How Apartheid Worked


RASHID LOMBARD/AFP/Getty Images

After WWII, while the rest of the world grew more socially progressive, the government of South Africa turned inward to focus its attention on domination of the white minority over the non-white majority. It took an internal struggle and the voice of the world to finally end the terrible practice of "apartness."

Female Speaker: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from howstuffworks.com.

Josh Clark: Hey and welcome to the podcast. I am Josh Clark, and there's Charles W. Chuck Bryan. And that makes us Stuff You Should Know the podcast.

Chuck Bryant: I've been working on my Afrikaner accent.

Josh Clark: Was that it?

Chuck Bryant: Sort of. I've also been told by some people, Chuck we love your accents because they're kind of bad so they're funny, and other people have said, oh my God please don't ever do accents again.

Josh Clark: Oh, you got to keep doing accents.

Chuck Bryant: Of course. People can't tell me what to do.

Josh Clark: I think your Afrikaner is a little rough around the edges, especially compared to your Italian.

Chuck Bryant: Well sure. That is easy though. That's a no problem.

Josh Clark: So, you do you want to say a word in Afrikaner? I think I know that you know one.

Chuck Bryant: Apartheid?

Josh Clark: Yes, and it means apartness in Afrikaner.

Chuck Bryant: And in Afrikaans?

Josh Clark: Yes.

Chuck Bryant: Sure, which is the language.

Josh Clark: Well, where did I get Afrikaner?

Chuck Bryant: That is, the person is an Afrikaner, and they speak Afrikaans.

Josh Clark: So, in Africans, Apartheid means apartness, and you capitalize it. And the reason you capitalize it is because for about 50 years, a little less than 50 years, it was a national policy in South Africa and it was brutal and awful. And the whole world said, you know what South Africa we judge you and for good reason.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah I remember being a kid, and we'll get to this later, but the Artists Against Apartheid was the first time I ever heard that word as a young teenager, Bono telling me, don't play Sun City.

Josh Clark: Sun City was built in '81.

Chuck Bryant: Sun City, first of all, is a resort in South Africa. And little Steven Van Zandt of the Sopranos and the E Street Band wrote this song called, I Ain't Gonna Play Sun City, got all these people to sing on it sort of in the We Are The World era.

Josh Clark: It was like U2 to Kurtis Blow to Africa Boombata to Peter Gabriel.

Chuck Bryant: I did like - so many people were on that song.

Josh Clark: All these - Miles Davis was on there. Like everybody was on there.

Chuck Bryant: Bruce, of course

Josh Clark: It was a good song. It was a goodish song.

Chuck Bryant: It was okay.

Josh Clark: But it was like I Ain't Gonna Play Sun City. And not only was it a song but it was like -

Chuck Bryant: A movement.

Josh Clark: An agreement, like a creed you were kind of signing.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. So who played? I saw that Elton John and Queen and Linda Ronstadt played during Apartheid.

Josh Clark: Sinatra played. Yeah, they knew ahead of time that Sun City was not a good place to be, and it was in Apartheid. It was a good place to be if you were a pro-Apartheid South African with a lot of money because it was a very nice resort.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah and you wanted to gamble.

Josh Clark: And they would get big name acts. But if you went there and played there and made money there - even if you didn't make money there actually - the UN had an anti-Apartheid unit, and they kept track of who was playing there, and they would publish a black list. And there was a huge, huge backlash against them. Most people were just like, sorry, sorry. If you said publicly, I am very sorry that I went and played Sun City. I am not going to go to Apartheid South Africa again. As a performer, they would take you off the list. But it was still like really smacked of McCarthyism because they used to blacklist in the entertainment industry, and this was the same thing.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah but in this case it was -

Josh Clark: On this case, they were on the side of right, the blacklisters were. But yeah, if you went to Sun City you ended up on this list and actually really interestingly, Tim Reid, Venus Fly Trap, he went down to South Africa with Howard Hessman, Johnny Fever -

Chuck Bryant: Of WKRP in Cincinnati.

Josh Clark: Because WKRP in Cincinnati was a really huge hit down there.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yeah, so they had Venus and Johnny Fever come down, and Tim Reid was one of the first African Americans invited to Apartheid South Africa to not perform, like this was just a publicity tour. And he spent the whole time speaking out against Apartheid.

Chuck Bryant: Good.

Josh Clark: And he still ended up on the UN's black list because he received like a per diem or something during his publicity tour there, and he spoke out. There's a Chicago Tribune article from the Time from like 1986 that interviews him. And he is a really smart guy speaking out against this black list, or at the very least like how clumsy it was that they weren't using a scalpel at all. They were just like, oh you went to South Africa, and they gave you some money, and now you're black listed. He's like, I was speaking out against Apartheid. What are you doing? So, let's talk Apartheid. Where did this come from, Chuck? I mean it was instituted in 1948, but it was way older than that.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, racial suppression was going on sort of from the 17th Century on in Africa or at least in southern Africa. And it wasn't South Africa at the time, we should point out, we'll get to that though. But the Dutch came there in the 17th Century just as a little stop off station they wanted to set up on the spice route, Dutch East India Company, and they're like, we need a place to kick back a little bit and rest on this trip. And so - I was about to say they said, do you mind? I don't think they asked.

Josh Clark: No they did not.

Chuck Bryant: They just sort of set up shop there and they were not there to colonize, initially.

Josh Clark: No, it was just to set up a weigh station.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah just to set up a station and - but because they were Europeans they did bring along with them the thought that White people are supreme to Black people.

Josh Clark: Right and to prove it, they brought along Black slaves with them

Chuck Bryant: That's right. So that notion is immediately set up like, hey we're better than you. You can't tell us what to do. We have guns and we're more advanced, if you follow along those European lines of what advance is.

Josh Clark: Right and because they were Europeans during the age of exploration they said, let's colonize anyway. Let's do it. So they did. And they started setting up settlements that weren't united but we're basically the Dutch and later on the British and to a much lesser extent the French. Basically saying, just undergoing a land grab that involved basically taking land from the indigenous people there and then setting up farms.

Chuck Bryant: Sounds like another country.

Josh Clark: Yeah. It sounds really familiar, doesn't it?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, they basically would try and negotiate for land, and if that broke down, they were like, all right we're taking it.

Josh Clark: Right, and then they would take the land, turn the land into plantations, start growing stuff for export, and then the people would say, we're starving out here. And the Dutch people would say, well come on in and work for us for like next to nothing. At the very least you'll live long enough to till our fields. And that's how the whole thing began.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, basically they would end up tilling that they at one point owned themselves or used themselves as slaves. And this was the Dutch at first, until about the mid-1700s. Then British activity picked up in the region, and they - you know, at the time it was I think you said just like various, separate societies farming, living an agrarian lifestyle, ranching, hunter gathering - and then the Dutch and then the Brits came down there with their own slaves and took the land and said, you know what? We're going to battle with each other over this area, and eventually Britain gained control in the early nineteenth century from the Dutch even.

But the Dutch were still there, sort of running things. Is that how it worked?

Josh Clark: Yeah, there were way more Dutch settlers than British, but the British had managed to gain control of it, and now it was a British colony.

Chuck Bryant: And they said, but slavery's not legal.

Josh Clark: No, but you can be - you are a servant.

Chuck Bryant: Basically.

Josh Clark: And we're going to codify this, and now for the first time in this area, blacks were legally subservient to whites.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, so instead of master/slave, it was master/servant. Big diff.

Josh Clark: And even though the British - it was a British colony, it was still basically run and operated by the Dutch.

Chuck Bryant: That's right.

Josh Clark: And some Dutch didn't like that, so they pressed further and further inward and ultimately creating more and more of an area for the future South Africa by dominating these tribes with germs, guns, steel, you know, that whole thing. Then around 1860, something really big happened. A little bit into the interior, they discovered diamonds and gold and said, oh we're staying.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and they said, you know we know you love farming and all that good stuff, but we think you'd be much happier working in a mine for next to nothing.

Josh Clark: At the very least, it would make us happier if you were working in our mines.

Chuck Bryant: That's right, and you know what? We're going to brutalize you. We're going to segregate you. We're going to give you the most dangerous jobs and humiliate you and do cavity searches, and you know what? Now you have to have to have a passbook to go to your job as a miner, and you're going to be paid a lot less. And the passbooks, the reason we mention that is it soon became a staple that you couldn't go anywhere you weren't supposed to go without a passbook.

Josh Clark: Right, it was a -

Chuck Bryant: Initially, it started out as a work thing though.

Josh Clark: In the mines of South Africa, that's where Apartheid was born, and a lot of the Apartheid techniques like you say, passbooks, and just the general degradation of blacks in the South Africa area. It all began - I mean, it was already in place, but just the brutality of it, I take it really picked up in the mines.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, for sure.

Josh Clark: So, that was what, the 1860s?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And that was pretty much the way it was. It was a British colony in South Africa. It wasn't South Africa yet, but it was a British colony. The Dutch were ruling it. The blacks, the Africans, the indigenous natives, were on the losing end of this in a very brutal fashion. And then in the early 1900s, in I think 1908, the people who were running this British colony, the Dutch, said, hey man we want a little more authority here.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and they were, at this point, they were Afrikaner, right? Like in the past century, they had changed a lot. They had this weird hybrid language that developed, and they were not - they were Dutch in heritage, but they starting to become a new people in Southern Africa, which is Afrikaner.

Josh Clark: They probably felt about as Dutch as you and I feel British, you know?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's a good point.

Josh Clark: But so yeah they were like a whole new group, but with the basis of this was that they were a whole new group who had grown up in charge of another group, and they wanted to make sure they had a free hand in dealing with these other sub-classes. And also, I want to say that like any time you hear me say sub-classes, I'm making air quotes, everybody.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and when I say, big difference between master/slave and master/servant, I was being sarcastic.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: We're anti-Apartheid.

Josh Clark: So these Afrikaner running the show sent a new constitution down to Britain, and Britain said, okay go ahead. We're going to go ahead and grant this. It's going to be called the South Africa Act of 1910, and with that, British decreed that the state of South Africa was born. Still a British colony, but it was officially under Afrikaner control.

Chuck Bryant: That's right.

Josh Clark: And, oh yeah, one other thing. Black can't hold office ever.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's like the first of what would be many, many, many restrictions.

Josh Clark: And that's a huge one because all of a sudden, you have an all-white government -

Chuck Bryant: No voice.

Josh Clark: Made up of white people who feel that it is their white man's burden to keep you from being shiftless and lazy and thieving and just killing yourselves and cutting off your own hands and killing one another. It's up to the white man to make sure you don't do that, and we're going to keep you safe by subjugating you. And the first way we're going to do that is to just have an all-white government.

Chuck Bryant: That's right, and the second thing we're going to do is we're going to take your land because even though we only make up - 20 percent of the population is white people. We need 93 percent of the land, so we're going to shuffle 80 percent of the people onto 7 percent of the land, really crappy land.

Josh Clark: Really bad land with really bad -

Chuck Bryant: It wasn't oceanfront. And that was under the leadership of General Louis Botha, first prime minister of South Africa and the Native Lands Act of 1913. Basically that's when they said, you know what? We're going to move all these communities. If we kill you along the way or you die, no big deal. If your whole life is disrupted, no big deal. And we're essential going to shove you onto these tiny parcels of crappy land. So that began the segregation period.

Josh Clark: Yeah. Right.

Chuck Bryant: You can't go here. This is white land.

Josh Clark: Right, and during this segregation period between like the 1913 Lands Act and the '50s or 1948, a bunch of other things happened for the blacks who came to be called Bantus, indigenous Africans. They lost the right to vote in the '30s. In the '20s, they had lost the right to unionize, and basically, they were just being pushed further and further out of a meaningful participation in society.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, they tried to hamper their access to education even early on and fired them from jobs even if they were totally more skilled than a white worker.

Josh Clark: Yeah, if you were a skilled craftsman and you had apprenticed, you couldn't carry out your craft any longer.

Chuck Bryant: No. Josh Clark: But legally, they could go in and be like, you know what? There's a white who I think is better for this job, so you're fired.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, because that was the government.

Josh Clark: Right. This was even before the Afrikaner Nationalist Party. This is before Apartheid officially.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that didn't come around until 1948.

Josh Clark: In 1948, again with an all-white government that had been in power for 35 years, this extreme right wing - basically a fringe movement, the Afrikaner Nationalist movement, came to power. And they officially instituted what we call Apartheid. They're Apartheid policies, starting in 1948, but really kicking off in 1950 with the Population Registration Act, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and this was under Prime Minister D.F. Maulin at the time. And with the Population Registration Act is when they created officially the Bantu, like you said, and named the indigenous black population. So, there's Bantu. There's white, and then there's colored, which is mixed race. And you have to register yourself and be legally classified as one of these three races.

Josh Clark: Everyone was.

Chuck Bryant: Everybody. If you're white, good news for you.

Josh Clark: Yeah, because you got 93 percent of the land.

Chuck Bryant: If you're Bantu or mixed race, then bad luck for you.

Josh Clark: Right, and then at first, Indians were left out. Indians, I guess, because it was a British colony. Since India was also a British colony, South Africa was kind of a place to be for Indians, including Gandhi, who was one of the early protesters of this segregationist idea and was imprisoned I think for 20 years in South Africa.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, he was.

Josh Clark: Or he was imprisoned while he was there for 20 years. He spend part of it in prison for protesting segregation.

Chuck Bryant: Right, peacefully of course.

Josh Clark: Ultimately, Indians were excluded as foreigners, but just to keep problems from happening, keep the bureaucracy going, they were added as a fourth race.

Chuck Bryant: That's right. You could not get married between races. You were Bantu and in love with someone of mixed race, you couldn't even marry them, very restrictive. And next came another act called the Group Areas Act. This really escalated the segregation because now you needed passbooks, essentially passports, to go from one area to another. Some you weren't even allowed in, and that even went further in the Bantu Homelands Act of 1951, which basically said, you know what? Wherever your area is in South Africa, that is now your homeland. You're not even South African anymore.

Josh Clark: Yeah, if you're Bantu married to a colored person, your colored spouse lives in a different area. Your family's just ripped apart now.

Chuck Bryant: Well, they took away - basically they said, you're not even South African, and we're allowing you to stay here basically if you stay in this one area that your passbook says you can stay in.

Josh Clark: Right, because you can't stay here because your no longer a member of this country.

Chuck Bryant: Unbelievable. I drew like exclamation points next to that one. Just because like they literally moved in, took over these people, then said, you're not even a part of this country that we've established.

Josh Clark: So they have - they've been pushed out of participation in society. Anybody who's not white is now forced onto a reservation.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, essentially.

Josh Clark: And then they really kind of started indoctrinating the next generation with the Bantu Education Act of 1953. Basically, if you were Bantu, you would be put into a school where the student teacher ratio was about 56 to 1on average. You went to school three hours a day. They did it in two shifts so the teacher would see two different classes, three hours for one, three hours for another. And you would be taught basically how - like the history of your people was that you were kind of dumb and meandering, and you really hadn't done anything with the land before, and how you were reliant on the white people who came to rescue you and your people.

You were taught how you could work in a factory, and that's about as good as it got for you. And basically, they were taught to be servile and better servants to the white Afrikaners.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Well, that was the plan at least. But it backfired because in the 1950s and '60s, instead of becoming more docile, they rallied and became more upset. And basically, raged against the machine in the 1950s and '60s at the same time that the U.S. Civil Rights movement was going on. The same thing was kind of starting to happen in South Africa, and it was the beginning of what would be a 30 year end of Apartheid, I guess you could say.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: People got mad.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and rightly so.

Chuck Bryant: This wasn't just indigenous people. There were also white liberals at the time, just like here in the U.S., that were very much against the Apartheid. Also, you know, suppressed when they tried to raise awareness or fight back.

Josh Clark: Right, because one of the things about the Apartheid government wasn't just racial segregation. They were, like I said, extremely right wing, and they were very much into isolationism. They kept a very tight control over what their population white or non-white had access to as far as the news went.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah. Music.

Josh Clark: Music. Have you seen Searching for Sugarman?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: It's a good one. And you saw what they did with the - like there was a record on - there was a song on this record.

Chuck Bryant: Rodriguez, yeah.

Josh Clark: And they scratched the song, the vinyl, so it couldn't be played. They did stuff like that.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, maybe you should see that. It just won the Academy Award. And we don't want to spoil anything though because it unfolds in a really great, mysterious way.

Josh Clark: It's a good documentary.

Chuck Bryant: It's a great documentary, and that's what inspired this decision to do this actually.

Josh Clark: Right, so the government was fairly close to totalitarian. Like if you dissented against the government, white, black, otherwise, you would go to jail. But despite this and despite the brutality that the police were engaged in - like for example, there was a strike in 1946. 75 thousand unarmed black miners went on strike. Peaceful protest, a thousand people were killed by the police.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, they would just open fire on crowds.

Josh Clark: Yeah, so this -

Chuck Bryant: Even like peaceful crowds even.

Josh Clark: Right. This is one of the reasons why I think people were so resistant to being indoctrinated into Apartheid mentality because - in part because of the brutality of the police tactics too. But so, let's talk about this. In the '60s, like you were saying, when the U.S. Civil Rights movement was really starting to brew and take shape, Nelson Mandela emerged as a member of the African National Congress. Huge organization, and then there was also the Pan-African Conference. And they were basically peaceful protest groups that were set up to counter the Apartheid philosophy.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and like we said, even though it was peaceful, it didn't matter. The Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, a thousand black Africans left their passbooks at home and said, you know what? We're just going to go to the police station and turn ourselves in because we don't have our passbooks. What are you going to do? Process us all? No, they're going to open fire on the crowd. Killed 69 people, wounded hundreds apparently, and then they said, you know what? We're going to ban public gatherings then.

Josh Clark: And they also banned the African National Congress and the Pan-African Congress.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, like you're all illegitimate now, and Nelson Mandela, you're going to jail.

Josh Clark: Well, not yet. Not yet. They drove the Pan-African Congress and the African National Congress -

Chuck Bryant: Well, in 1963, he went to jail.

Josh Clark: Right, but in 1960, they drove them underground.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, well yeah.

Josh Clark: And as a result, these groups went from being peaceful to becoming - actually they formed para-military wings, and Mandela led the African National Congresses' guerilla wing. And he actually later on said, yeah we were guerillas and possibly terrorists and like there were human rights violations by my group, and I regret that.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but they were good terrorists. Yeah, so he was sentenced to a life in prison and remained in prison for 30 years, and most people, unless you're super young, remember Nelson Mandela, free Nelson Mandela, being a rallying cry up until like the freaking '80s which is ridiculous that this was still going on then. But that's the way it went there. 1976, another protest peaceful, Soweto, this time it was students, and it was because they were trying to make Afrikaans the primary language in black upper schools even though not many of them even spoke it. So, what good is that? So they went to protest this, again -

Josh Clark: Peaceful protests -

Chuck Bryant: Opened fire. Two children were killed this time, and it started a bunch of riots. And in the end, three thousand people - up to three thousand, it says between 575 and three thousand. It probably depends on who you were asking. Were killed by the police.

Josh Clark: And again, just following the same script that they did with Sharpeville in 1960, the government said, all right all, any dissent groups are completely banned, you know, outright. And that included the South African Students Organization, led by a guy named Steve Biko. And Steve Biko, he was a medical student, and he was like 30 I think when he died. He had founded what was called the Black Consciousness Movement, and it was basically like a - teaching African self-worth, countering everything that was taught through the Bantu Education Act and everything you learned in school, African self-reliance, economic self-reliance, and then it spread outside of Africa.

He was a pretty big figure, and he was pulled over with a buddy and a bunch of anti-Apartheid pamphlets, and the police arrested him. They beat him. They left him with a head wound, and he died of his injuries. And when Steve Biko died, that was - that changed everything.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, he was detained under the Terrorism Act 83 of 1967, which basically said, if we suspect you of being a terrorist, we can detain you for up to 60 days, and then we can renew that 60 days, by the way, indefinitely without telling anyone, without releasing who's there, and it was basically a way to make the people disappear. Usually if you were detained under this act, you were never heard from again. And Biko eventually found himself in a coma, and because of torture, and eventually they said after about three weeks, you know, we should probably take this guy to a prison or the hospital at least, so they threw his naked body in the back of a truck to take him to a hospital, and he died.

They said it was a hunger strike. It was actually brain hemorrhage from being beaten upside the head, and years later, Denzel Washington would play him in Cry Freedom.

Josh Clark: Nice.

Chuck Bryant: And Peter Gabriel wrote the awesome song, Biko.

Josh Clark: And Tribe Called Quest has Steve Biko song, Stir It Up. Soweto Uprising and the police killings of those two children was followed right on the heels by Steve Biko's death.

Chuck Bryant: Which was a big deal like around the world.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it was. The U.S. ambassador to South Africa, I think in probably what was a huge protest move, went to see Biko's funeral. There was - yeah, Steve Biko dying. That was a big deal.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and we should shout out to Helen Suzman. Shout out. She was the one voice of reason in South Africa's all white parliament. She was the one voice, anti-Apartheid voice, and she, if you look her up, she is an amazing woman. She just died a few years ago, but she was at the funeral. Yeah, this is when it became a thing around the world, like hey, you know what? We're going to start pulling our embassies out of South Africa. We're going to start boycotting, sanctions against South Africa, economic sanctions, and this was happening with the United States, Great Britain, other western nations, and basically, South Africa became, you know, the evil empire like exposed.

Josh Clark: It was pretty cool. By the - finally in 1986, the U.S. Congress got its act together enough to pass the comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, and it banned any new investment, any new business setting up, and dealing and trade with South Africa. South Africa was banned from doing business here in the U.S., so South African airlines couldn't land at any U.S. airport.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, hit them where it hurt, basically.

Josh Clark: Yeah, big time. The rain fell in value. It was a big deal. And Reagan vetoed it, actually, and his veto was overridden by Congress.

Chuck Bryant: Awesome.

Josh Clark: That's how much - that's how badly they want to do it, and it was a very important thing. This is right in the middle of ­- this is like when we were kids. You remember that like -

Chuck Bryant: Oh yeah.

Josh Clark: Like that Keith Herring poster of Free South Africa. There was like the - you couldn't play Sun City.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, the song, Free Nelson Mandela, I remember that one.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it was a big deal. The whole world was opposed to South Africa. There was this great thing called divestment. That actually may have really been the thing that killed Apartheid in South Africa.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, what was the deal there? Josh Clark: So, divestment is - and it's going on now, but with Apartheid, it was basically where people - it started with colleges. Colleges have huge endowments that are heavily invested in all sorts of stuff, and they said, you know what? We're not going to invest in anything that has anything to do with South Africa anymore. Coca-Cola, if you're doing business in South Africa, we're not going to invest in you anymore, whoever. And so they divested rather than invested. They got all their money out, and a lot of universities did this, and they did it at the prompting of some of their students.

Like, in Harvard, the students erected a shanty town to show what the people who lived in the shanty towns in South Africa were living like and got all these endowments to start divesting. I think Cal had the biggest one. They divested three billion dollars from the South African economy.

Chuck Bryant: Holy cow.

Josh Clark: And they think that that was the thing that really like opened the bleeding.

Chuck Bryant: Go Bears.

Josh Clark: Yeah. So this divestment combined with this international political pressure all over the world, and South Africa still says, go to hell. We're not getting rid of Apartheid. For years still -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, like through the '80s.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and then finally it was what, 1993?

Chuck Bryant: Well, 1989 is when the big turning point came. That's when F. W. de Klerk became president -

Josh Clark: Oh, that's right.

Chuck Bryant: Of Apartheid South Africa, and between '89 and '93 is when he basically repealed everything on the books and said, this is going in a different direction now. Let's release Nelson Mandela, and in fact, when we have our first democratic election in 1994, Nelson Mandela wins. So, what a great ending to that story.

Josh Clark: It really is. Chuck Bryant: And despite being in prison for 30 years, on May 10, 1994, when Mandela was giving his speech, he closed by speaking in Afrikaans.

Josh Clark: This is his inauguration speech.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, which is like - the fact that he even spoke in that tongue, to me, that says a lot about the man. And he said, what has passed, has passed. And here's a Nobel peace prize, Mr. Mandela and Mr. de Klerk, like you both get it in 1993. And I like the article pointed out, it was a shockingly peaceful transition, and I'm sure there are still many, many more years that needed for the healing. You don't get over something like that overnight if it's been hundreds of years, but I think things are definitely headed in the right direction now.

Josh Clark: Yeah, well one of the things that they did set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is like basically a tribunal that heard stories of human rights violations that gave victims a voice to say it in public, like this happened to me.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: In some instances, people who perpetrated these crimes could be prosecuted. They could also be forgiven publically by this court, this tribunal. It was a really good move to like help this national healing because, yeah, all of a sudden, Apartheid's gone over a four year period, but I mean, there was a lot of people who were kind of into that, and they did a lot of stuff, and they're not protected by the government anymore, and like a lot of bad things happened to a lot of people who were still alive. Like, what do you do? And I think that was a really good move to move not just the government, but also the society to a post-Apartheid life.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I'd like to hear from people in South Africa about the state of things today.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And watch Searching for Sugarman, people.

Josh Clark: Yes.

Chuck Bryant: It's really like through this great story of music encapsulates this whole time period really, really well.

Josh Clark: Right, and I guess ever since the aliens landed over Johannesburg, that's kind of taken up a lot of their time, their attention.

Chuck Bryant: Oh yeah, what was that?

Josh Clark: District 9.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, which was really based on Apartheid pretty much, wasn't it?

Josh Clark: What? Was that the inspiration for that movie? That was a good movie.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, so watch that. Watch District 9, Searching for Sugarman, and Cry Freedom, and -

Josh Clark: Yeah, then go listen to A Tribe Called Quest, Peter Gabriel, and -

[Crosstalk]

Chuck Bryant: I have not listened or seen the rugby movie yet where Morgan Freeman plays Mandela.

Josh Clark: Mitt Victus or -

Chuck Bryant: Mitt Damon.

Josh Clark: Yeah. What is it?

Chuck Bryant: Invictus, something?

Josh Clark: Yeah, that's right.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I need to see that.

Josh Clark: Okay, that's it for Apartheid, huh?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Thank goodness. Did you want to do a word from our sponsors?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, we've got listener mail coming up, but word from our sponsors first.

Josh Clark: Chuck, where would you and I be without teamwork? Nowhere, right?

Chuck Bryant: Well, we wouldn't be a team.

Josh Clark: It's the foundation for our success, and we know that when you and I are face to face, we work more effectively.

Chuck Bryant: That's right, but buddy when you and I are not in the same room or other co-workers, who are just scattered out around the country or across the globe.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: What are they going to do?

Josh Clark: You want to know?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: You visit GoToMeetings with HT Faces. You use that. It's a powerful and simple way to meet and collaborate online wherever you are, whenever you need to do it.

Chuck Bryant: I was just being coy. We've actually used GoToMeetings, and all it takes is a click. You can share a screen. You work on the same documents together in real time, and I can give you control of my desktop if I initiate the meeting. And you can work on documents, and we can see each other, up to six video faces. Jerry can join in on the party. It's a lot of fun.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and Chuck, you don't even need a computer. You can use your iPad, your tablet, even your phone to join a GoToMeeting.

Chuck Bryant: Exactly. So, we've got a deal for you. Try GoToMeeting free for 30 days with this special offer. Visit gotomeeting.com, click on the try it free button, and use the promo code stuff. S-T-U-F-F. Remember that promo code, it's pretty easy. Stuff at G-O-T-O meeting.com.

Josh Clark: Yeah, GoToMeeting, meeting is believing. It's time for listener mail, right?

Chuck Bryant: That's right. Josh, I'm going to call this, Surf's Up. I just listened to How Surfing Works. As someone who surfs three hundred days a year all over the world and teaches surfing for a living, I just want to say that you guys did an excellent job for two guys who don't surf in a very limited experience with it, your definitions and descriptions were pretty much spot-on, and I would have to agree with you, Chuck, that it is very difficult to learn. It has one of the slowest, most miserable learning curves of any sport. I always tell people that if you don't enjoy sucking at it, then you won't enjoy surfing. So, quickly, did you surf on your vacation?

Josh Clark: Yeah, I did.

Chuck Bryant: And how did you do?

Josh Clark: I got -

Chuck Bryant: I've been waiting to ask.

Josh Clark: I got up. Yumi was watching from the shore, and she agrees that I did get up at least once. She says, possibly twice, but I only stand by one. And by get up, I mean, I was virtually crouching and then fell off after like five seconds.

Chuck Bryant: And how many days did you try it?

Josh Clark: Just one, and I didn't even take a lesson.

Chuck Bryant: Okay. You just went out there.

Josh Clark: Do you know how?

Chuck Bryant: Well, our podcast.

Josh Clark: Exactly, yeah. That's how I figured out how to do it. I did kind of, but remember how we were talking about, it's very easy to like get on your hands and knees and then get up?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: But you don't want to learn that technique?

Chuck Bryant: Is that the technique?

Josh Clark: That's what I learned, yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Sure. You've got to crawl before you can walk.

Josh Clark: Exactly.

Chuck Bryant: Also, I should clear up that in general, learning to surf on a long board is usually preferred as it catches waves easier, and it's easier to stand up on than a short board. But being that catching a wave is the hardest part for beginners, you're usually better off learning that way. Did you have a short board?

Josh Clark: Yeah, it was short-ish.

Chuck Bryant: Short-ish?

Josh Clark: Yeah, it definitely wasn't a long board.

Chuck Bryant: They turn easier, but turning is pointless if you can't catch the wave in the first place.

Josh Clark: Right. There was no turning going on. It was surf riding.

Chuck Bryant: Surf riding? Anyway, I just want to say good job, guys. I'll be teaching surfing all summer in South Hampton, New York. If you're up in New York this summer, hit me up, and I'll take you out for a surf. And that is Miles from Santa Cruz. P.S. Big Wednesday is the best movie ever.

Josh Clark: Of course he says that.

Chuck Bryant: Because that's what surfers do.

Josh Clark: That's nice, Miles. Three hundred days a year, can you believe that?

Chuck Bryant: He's - it sounds like Miles has got a pretty decent life if he's living in Santa Cruz, then teaching in New York in the summers.

Josh Clark: Yeah, that's cool. Thanks for writing in Miles. If you are an expert or you do something that we've talked about three hundred days a year, we want to hear from you because it pretty much makes you an expert. You can tweet to us at SYSK podcast. You can join us at facebook.com/stuffyoushouldknow. You can send us an email, right? Isn't that what those are called?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: To stuffpodcast@discovery.com, and check out our website, stuffyoushouldknow.com.

Female Voice: For more on this and thousands of other topics, visit howstuffworks.com.

[End of Audio]

Duration: 37 minutes

Topics in this Podcast: discrimination, racism, racism