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Easter Exodus And Observation, A Reminder Of The Legacy Of Apartheid

Whether we will be at a braai, umsebenzi or church, South Africans will be segregated along racial lines this Easter. Apartheid effects will still be felt.

14/04/2017 03:56 SAST | Updated 14/04/2017 10:35 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko/ Reuters

The reality is that Easter is one of the few times in the year that many South Africans have an opportunity to be with their family. Easter is family time in South Africa. We even named Easter Monday "Family Day". And one of the things we have to live with in post-apartheid South Africa is how family has been shaped by our violent history. Whether we will be at a braai or umsebenzi or church, South Africans will be segregated along racial lines this Easter. Apartheid effects will still be felt.

In South Africa, particularly among black South Africans, this is a time during which we travel to see our families. In fact you may notice that reports about road safety increase around this period. This is because many people will be leaving the cities to go to their home towns. For some this means travelling to other provinces. This has been called the Easter Exodus. It is at times like this that I am reminded of the many legacies of apartheid and colonisation like the migrant labour system, of which variations still exist in South Africa.

Where many South Africans travel to cities, many of these are black South Africans, to find employment so that they can feed their families. For those South Africans this is one of the times of the year that they get to congregate with their loved ones back home, other than Christmas and New Year's of course. Although many South Africans will be sitting in church pews remembering the death of Jesus, many churches will be doing so with little or no racial integration.

The reality is that Easter is one of the few times in the year that many South Africans have an opportunity to be with their family, without eating away at their already too little annual leave or even trying to obtain doctor's notes without being sick. This is one of many effects of apartheid and colonisation that we still face as a country, working far away from our families and homes. So the migrant labour system still continues, perhaps in another form, in democratic South Africa.

For many of us a long weekend allows us to travel and spend time with family without spending too much money on more convenient and safe forms of transport that we really cannot afford like planes. Yet another another legacy of apartheid. Despite having such convenient and safer forms of travelling available in the country, the majority of black South Africans find themselves economically barred from accessing them.

Although many South Africans will be sitting in church pews remembering the death of Jesus, many churches will be doing so with little or no racial integration. You will find white South African believers gathering with other white believers and black South Africans believers gathering with other black believers. Again this is the aftermath of apartheid. It may be a result of geographic separation of races (one of apartheid's legacies) but it also a result of the segregation of churches by races by the apartheid government, resulting in the many racially defined churches we have in South Africa today.

As much as some may believe that apartheid is over and that black South Africans need to move on, we cannot deny how it has shaped the present. So let us be reflective this Easter as we see other people enjoying this long weekend differently from us. And these are some of the few things that white South Africans need to think about before they say "move on" to black South Africans.

Ahead of Easter 2017, The Huffington Post South Africa is delving into what faith and spirituality means to South Africans here and now. Against the backdrop of a renewed wave of thought around decolonisation, a new generation are rediscovering their traditional beliefs, while some are reconciling with Christianity. And on another note, we tell South Africa's real good news story: our remarkable and peaceful religious diversity. In a world fractured along religious extremism, we have a large Christian population with significant Muslim and Jewish communities, who often come together peacefully and with purpose, as has been evinced at the memorials for departed struggle stalwart, Ahmed Kathrada. Read the rest of the special report here, or choose from our selection below: