Office of the President - The University of Texas at Brownsville
FEBRUARY 14, 2014 SPRING 2014, No. 4 

Wednesday, February 11 – Thursday February 12, 2014

Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning 'the state of being apart.' Literally, 'apart-hood' was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the National Party (NP) government, the ruling party from 1948 to 1994, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants were severely curtailed by Afrikaner ruling minority.

We spent the day on Wednesday visiting the prisons used during apartheid. Men and women were kept separately, and white women and men were imprisoned separately from all other races. Conditions in the prisons for blacks were inhumane; women were imprisoned with their children and often tortured and sexually assaulted.

The new Constitutional Court in Johannesburg is built on the grounds of the former prisons so people remember the evil and cruelty of the apartheid laws.

A Soweto community faucet.A Soweto community faucet
Thursday in Soweto

Soweto is famous for many reasons. Chief among them because it is the place that gave birth to many of the riots and demonstrations against apartheid. It is also the home of Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Nelson Mandela who, providentially, lived just down the block from each other.

Soweto is one of the many townships where Blacks were required to live during Apartheid. Much of the housing is still substandard without minimal essentials of electricity, water and utilities. In the 20 years since Apartheid ended, much has changed, but the problems of unemployment and lack of basic sanitary systems remain fierce.

1st in family to go to a university.First in family to go to a university
After visiting the home of Bishop Desmond Tutu and Former President Nelson Mandela, we attended a provocative discussion with young civil rights attorneys who are dedicating their careers to creating a more equitable living environment for people of color. One young Muslim woman among them became the first woman in her family to attend a university and receive a professional degree. She said, "I may have been the first, but I certainly won't be the last.”

This evening we flew to Cape Town. Tonight, we rest for a full day of work tomorrow.

The University of Texas at Brownsville
The University of Texas at Brownsville
Office of the President
BRHP, 2nd FLOOR • One West University BLVD • Brownsville Texas, 78520