Tuesday, March 28, 2017

valley song | apartheid

VALLEY SONG is set after apartheid was abolished in the early 1990's. Fugard's play gives us a birds eye view of how apartheid affects one family, and the struggles they face of letting go of the past and moving forward in a new South Africa. VALLEY SONG is a story that shows change is possible even in a broken world. It also shows how two segregated groups of people can live together in harmony and overcome evil with good by loving your neighbour.

In 1948, under the governance of the National Party Apartheid was put into place. This system of segregation divided South Africans into groups of whites and nonwhites: Asians, Coloureds, and Blacks (indigenous Aftircans). Nonwhite South Africans were forced to live in separate areas from whites. At this time, most of the South African population was comprised of nonwhites. Sadly, living conditions were less than ideal for nonwhites. Transpiration was not as easily accessible, which made it extremely difficult to complete simple tasks like grocery shopping and getting to work. Not only this, the land that was assigned to nonwhites was significantly poorer agriculturally. This made it much more difficult to plant and produce crops.

Looking at the apartheid as a pyramid, white people would be at the top and the indigenous, black people at the bottom. Whites received the best opportunities for education, jobs, housing and health care. South African neighborhoods and schools were even segregated based on skin colour. And throughout the 1050s and 1960s, laws were passed that banned any interaction between whites and non-whites, not including employer-employee relationships. “Whites only” signs began to pop up everywhere including, drinking fountains, buses, restaurants, hotels and even park benches. The South African government stripped nonwhites of their citizenship and eventually tried to push them out of the country.

Political privileges were put into place and nonwhite South Africans had no say in political matters. If the indigenous Africans were allowed to vote, they would outnumber whites by more than 4 to 1. Because of this, a law was passed that allowed nonwhites to vote, on the condition that they would only vote to elect white representatives.

The apartheid came to an end with its democratic elections on April 27th, 1994, where people of all races had their say and voted Nelson Mandela as their president. In South Africa, his day is now a public holiday – Freedom Day.


1948 - Policy of apartheid (separateness) adopted when National Party (NP) takes power.

1950 - Population classified by race. Group Areas Act passed to segregate blacks and whites. Communist Party banned. ANC responds with campaign of civil disobedience, led by Nelson Mandela.

1960 - Seventy black demonstrators killed at Sharpeville. ANC banned.

1961 - South Africa declared a republic, leaves the Commonwealth. Mandela heads ANC's new military wing, which launches sabotage campaign.

1960s - International pressure against government begins, South Africa excluded from Olympic Games.

1964 - ANC leader Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment.

1966 September - Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd assassinated.

1970s - More than 3 million people forcibly resettled in black 'homelands'.

1976 - More than 600 killed in clashes between black protesters and security forces during uprising which starts in Soweto.

1976: Black anger boils over

1984-89 - Township revolt, state of emergency.

1989 - FW de Klerk replaces PW Botha as president, meets Mandela. Public facilities desegregated. Many ANC activists freed.

1990 - ANC unbanned, Mandela released after 27 years in prison. Namibia becomes independent.

1991 - Start of multi-party talks. De Klerk repeals remaining apartheid laws, international sanctions lifted. Major fighting between ANC and Zulu Inkatha movement.

1993 - Agreement on interim constitution.

1994 April - ANC wins first non-racial elections. Mandela becomes president, Government of National Unity formed, Commonwealth membership restored, remaining sanctions lifted. South Africa takes seat in UN General Assembly after 20-year absence.


The anti-apartheid movement resulted in the abolishment of apartheid laws in South Africa in 1994. In doing so, equal rights were given to all citizens regardless of their race. In 1994, after the apartheid laws were removed, Nelson Mandela ran for and was elected as the new South African president. Nelson Mandela made it his mission to rise above the apartheid movement and reintegrate whites and nonwhites of South Africa back together. This was not an easy task for the newly appointed government, as they did not have the support of all South African people. Two decades after apartheid was abolished, sadly the signs of racism are resurfacing- if it ever went away to begin with. In Cape Town, South Africa, there are reports that some restaurant and landlord owners are discriminating against nonwhites, refusing to let them book tables or rent houses (The Globe and Mail, 2015).


Adhikari, M. “South African History Online.” Harold Athol Fugard. http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/harold-athol-fugard, 2005. Accessed March 17, 2017.

“Apartheid South Africa.” http://www.gohistorygo.com/apartheid-in-south-africa-. Accessed March 17, 2017.

BBC News. “South Africa Profile- Timeline”. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14094918. Accessed March 17, 2017.

“What are ten facts about apartheid?” https://www.reference.com/history/ten-apartheid-361976d3b46007b5?qo=contentSimilarQuestions. Accessed March 17, 2017.

“South Africa after Apartheid.” .https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~shafi20k/after%20apar.html. Accessed March 17, 2017.

York, Geoffrey. “Two decades after apartheid ended, racial tensions rattling South Africa”. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/two-decades-after-apartheid-ended-racial-tensions-rattling-south-africa/article22571118/, January 22, 2105. Accessed March 17, 2017.

“South Africa after Apartheid.” .https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~shafi20k/after%20apar.html. Accessed March 17, 2017.

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