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That is an attitude that elicits no sympathy among blacks, Indians and coloreds, who are frustrated at the continuing inequities. Reverend Manning relates how a black participant at a workshop run by his organization turned to her white colleagues and asked: "'Please help us with these fears of yours, because we don't understand them. When Mandela got out of prison you thought he was going to kill you all. When he did not, you thought a black government would create chaos. When everything was fine, you thought that when Mandela retired the end would come. We don't understand why you can't see that things are working in this country.'"
South Africa's opposition and some civil-society leaders say that President Thabo Mbeki reinforces a sense of division because he cries racism whenever his government's policies are questioned. "Debates that should be out in the public now take place behind closed doors in boardrooms or in shebeens [bars]," says Frans Cronje, a researcher with the South African Institute of Race Relations. [an error occurred while processing this directive] "Mbeki's recent outbursts on race are damaging because they force honest, open racial debate underground." In the past year, Mbeki has raised racism as an issue after everyone from a campaigning white journalist to Archbishop Desmond Tutu criticized his government's policies. "To achieve nonracism and national reconciliation a mere 10 years after the end of three-and-a-half centuries of racism, racial conflict and racial domination require an extraordinary visionary imagination from all our people, black and white, united in their diversity," Mbeki told Parliament in February.
Allegations of racism can actually deepen divisions, says Norman Arendse, chairman of the General Council of the Bar of South Africa. Arendse says it would be naive to think that racial divisions have disappeared 10 years after the end of apartheid, but believes that the recent race row in the Cape High Court has hurt progress toward a nonracial bar. "It's a very awkward situation, and I really feel that some of the white judges some of whom I know and respect, and who have certainly indicated to me that they are wholly supportive of [racial] transformation I think they feel terribly undermined because they've now been tarred with this brush," says Arendse. "For a climate of suspicion and fear to exist within the judiciary, I think that in itself threatens democracy. At the end of the day, it's the judges who apply the constitution, who take the oath that they will dispense justice without fear or favor. If they live in a climate of fear of being labeled racist, how can they do their jobs properly?"
There are signs that point to a less fractious future. As the black middle class grows, work colleagues from different racial groups are finding they have more in common than they previously thought. Companies are beginning to offer cultural awareness workshops and use weekend conferences to encourage bonding between staff members. Even the affirmative-action policies that exclude white applicants from some jobs, while resented by some whites, are forcing them to be more entrepreneurial which, in turn, makes them engage more with the world beyond their high fences.
White children are already finding themselves in contact with their peers from other communities, as South Africa's former all-white schools integrate more quickly than most other institutions. Things don't always go smoothly, though. Some white parents are unhappy with the change, pulling their kids out of mixed schools and placing them in whiter classrooms. A school yard fight between two Cape Town girls at Edgemead High School in 2003 erupted into a race row between opposing parents after Nosipho Mkhize, 16, a black student at the mainly white school, accused a white classmate, her 20-year-old boyfriend and the girl's mother of pulling her hair, kicking her, holding her down, defecating on her and telling her, "You black people must go back to your township school." Though Edgemead's principal, Malcolm Venter, insists that the fight was not racial to begin with, the alleged attackers later apologized to Mkhize and her family, agreed to undergo a court-ordered racial sensitization course, and donated $1,600 to a local charity.
But in most schools, race is much less important than it was even five years ago. "Obviously, they're aware of apartheid, but it's part of the history books now," says Shane Norris, project manager for the Birth to 20 project, which tracks the lives of 3,000 children from Johannesburg and Soweto who were born just after Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990. "They define their environment and identity less along racial lines."
Black comedian David Kau says his audiences are more mixed than ever, though the same jokes don't yet work with both blacks and whites. "Black crowds often love jokes about [white opposition leader] Tony Leon and his constant criticism of the President and the A.N.C.," says Kau. "But whites tend to be touchier about this. You're just making a joke, but one person can walk away from it thinking, 'That guy's racist,' and someone else can walk away thinking, 'He's funny!'"
If the punch lines don't do it, perhaps the punches will. Krish Naidoo, the general manager of Boxing South Africa and a proponent of nonracial sports for more than two decades, believes in the power of sport to unite South Africans. Universal euphoria greeted the announcement last year that South Africa had won the right to host the 2010 soccer World Cup. Yet tensions off the pitch have spilled onto it in the past couple of years, with both the national rugby and cricket teams racked by allegations of racial splits, including accusations all denied that a white rugby player refused to share a room with a black teammate and that a trio of senior cricketers shut out black players. "I think it has to do with the old notion of power," says Naidoo. "The establishment is often threatened by the move to a truly nonracial playing field. Fundamental transformation still hasn't happened yet." Until it does, South Africans will struggle to play as a team.