An interview with SWOP Director, Prof Karl von Holdt
When South Africa emerged from apartheid to democracy in 1994, decades of popular struggle seemed to have yielded a resounding victory, brimming with hope. “Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long,” newly-elected President Nelson Mandela announced, “must be born a society of which all humanity must be proud.” Some twenty years on, social realities in South Africa complicate the picture: despite new political freedoms, entrenched racialized inequality and poverty persist. In the “rainbow nation,” discontent fostered by enduring inequalities has resulted in a series of xenophobic attacks on migrants from other African countries. How does a sociologist make sense of this complex and contradictory scenario?