Urban Residential Segregation under Apartheid

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Uses satellite images and photographs, explore four neighborhoods of the Johannesburg metropolitan area that were designated for people of different racial groups.

Under apartheid, whites were allowed to own land and houses, whereas Africans were prohibited from owning either land or property in the city. They perpetually paid rent for government-built housing, lived in single-sex hostels, or illegally built shelters with materials they could find. For a time, Coloureds were allowed to own land and a house, although this was later changed. Indians were allowed to own a house but not the land under it, until this loophole in racial segregation also was closed.

View satellite images at Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/)
Search for these four communities. Use arrow keys and the “+” sign in upper right corner to look as closely as possible.

  • Sandton (designated for whites)
  • Soweto (designated for Africans)
  • Lenasia (designated for Indians)
  • Newclare (designated for Coloreds

To get a closer look at the formerly white and African communities, go to Google Images (http://images.google.com/imghp?tab=wi) and search for Sandton and Soweto.

Also, go to Africa Focus: Sights and Sounds of a Continent (at http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/AfricaFocus/) and search for Soweto.

Look for as many types of housing in Soweto as you can find.

Discussion questions

1. How would you describe ways in which these four neighborhoods differ?

2. What can you learn from satellite images about how apartheid affected the lives of people of different races? What more can you learn from close-up photographs?

3. Laws mandating residential racial segregation have been repealed. Now, in South Africa, as in many countries, where people live generally is determined by their economic status rather than their race. Discuss the challenges South Africa faces to overcome the legacy of racial segregation and unequal economic opportunities under apartheid.

AODL African Studies Center MSU NEH Matrix