Friday, December 31, 2010

Research Paper on South Africa

Research Paper on South Africa

The purpose of this research paper is to provide information on the country of South Africa. For a teenager living in the United States of America, little about South Africa is common knowledge. As a matter of fact, before I started this research paper, the only thing I knew about South Africa was the fact that it is located in Africa. This term paper should sum up everything significant about South Africa from before the first British settlers to the end of apartheid, a system of legalized racial separation.

South Africa is located on the very south tip of the African continent. It is the southern-most country in Africa, thus the name South Africa. The coordinates of South Africa are 29 degrees south, 24 degrees east. (The World Factbook, pg 2)

South Africa is believed to be one of the first areas occupied by human life. For about 100,000 years the area has been believed to have been occupied by numerous groups of hunters and gatherers. These groups of hunters and gatherers, known as bush-men, had no established government. They simply had to adapt to there harsh environment, and look out for there offspring. Eventually the bush-men began pastoral farming, and along came the domestication of sheep and cattle. About a thousand years ago the first political systems arose. Chief dominated polytheistic communities would be the way to live. A chief’s power depended upon his ability to dominate his people. Females were depended upon for production and youth were workers and soldiers. Domesticated cattle were used to trade and buy goods, and were also used to obtain a wife. The trading of cattle or goods for marriage was called a lobola. Another important trading commodity came with the use of metallurgy.(Davenport, page 3) Metal tools were a useful and valuable thing. This sort of civilization, known as the Khoikhoi clans, continued until the colonization of South Africa in the 1600’s.


Until the 1600’s, most encounters Europeans had with South African natives, were very violent. But, no organized effort to seize the territory had been made. Eventually the Portuguese, French, Dutch, and English, all saw The Cape of Good Hope, as excellent grounds for a port. Its true value, of course, was as a half way point between Europe and the eastern empires. Traveling ships would then be able to provide care for sick sailors and load up on supplies. The European attraction to the Cap of Good Hope meant bad news for its Khoikhoi inhabitants. It was, of course, a well known belief that those with darker skin were lower forms of life. And that meant slavery for many inhabitants. European settlers also brought in slaves from other regions of Africa, and even Asia. Unlike slaves in the American colonies, these slaves would never be offered freedom for service in the military, or for converting to Christianity. Slave woman were not even permitted to be married. They were, of course, allowed sexual visitations from their white owners though. When the British took possession of the Cape during the French revolutionary war in 1807, a somewhat successful attempt to free the slaves was made. The British government was in a state of change. The belief that colored people should be slaves grew less and less popular. The Khoikhoi were given the “charter of liberties” in 1828.(Davenport, Page 6) This meant that slaves would be freed after a four year apprenticeship. This was not popular with local business owners, because they would have to pay for labor. So although most slaves were technically freed, racial oppression and segregation continued. South Africa would be subject to British rule with little opposition until the Boer Wars (1899-1903), a conflict between the descendants of Dutch settlers (Boers) and the British. In the first third of the war the Boer forces managed to fight off the main British force. In 1900 the city of Pretoria fell to the British. After the fall, the Boers resorted to Guerrilla tactics and dragged the war on for another 2 years. The war came to an end when the British offered peace agreements in 1902 ( the treaty of Vereeniging). During the war forces from both sides raided African villages for food and supplies. When Africans resisted, Martial Law was declared and many were slaughtered. After the war ended the British desired to keep peace with the Boers. So, in time, The Union of South Africa was formed, a completely white-run system government. In which Boers who served the King of England would be leaders along with British nobles. The African people were, of course, regarded as inferior. Apartheid kept everyone from interracial relations of any kind. And Black people had no voting rights, or any say in how their country would be run. This angered Native South Africans, and eventually led to the start of an organization known as the African National Congress. The ANC would spark several riots and protests in the next 70 years. It wasn’t until 1989 that Nelson Mendella, a former ANC leader, was released from prison after a 27 year sentence. His only crime was speaking out publicly against a hateful law that was crippling the nation. Soon after Nelson Mendella was released, all South African political parties agreed to draw up a constitution, which led to a Government of National Unity. The first democratic election for South Africa was held in 1994, in which Nelson Mendella was elected president. (World News Digest, page 3)

South Africa currently has a population of 43,647,658 people.(World Factbook, page 6) In 1996, the population was about 40.5 billion. That is a pretty steady increase for the country. Unfortunately, many South African people have a lower life expectancy due to AIDS and HIV. The population of South Africa consists of 75.2 percent black people, 13.6 percent white people, 8.6 percent colored people, and 2.6 percent Indian people. The capital of South Africa is Pretoria, named after Andries Pretorius, a hero of the Boer Republic. Although it is not the capital, Cape Town is the center of legislation. The most populated city, which many confuse to be the capital, is Johannesburg. South African is known as affectionately known as the Rainbow Nation, because of its many different cultures, languages, religions, and ethnic groups. Although South Africa is a mesh-pot of cultures, there is still hatred left over from the days of apartheid. Many white people living in South Africa still regard black people as lesser beings. This is a world wide problem that still exists in out very own United States. People living in South Africa tend to dress in accordance with their own cultures. White people will dress much like Americans, T-shirt and Jeans. Very few, but some black people also dress this way.

Most black people of South Africa will dress wearing a Caftan, a blanket like robe that covers most of the body. The official languages of South Africa are English and Afrikaans. Africkaans is a variation of the Dutch language. However, the official languages are for white people. The black people speak Bantu, of which there many variations including, Xhosa, Sesotho, and Zulu. Asian citizens are likely to speak a language of India. About two thirds of the South African people are protestant Christians. Very few descendants of the bush-men (Khoikhoi) still practice their polytheistic beliefs of old. Those who still live in a Zulu tribe, still have to pay a lebola to the father of the girl he wants to marry. The chief of a Zulu tribe can have up to eleven wives. Most people in South Africa receive at least an 8th grade education. Both males and females can read at age 15. Unlike American schools, South African children are forced to wear uniforms.

The Government of South Africa is that of a republic. Although until 1994, it was one ruled by the white minority. Black citizens were not permitted to vote. When the white minority was overthrown, a true democratic election was held, in which Nelson Mendella became the president. In the election of 1999 Thabo Mbeki became the president/ chief of state.(Davenport, page 8) Under him is President Jacob Zuma. In 1989, President P. W. Botha was succeeded by F. W. de Klerk. When Botha stepped down, it sparked huge changes in the South African government. President de Klerk agreed to release Nelson Mendella, who had been imprisoned for speaking out against apartheid. The legislative branch consists of a bicameral Parliament with a National Assembly, and the National Council of Provinces. Each of the Nine Provincial legislatures has special powers to protect local customs and traditions. The judicial branch consists of 4 courts; the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeals, the High Court, and the Magistrate Court. (World Factbook, page 7)

If an uneducated person were to attack South Africa, thinking that they had no defense, that person would be in for a surprise. The South African National Defense Force has at least 11.5 million troops available. With almost 500 thousand new recruits each year. With 1.79 billion dollars being spent per year, they are pretty well beefed up on their defenses. Now as far as attacking other countries, South Africa is only interested in defending its land, and keeping the peace. They have no nuclear capabilities, or weapons of mass distruction of at all.

Since 1990, the South African economy has been significantly transformed, particularly following the transition to democracy in 1994. Economic growth has been recovered, capital inflows resumed and business and consumer confidence increased.

Exports and imports have both grown substantially. South Africa's trade relations have also diversified, including rapid growth in exports to sub-Saharan Africa and significant expansion into Asian and American markets. The South African stock exchange ranks among the top ten in the world. South Africa, like most developing nations, is susceptible to trends in the economies of its major trading partners.

The East Asian crisis of 1998 led to deep declines in economic activity in several emerging economies, continuing into 1999. Financial market volatility led to a slowdown in South Africa's growth, but its impact was muted by prudent fiscal and monetary policy responses and sound financial institutions. A strong economic recovery is now underway and economic growth of more than 3 percent a year is projected.

South Africa and the United States of America have always been on good terms. We have set an obvious example for them in our democratic government, which is very closely emulated by them today. We fully support them in seeking a democracy which is color blind. During World War 2 they were a valuable ally, not so much because of man power, but because of the location. The Cape of Good Hope has always been a valuable port. The South African army was not that massive, but they did wield the ability to fly. Since Nelson Mendella became President in 1994, South Africa has become a more and more pleasant place to visit. The interesting South African culture combined with the beautiful landscape, have made it a somewhat desirable tourist attraction. However, some bitterness still remains from the times when apartheid was applied. Some of the white people still think that black people exist to serve them. And many of the black citizens still hold a grudge for the way them and their ancestors were treated.

Some of the most interesting things about South Africa involve the significant changes in government that occurred within the last decade. For the most part, segregation between black people and white people in the United States is over. But in South Africa legalized segregation only ended a little more than a decade ago.

South Africa is slowly becoming more and more like the United States. One thing the United States should be concerned with is the transshipment of the illegal drugs heroin and marijuana in South Africa. South Africa is the Worlds largest market for illicit methaqualone (pg. 12, World Fact Book). Also, South Africa still has minor disputes with bordering countries such as Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Swaziland desires to regain territory that was once part of Swaziland a long time ago. And the trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe is so closely intertwined that what happens to one country directly effects the other. The South African Military Exists only to keep the peace, and to defend the homeland, not to brutalize neighboring countries. As long as the future leaders of South Africa emulate the political disposition and attitude set forth by Nelson Mendella, the nation should prosper.

“We thank all our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession with the people of our country of what is, after all, a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity. We trust that you will continue to stand by us as we tackle the challenges of building peace, prosperity, nonsexist, non-racialism, and democracy. We deeply appreciate the role that the masses of our people and their political mass-democratic, religious, women, youth, business, traditional-and other leaders have played to bring about this conclusion.”
~ Nelson Mendella. (Union building speech, paragraph 6)

South Africa is thought by many uneducated Americans to be unimportant or even non-existent. The truth is that South Africa has gone through many of the same things that our great nation has; colonization by European countries, war, slavery, and rule by an unfair government.

Through all of that, the spirit of the South African people has risen above and given them a chance to be free. Truly, in this puzzle of Earth, South Africa has proven itself to be a significant piece, and a beautiful nation.

Warning!!! All free online research papers, research paper samples and example research papers on South Africa topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

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