The post-Rainbow Nation society

2012-04-21 09:13

Eighteen years already since freedom came. Can you believe it?

In two years, South ­Africa will reach her milestone as a 20-year-old democracy.

And we are in relatively good fettle. Of course, there is still too much poverty and too few jobs. No child should learn under the conditions we still subject too many children to.

This week, we hang our collective head in shame after a young and bewildered young ­woman was repeatedly raped.

But this week, we also take you into the surprising new society that has taken shape while we still talk about nation building and obsess about what keeps us apart.

The research, by our partners the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI), reveals that in Johannesburg’s West Rand, blacks, whites and all the shades in between have created a sprawling new community of interest.

PARI’s research reveals the glue that binds these communities.

It is not language, or an ­anthem or any of the supposed measures of ­nationhood. Instead, it is the church, home ­improvements and shared aspirations for children, like good schools.

It’s not a Rainbow Nation – people don’t mix in anything but pragmatic ways; most buy out of the state system (because public health and education are so poor) and live in ­gated communities.

But our special report on the new society shows that while we squabble and ­obsess about the nature of our freedom, in many communities people simply aspire and get along. 

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