South Africa forms part of Southern Africa and along with 15 other states forms the Southern African Development Community. South Africa is economically and politically the strongest country in the region.
That said, South Africa is still a very young democracy–its first democratic elections were held in April 1994.
Racial inequality persists–South Africa vies with Brazil for being notorious for how unequal it is. While there is cosmetic change in terms of residential desegregation, for the most part blacks and white still live and socialize apart. At best, most cities resemble their midsize, mid-Western American counterparts, i.e. minimal public transport, life organized around suburbs and townships, deserted downtowns after dark.
South Africa, like its neighbors Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe, has a ”liberation” history, i.e. it is governed nationally by a movement who led a guerrilla war against to overthrowing Apartheid.
Nationally politics is dominated by the African National Congress, the party who played the most dominant role in the struggle against Colonialism and Apartheid, along with its allies in the trade union movement and the Communist Party.
Because of the weakness and orientation of the “official opposition” (an economically rightwing, mostly white political party), civil society organizations and social movements act as a more effective opposition.
The country also boasts a an active civil society sector (i.e. NGO’s), including rightwing movements opposed to affirmative action or promoting ethnic politics.
All the internships will be based at organizations in Cape Town.
Film crews favor Cape Town as a cheaper stand-in for more expensive European and North American locations.
Cape Town is also the most segregated of South Africa’s major cities.
The legacies of Cape Town colonial and Apartheid (racist) past are easy to spot.
Cape Town is the only major city governed by an opposition party, favored by the city’s rich and white middle classes resident in the city center and its “southern suburbs” (along the mountain) as well as the poor, working class coloured population living on the expanse known as the Cape Flats.
English as well as two regional languages Xhosa and Afrikaans are the most common languages in Cape Town and surrounds. (South Africa’s Constitution recognizes and promotes 14 national languages.)
Program Context and Partner Organizations
In Cape Town:
- Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
- The Open Democracy Advice Center
- Equal Education
- Chimurenga Magazine
Here is some additional Information on the Equal Education internships to give a sense of the work students do:
Amazwi Wethu–”Our Voices” in isiXhosa–practices a bottom-up approach to education reform in South Africa. While engagement at the policy level is crucial in a country that was built around institutionalized inequality, voices on the ground, from those directly affected by those lingering inequalities, must be heard.
Amazwi Wethu is Equal Education’s Youth Media and Social Activism workshop. The workshop aims to empower students to share their voices through documentary filmmaking and photography. Workshop participants learn story development, film, photography and editing skills through an intensive 10-week curriculum. Students become producers and critical consumers of media as they learn to integrate media into their own activism and Equal Education’s campaigns.
Here is a link to the Amazwi Wethu Facebook page. And here are teasers for the two documentaries that we co-produced with this year’s students – Matatiele and Congress. Final documentaries will be posted by the beginning of November.
Students will be living in student shared houses.
Program Info and Requirements
Begins: 1 Jun 2013
Ends: 30 Jul 2013
Supervisor: Sean Jacobs
Required course: South Africa: History, Politics and Culture (offered in the Spring and taught by Sean Jacobs)
Concentrations: This program is appropriate for all concentrations, but media and culture as well as governance and rights concentrators are especially encouraged to apply.
Sean Jacobs Contact Information