Week 2 Discussion Questions

Who is authorized to tell stories and make meaning about the past?

How important are economic factors in the major turning points of SA history?

What are the limits of legitimate opposition to a government?

What is the difference between opposition and rebellion/revolution?

What are the challenges of achieving revolutionary change by democratic means?

What roles did music play in the anti-Apartheid struggle?

Exile was an alternative to prison for some freedom fighters, but it was not without costs. What does the film Amandla! tell you about how exile was experienced by specific individuals?

Is describing the anti-Apartheid struggle as a civil war too strong a statement?

2 thoughts on “Week 2 Discussion Questions

  1. People who have experienced certain events are of course able to legitimately discuss history, but people who have carefully interviewed about or researched a person’s life or a certain event from a broad range of resources may also be a person who can credibly discuss history.

    Economic factors play a large part in South Africa’s history as Black Africans were the ideal sources of inexpensive labor to work for the benefit of the white capitalist class. As Black Africans were subjected to harsh living conditions, taxes imposed, and unemployment, their only available options were slim. In order for those individuals to make money at all, they had to go to labor in mines or in the cities, even though they could not live there, making transportation expensive as well.

    The difference between rebellion and opposition would be that opposition can exist in one’s heart without necessary action. Rebellion/Revolution is the act of opposition in which that individual puts their feelings of opposition into protests, revolutionary song, strike or other act of protest.

    Achieving revolution democratically is ultimately the morally best way to do so, although it takes much time, and also often takes many innocent lives. Achieving revolution through democratic means involves much suffering and the people involved have most likely hit “rock bottom.”

    Music was a great organizer in the anti-apartheid movement. Musical acts of protest, such as the toyi toyi, were tools that were useful to show the passion, endurance, strength and motivation of the African people, not only to participants in the protest, but also to those white people observing.

  2. I believe that anyone who has had the opportunity to experience or witness a historical experience automatically qualifies that individual to tell their story and make meaning of it.
    Economic factors were extremely important to the major turning points of South African History as the level of one’s economic status were clear indications of their mode to survival. It would determine how and where they lived, their ability to provide food for their families and the quality of life and education they would be able to provide for their children.
    The limits of legitimate opposition to a government was life imprisonment or death and these limitations were strongly enforced with Blacks.
    Opposition sometimes tend to be a little more passive in their response, such as peaceful protests or letters of petition and unlimited council meetings. Whereas a rebellion/revolution usually involves a more forceful approach with the use of violence.
    The challenges of achieving revolutionary change by democratic means are that they may take longer to achieve their goal and the price is usually a costly one.
    Music was the stress reliever to all that were a part of the struggle and it was a unification tool. When they sang and danced together it created a sense of togetherness while allowing them to forget the worries of the day.
    Exile was another way to torture Blacks as they were often beaten and isolated to the point of breaking. It was a cruel way to punish activitists for attempting to stand for their rights.
    Describing the anti-apartheid struggle as a civil war is not too strong of a statement because that is exactly what it was. A movement for change that needed to be addressed a little more forcefully and that was the result.

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