South Africa — Diverse People Unite

South Africa, rich in culture and the arts, presents a case study for independence, democracy and economic sanctions. Activities and articles help students to understand apartheid, its dismantling and the leadership of Nelson Mandela. 
Download Classroom Worksheets (PDF) 

Ike e: /xarra //ke, in the Khoisan language, is the motto of South Africa. "Diverse People Unite" conveys the intent and goal of the Republic of South Africa since 1994. As Nelson Mandela has passed away at 95, we focus on South Africa’s future as well as its past.


An ancient place of settlement with traditions in art and music, its land and resources were sought and fought over by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Years of fighting between the British and Boers in the late 1800s, resulted in 1909 with establishing the Union of South Africa, with British control and Afrikaner home rule. The Natives’ Land Act of 1913 further subjugated the majority black population, legislating segregation and legalizing apartheid.


Young and educated South Africans sought political inclusion and enfranchisement, social equality and economic opportunity. Students are asked to research these individuals, their approaches and interaction. South Africa is also a case study of the effectiveness of international economic sanctions.


Vocabulary development ranges from political and economic terms to eulogies and tributes. Younger students are introduced to South Africa through its motto, flag and a KidsPost article about Nelson Mandela. Freedom fighter, political leader, and moral force, Madiba is remembered and studied by older students as a model of democratic leadership. His life is seen in articles, photographs, editorials and editorial cartoons. Students are given the tools to monitor contemporary South Africa and other African nations.


January 2014

Arts in South African Culture
Resource Graphic 

Map It
Geography, Mathematics, World History
Whether students are Portuguese explorers seeking a route to India or modern-day tourists, they need to locate South Africa's place in the world. Give students "Map It — South Africa." The activity includes maps of Africa and South Africa, including Robben Island and the Eastern Cape.

Develop Vocabulary
English, World History
Several approaches — acquainting students with new vocabulary, studying etymology and identifying new terms in context — are included in this guide. Many of the vocabulary words in In the Know are used by Sudarsan Raghavan and Lynne Duke in an appreciation piece, "The Prisoner Who Became President." A sidebar listing 20 terms used in "South Africa's Quiet Revolution" is included with the questions for discussion handout, "Slowly but Surely, Black Resolve — and Economic Sanctions — Are Destroying Apartheid." Discuss the vocabulary with students before reading the works. As they read each article, students might be asked to list additional terms with which they are unfamiliar.

Word Study focuses on "eulogy," "tribute" and "paean." Additional synonyms are included in order to distinguish usage of these terms. 

Read KidsPost
Character Education, English, Reading, Social Studies
"South African leader Mandela remembered" was published on the day of the state memorial service for Nelson Mandela. Teachers might note that details of the service can be reported in the past tense because of time zone differences and communication technology. Discuss with students the "lessons of Mandela," the Nobel Peace Prize and the meaning of the following concepts:
• Apartheid and post-apartheid
• Justice
• Peace
• Forgiveness 

Color the Flag
Art, Geography, Mathematics, Social Studies 
The modern flag of South Africa was adopted on general election day and first flown on the day that Nelson Mandela was inaugurated president. Discuss with students why these are both historic days for South Africa. As students look at the design of the flag, teachers may introduce the motto of the new Republic of South Africa — Ike e: /xarra //ke which may be translated "Diverse People Unite."

Six colors are used in the flag's design. They are chilli red, national flag white, national flag blue, black, spectrum green and gold yellow. As students color the flag found in "The Flag of the Republic of South Africa," be sure they color the upper band red. If the red band is at the bottom, they are flying the flag upside down! Other items that may be discussed include:
• Three of the flag's colors — black, green and yellow — are found in the banner of the African National Congress. The other three are found in the old Transvaal vierkleur, the Dutch tricolor and the modern United Kingdom flag. In what ways do these relate to the history of South Africa and the motto of the new republic?
• The triangle to the left is an isosceles triangle. What does this mean?
• The stripes at the fly end (right) are in the ratio of 5:1:3:1:5. What does this mean? If the flag is 20 inches high, how wide is each stripe?
• The proportion of the flag is 2:3. If the flag is four feet long, how wide is it? 


Meet Nelson Mandela
Resource Graphic 

Remember Nelson Mandela
English, Government, Journalism, Media Literacy, Social Studies, World History
After announcing Nelson Mandela's passing at 95, the international media covered the formal and informal remembrances — in news articles, features, editorials, editorial cartoons, letters to the editor and guest commentary, and photographs — in print, broadcast and online. 

Read and discuss The Washington Post coverage. Compare and contrast the different genre. How does coverage vary when reporters are in South Africa? Who is interviewed and what facts are included? What do photographs add to the coverage?
• "A Nation's healer is dead"
• "An unfulfilled legacy"
• "Nelson Mandela"
• "The prisoner who became president"
• "'In his death, Nelson Mandela has brought us together again'" 
• "Mandela's most potent weapon
• "For Mandela, a final moment of unity

Read Tom Toles
Art, Social Studies, Visual Literacy
Tom Toles, The Washington Post's editorial cartoonist, pays tribute to Nelson Mandela in his December 2013 cartoon. This is a much simpler approach than Toles usually uses. Give students "Tom Toles | December 10, 2013." Six questions will assist teachers in their discussion of this tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Meet Mandela and Explore South Africa in Editorial Cartoons
Art, Character Education, Social Studies, Visual Literacy, World History
South African politics and culture are found in the works of two South African editorial cartoonists. Len Sak, born in Port Elizabeth in 1931, decided at the age of 10 to become a professional cartoonist. In 1951, he got his first job drawing cartoons for the Bantu World. At this time, South African comic features were rare. In 1959 he created Jojo, a character who presents life in townships in a humorous and satirical manner; he has continued monthly, weekly and daily appearances for more than 50 years.

Introduce students to Len Sak and his work. Discuss the events, people and issues that he comments on in his cartoons. Students could be asked to select one of his cartoons to discuss a time in South African history, the figures represented and Sak's commentary.


Jonathan Shapiro, aka Zapiro, is another significant South African cartoonist. In 2007 he received the Courage in Cartooning Award from the Cartoonists’ Rights Network International.  For a series of cartoons highlighting then Vice President Jacob Zuma's colorful career, Zapiro was sued by Zuma for R7 million; Zapiro and his family were threatened by unknown individuals. Introduce students to Zapiro's print cartoons that include commentary about Nelson Mandela, events in South Africa and actions taking place by other leaders. In more recent years, Shapiro has collaborated in producing Puppet Nation, a live puppet comedy show that presents, satirizes and draws attention to contemporary events, issues and individuals. Shapiro has also used his talents to produce educational comics, including Roxy (AIDS), Tomorrow People (democracy) and A Trolley Full of Rights (child abuse).

Students could be asked to read the World News section of The Washington Post or do a search in the e-Replica edition to learn more about the events, issues and individuals appearing in Puppet Nation episodes.

Additional Sub-Saharan Africa cartoonists are profiled on the Cartoonists Rights Network International website.


Study Eulogies
English, Reading 
"Word Study: Eulogies, Tributes and Paeans" is another in the series of etymology studies of words associated with a curriculum guide's theme. Usage of synonyms "tribute," " eulogy" and "paean," words used to express respect and to give honor, is reviewed. The activity that follows this introduction literally links to tributes for Nelson Mandela from world leaders, artists, writers and others. Students could be asked to compare and contrast the tributes, to summarize the kinds of information that is given, and to write a short essay about Nelson Mandela based upon the tributes. How do the poems compare to the prose? Observations about the eulogy might include:
• Tone of the work. Is it somber, serious, lighthearted? Include humorous examples? Vary in tone?
• Who is the audience for the eulogy? Does the speaker address the Mandela family, South Africans, rugby fans, international leaders, or citizens of the world?
• What specific example stands out as capturing the person who is being eulogized?
• Is the eulogy organized? Explain.
• In a paragraph, summarize the main idea that the speaker conveys about the deceased. 


Experience South African Culture
Art, Mathematics, Visual Literacy, World History 
South African Art Palette and Patterns” introduces students to elements found in traditional South African art. Discuss the palette and patterns. Visit the websites listed in the sidebar for examples in which students can identify the geometric and other shapes as well as flora. Note the variety of medium used: beads, feathers, clay, glass, oil paint, and recycled material from cans and containers.

Students could create paintings on paper and canvas, fabric for ties and scarves, and jewelry. Use “From Cave Art to Contemporary Crafts” for patterns and models. “Madiba Shirt” provides additional inspiration and a grid to plan more elaborate patterns.

Another possibility would be to use the South African design elements and palette to design a tennis shoe. Vans is co-sponsoring an art and design contest using blank Vans shoes as a canvas. The winning high school will receive a $50,000 donation for their art program and the shoe design will be produced for sale in select Vans retail stores. Additional prizes will be awarded. High schools that want to compete must register by February 14. Download templates to use, whether you enter or not. 

Read About South Africa

Introduce Modern South Africans
Character Education, Social Studies, World History
To understand modern South Africa, one needs to know the social, political and economic situation from the 1940s, the movements and different points of view. Students might be asked to research these individuals, their affiliations and the role they played in creating South Africa of the 21st century. Links provide beginning points of study. These links introduce students to the variety of reliable sources for information.

Alone, in pairs or small groups, students should introduce the person they studied to the class. Select important moments in the person's life, influence and contribution to today's South Africa. If "they" knew other individuals in this group, students could decide how to present their person through skits, conversations or other means. 
Steve Biko                  
P.W. Botha    
F.W. de Klerk            
Graca Simbine Machel           
Nelson Mandela              
Winnie Madikizela Mandela             
Thabo Mbeki              
Nthato Harrison Motlana                   
Walter Sisulu             
Oliver Tambo             
Archbishop Desmond Tutu                
Jacob Zuma                 

These organizations may also be part of the research to understand this period in South African history:
African National Congress (ANC)                 
National Party                        
Organisation of African Unity (OAU)            


Study the Impact of Sanctions
Economics, Government, Social Studies, World History 
Discuss with students physical, social, economic and legalized apartheid in South Africa. Government teachers might also use this as an opportunity to discuss the United States' foreign policy toward South Africa during the Reagan administration and the reasons for changes in foreign policy.


This background is essential before South Africa is presented as a case study of the effectiveness of  international sanctions. Teachers may go back as far as Portuguese exploration, British and Dutch settlements, and the Boer Wars. Teachers may chose instead to cover 100 years of inequality from 1900 with the impact of colonialism on the Afrikaans and British and indigenous groups to Afrikaaner National Party action in 1948 to hold apart different races to the end of apartheid in 1994.


Sanctions and divestment were two economic penalties that were used by the international community to influence change in South Africa. "South Africa's Quiet Revolution," a Washington Post Outlook article published January 14, 1990, provides perspective by which to examine the impact of sanctions on a country's policies. 

Questions to initiate discussion of the Outlook piece are found in "Outlook: Slowly but Surely, Black Resolve — and Economic Sanctions — Destroying Apartheid." 

To update the use of sanctions by the United States, use the student activity "Sanctions Require Attention to the List."


Conduct an e-Replica Search
Government, Journalism, Social Studies, World History 

Begin by asking students to conduct an e-Replica search by selecting a country in Africa. What events have/are taking place in this African country? After students have the current events information, ask them to locate more information in three sources. These would include:
• Set up an e-Replica Alert to monitor current happenings in their selected African country. What do these events reveal of today’s economic, political, social and cultural environment?
• Read the World View pages in the A section for two weeks. Is the chosen country in the news? Include reading articles that cover the continent as well as the selected country. For example, Michael Birnbaum's December 6, 2013, "World court accused of bias against Africans."
• Visit The Post’s Foreign Affairs Blogger. For example, Max Fisher, The Post’s foreign affairs blogger, wrote about Africa’s newest country South Sudan. Read “9 questions about South Sudan you were too embarrassed to ask.”


Resource Graphic 
In The Know 
Afrikaner Person born, raised or living in South Africa, speaking Afrikaans and of European ancestry, especially one descended from 17th-century Dutch settlers; originally called Boers (“farmers”)
Amnesty Act of an authority (as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals; adopted by the Afrikaner National Party as a slogan in the 1948 election

A policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race (1940s: Afrikaans, “separateness,” from Dutch apart meaning separate + heid (equivalent of –hood)

Colonialism Control of one country over another area or its people
Divestment In finance, sale of something valuable such as property or stocks
Multiracial Composed of or relating to people of several or many races
Reconciliation The act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement
Sanction A threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule; an action taken or order given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, not allowing economic aid for that country
Undereducated Poor or insufficiently educated

Map It — South Africa.

1. See “South Africa Map, Labeled”

2. Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland

3. Lesotho or Kingdom of Lesotho   

4. Cape Town, b; Durban, d; Johannesburg, a; Pretoria, c.

5. Soweto is in Johannesburg in Gauteng, South Africa, where Mandela studied law and worked   

6. See “South Africa Map, Labeled”

7. 325.6 miles  (1 mile = 0.62137 km)

8. Northeast

9. Robben Island is off the coast of Cape Town; see “South Africa Map, Labeled”

10. Answers will vary.


Outlook | Slowly but Surely, Black Resolve — and Economic Sanctions — Are Destroying Apartheid.

1. Review definitions with students. Teachers might have students underline the words in context.

2. Answers will vary. Include the turmoil that resulted from apartheid policies, disenfranchisement and ANC activity.

3. A recent bankers’ study showed that sanctions cost South Africa $32 billion to $40 billion between 1985 and 1989, including $11 billion in net capital outflows and $4 billion in lost export earnings. These losses are reflected in higher unemployment, inflation and interest rates.

4. He has lifted prohibitions against dissent, freed political prisoners, effectively legalized banned organizations like the ANC, desegregated beaches and a few housing areas and promised a repeal of laws that segregate public facilities.

     He has also promised to engage even the most militant black leaders — if they eschew violence as a strategy for change — in open-ended negotiations for a new and democratic constitution for South Africa in which blacks, for the first time, would have a vote in governing the affairs of the country of which they are a majority.

5. Answers will vary.

6. Answers will vary. Be sure students support their responses with concrete examples.

7. Answers will vary. Be sure students give dates, summarize the event and state the significance of the five events they have selected.


Sanctions Require Attention to the List.

Problem 1 1. Answers will vary; 2. Answers will vary.

Problem 2  3. Be sure the news brief contains the 5 Ws and H of the story.

Problem 3  4. Be sure students have been brief and the content includes the 5 Ws and H of the story; 5. Be sure all information is included.

Problem 4  6 A. Fines can be substantial: up to $20 million and imprisonment of up to 30 years; B. Among the reasons: the individual or country to which you are mailing is on the SDN list, the shipping company is unlicensed; C. The Control List was developed by the law enforcement community in response to the events of September 11. It is separate from the OFAC's SDN list; D. Yes; E. No. You cannot do something indirectly that you would not be able to do directly. Therefore, these sites can be used to facilitate authorized transactions, but you cannot use them to perform a transaction which would be in violation of U.S. law.

Problem 5  7. Answers will vary. Be sure students indicate the source of their response.

District of Columbia Public Schools Academic Content Standards 

Government, Era VII: The Cold War to the Present. Students analyze major developments in Africa since World War II. (Grade 10, 10.11)

3. Explain the Pan-Africanism movement, the formation of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union), and various independence movements …

5. Explain the fight against and dismantling of the apartheid systems in South Africa and evolution from white minority government, including the role of Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress, and the role of African Americans, such as Randall Robinson, and the TransAfrica in ending apartheid. (P,S)

7. Outline important trends in the region today with respect to individual freedom and democracy. (P, S.)


Learning Standards for DCPS are found online at

Maryland Academic Content Standards 

Political Science. Students will understand the historical development and current status of the fundamental concepts and processes of authority, power, and influence, with particular emphasis on the democratic skills and attitudes necessary to become responsible citizens. (Standard 1)

1. The student will explain roles and analyze strategies individuals or groups may use to initiate change in governmental policy and institutions (1.1.4)

k. Analyze various methods that individuals or groups may use to influence laws and government policies including petitioning, letter writing and acts of civil disobedience


Government, Peoples of the National and World. Students will understand the diversity and commonality, human interdependence, and global cooperation of the people of Maryland, the United States and the World through both a multicultural and historic perspective. (Standard 2)

B. Cultural Diffusion: Foreign Policy. The student will analyze economic, political, social issues and their effect on foreign policies of the United States (2.1.1)

• Policies of the United States government that promote or fail to promote relationships with other countries include: national defense (military), arms control, and security of other nations, trade, human rights, economic sanctions, and foreign aid.

g. Analyze the effect of trade and trade policy including: free trade agreements, embargoes, tariffs, and economic sanctions on relationships with other countries


The Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum Content Standards can be found online at


Virginia Academic Content Standards 

Civics and Economics. The student will demonstrate knowledge of how public policy is made at the local, state, and national levels of government by

a) examining the impact of the media on public opinion and public policy;

b) describing how individuals and interest groups influence public policy;

c) describing the impact of international issues and events on local decision making. (CE.9)

Government. The student will demonstrate knowledge of political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of independence movements and development efforts by

a) describing the struggles for self-rule, including Gandhi’s leadership in India and the development of India’s democracy;

b) describing Africa’s achievement of independence, including Jomo Kenyatta’s leadership of Kenya and Nelson Mandela’s role in South Africa; (WHII.14)


Government. The student will demonstrate knowledge of cultural, economic, and social conditions in developed and developing nations of the contemporary world by

a) identifying contemporary political issues, with emphasis on migrations of refugees and others, ethnic/religious conflicts, and the impact of technology, including chemical and biological technologies;

b) assessing the impact of economic development and global population growth on the environment and society, including an understanding of the links between economic and political freedom; (WHII.16)



Standards of Learning currently in effect for Virginia Public Schools can be found online at

Common Core Standards 

Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science & Technical Subjects. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole. (Key Ideas and Details, CCSS-ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.1)


Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science & Technical Subjects. Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources. (Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, CSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9)


Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science & Technical Subjects. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text. (Craft and Structure, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.4)


Common Core standards are found online at