If racism is an endemic disease in the United States, in South Africa it has become a way of life. Of all contemporary multiracial societies, South Africa is the most complexly and rigidly stratified on the basis of race, the one in which race has greatest salience vis à vis other structural principles, and the one which is most ridden with conflict and internal contradictions [ 1].
The "white problem" of South Africa began in 1652 with the establishment by the Dutch East India Company of a refreshing station for its Asia-bound vessels at the Cape of Good Hope. The local population of what is now the western part of the Cape Province consisted of sparsely settled Hottentot pastoralists and Bushmen hunters and gatherers. At first race was not the basis for status differentiation between Europeans and indigenous people. Religion was the important criterion and baptism conferred legal and, to a considerable extent, social equality with the Dutch settlers. During the first years of Dutch settlement there were a few instances of Christian marriage between Dutchmen and Hottentot women.
Within a generation, however, color or race had supplanted religion as a criterion of membership in the dominant group, and by the end of the seventeenth century a rigid system of racial stratification existed at the Cape. In 1658 the first shipload of
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Publication information: Book title: Race and Racism:A Comparative Perspective. Contributors: Pierre L. Van Den Berghe - Author. Publisher: John Wiley & Sons. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1967. Page number: 96.
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