Monday, October 25, 2010

Apartheid and a bottle of beer

At the end of a hot, sweaty day or chore, often times nothing is more relaxing than an easy chair and an ice cold beer. The chair relaxes the muscles, soothes the aches, and the beer adds more than a little spice to the end of the day. It is a ritual that has been enjoyed all over the world, unless you happened to have lived in South Africa during the apartheid era. Whites, shown entering Duma Falling Leaves tavern, were not permitted to enter a tavern or drink with blacks during the apartheid regime.

Apartheid was the method used by the white minority in South Africa to deny black and mixed raced South Africans their rights. It started off placing the the black African majority, which was 80% of the population, on 7.3% of the land. It later delineated three racial classifications, white, colored, and African, and required passbook identification to move about in the country. The white majority then decided the black areas were not part of South Africa and required passports for blacks to even enter South Africa.

Like American segregation, apartheid allowed no intermingling of racial groups. Inter racial marriages were outlawed. Blacks could only take the most menial and dangerous of jobs while being denied education and other political rights.

Perhaps one of the more ludicrous of the apartheid laws were those affecting the drinking of beer. Castle beer was enjoyed by many South Africans but under the apartheid laws, blacks could not buy nor drink Castle. In other words, not only can you not go into an establishment with whites, nor sit down with whites, you cannot even drink what whites drink.

This of course led to blacks drinking Castle beer by devious methods. One of these was to place black out curtains on the windows of the home, and under low light drink the forbidden beverage in spite of the laws.

A world wide boycott of South Africa hastened the collapse of apartheid and with it, the law forbidding the consumption of Castle beer by non-whites.