The evolution of South Africa: through the eyes of someone who was there.
Those of us registered in Richard Harvey’s From Colony to Rainbow Nation, the story of South Africa, really won the instructor lottery. He (along with his parents and his grandparents) lived through it all.
He’s seen the wild animal preserves, the grasslands, the diamond mines, and the townships. He’s experienced the tensions between the white (European) farmers and the black (African) labourers. And he’s heard the music.
He knows how the Dutch and British settlers took ruthless advantage of the unsophisticated indigenous people living in what is now the Union of South Africa.
And he’s seen the societal breakdown that comes from poverty and joblessness, even in a country blessed with some of the richest diamond and gold resources on the planet.
Now he’s here, making the history of that faraway country come alive to those of us fortunate enough to be listening to him in a classroom in downtown Vancouver.
Professor Harvey grew up in South Africa under apartheid – brutally-enforced separation and stratification of the races. The Europeans (whites) owned the land, owned the mines, and governed the country as they pleased. The blacks owned nothing, not even a vote.
Basically, to be a black African, was to be invisible. A pair of hands and a strong back: a wage slave. That’s all.
(When Professor Harvey came to Canada in 1997, he said he was “astonished” to see white men actually working as labourers on road and construction crews.)
Most of us remember the day in 1994 that Nelson Mandela walked free. And most of us shared the hope that what Archbishop Desmond Tutu called the ‘Rainbow Nation’- where so many peoples would live in peace – would flourish.
It hasn’t happened. In fact, Dr. Tutu reportedly has wondered aloud if the name he gave his country is still valid.
Without another Mandela miracle, more tensions and troubles undoubtedly lie ahead.
Tricia has written everything from ad copy to annual reports, from websites to speeches, and from film scripts to here’s-to-you toasts. She moved here from Calgary six years ago, and has been taking classes at SFU ever since. She’s now thinking of starting another business: ghost-writing family “legacy” biographies.