THE APARTHEID EXPERIENCES OF BLACK AFRICAN’S IN ALEX LAGUMA’S A WALK IN THE NIGHT AND PETER ABRAHAM’S TELL FREEDOM
1.1 Background of the Study
Apartheid, on Afrikaans word meaning “A state of being apart” was a system of racial segregation in South Africa, enforced through legislation by the national party (NP) Government, which was the ruling party in South Africa from 1949-1990.
Apartheid had decimate effects not only on the blacks but anyone classified as non-whites in South Africa. Racial segregation has been for centuries but the new policy started in 1948 which was stricken and more systematic.
This policy did not leave any aspect of social life untouched. During this time, existing pass laws were also strengthened. This law required non-whites to carry document to authorize their presence in some areas that were restricted. This experience was so formidable as blacks were to present “a pass” before they could walk freely on the road. Infact, a black man with a pass reported by Fugard in Sigwe is Dead was better than to exist without a “pass” for a life without a pass was worst than dead itself.
In 1953, the Education segregation law was passed stating that the non-whites who were considered as the subordinate people should not have access to quality education.
Blacks were corralled into township, if they could get jobs in the city. If not, their urban shacks often were bulldozed and they were forcibly moved to unproductive “homelands”. This was at the heart of the policy of Apartheid or “separateness”.
Young men who, because of their situation in life, lack of opportunity and colour have been prevented from achieving anything progressive and from achieving any ambitions.
The purpose of the South African Apartheid laws was to force the black community not to mingle with the white community. This ensured that they had to live in separate neighbourhoods, use separate public transport, medical care, and public beaches. It also included the prohibition of marriage between whites and non-whites.
It is on the above crises that this work aimed at examining the Apartheid experiences of Black Africans in Alex Laguma’s A Walk in the Night and Peter Abraham’s Tell Freedom.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Apartheid itself was a problem the blacks experienced during that era. The majority of the native (non-whites) were treated differently from whites (including blacks and other minorities and even poor whites) were forced to live in different areas, go to separate stores, schools and hospitals, treated differently at work and were not allowed to interact with the whites.
Michael suffers the same fate in A walk in the Night. He was unfairly fired. He uses alcohol to hell quell his rage. At one point, he is harassed by a police officer. He eventually heads home to face the consequence of being unemployed and only to find himself in the gang just to survive.
The Blacks worked tireless but were badly paid by their white master. Nelson Mandela suffered suit even in his home town. This racial discrimination and segregation become a thing of interest to the researchers as the experienced are shared in the discourse.