Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Rewriting apartheid's history books

Ten years into democracy, South African teachers are still battling the legacy of apartheid, whose history primers painted black people as "primitive" and even "barbaric". Before white rule ended in 1994, pupils were taught history along colour lines: white children were told that apartheid represented the ruling Afrikaners' right to self-determination, while for black students, history lessons ended with 1948, the year the white nationalists came to power. Afrikaners during the 1800s were like Israel amongst the heathen nations and faced extinction if they did not maintain their identity," reads one history book, printed in 1970 and used by white final-year high school students.