South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid

About Overcoming Apartheid and Michigan State University

This educational website provides primary source materials, newly-written narrative, and curriculum ideas for teaching high school and undergraduate students about the many generations who struggled to end apartheid and build democracy in South Africa.

Interviews with more than 60 people bring this history alive. Many important oral history projects are being undertaken in South Africa, but few are online. This website’s 40 hours of interviews – and 120 segments created from them – are a unique historical resource for anyone who cares about people determined to become free from oppression. We are particularly grateful to the people who agreed to be interviewed for telling their personal stories about the struggle against apartheid.

Creating this online curricular resource continues a long-standing interest in South Africa at Michigan State University’s African Studies Center and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online.

Michigan State University was pleased in 2005 to award an honorary degree to Ahmed Kathrada, a leader of the struggle for freedom in South Africa. In 1999, MSU Press and Mayibuye Books co-published Letters From Robben Island: A Selection of Ahmed Kathrada's Prison Correspondence, edited by Robert Vassen, the then-Associate Director of MSU’s English Language Center. Mr. Kathrada agreed to be interviewed for Overcoming Apartheid, providing a valuable window into the liberation struggle starting in the 1950s and his 26 years on Robben Island. Kathrada also suggested other people to interview.

Cooperating with South African organizations and cultural heritage museums through the South African Film and Video Project http://www.africanmedia.msu.edu/~safvp/, the African Studies Center and MATRIX also are assisting to preserve and provide increased access to film and video about apartheid and the anti-apartheid struggle in South African.

One important outcome of this preservation effort has been the digitizing and archiving of a unique video collection from the 1980s and early 1990s created by videographers with the Community Video Education Trust (CVET) {hyperlink to www.cvet.org.zathis isn’t live yet, but it will be soon in Cape Town. CVET has graciously permitted us to use selected video segments in South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid, Building Democracy.

A number of other South African organizations provided valuable assistance for this website and are listed on the Acknowledgements {hyperlink page.

Partners at MSU

The Michigan State University African Studies Center http://africa.msu.edu/is one of ten Title VI National Resource Centers on Africa designated by the U.S. Department of Education. Its strength is based on the more than 160 faculty at MSU who are engaged in research, teaching, and service about Africa. The Center also has an active outreach program to K-12 and post-secondary educators, and its African Media Program http://www.africanmedia.msu.edu/database is a resource for identifying educational and feature films and videos about Africa, including almost 2,500 specifically about South Africa.

The Center’s African Activist Archive http://www.africanactivist.msu.edu/ is a useful complement to Overcoming Apartheid, documenting the international solidarity movement with South Africa during the anti-apartheid struggle.

MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online http://matrix.msu.edu/ is one of the leading humanities technology centers in the country. It has created the MediaMatrix and Project Builder applications that were used to build this website and are available to others to use. MATRIX has several projects in West Africa and South Africa.

The MSU Department of History http://www.history.msu.edu/ has one of the strongest African history programs in the country, with six faculty who teach about the continent. The department’s new Center for History Teaching and Learning is eager to work with pre-service and current educators who teach American and World History.

David Wiley, African Studies Center at Michigan State University, Project Director
Mark Lawrence Kornbluh, MATRIX and Michigan State University's History Department, Project Director

AODL African Studies Center MSU Matrix NEH