Letter: Apartheid by another name

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The Independent Online
Sir: In his letter ('Sanctions end, but South Africa's problems linger on', 30 September), H. P. Hall fails to note that South Africa has a colonial history like no other. Its various population groups have been continually uprooted, mixed and relocated - by Mfecane wars and Great Treks; labour migrations during an industrial revolution unique in Africa; racist land reforms; and, ironically, by forced evictions and migrations, executed under the regime of apartheid, that were supposed to separate them all again.

Assuming, as I think we can, that the current 'homeland' system provides an untenable starting point, Mr Hall's hope of peacefully partitioning these patently indistinct 'tribal' groups seems wildly optimistic. This is surely a recipe for bloody ethnic conflicts in a whole batch of new states instead of just one. And in a country in which no constituency has a majority of whites, the creation of a democratically governed white state would require the kind of comprehensive relocation of blacks that even apartheid never achieved.

It is a reassuring consistency in this country's turbulent history that the ANC - South Africa's oldest and still its most popular political movement - has always been a non-racial, multi-ethnic organisation. These principles must surely remain the key to minimising bloodshed in the New South Africa.

Yours faithfully,

CHRIS ATKINSON

High Wycombe,

Buckinghamshire

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