Apartheid – A Talk by Terri Givens

-Anna Gurevich-

In 1948 the National Party gained power in South Africa. They enforced apartheid–a policy of segregation and economic discrimination against non-white groups. The non-white population, which were the majority in South Africa, were forced to live in areas separate from the European population, and interactions between whites and non-whites were limited; non-whites were forbidden to use the same facilities, they received different education, and were not allowed to work well-paid jobs. Apartheid was heavily resisted and finally, after many violent and nonviolent protests, it crumbled. After the United States and the United Kingdom denounced apartheid in 1973 and raised economic sanctions on South Africa in 1985, the leader of the National Party was replaced. In 1994, with the presidential election of Nelson Mandela, apartheid was officially over.

Menlo College’s Provost, Terri Givens, is from Spokane, Washington. She was a “straight A” student, played the violin, attended choir in school, and was a star athlete. She enjoyed school and always had a love for education. Givens was the first in her family to achieve a college degree–a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA. But instead of going into the world of politics she stayed where her heart was, education. She stated: “I find…that for the work within politics there is a certain temperament needed. I am good in leadership positions because I am a good balance between an introvert and extravert.”

In November of 2016,  Dr. Givens, attended a conference at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, close to Johannesburg. She talked about a chapter she wrote for the The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism, which discussed the regional migration governance, the immigration problem, and the lack of coordination of the government.

When comparing Menlo College to the University of Pretoria, Dr. Givens saw massive differences. During her time there, the University of Pretoria was closed off to the public due to the threat of violent protests; only certain students were allowed on campus. While Menlo’s campus is open, without any fences, the campus of the University of Pretoria was surrounded by fences with razor wires and highly guarded by security. In general, education in South Africa is hard to get. It is expensive and the corrupt government has problems with investing money in schools and universities.

During apartheid, the government wanted to impose the Afrikaans language upon the non-white population to keep them oppressed. They were not allowed to study English or any other language but Afrikaans. During Dr. Givens’ time in South Africa she talked to the drivers who guided her through the cities. Interestingly, Dr. Givens describes, that a black driver she met knew around six different languages, including Afrikaans, English, and several tribal languages. Meanwhile a white driver she met, knew only two and was ashamed of that.

The effects of apartheid are still visible in South Africa. As described by Dr. Givens, Soweto, a city near Johannesburg, was surrounded by so called “Shanty Towns.” They are like small villages surrounding the city, with portable toilets, and the people there hacked into the electric system to receive free electricity. They are forced to live there because living in the city is too expensive and commuting from further away is too difficult. Also, within the cities there is concern about safety; there are still fights between tribal groups in South Africa, as well as unemployment. Officially apartheid ended in 1994. “Nelson Mandela ushered out of apartheid peacefully but you still see its effects and there is still a lot to be done, after 20 years,” comments Dr.Givens.

Dr. Givens also states that, besides all of the differences to California and the noticeable imprint of apartheid, she, as an African American woman, felt amazingly comfortable in South Africa: “There I am not different,” she says “There I am not the only one.” She described the beautiful nature and the great people she met who made her instantly fall in love with the country and she recommends everyone to experience it, too.

Our differences makes us special!

Dr. Givens would like everyone to take note of the preamble of the South African constitution:

We, the people of South Africa, Recognise the injustices of our past;

Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;

Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and

Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to –

Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;

Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;

Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

May God protect our people.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.

God seën Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa.

Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika.