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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Intersting Article about South Africa

South Africa is a very complex country. It has 11 official languages, and many more unique cultures represented within South Africa. The first unrestricted vote was as recent as 1994, and since then the country has been in a struggle to create an equitable society. This has created unintended results which creates a very interesting and complex society.

As Americans we can't fully understand all of the causes and effects within South African culture. After living there for 14 months we were just beginning to piece the story together, and even now we are still learning.

In February we came across an interesting article by Scott Johnson that helps shed some light on South African culture. If you want to read the whole article you can follow the link to Newsweek.com. Basically it talks about how skilled professionals are leaving South Africa for better opportunities elsewhere which is hindering South Africa's ability to improve it's society.

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

"The most dramatic figures can be found among South African whites, who are leaving at a pace consistent with the advent of "widespread disease, mass natural disasters or large-scale civil conflict," according to a report by the South African Institute on Race Relations. Some 800,000 out of a total white population of 4 million have left since 1995, by one count."

"Future Fact polling indicates that more than 95 percent of those eager to leave South Africa rate violent crime as the single most important factor affecting their thinking."

"Then there's the problem of affirmative action, which many whites feel limits their opportunities for advancement and which keeps many émigrés from returning. "You can attract people home, but there are still the same concerns when they get here," Chen says. "Crime and lack of job opportunities if you're not the right color."

"Still another factor driving out citizens of all races is the country's political crisis. National elections are due in April, and the likely next president, Jacob Zuma, faces a battery of serious corruption charges and accusations of autocratic behavior." (Since this article was written, Jacob Zuma has been elected president. I'll write about him in a later post.)

"The long-term effects of this exodus are already being felt in other critical ways. The vast majority of South Africa's emigrants are also the country's best and brightest. Compounding the problem is the fact that while South Africa has lenient policies toward admitting refugees from elsewhere in Africa, the import of skilled labor is still quite onerous—meaning that as more and more trained workers leave, there are fewer and fewer replacements."

"While unemployment for whites has increased more than 100 percent since the end of apartheid, it remains as low as an average European country, between 7 percent and 8 percent. Joblessness among blacks, on the other hand, is hovering at around 50 percent."

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