Week 4 Tuesday January 26, 2015
For the Week 4 readings the first article we focused on was Lynn Thomas’ “Skin Lighteners, Black Consumers, and Jewish Entrepreneurs in South Africa.” Thomas examined the increased influence of neoliberalism and the rapid economic expansion in South Africa and compared South African society during and after the Apartheid era. Thomas pivots on the role of capitalism has played in the economic development in South Africa and the expansion of consumerism. The main focus was on Solomon and Abraham Krok, two wealthy white brothers who helped finance the establishment of the Apartheid Museum that opened in 2005. As an outsider I must say I felt quite offended as the Krok used their resources and social ties to open an establishment that highlights and remembers the terror and discontentment of South Africa’s Apartheid representing a reminder of the nation’s dark periods. It was also upsetting to learn more of the Krok brothers and how they made massive profits during the Apartheid by exploiting Black South Africans. Today the Krok brothers identified the Black South Africans as equal consumers in society that is why they wanted to help sponsor the Museum. Unfortunately, many of these Black South Africans that were once exploited continue to live a life in poverty.
In the second article Catherine Dolan and Kate Roll begin to study the new Gugulethu Mall in Capetown and how it is helping to bring neoliberalism to South Africa and a rapid boom to the development to their economy. The problem that I identified with the new constructed Mall was that it represents ‘Westernization’ to many of the locals. The Gugulethu Mall is a stapled landmark that is suppose to represent the pride of Africa mixed with its rich revolutionary history. However, local communities feel it is a maverick to the social environment since the ending of Apartheid. Even today this Mall still unofficially represents the symbolizing differences and the wide gap between the rich whites and the poor blacks of South Africa infused by Capitalism. On the other hand there is no doubt, the Mall is strengthening the Gugulethu community and I think it is great that South Africa is moving towards a neoliberal economy that can help them compete in global markets with very little interference from the West. Unfortunately many South Africans do not feel the same way as the Mall in Gugulethu is a dark reminder or a red flag that will hinder their way of life or culture from Western invasion. So that brings me to ask, how can neoliberalism and South African culture co-exist to help maintain the authenticity of their culture while boosting their economic and global status?