Geography Education
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Geography Education
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Curated by Seth Dixon
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South Africa Is Still Under Apartheid

"More than two decades after the end of apartheid in South Africa, Cape Town remains racially segregated, with many black residents living in substandard townships."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The title is a bit inflammatory--news agencies may pretend that they aren't in the shock-and-awe, clickbait economy, but they invented the salacious headline to grab our attention.  Still, the racial inequities of a system as pervasive as apartheid aren't going to be reversed in a generation and the racial differences in Capetown are coming under more international scrutiny as the they are in the midst of their current drought.


Tags: South Africa, Africarace, ethnicityneighborhood, urban, planning, drought, water, urban ecology.   

Matt Manish's curator insight, May 2, 2018 11:26 PM
One can see from this video that Apartheid still exists in some parts of South Africa such as Cape Town. From the drone footage in this video, one can see how divided Cape Town's landscape is from a bird's eye view. You can see how the black community lives in the part of town that is made up of mainly shacks. Right next door, you can see that the white community lives in the suburbs with regular housing and lush trees located adjacently to the black community's village of shacks. It's not just the residential areas of Cape Town that is segregated. Even in the heart of the city, a real racial tension between blacks and whites can be sensed,. Resulting in the majority of the black community being less successful than the white community. One can clearly see that even though Apartheid has officially ended, the tension between blacks and whites still exists in this part of South Africa.
Kelsey McIntosh's curator insight, May 3, 2018 9:34 PM
This video looks into the still segregated town of Cape Town, located in South Africa. Although it was racially segregated by apartheid in the 20th century, Apartheid was outlawed in 1994. Since then, it has been claimed that Cape Town has become more diverse. This is only true to some extent. Because of the apartheid, it was nearly impossible for Blacks and People of Color to get jobs in the city. Therefore, the different races now inhabit their own neighborhoods, however the segregation still lingers. In most white neighborhoods, they enjoy beautiful and safe lifestyles while the poorer neighbors can’t even afford running water or electricity. Tags: South Africa, Africa, race, ethnicity, neighborhood, urban, planning, drought, water, urban ecology.
Matt Danielson's curator insight, November 19, 2018 1:50 PM
South Africa had a long history of issues ranging back to Colonialism, through apartheid, and today with government corruption and internal strife. The great inequality left behind after apartheid is a major issue in the country for many people. One way this has been addressed recently is with land redistribution, but this policy has faced much controversy especially since many have suggested the government being able to confiscate "white owned land"  without compensation and use for redistribution.
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The dim reality of South Africa's new dawn

In April 1994, South Africa held its first democratic elections and all races went to the polls to bury apartheid for good. But hopes of a new dawn have been tarnished by fraud and corruption at the highest levels.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The first 2 and a half minutes of this video are a good historical analysis into the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, culminating in the election of Nelson Mandela and the empowerment of the ANC.  Today though, the ANC and South Africa is mired in endemic corruption.  South Africa is one of the most unequal societies with high unemployment and a faltering economy. 


Tags: South Africacrime, Africa, political, racegovernance, ethnicity.

tyrone perry's curator insight, April 5, 2018 2:07 PM
 South Africa went through years of apartheid many fought to end it.  Nelson Mandela’s struggle to bring equality to South Africa almost looks nonexistent with the turn of the ANC.  They once fought for equality and now they are as courrpt as the people they were fighting, All them years.  It’s evident seeing the presidents property and how he lives and seeing how the poor people of South Africa lives.
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Aerial Photos Show how Apartheid Still Shapes South African Cities

Aerial Photos Show how Apartheid Still Shapes South African Cities | Geography Education |
An American used drones to capture the color lines still stark in South African cities.
Seth Dixon's insight:

In some respects this isn't surprising, but it is still striking to see how stark the differences are.  One generation of political change does not reverse generations of systemic racism that have had economic, cultural, and political impacts.  Many of the urban planning decisions were based on apartheid, and that historical legacy is still embedded landscape.


Tags: South Africa, images, Africarace, ethnicityneighborhood, urban, planning, images, remote sensing.

Richard Aitchison's curator insight, March 9, 2018 10:13 AM
"I agree with you, I think that the images are chilling. And they communicate so well what is otherwise a very complicated and nuanced issue to discuss—separation, segregation, history, disenfranchisement. But the images cut right to the heart of the matter, which is that these separations are not right" This is a quote in the article from the man that took the pictures (Johnny Miller). These photos show us the lines of segregation that continues even in a post Apartheid South Africa. These are amazing images and really quite unbelievable. We think of different segregation here in America, but what these photos show are unlike anything that I have personally seen.  As stated in the article the author hopes to create conversations about these separations. We see planned spatial separations that we created by city planners and we must used these as lessons going forward and as jumping off points to discuss. These shocking images can help inform us as a society that we must improve our social issues and if we don't we will continue to see issues like this grow both here in South Africa and around the world. One can see while tensions would be so high as a clear divide in living standards can rightfully cause anger. Eventually this anger leads to hate and this hate leads to an up rise in the people. 
Katie Kershaw's curator insight, March 31, 2018 4:23 PM
South Africa is one of the few countries that has a similar history in regards to racial segregation as America.  What makes their case unique is that the African population was there first and the English came in and created a system in which they were superior.  Although they have been officially desegregated for almost 20 years, these photos show that there are still underlying issues that exist.  These photos reveal that on one side of a particular area, the homes look like a typical suburban area where right across from that there are areas that resemble slums.  The areas that are more developed and wealthy have a majority white population and the poorer, less developed areas have large black populations.  The affects of segregation are long lasting and not solved overnight.  Just because government policies say that discrimination on a racial basis is illegal, doesn’t mean that society will neatly reorganize itself.  I think that the craziest part of this for me was that even the landscaping is vastly different despite the closeness of the two areas.  The wealthier part has lush green and the poorer parts have dirt and sand.  This an example of physical geography providing evidence for a societal separation.
David Stiger's curator insight, November 10, 2018 6:22 PM
Just because a formal social construct - an idea in the human mind - changes, does not mean that change, or desire to alter course, is reflected in the real world. While the idea of apartheid in South Africa came to an end, the real world in the form of urban geography has yet to catch up. The urban planning under apartheid still carries the legacy of color codes and demarcated boundaries between "races" in order to cement socioeconomic inequity. This situation in South Africa is similar to the United States after the Civil Rights movement ended the era of Jim Crow. Even though laws were passed, the geography remained largely untouched. Black neighborhoods remained socially and economically segregated - the only difference being that the law did not mandate this. The law never stipulated geographic changes or economic prescriptions like wealth redistribution. It turns out that human geography and philosophical principles can be at odds with each other, as demonstrated by the aerial photographs of South African cities. 
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Cultural Meaning in Moving Monuments

Cultural Meaning in Moving Monuments | Geography Education |

"Ever since I researched the meanings of monuments in the cultural landscape in Mexico City, I’ve been fascinated by the cultural politics of memory and heritage. The removal of a statue is a cultural 180, acknowledging what was once honored and revered is now something that is not worthy of that distinction. This sort of change is not without protests on both sides and a cultural rearticulation of who 'we' are when 'we' make a public memorial."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Cecil Rhodes was the namesake for the Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University and the colonial names of Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) and Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia).  He was deeply connected to British colonialism and was one of the most ambitious colonizers that expanded the British Empire.  This week a statue of Cecil Rhodes on the University of Cape Town campus was removed.  See the BBC article, Yahoo News!, and PRI podcastfor more details

Questions to Ponder: Why do you think this monument to Cecil Rhodes was established in 1934?  Why was it removed in 2015?  What does this say about South African politics and culture?  How might we characterize the supporters and opponents of the statue?

Tags: South Africa, Africa, historical, colonialism, political, landscape.

Rob Duke's curator insight, April 14, 2015 9:41 PM

There's a lesson here in the symbols of conflict resolution....what symbolic monuments do we have to move to solve social conflicts?

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 30, 2015 6:50 AM

The removal of an historical statue, is a broader reflection of what the population of a particular place is thinking. Who a people choose to honor, is a statement of the ideals they hope to espier to. For many people in South Africa, Cecil Rhodes is a symbol of racist colonial tendencies. You can not separate Rhodes from the age of western imperialism. He was one of the leading figures in the scramble for Africa in the late 19th century. In the United States we have seen a similar push to remove statues of historical figures with connections to slavery and racism. Many have called for the removal of statues honoring confederate leaders such as Jefferson Davis or Robert E Lee. The push has even spread to figures beyond those directly connected to the confederacy. The democratic party has removed the names of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from there annual party dinners. There connections with slavery and Native American treatment are just too much for some outraged democrats to handle. I am uneasy about the removals of these statues. History can never be erased. It is futile, to even attempt to do such a thing. Historical figures should be judged by the context of the times in which they lived. It is unfair to judge Thomas Jefferson by the standards of our modern age  society. The overt political correctness is troubling to say the least. It is a whitewash of history.

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South African township's solar-powered cafe

South African township's solar-powered cafe | Geography Education |
Entrepreneur converts shipping container into mobile internet shop powered entirely by the sun.

This 2-minute video shows how a an enterpreneur has made his business (an internet cafe) self-sufficient, not relying much on external infrastruture.  Modern Africa has advanced beyond what many in the developed world acknowledge and is beyond some the old stereotypes of that characterize how people view the 'Dark Continent.' 

Tags: Africa, technology, development, video.

Matt Mallinson's comment, November 5, 2012 2:36 PM
This shop is awesome. Good for him opening this up randomly, from security guard to owning a solar powered cafe. It gives children the opportunity to become more familiar with the internet and how to use it. What a great idea.
Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, March 17, 2014 5:59 PM

In South Africa, a shipping container is transformed into a mobile internet shop reliant on solar power. While the rest of the world is much more advanced in technology, this shows how non-advanced countries are trying to catch up!

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How to Defeat Drought

How to Defeat Drought | Geography Education |
Cape Town is running out of water. Israel offers some lessons on how to avoid that fate.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Most droughts are caused by a combination of human and physical geographic factors. Cape Town is current in the midst of a 3 year long drought that is causing many officials to consider drastic measures such as cutting off all private water taps and rationing out 13 gallons per resident per day.  


I would like for us to also consider cases beyond South Africa, and think about the the broader issues of resource management, urbanization, resilience, and changing climatic conditions.  Resources Watch discusses critical water shortages in Morocco, India, Iraq and Spain with excellent maps, charts, and graphs. This article from Foreign Policy demonstrates how Israel has worked to maximize their minimal water resources (recycling grey water for agriculture and desalinization). The World Resources Institute discusses 3 things cities can glean from the South African crisis (1. Understand risks, 2. Manage the water budget, and 3. Invest in resilience).  


Tags: drought, water, environment, technologyenvironment modify, South AfricaIsrael, Spain, MoroccoIndiaIraq.

dustin colprit's curator insight, September 29, 2018 11:52 PM
Droughts are a serious issue that many countries can often experience. Developing more solutions to future droughts and water supply will be beneficial for everyone. 
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Music and Resistance

"Life imitated art in early 1980 when South African school children, fed up with an inferior apartheid-era education system, took to chanting the lyrics of Pink Floyd‘s 'Another Brick in the Wall.' The song, with its memorable line stating, “We don’t need no education,” had held the top spot on the local charts for almost three months, a total of seven weeks longer than it did in America. By May 2, 1980, the South African government had issued a ban on 'Another Brick in the Wall,' creating international headlines."

Seth Dixon's insight:

How a song about rigid school rules in England became banned in South Africa is a fantastic lesson in cultural diffusion and glocalization (where the global becomes intensely local).  Here we see an historical example of a global cultural phenomenon taking on local political dimensions.  If you are interested in teaching more about the social and historical content of music, check out      


Questions to Ponder: Why would this song resonate in South Africa?  How might the video/lyrics map onto the South African situation? 


Tags culturediffusion, globalization, popular culture, South AfricaAfrica, music.

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South Africa xenophobic attacks: How did we get here?

South Africa xenophobic attacks: How did we get here? | Geography Education |

"As attacks against foreigners and their businesses rage on, killing at least six people this week, other nations in the continent are scrambling to evacuate their citizens from South Africa. But this is not the first time xenophobic violence has exploded in a country that tries to portray itself as a diverse 'rainbow' nation.

What triggered this week's attacks? They started after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini said at a recent gathering that foreigners 'should pack their bags and go' because they are taking jobs from citizens, local media reported. Shortly after his comments, violence against immigrants erupted in the port city of Durban."

Tags: South Africa, Africa, conflictracismethnicity, migration.

Kevin Cournoyer's curator insight, May 6, 2015 7:07 PM

This was an interesting article to read, because it deals with a topic that I know almost nothing about. While I am, of course, familiar with the larger idea of xenophobia, I did not know that it is such a persistent and violent problem in South Africa. It seems that citizens of South Africa are concerned about their jobs being taken by immigrants and local businesses being undermined by foreign owned businesses. Immigrants have also been blamed for increased crime and poverty rates. 


This article just goes to show that regardless of time or geographic location, xenophobia will always exist and for the same reasons. Most Americans will remember how hot button an issue immigration was in the early 2000s. U.S. citizens were concerned that immigrants from Mexico and South and Central America were flooding into the country in alarmingly high numbers and were poised to take jobs away from Americans. This atmosphere seems to be echoed in South Africa and the attacks that have occurred there as a result of xenophobia. This is especially significant in a country where xenophobic tensions have shaped politics and social relations for so long. Unfortunately, South Africa just seems to be yet another link in the continuing trend of xenophobia that continues to occur across the globe. 

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 5:30 PM

South Africa has always had major issues with race and ethnicity, especially in recent years. this has continued to get worse and worse, and it must be hoped that eventually the situation will be sorted out.

Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, April 1, 2018 3:25 PM
(Africa) South Africa has been prone to sporadic spurts of violence against foreigners resulting in looting and murders. Like other countries, poor areas of South Africans blame immigrants for crime and unemployment - which is now at 26.6%. Undocumented immigrants make up an estimated 4% of the population, attracted because of its modernity and stability. The government of South Africa is strictly against these xenophobic mobs, with hundreds of arrests and condemnation by the president. These attacks are light compared to violence in other parts of the continent, but it is disheartening to see South Africa's continued close connection to discrimination.
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The Daily Show–Spot the Africa

Between rampant racial inequality and Ebola outbreaks, South African comedian Trevor Noah admits he hesitated to visit a country as underdeveloped as America.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Since social media is buzzing with the news that Trevor Noah is replacing Jon Stewart as the host of the Daily Show, I wanted to show a geographically themed clip from one of Trevor's previous correspondence pieces on the show.  This clip was filmed during the height of the Ebola hysteria and Ferguson protests; the main topic is misconceptions in the United States about Africa.  His life itself is a portal into mixed South African geographies.

Tags: Ebola, Africa, regions, perspective.

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, March 24, 2018 5:24 PM
This video takes a South African and an American and they address misconceptions about Africa by playing a game where the American is shown two images and is to guess which one is in Africa and which is in America, of the images shown the worse looking ones were generally in America. They are not trying to say necessarily that America is worse off than parts of Africa, but that parts of Africa are doing well, and that they are not as bad as we may think. 
Stevie-Rae Wood's curator insight, December 9, 2018 3:44 PM
This clip is a whimsical but also a way for Americans to understand there labeling of people is actually very incorrect, rude, and offensive. Most of America juts makes assumption based on what Hollywood puts out , for movies and commercials that this place is all desert and needs vast amounts of help. That however is far from the truth. Yes, they have the Sahara desert but that only makes up half of Africa. The bottom half of Africa is prosperous and we as Americans need to not believe everything we see.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, December 14, 2018 12:06 PM
This is such an amazing skit between Trevor Noah and Jon Stewart. It is so informative in how ignorant average U.S. American's can be. Jon Stewart is portraying many people in the U.S. are genuine in their ignorance. With the pictures of scenes from different countries in Africa and in the U.S., you see that these so-called "developing countries" do have some very good things that are happening and the "greatest country" also has issues. It is just one of those things where you don't notice how much better life is getting in the world today.
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NYTimes Video: Apartheid Haunts South Africa's Schools

NYTimes Video: Apartheid Haunts South Africa's Schools | Geography Education |
Celia Dugger reports from the Kwamfundo School near Cape Town on South Africa's struggling public education system.

This poignant clip shows that South Africa may be in a post-apartheid era, but most certainly not a post-racial era as schools are as deeply divided as ever. 

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 6:28 PM

Watching this video makes me glad that I live where I do, it also makes me feel bad for those that are not as lucky as myself and other students of colleges and universities. these students in South Africa's schools are not getting a proper education, the teachers sometimes do not show up, so in some cases the students will assume position and teach those who do not understand the material. It is also sad to know that there are so many out there with great ambitions for their lives and because of their poor education and understanding of subjects, they are failing and might not be able to reach their goals for life. It is good to see though there is a teacher that gets the kids engaged everyday  as a morning warm up to sing. 

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 3:06 PM

what i dont understand is how south africa can be on such an upward trend which motivation and nationalism but the rest of africa just refuses to get on the same track. the success of south africa and their constantly improving country should be motivation and a model for the rest of the continent.

Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, December 14, 2018 11:36 AM
It is so amazing to see students fighting to achieve in a struggling system. This video was talking about a struggling high school in South Africa, but that is honestly for far from what you see in the inner cities in the U.S. either. Everywhere more students are standing up and are bringing hope for a better future. These students in South Africa will grow up and, despite all the obstacles, they will do better.