South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid


For Educators

The activities are designed for students to critically engage with Overcoming Apartheid's unique multimedia materials in order to learn about white supremacy in South Africa and the popular struggle for freedom and equality. The exercises are aimed at high school students, but can be used or easily adapted in undergraduate courses.

Worksheets for analyzing historical documents, interviews, and images found on this site are provided. In the supplemental resources area on the left, teachers can find a list of maps, recommended books for further reading, as well as films, videos, and useful websites.

We are eager to hear from you about what educational activities and resources you find particularly useful and other ways you are using this site with your students. Please use this Feedback Form or send an email message to us at: apartheid.matrix@matrix.msu.edu.

Educational Activities

Apartheid

  • Pillars of Apartheid
    The millions of arrests of Africans for pass law violations were only one part of the system to ensure African labor for white-owned businesses while keeping Africans considered “superfluous” out of the cities. Taken together, the pass laws, migrant labor system, Bantustans, and forced removals were key elements of the apartheid system of white privilege, which also created systemic poverty for Africans in rural areas. (Method: Small groups of students use multimedia primary sources to analyze these sytems, followed by class discussion of their combined effects.)
  • Bantustans and Natural and Economic Resources
    When the South African government stripped all Africans of their citizenship in 1970, it designated ten Bantustans as their “homelands” where they were to exercise political rights. The Bantustans excluded almost all the country’s wealth. (Method: Use maps to analyze national data about politics and natural and economic resources.)
  • Urban Residential Segregation under Apartheid
    Segregated urban areas reveal the vastly different life experiences and disparities of wealth across racial lines in South Africa. This segregation, mandated under apartheid, has long-term consequences that still confront the new South Africa. (Method: Analyze photographs of four communities of Johannesburg – both satellite images and close-up pictures of houses and commercial establishments.)

Anti-Apartheid Struggle

  • Reporting Major Events in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle
    The struggle against white rule in South Africa – and how it evolved from deputations, passive resistance, the armed struggle, mass mobilization and widespread repression, ultimately to negotiations and prevention of large-scale civil war – is an historical development of global significance in the second half of the 20th century. (Method: Working individually or in small groups, use first-person accounts and collections of primary material of other types to report news stories to the class.)
  • Acting Against Injustice
    Listening to stories of people engaged in historical events can provide insights into why they chose to participate in ways they did and the consequences for them personally, along with their reflections on whether their actions were necessary or effective. (Method: Students listen to a full oral history interview, write about an action the interviewee took, and reflect on whether they may or may not have made the same decision. They post their reflections on a group blog and comment on each others ideas. This activity and the “Reporting” exercise can lead to discussion about the evolution of the methods used to overcome apartheid.)
  • You be the Judge: The Death of Stephen Biko
    At both an inquest and later a hearing before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Amnesty Committee, five policemen who interrogated Stephen Biko before his death spoke about what occurred. There were no other eye witnesses, of course, since Biko died. (Method: Learn from primary source materials – read six excerpts from the Amnesty Committee hearing and evaluate the evidence that is brought forward.)
  • South African Human Rights Statements
    Over the course of fifty years, the anti-apartheid movement developed several important documents delineating the human rights for which they were struggling. The significance of these documents can be assessed in part by comparing them with other national and international human rights statements. (Method: Each student chooses two documents to analyze with the help of a worksheet and then writes a comparative essay. Students share ideas by posting essays to a group blog for comments or in class discussion.)
  • Induction into the Black Consciousness Movement
    In an audio interview, Peter Jones discusses how the South Africa Students’ Organization (SASO) and the Black Consciousness Movement included all peoples of color in its definition of ‘black’ and how SASO students formulated their ideology and worked in their communities. (Method: Use oral history interviews as historical sources. A worksheet provides specific questions for students before, during, and after listening to the interview and a prompt for a short newspaper article.)

Worksheets


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