. While a number of South African’s are benefiting from the country’s wealth, nearly 40 percent of the population is unemployed, poverty is widespread, and many South Africans are still living in a third world state. (CIA World Fact Book, 2011)
Our program began with a three-day stay in one of South Africa’s most famous resorts and game parks, where were learned and experienced the geography of tourism. We then journeyed to Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, where we witnessed the ways in which the end of apartheid has reshaped the map of the city, and influenced the lives of many people living within it. From there we flew to Cape Town where we stayed in the township of khayelitsha, visited Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela spent many years, and wine country, as well as learned many lessons regarding the colonial history of the city.
This site aims to provide an online resource to people interested in South Africa, especially the geography of post-Apartheid South Africa, how it was shaped, how it is changing, its history, its challenges, and its importance as a new world player. All entries are researched based, and influenced by personal experience. The site also aims to construct a basic understanding of South Africa’s demographics, political background, and physical geography.