Two and a half decades of opinion

The end of apartheid?

South Africa’s apartheid system was a structure of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination, involving the separation of individual’s housing areas, employment and the use of public facilities on the basis of race. From the 1940s, South Africa saw the classification of all into four societal groups: ‘White’, ‘Black’, ‘Coloured’, and ‘Indian’. Policy reformation and negotiations between 1990 and 1993 under the de Klerk government saw the end of the apartheid and although the liberation was to encourage an equal and peaceful livelihood and inter-racial interaction between all; it became clear that when I was to work there for a summer that the apartheid is more than a physical separation of individuals, able to be eradicated by a government decision.

I was based in a rural, coastal township in the Western Cape and I noticed a clear difference between the increasing unification in the city and of that in the countryside. People are still living in segregated areas, and when telling some White South African’s of my work in a ‘Black’ neighbourhood, they considered me ‘brave’ for working with ‘thugs’ and ‘murderers’. It was clear to me that although there had been improvements towards inclusiveness, prejudice attitudes were particularly prominent in rural areas. When hugging an eighteen year old girl and she began to cry, as it was the first time that she had been touched by a white person, I felt truly that I understood the apartheid was a mentality; an oppression engrained in many.

I celebrated National Women’s Day in South Africa and watched a small woman stand at the front of a church telling a room of people that although she could “walk along the street with the white man she could not walk alone”. It is evident that the apartheid takes many forms, all around the world. In the UK, the Crime Survey for England and Wales concluded that an estimated 1.8million adults aged 16-59 had reported to be a victim of sexual and domestic abuse in the last year (2016). It was apparent that women were more likely to have experienced domestic and sexual abuse than men. Clearly, despite the introduction of anti-discrimination laws prejudice behaviour still continues throughout the world. It is obvious to me that it is only with time, new generations and improved education that we will eventually eradicate the majority of hate towards minority groups. It is important to remember the South African apartheid for we must learn from the tension that humans have caused.

In a world of Trump, Rodney King, and an ANC Party so far from what Mandela stood for; the global population must unify itself, to fight against any remaining and/or increasing feelings of oppression and prejudiced behaviour. Molly April Welsh

A rising China

China, has been for many years a major economic contender, competitive with the likes of the United States and Germany. However, since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, China has become a powerhouse for fashion and international relations, overtaking the rest of the Asian tigers (India, Japan). However, as the Olympics cost a sum of over $42 billion, many business experts are wondering what this has meant over the last decade for them. Some argue that politics has slowed and moved from progression to preservation. Regarding their foreign relations, it is no secret that the USA are not on best of terms with the People’s Republic of China- due to questionable assumptions made by their newly inaugurated president, Trump. Since the Olympics however, their profile with institutions such as the G20 has increased. This has bettered their soft power and international relationships.

As China has risen so has their fashion. While competing homogenously with the globe, China n aow imports more complex fabrics and finished works to have a comparative advantage over LCDs. Because of this economic shift, there has been booms in trends such as fitness and sportswear, this is called the “athleisure” trend. This has taken China by storm, exemplified by Nike having, in 2016, a market share of 18%. China really has risen as a global competitor in the last decade, the growth seems to be exponential. However, it will be interesting to see if they plateau as society or surpass us all. Only time will tell. Orla Knox-Macaulay

Age of social media

The rise of the social media age has seen one of the largest cultural shifts of the past 25 years. Every moment is now shareable and instantly likeable. The possibilities in how you can share this content are endless – I can’t name a single platform that doesn’t have a ‘stories’ feature. However, with every denouncement of social media and all its evils there is a more promising upside. For every person that complains that society is overly obsessed with documenting everything through their phones, there is somebody using that facility to hold corporations accountable for their ill advised practices For every person screaming about online echo chambers there are groups taking action on issues that they care about. For every person gagging to share their feelings on “millennial narcissism” and “selfie culture” there is somebody living thousands of miles away from their family and friends that gets to share with them that they did something that interesting or exciting that day, via Facebook, in a matter of seconds. Personally I have a few small gripes with the way in which we utilise social media today. It’d be nice if Instagram addressed why exactly some women’s bodies breach their community guidelines. But other than that I owe my choice to incorporate politics into my degree to social media, as it was the discourse on Twitter during the 2015 General Election that engaged me to do a whole lot of further reading. However, the introduction of Snapchat’s ‘Spectacles’ feature alongside Theresa May’s ‘snoopers charter’ late last year indicate that new developments may affect the role of social media in con with surveillance technology. Shannon McDonagh

Following the 2007-8 financial crisis, young people have been facing the upward battle that is buying their first house. What once seemed achievable is now a distant dream for first-time buyers – commonly known as ‘Generation Rent. This is hardly surprising considering the average UK house price was £214,000 in June 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics, which is £24,000 more than before September 2007.

Generation sub-let

The issue facing young buyers today is that real wages have not kept up with the inflation of property prices. Trades Union Congress have reported that real wages have fallen 10.4pc in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Older generations did not have this extreme disparity between wages and house prices, making it easier to get a foot on the property ladder. In 1997, a house cost little more than double the annual salary, compared to 2015 when the average house price was five times the average annual income. No wonder young people are increasingly being driven to rent: buying a house is not affordable unless parents provide financial aid. Do we take the quick route to independence or wait years to save up for a deposit? It is depressing  that in 1991 more 25-to-34-year-olds owned a house than not. Less than 25 years later this has reversed, and the chances of buying a house seem slimmer than ever. Sophie Christian

Desensitised to terror?

1970. The PLO hijacked 4 planes. 1984. The IRA attempted to assassinate the British PM. 2001. Al-Qaeda hijacked a series of planes and destroyed The World Trade Centre.  The panic grew into an epidemic.

From Paris and Berlin to Karachi and Ankara, the world has entered a global age of terror, the epidemic continues to spread to a point where Wikipedia no longer record terrorist incidents by year, but by month. Yet as the frequency of these attacks grows, our concern fades. We didn’t experience the shock horror of September the 11th when 86 people were mowed down in Nice. We didn’t experience that state of constant threat that many Britons recall throughout the 1990’s when the Charlie Hebdo offices were put under siege, and the journalists murdered. We just sat and watched. Some of us were affected enough to go through the labour of changing our Facebook photo to have a French flag on it.

The last 25 years has created a generation who are almost desensitised to terror attacks and somehow what was once considered unthinkable has become part of everyday thought. With the rise of Islamic terrorism, it seems were heading down a one way street into a world consumed by terror, yet un-terrified by it. Jack Ashton



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January 2022
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