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Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 1990

JOURNALIST TELLS OF LIFE UNDER APARTHEID

April 4, 1990

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Apartheid is alive and well in South Africa, a journalist said Tuesday night at Kansas University.

Dumisani Kumalo, a South African journalist who now lives in New York, told a crowd of about 200 people that the February release of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela did not make the system of apartheid in South Africa go away.

"Apartheid is alive and well in South Africa, just as racism is alive and well in America," said Kumalo, who worked at the Johannesburg Sunday Times, the largest newspaper in South Africa. "Apartheid will exist as long as the pillars of apartheid exist. South Africa is the only country that still practices legal and institutionalized racism."

SEVERAL LAWS dictate the system of apartheid, he said. The Population Registration Act classifies people according to their complexion and race, said Kumalo, who was invited to KU by Student Union Activities.

He said people were put into 10 different race categories by a "race board," but he said that the system of categorizing races was not based on concrete criteria. Kumalo said 800 South Africans officially became members of a different race in 1988, and 1,144 people changed their race in 1989.

He cited examples of white South Africans officially changing their race to Chinese, Chinese becoming blacks, and blacks becoming whites.

"It depends a lot on the color the race board last saw," Kumalo said. "There is no official criteria. You can apply to be a different color."

Kumalo said one man wanted to change his category to "human being."

"You need a sense of humor in South Africa," Kumalo joked.

HIS PARENTS saw each other only five months during the first 10 years of their marriage, he said on a more serious note. Kumalo said the Migrants Act officially separates black families. Kumalo, who once was married to Princess Nonyaniso Madlklzela, the sister of Winnie Mandela, said hundreds of thousands of black couples live separately.

"Falling in love and getting married is the most common thing a human being can do," Kumalo said. "The most beautiful person I knew was my mother. The strongest person I knew was my father. I watched my parents be reduced to nothing."

Kumalo said there were several misconceptions about the situation in South Africa. He said the media worldwide has never adequately reported the day-to-day tensions in his native country.

"UNLESS YOU understand what apartheid is you will be forever frustrated and confused about the violence," he said. "The papers talk about `black on black' violence. They don't talk about black on white violence or white on black violence. Why don't we hear about it? There are 26 million Africans and 4 million whites. If we wanted to kill off white people, there wouldn't be enough to go around. We are struggling, we are fighting inside South Africa."

Apartheid will not end, he said, until the pillars of the system are removed. He supports economic sanctions, and he said the capital that the South African government receives from other nations feeds apartheid.

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