South Africa 20.12.2015 10:37 am

Racial identity still matters in SA – Survey

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg in 2009. Photo: Gallo Images/Foto24

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg in 2009. Photo: Gallo Images/Foto24

South Africans still have a way to go to make it as a rainbow nation.

Twenty one years since the end of apartheid, South Africa still has some work to do in closing the gap between races, the Zululand Observer reported.

The 2015 SA Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) surveyed 2 219 adult South Africans on how race, class and income inequalities affect social relations, and found racial identity still matters in the country.

Interestingly, the report emphasized the more South Africans earned, the more likely they were to interact with people from various racial groups.

The survey asked respondents to identify the primary and secondary social groupings with which they identify in their daily interactions.

Over 55% have responded that they primarily associate with people that look and speak like them, which does not offer the possibility of inclusion for outsiders.

‘Barriers to greater interaction still include the continuing apartheid spatial infrastructure, including residential and town planning, transport services and public amenities,’ said the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR).’

According to the survey, more than half of South Africans have very little private interracial interaction.

‘There is very limited racial interaction at social, communal and religious gatherings, and also within homes.

But IJR believes although people primarily associate with their own race and language groups, it does not mean that the achievement of an inclusive identity is not important to South Africans.

‘A total of 75.5% of respondents noted that they regard being South African as a very important part of their identity.

‘This positive response cuts across the different racial categories, with 73.4% of black respondents, 81.8% of white respondents, 79.2% of Indian respondents and 84.9% of coloured respondents agreeing with this statement.’


A total of 61.4% of respondents said that reconciliation in the country is impossible if those who were disadvantaged under apartheid remain poor- although almost a third of white people (31.2%) disagreed with this view, compared with 11.3% of black people, 8.4% of Indians and 20.3% of coloured South Africans.

Black South Africans had the highest levels of distrust (68.9%) and were also most likely to agree that they experienced racism most of the time, particularly those aged between 35 to 44.

‘The barometer’s findings showed 67.3% did not trust, or had very little trust in, their fellow South Africans – although that did not mean they did not aspire to increased interactions.

‘58.5% said they aspired to more interaction at social gatherings,’ IJR said.

Broken down into provinces, the belief that race relations have stayed the same or worsened since 1994 was most prevalent in the Eastern Cape (78.3%), followed by the Free State and Northern Cape (66.8%), and the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal (65.6%).

-Caxton News Services

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