Monday, December 3, 2012

Week 16: De facto versus de juro in Cape Town

Post by Evan Binder

De facto versus de jure. Different processes that essentially lead to the same result. De jure means that some consequence was intended to be caused, while de facto means that circumstances have created a certain consequence, even if it was not intended to be caused by the actors. Such is the case when looking at the state of apartheid in South Africa and Namibia. Up until the early 1990s, the South African government championed the apartheid cause of splitting up all South African citizens based on race and ethnicity. These actions were de jure; the racial splits that occurred among people were intended and desired. Today, 20 years after the apartheid regime fell and more democratic forms of government rose to power, we see that a de facto apartheid still exists. People are still split due to residential and economic segregation, even though such is not intended by the government. In actuality, the government has sought to better integrate the previously split people. However, the physical layouts of cities under the apartheid regime have resulted in much integration proving to be futile. Such is illustrated nowhere more drastically than Cape Town.

Downtown Cape Town, by the shores where the pictures are taken and put in guide books, is a gorgeous city that seems to take different facets of many different cities (who would have thought the architecture and foliage of Copenhagen, New Orleans, San Francisco, and San Diego could all blend together so well). However, as expected, the beauty is premised upon the fact that those in those regions have great amounts of wealth. And in South Africa, that strongly correlates to the downtown population being white. The townships for those who were determined to be colored or black were nowhere near the most desirable place in the city to live. Driving by car, they were about thirty minutes outside of downtown Cape Town, behind the mountains that surround the wealthiest area. We had all agreed that the distance felt incredibly long when we were driving to the townships. When adding in the fact that very few colored and black families had cars of their own, it made the distance seem interminable.

More so than in any of the other cities that we visited (namely Johannesburg and Windhoek), the layout that the apartheid regime established in Cape Town was most detrimental to non whites. In Johannesburg and Windhoek, the former townships were clearly distinguished from the richer areas. However, the downtown area that many worked in was fairly central and accessible for all. In Cape Town, the pragmatics of trying to actualize and raise one’s own social status is so unbelievably difficult because the daily routine in doing so is so taxing. The geographical limitations that continue to exist today allow unofficial segregation to exist, and requires the citizens of Cape Town to seek out methods of integration, instead of merely accepting the inevitable that is right in front of them. In a population where many with privilege still remember the government that established such privilege, these efforts are predictably not sought out, and the same issues continue to be perpetuated, just in a de facto form.

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