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For those of you who know absolutely nothing at all about the Republic of Sout
h Africa, our first newsletter will provide you with a little history about this great African country.

South Africa has experienced a different history from other nations in Africa because of early immigration from Europe and the strategic importance of the Cape Sea Route.  European immigration began shortly after the Dutch East India Company founded a station at what would become Cape Town, in 1652.

After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806 (Cape Town), many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to create their own republics.  The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1886 spurred wealth, and immigration and intensified the subjugation of the native inhabitants.  The Boers resisted British encroachments, but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902).  The resulting Union of Africa operated under a policy of apartheid - the development of the separation of races.

The 1990s brought an end to apartheid politically, and ushered in "black majority rule."

Until 1991, South African law divided the population into four major racial categories:  Africans (blacks) Coloreds-light skinned mixed race blacks, Asians, particularly Eastern Indians, and Whites which were considered the superior race.  Although this law has been abolished, many South Africans still view themselves and each other according to these categories. Black Africans comprise of about 79% of the population and are divided into a number of different ethnic groups.

The White groups are comprised of about 10% of the entire population.  They are primarily descendants of Dutch, French, English and German settlers who began arriving at the Cape of Good Hope in the late 17th century.  Coloreds are mixed-race people descending from the earliest settlers and the indigenous people.  They comprise about 9% of the total population.  Asians descend from Indian Workers brought to South Africa in the mid 19th century to work on sugar estates in Natal.  They constitute about 2.5% of the population and are concentrated in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

This is the Good News:  Education is in transition.  Under the apartheid system schools were extremely segregated, and the quantity and quality of education were significantly varied across racial groups. In fact, over 17 million black South Africans were never allowed to go to school, nor own, or read books under the apartheid system.

The laws governing this segregation have been abolished.  Although the transitional process is a huge and difficult task, the country's educational system has begun to improve. The Government is now working very hard on their educational systems, and providing opportunities for all South Africans.  The biggest challenge is to create a single, nondiscriminatory, nonracial system, that offers high quality education, and the same standards of education for all people.  That is great news from South Africa! 
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