Why South Africa is still so segregated

How centuries of division built one of the most unequal countries on earth.
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For decades, South Africa was under apartheid: a series of laws that divided people by race. Then, in the 1990s, those laws were dismantled. But many of the barriers they created continue to divide South Africans by skin color - which in turn determines their quality of life, access to jobs, and wealth. Racial division was built into the fabric of cities throughout South Africa, and it still hasn't been uprooted.
That's partly because, while apartheid was the culmination of South Africa's racial divisions, it wasn't the beginning of them. That story starts closer to the 1800s, when the British built a network of railroads that transformed the region's economy into one that excluded most Black people -- and then made that exclusion the law.
Sources and further reading:
If you want to learn more about the railroads and how they impacted Cape Colony’s economy, check out this paper by Johan Fourie and Alonso Herranz Loncan:
To understand segregation in South Africa’s major urban centers, take a look at this paper about segregation and inequality:
For more information on post-Apartheid cities, you can read this paper by Edgar Pieterse (who we feature in the video):
To explore the history and legacy of District Six, visit the District Six Museum website:
Thanks for watching and let us know what you think in the comments!
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  • Hey! We have a new video newsletter. Want behind-the-scenes access and a heads up on our new series? Sign up here: www.vox.com/video-newsletter

    VoxVoxAylar önce
    • This is actually interesting I am Southen African but they taught us a different history.

      Million dollar MotivationMillion dollar Motivation13 saatler önce
    • so what are you westerners doing to correct all the wrong that you have done to the rest of the world?

      Asher Gape Anima MundiAsher Gape Anima Mundi2 gün önce
    • @Mr8mazing Playz i

      TMH’s CreationTMH’s Creation2 gün önce
    • Just a fact check; by the time the Dutch colonists moved to the interior, slavery had been abolished. The indigenous populations have never been enslaved. The Dutch colonists themselves had a fair number of former Cape Colony slaves in their ranks and families. Sometimes the facts don't fit well with the intended narrative, but don't let that spoil a good tale....

      Brrs GrahamBrrs Graham4 gün önce
    • @Nolies Truesbob I agree. And they moved North 1730's already. Vox always seems to get it wrong.

      OptimisticOptimistic4 gün önce
  • Meanwhile White South Africans abroad are always complaining of reverse racism

    Pukpuk KropoekPukpuk Kropoek14 dakika önce
  • Leaving south Africa in 3 months. YAY!

    Pirate GunnerPirate GunnerSaatler önce
  • So what your saying is 17 percent made better life choices. And I got that just from the title . Didn't even watch the video.

    anthony ayresanthony ayres2 saatler önce
  • Im dutch and im embarrised by that

    Rens MiedemaRens Miedema2 saatler önce
  • Divide the White's and blacks, it's a new strategy of Asians

    arun 6552arun 65522 saatler önce
  • what a mess. In Latin America we have many issues, but we relatively solved the race issue many centuries ago by massive miscegenations between natives, blacks, whites and asians.

    Sabino LuévanoSabino Luévano3 saatler önce
  • Why I see Britisher as root cause of every conflict.

    BINOD SAMBINOD SAM3 saatler önce
  • Apartheid was not only about racial segregation but it enforced economical segregation as well. Disadvantaged blacks cannot afford relocation to white areas. Most white owned companies still employ only whites and get market related salaries. Blacks are still underpaid overall.

    mamti kabamamti kaba3 saatler önce
  • South Africa is political independent in terms of blacks being free or being able to vote but ECONOMICALLY still in apartheid

    Mku NcubeMku Ncube4 saatler önce
  • It is very painful to be subjected to racial discrimination in your country

    Ahmed Abbohelamin 16 (STUDENT)Ahmed Abbohelamin 16 (STUDENT)5 saatler önce
  • Same can be said about America

    unknownunknown5 saatler önce
  • cannot blame either side for what happened.

    LNLN6 saatler önce
  • Because multiculturalism doesnt work. !

    ClaytonClayton7 saatler önce
  • The area VOX showed is *not* a neighbourhood. Nor is it an administrative township. It's an *informal settlement.* Only about 10% of the population nationwide (internal & foreign migrants) stay in informal settlements. People that don't have housing. And so they set up shacks. It is extremely disingenuous of Vox to pretend that this is where the majority of South Africans stay.

    Dust YDust Y8 saatler önce
  • This is Every where in the world noting special. Maybe little more here

    NL LukeNL Luke9 saatler önce
  • This was so useful, thank you. In Europe we are not really taught these things as much as we should. The image of the two different areas divided by a few metres land was shocking.

    Nikοl S.Nikοl S.10 saatler önce
    • The Dutch and British treated blacks similar to how Germany treated jews. We don’t learn that in school. Neither do we learn that the Dutch Royals were standing at the wrong side of the war..

      Ke NiKe Ni8 saatler önce
  • You fuel racial hatred by deceptively selective reporting that distort the reality. Nguni tribes did not extend into the Western side of South Africa by the time the Europeans settled, most of that half (more like three-quarters) of the country in sparsely populated desert not suitable for cattle. There wasn't such a thing as "South Africa" before the Union of South in 1910, so the Nguni people have no claim to begin with. A lot of black migrants to Cape Town and the Western Cape in general are recent economic migrants. If anyone has a claim to being dispossessed, it is coloured community (ancestors of Europeans, the Khoi and Malay slaves) who are being pushed out by Nguni people mostly from the Eastern Cape.

    DarkwingscooterDarkwingscooter13 saatler önce
  • The real reason there is seemingly so much segregation is because of the media, stories like this that blame the past, but fail to mention the present situation, and militant political parties bent of keeping the country in chaos so that they can continue to pilfer taxpayer money.

    Steven NicholasSteven Nicholas13 saatler önce
  • You've already destroyed South Africa, when will enough be enough?

    Trevor RabieTrevor Rabie14 saatler önce
  • Vox is a Hoax

    ᗰᗞᗰᗞ15 saatler önce
  • 1

    Sinan BozkurtSinan Bozkurt15 saatler önce
  • Is south africa as bad as israel, or is israel worse

    osfallatahosfallatah16 saatler önce
    • Israel is worse. I'm Jewish btw

      JD VisualsJD Visuals15 saatler önce
  • Its the effects of apartheid

    Maips101Maips10116 saatler önce
  • It is not the colour of your skin but your genetic predisposition which determines everything , only a few can shed their conditioning.

    The PJ ExperienceThe PJ Experience16 saatler önce
  • This happens because humans are disgusting, we, all of us are disgusting to each other, oh and also because people of colour are also racist.

    Yorkshire PuddingYorkshire Pudding17 saatler önce
  • It is ironic that British claim Africans living area 6 for century consider as illegal by disrespecting African's human right, culture and history.

    J CaiJ Cai17 saatler önce
  • There is a reason why AFRICANS (Blaq) were not interviewed in this documentary. Their truth is the real Truth. It is best to hear from AFRICANS about Africa.

    Mighty LGKMighty LGK18 saatler önce
    • My bad

      Mighty LGKMighty LGK7 saatler önce
    • @Dust Y African Survivors right?

      Mighty LGKMighty LGK7 saatler önce
    • The Dutch, and later the British, committed genocide in the Cape in the 17th, 18th and 19th century. Survivors fled to the Eastern part of the Cape during the "frontier wars". Their descendants are returning though.

      Dust YDust Y8 saatler önce
  • Here in America the immigrant people were put into shantytowns which is why you still have little Italy and Chinatowns in New York City. Those second generation Italians and Irish became skilled laborers like brick layers and carpenters. The third generation went to college and became professionals. So there was upward mobility over generations. But not for blacks even to this day. Very few blacks are skilled tradesmen. There are more young blacks in college than in the trades. Hopefully college education will make for a better life for those but still I believe that the majority of blacks will stay poor and trapped in inner city neighborhoods. Even in the military which is known for technical schools produce very few black graduates. We have had over 20 years of affirmative action without any results. When I was in college I saw many blacks get into college only to drop out by the second year. Why is this happening? I don’t have an answer except we should have trade schools accepting more blacks.

    Gerald O'HareGerald O'Hare18 saatler önce
  • From a north African native all settler are same they brought with them a disease how European passed the fence &contaminated the rest of the continent

    Toufik EssedToufik Essed19 saatler önce
  • Apartheid made it a perfect setup for class segregation sadly...

    PlaguePlague19 saatler önce
  • Omg whenever I type my password in the comments it automatically censors it for me **************

    Earth CHEarth CH20 saatler önce
  • Yes they call it culture.. And the non services I hope you lay it in front of new government that steel all the money that is suppose to go to the black mijority...is the new government maybe not even worse then the previous government?

    Abrie SteynAbrie Steyn20 saatler önce
  • What did Nelson Mandela really do then?

    Shylock ChirauShylock Chirau21 saatler önce
    • Mandela was a trusted leader and an embodiment of the collective decision not to take revenge on white people, so that there was a largely peaceful transition of power in 1994. Critics say he set the country up for failure because he let economic power stay in white hands, that is a debate you'll have to deep dive into. My view, the white people of SA mistook this giving of olive branch by Mandela as the be all and end all, and all is absolved. But there had never been a proper reckoning of colonialism and apartheid, because by and large white people stayed away from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process, so there was no proper healing and building of trust. White liberal party never won the trust of black voters, hence no effective political opposition, and ANC gets away with massive corruption. Mandela started the long relay race to transformation, but others failed to pick up the baton.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion11 saatler önce
  • So what's the answer? Why is it still like that? Did I miss something?

    Shanon FrancisShanon Francis21 saatler önce
  • Try to reduce each informative video duration max 4 minutes.

    umesh kokchaumesh kokcha21 saatler önce
  • Whats your point?

    Alexander Dyon AshtonAlexander Dyon Ashton22 saatler önce
  • Because of the ANC government

    JPJP23 saatler önce
  • Make something about Nepal

    Criti MandalCriti Mandal23 saatler önce
  • Blaming the segregation of South Africa on apartheid is ridiculous when the ANC have been in power for nearly 30 years! What a poorly researched and executed piece this is!

    Mike BakerMike Baker23 saatler önce
    • @Pierre Marais homework assignments: 1) whataboutism. 2) due process in a democracy. 3) why DA never earned the trust of black voters to become an effective opposition and hold the ANC accountable.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion11 saatler önce
    • @FleshRebellion So howcome the current government can steal public funds and not pay it back?

      Pierre MaraisPierre Marais13 saatler önce
    • @Pierre Marais 🙄 read some history books.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion14 saatler önce
    • ​@FleshRebellion What was stolen exactly? There were a few nomadic tribes in the cape with vast open unoccupied landscape.. no cities or riches to be stolen. The natives didn't even know the diamonds or gold existed in the ground, or had the technology to process it.

      Pierre MaraisPierre Marais14 saatler önce
    • @Mike Baker lol. Whataboutism? And why are we discussing America? What makes you think I'm American?

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion14 saatler önce
  • As a South African: our current government is still ruling with the restricting apartheid minds..... do not realize the potential of financial and economical growth.

    Loretta O'NeillLoretta O'NeillGün önce
  • Some cultures are better than others. Fact

    Sidney van WykSidney van WykGün önce
  • Before white people complain about immigration...why don’t they recall their immigrants leaving in Africa...

    CarpetCoCarpetCoGün önce
  • Very easy to pull the race card Vox. You are 30yrs outdated. What divides these areas in post apartheid SA is money. People living in the slumps/townships don't pay the same rates and taxes as middle class people. ...but its easy, O so easy, to blame race and forget that monetary divisions exists everywhere in the world. ...get up to date and do a documentary on corruption in Africa.

    Johan NelJohan NelGün önce
    • @Ruben s and I'm sure the benefits accrued from colonialism and apartheid was selective too. Oh in fact my friends uncle told the NP no thanks, I don't need to benefit from apartheid, and they took him off the list 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion16 saatler önce
    • @FleshRebellion its not about race but etnicity. Geez why can no one understand. If some people that are apperently white looted africa doesn't mean all white people did that

      Ruben sRuben s17 saatler önce
    • The standard white supremacist excuse, "it's class not race". But, ok, if it's all about money, why not pay back reparations first? Pay for 400+ years of white people looting from Africa, then we can talk.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion22 saatler önce
  • This isn't a result of racial division. It's a result of corruption. This video shows the perception of an outsider while the truth is that the ANC government failed all South Africans.

    Guillermo DowrieGuillermo DowrieGün önce
    • It can be both. Reality is not a simplistic case of either-or.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion22 saatler önce
  • Wow. So will Vox please report on the dismal failure of the supposed "BBBEE" policies that was supposed to fix the inequalities? Will Vox report about the rampant pillaging and corrupt activities of the various political parties in SA? Will Vox report about the utter failure of the ANC to address land by introducing EWC (Expropriation Without Compensation) policies? As a South African myself, I am utterly proud of what this nation still manages to accomplish despite the politicians best efforts to continually divide us by race! Root out the corrupt Mabuza/Magashule/Zuma etc and then the real nation building will commence. Grow a spine Vox and report more than just history please.

    Anthony AnkiewiczAnthony AnkiewiczGün önce
    • @Pierre Marais homework assignment: read up on generational poverty.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion16 saatler önce
    • ​@FleshRebellion Most of the youth today under 30 were born after apartheid ended. Why should white South Africans feel responsible for what our distant ancestors did, they did't know them, they didn't agree to what they did, they didn't vote for apartheid. So why should they feel guilty for being born white in Africa? You're' blaming this generation for something they weren't part of that happened in the past.

      Pierre MaraisPierre Marais16 saatler önce
    • The video is bad. But i don't see white South Africans truly facing up to the horrors of what colonialism and apartheid did. A lot of shirking and defensiveness. Everyone knows the ANC is corrupt. So why are most people not voting DA? Why is it so hard for it to shake off the image of being a party for the whites? It's because the whites have never collectively owned up to how deeply they messed up. They had never earned the trust back.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion22 saatler önce
  • Tbh this is everywhere don't be segregated by wall's or by government I mean you see it everywhere just that worse over there

    Nathan jamma jacksonNathan jamma jacksonGün önce
  • Its a matter of wealth today - anyone can live where they can afford - but affirmative action, laziness, theft and corruption continues to trash the economy - Mandelas rainbow nation is lost just like Dr Kings dream where you come from - the ANC buses in Xhosa people from the Transkei for voting reasons taking away jobs from the local people you interview here

    Sarah JonesSarah JonesGün önce
    • @Sarah Jones Asian countries were not carved up willy nilly with no attention to ethnic or linguistic contiguity. White people dumped virtually ungovernable entities onto black leaders. The looting of resources (including human resources) was on another level. The discourse of racism and complete negation of any cultural value or even humanity of the people in Africa is completely different to those who were colonised in Asia. Don't compare apples with oranges.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion16 saatler önce
    • @FleshRebellion well i dunno the whole way of thinking and doing things in Africa seems to be different. Wealth creation as we know it today cones from Western roots. Have a look at how the Asian tigers pulled themselves out of deep poverty within 30 to 40 years!! If youre looking for Western style wealth.

      Sarah JonesSarah Jones18 saatler önce
    • And what makes families able to afford or not afford the houses? 400+ years of generational poverty imposed upon racial lines.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion21 saatler önce
  • Apartheid is over for thirty years, but mentality of majority is still legging.

    Mark GindesMark GindesGün önce
    • Will they pull themselves up by the bootstraps if they change into slacks?

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion21 saatler önce
  • Does it show quality of mentality

    Mark GindesMark GindesGün önce
  • Conclusion: Be it Israel/ Palestine or India/Pakistan or here in south Africa. "Britain is the source of ALL problems"

    Here IamHere IamGün önce
  • Why don’t the people that did this video go stay in a township

    Nico HardingNico HardingGün önce
  • Its very sad to see people JUDGE others with their skin colour I feel immeasurable disappointment.

    ToAsTeDToAsTeDGün önce
  • It’s white people in Africa 😂

    SAVage GaMinG Lime 311RSAVage GaMinG Lime 311RGün önce
  • Why it always traces back to Britain?!

    Imaginative MonkeyImaginative MonkeyGün önce
  • A lot of White people only help other White people and the Jews only help other Jews and they're very rich too. You have secret clubs like the Freemasons and it's hard for the Masons to let you in their club if you're not White, you also have the CFR who own everything in USA.

    Albert RasconAlbert RasconGün önce
  • Everything in life has a Time and a Season. Its The Melanated Time and Season. There are no White People you guys are pink. We are not Black we are The Chosen Melanated People

    B CB CGün önce
  • Bob Marley Every where The White Man goes hé cause miserie

    B CB CGün önce
  • I wouldn't want to live on the edge of town like that. Probably get robbed.

    Danny BeeDanny BeeGün önce
  • 🇵🇸 🇵🇸 🇿🇦🇿🇦

    Asm AsmAsm AsmGün önce
  • A better question would be... why are there white people in Africa. 👎🏻

    Absolute ZeroAbsolute ZeroGün önce
  • i think most of the world is like this. im sure if you go to any city, theres a hood with wealthy people of one race and then there is the poor hood of one race. in USA its whites, asians, indians. then the blacks and latinos together. in Vietnam its white people, then its Vietnamese. etc etc

    LunchLunchGün önce
    • Yes, and all have specific historical dynamics that led to the current state of affairs. Humans are evil and nasty to each other. In SA this manifested as apartheid. But it doesn't mean things can't be better. To default to "that's just how things are" is to give up on being a moral being.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion21 saatler önce
    • I have been to rich areas in USA where it's all white then to one's that are pretty mixed too, so it depends.

      Albert RasconAlbert RasconGün önce
  • The divide between rich and poor is worse in other African countries. VOX wants to make hay of South Africa because they have a large white population. If Vox wants to create a race war and expropriate property like in Zimbabwe then the whole country will starve and deteriorate.

    newtonbrooknewtonbrookGün önce
  • The video does not explain how the "new government" has had twenty five years or so in power. Or how that same "NEW" government is 99% black. This is Africa. The county of have and have nots. No matter your colour. Ridiculous notions this video is putting out. With no answer to any problems.

    tripstripsGün önce
  • tommorow

    erder scrtuserder scrtusGün önce
  • This whole idea of blaming and shaming white people for every injustice in the entire world is getting old. It simply isnt our fault or responsibility that the black populations cannot or will Not organize and govern themselves into prosperity.

    Gears And MudGears And MudGün önce
    • It's old indeed. White people coming in for 400+ years, mess it all up, throw the ball to black hands and complain how the can't tidy up the mess in 30 years.

      FleshRebellionFleshRebellion21 saatler önce
  • Just like Northern Ireland

    william johnstonwilliam johnstonGün önce
  • You imbeciles have no idea what's going on in SA...@Vox

    Henk SchutteHenk SchutteGün önce
  • Greet from Malaysia 🇲🇾

    izzat emmirizzat emmirGün önce
  • White people are just good at everything🤷🏼

    Jon BrowningtonJon BrowningtonGün önce
Why South Africa is still so segregated