By Nakeisha Brownlee
It is hard to believe that less than 20 years ago this country was segregated. From 1948 – 1994, the rights of black South Africans were limited and controlled by white supremacist and Afrikaans – the minority race in the country. Having the opportunity to spend the day with 3c’s interns has made me aware that I could have experienced the same racism that my ancestors endured. The interns, being between the ages of 17-20, haven’t lived through apartheid, as their parents did before them…technically they were born free.
In twenty years, South Africa has made leaps and bounds towards establishing a government and an economy that works for its people. South Africa is classified as a middle-income, newly industrialized country and the world’s largest producer of platinum, gold, and chromium. They also have a copious supply of natural resources and produce such as corn, wheat, and sugarcane. South Africa has international trade relationships with other countries such as the United States, Germany, China, the United Kingdom and Spain. With the travel and tourism sector rapidly growing, the country receives a substantial amount of revenue from visitors from around the world.
Although much of South Africa is considered a thriving country, a considerable amount of its population is still impoverished, with twenty-five percent of the population unemployed. South Africa is one of the top 20 countries for income inequality. The decrease in formal or blue collared jobs and the increase of informal, white collared jobs, are to blame for the disproportionate unemployment rates. Since the disbandment of apartheid in 1994, Indians and Coloureds have benefited most, as the wealth and status in these two groups continue to grow.
Despite the advances, the economy is still so far behind. Taxes are paid only by the “rich,” who make up roughly 19% of the population. With 19% of a country paying taxes, it creates a challenge for the government to tend to the other 81%. Due to the majority of the population living in poverty, the lack of a strong (if existent) middle class is killing the economy.
The children born in 1994, after the apartheid era, are now finishing up school and aspiring to be leaders in the workforce. I believe they will become the strong middle class that South Africa needs. They were born free and they will be the generation that helps South Africa build their economy. It may not happen in my lifetime, but they will be the ones to rebuild South Africa and place them in the forefront of the world’s growing global economy.
Until next time…