FAIRE SOCIETE: Unité et pluralité/ South Africa, a divided nation

Document 1: Discovering South Africa

Read the 2 pages above and fill in the blanks in the following summary

South Africa is home to a great diversity of cultures, which accounts for its being called the rainbow nation. The new South African Constitution – adopted in 1996- states that everyone has the right to use one of the 11 languages recognised as official. There are 58 million people in South Africa – mostly clustered in a few main cities such as Cape Town, South Africa’s legislative capital and Pretoria which hosts the executive bodies.. But beyond the metropolitan areas, there are great stretches of land that are almost empty and uninhabitable. Regarding the ethnic composition of the population : 76.5% are black, 9% are white, 9% are coloured and 2.5% are Asian . (2011 census)

South Africa has a long coastline of about 30,000 km and is surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian oceans. With a surface of 1,219,090 km², South Africa is larger than Texas and California. South African ranks amongst the world’s major producers of platinum, gold and diamonds. It was in 1994 that South Africa eventually got rid of apartheid and attempted reconciliation with its former oppressors.

Document 2: A 4-mn presentation of the history of South Africa 

Watch the video and answer the questions

South Africa , a country coveted by (= convoité par) colonial power for more than 5 centuries

Date of the first human settlement in South Africa : 100,000 years ago

Name and date of the first European exploring South Africa :

the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488

Reason of the voyage : looking for a trade road to the far east.

Who established a permanent settlement ? the Dutch

What did they start to do in the second part of the 17th C ? import slaves

1795 : the British seized the Cape to prevent it from falling into French hands.

1803 : the Cape was back to the Dutch

1805 : the British took the Cape again

1820 : 5,000 British settled in Grahamson and Port Elizabeth

19th C. major discovery : gold

What impact did it have : new conflicts between the Dutch (the Afrikaaners) and the British empire

1910 : after several wars, the Union of South Africa was created as a dominion of the British empire

Position of South African during WW1 et WW2 : they were on the British side and sent around 550,000 men

1960 : a referendum put an end to the dominion and the country became the sovereign Republic of South Africa

1948 – 1994 : Afrikaaners dominated the country’s politics with racial problems : apartheid period

1994 : stability started : racial laws were dissolved + vote

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) : he fought for the rights of people and became the first head of state and the first elected in a fully democratic election. He was a revolutionary political leader who fought for the rights of people like MLK in the States

Today : the country is in a developping process with more than 55 million people (almost 58 million in 2020) and different ethnicities.


1) Cela fait 130 ans que la famille von Maltitz exploite Saxon Park.

The von Maltitz family has farmed Saxon Park for 300 years.

2) Au fil des années, Lila a compris qu’elle ne pouvait pas s’en sortir sans l’aide des familles noires.

As time went by, Lily understood that she couldn’t cope / get by – through without the black families

3) Le nouveau gouvernement fait de son mieux pour corriger les erreurs du passé en soutenant les fermiers noirs qui veulent récupérer leurs terres.

The new government is / are doing its / their best to redress / right the wrongs of the past by supporting the black farmers who want to get back – reclaim – retrieve their land.

4) A moins qu’ils ne partagent leurs terres et leurs richesses, les propriétaires terriens blancs n’ont aucun avenir dans l’agriculture sud africaine.

Unless they share their land and their wealth, white landowners have no future in South Africa’s farming.

Document 3: Extract from The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 – Preamble

We, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past; honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to ­heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights; lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law; improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

May God protect our people. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso. God seën Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa. Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika.

This text is a huge step forward for the country.

Analysis of the preamble

The Preamble briefly sums up the Constitution and gives its objectives : forgetting the past dissentions between races, setting up a united society relying on democratic values, social justice, respecting all citizens’ fundamental rights and improving their quality of life.

Key expressions :

‘’South Africa belongs to all who live in it’’ :Black and white South Africans are now considered on an equal footing.(= sur un pied d’égalité)

‘’Our freely elected representatives’’ : The 1994 elections were the first democratic elections ever to have taken place in South Africa.

‘’to ­heal the divisions of the past’’ : The apartheid regime was set up to legalize racial discrimination.

Document 4

Land ownership in South Africa :

a) in the past 300 years : 87 % of the fertible (UK:/ˈfɜːrtaɪl/US:/ˈfɝtəl/) /arable (/ˈærəbəl/) land was owned by whites. Black people were only given barren (/ˈbærən/) = infertile (/ɪnˈfɜːrtaɪl/) – desert (/ˈdɛzərt/) land.

b) today: The government is supporting all the black farmers who wish to reclaim the land that was taken from / the land they were forcibly expelled from. There are also instances / examples of white people who, like the von Maltizt family, have chosen to share their land with black farmers.

2) The von Maltitz family ‘s origins

The family has lived on Saxon Park, an estate in the eastern region of South Africa’s Free State province since the late 19th C. / They have farmed the land since 1879. They must have come from Holland / the Netherlands (ˈnɛðərləndz/). They must be of Dutch descent (/dɪˈsɛnt/) / They must be Afrikaners (/ˌæfrɪˈkɑːnərz/).

Time line :

– 1650s : Arrival of the Europeans

– 1879 : Friedrich Wilhelm von Maltitz begins / began farming his land with the help of 4 black labourers (/ˈleɪbərərz/)

– 1994 : End of apartheid (əˈpɑːrtaɪt)

-1999 : The von Maltitz family legally transfers / transferred 50 % of the farm to the descendants of the 4 black labourers.

RECAP : Why is Saxon Park a good example of South Africa’s attempt to « redress the wrongs of the past »

Saxon Park is a good example of South Africa’s attempt to redress the wrongs of the past because here the white owners chose to split their land between themselves and the descendants of the black labourers who help him start up the farm. It is a case of voluntary (/ˈvɒləntəri/) distribution of arable land to the black people by the whites.


Document 5: Apartheid in Practice: Law and Order

Poster entitled ‘Apartheid in Practice: Law and Order’ depicting victims of the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 where police gunned down some of the first anti-apartheid protesters. The poster is lettered with statistics and information about the white dominance of the apartheid government and the type of security laws they enforced

The impact of a single picture on the struggle for equality in South Africa

In 1960, the government decreed that instead of learning in English, as most black children were, they would be taught in Afrikaans. To students, it was a bombshell. Not only was Afrikaans the language of their colonial oppressors but they were already struggling with English. That didn’t make sense.” So an estimated 20,000 students from Soweto’s high schools decided, in secret, to hold a protest. Soon students were pouring in from across Soweto, waving their placards and singing when suddenly thick clouds of teargas filled the streets. Police marched down the streets, shouting at the students to disperse. Everybody was just shooting at random and all of a sudden a 13-year-old boy fell down in the middle of the street, dead. “The students got hold of one policeman and they put him down on the ground and they slaughtered him like a goat,” recalls the black photographer who had taken pictures of the whole scene. “They set him on fire. He was burnt beyond recognition.” When other officers saw that he was still taking pictures, they forced him to open up all his cameras. “All the films were exposed,” he said. “And that one of the policeman who was killed by the students was destroyed.”

When the photos were developed a few hours later, an argument broke out among editors at The World over whether or not to run the now iconic image of a clearly traumatized Makhubo carrying a dead boy in his arms, his sister running alongside in anguish. “There was a big debate,” recalls Nzima. “This picture is going to horrify the people,” one editor said. “If we use this picture, it’s going to spark civil war in South Africa.” Another countered that there was no better illustration of what was happening in Soweto. Children had been killed by the apartheid police. The latter argument won, and The World published an evening Extra edition.

No one was prepared for the impact. The World had a relationship with international wire agencies, and by the next day, Nzima’s photo was splashed across the front pages of newspapers from New York to Moscow. Suddenly the world could no longer ignore the horror of apartheid. Almost overnight, international opinion hardened against South Africa’s apartheid regime. The U.S. government condemned the shooting, and activists worldwide began lobbying for economic sanctions, which eventually brought the apartheid government to its knees. In South Africa the picture helped launch a civil uprising and emboldened the black liberation movement. »

Abridged from Time

Document 6: Mandela'slegacy

Nelson Mandela: a few facts

Date and place of birth : July 18, 1918 in Transkei, Africa

Meaning of his birth name « Rolihlahla » : « to pull a branch off a tree » and « troublemaker. »

His parents’ social class : grew up in a rural area, son of a clan chief

His education : renounced his claim to the chieftainship to study law at university

Marital life and number of children: 3 wives among whom Winnie is the best known – 6 children

His job : a lawyer

His involvement in the country : an activist and politician ( Deputy or vice President of the African National Congress)

His relations with justice/ criminal record : sentenced to life in prison for life

His relationships with F. W. de Klerk : had first secret then open talks with F. W. de Klerk to end apartheid and bring about a peaceful transition to nonracial democracy in South Africa.

February 1990 : freed after 27 years in prison mostly on Robben Island

1993 : shared the Nobel Peace Prize with F.W. de Klerk.

1994 : became the first black president of South Africa and first president to be elected by a democratic system.

Then : became an advocate in support of people suffering from AIDS (his only son passed away due to AIDS)

Date of death : December 5, 2013 at the age of 95.

This text is an excerpt of his biography

Most of his autobiography was written when he was a prisoner on Robben Island. When it was published Mandela had been President of South Africa for almost a year.

In this book one can expect to find details of the difficulties he encountered :
– to obtain democracy for his country
– to put en end to apartheid’s
– to free the black people of SA from their white oppressors.
We can also expect it to contain the tale of the personal hardships he suffered when he was in prison.

In this extract the different periods in Nelson Mandela’s life are presented in a chronological order.

Paragraph 1 : childhood « was born » / « run the fields » / « obeyed my father »

Paragraph 2: youth « as a young man » / « as a student » / « marrying and having a family »

Paragraph 3 : adulthood « a law-abiding attorney » / « a family-loving husband »

Paragraph 4 : imprisonment « during those long and lonely years »

Paragraph 5 : liberation « when I walked out of prison »

Over the years, in his fight for freedom, Mandela focused on:

– first, freedom for himself (lines 1-9-9/10)

– then, freedom for black South Africans (lines 14/16 – 18/20 – 23/25 – 29/30)

– finally, freedom for all people / people of all colours(lines 29/33)

Verbs to express a strong desire

want, wish for, feel a strong desire for, long for, yearn for, crave, set one’s heart on, hanker after / for (= dream of), pine after / for (formal : se languir de), thirst for, itch for, be desperate for, be bent on, have a need for, covet = convoiter), aspire to

Let’s recap this evolution

At first, Mandela wanted freedom just for himself. But then, he longed / yearned for freedom for all black South Africans. Gradually, he came to feel a strong desire for the liberation of the white minority as well.

The term « hunger » is recurrently used to refer to his strong desire for freedom. It reveals a physical / instinctive desire.

Unexpectedly,  as he grew old he wanted freedom for his white oppressors, which is puzzling since their freedom was not restricted (= curtailed). Indeed, over the years, Mandela had come to realise  that his desire to be free concerned a larger number of people.

Read the text down to the end

The tense most frequently used is the present perfect because at the moment he is writing the final pages of his book (« here »= in this book), he is taking stock of (= faire le point sur) the changes that have occurred in his country in terms of freedom and the role he has played in these changes. In other words, he uses the present perfect to « look back on » (line 52) his achievements.

Translate the last paragraph

J’ai parcouru ce long chemin vers la liberté. j’ai essayé de ne pas fléchir (mieux que vaciller – chanceler). J’ai pourtant (étoffement) fait beaucoup de faux pas (la traduction de « along the way » peut être omise : répétition) mais j’ai découvert le secret suivant (étoffement + remaniement syntaxique): après avoir gravi une colline élevée, tout (traduction de « only ») ce qu’on (« one » devient « on ») découvre, c’est qu’il reste encore beaucoup d’autres collines à gravir / on ne gravit une colline élevée que pour découvrir qu’il en reste beaucoup d’autres à gravir. Je me suis arrêté un instant pour me reposer (pas de traduction pour « here »), pour jeter un regard à l’admirable / splendide / magnifique paysage qui m’entoure, pour contempler (= faire le point sur) la longue route que j’ai parcourue. Mais je ne dispose que de peu de temps :(pas de traduction pour « for »= car) avec la liberté viennent les responsabilités et je n’ose m’attarder (« traîner » est trop familier) car je ne suis pas arrivé au terme de mon long chemin. (remaniement syntaxique : Mandela est remis en sujet).

South Africa Today

This France 24 TV report focuses on Orania, a small white-only community in 2020.
The TV presenter (or TV newscaster) states that despite the fact that apartheid ended 27 years ago, some white communities still refuse to mix with blacks. He takes the example of Orania where the only language spoken is Afrikaans, the tongue (= langue) of the first Dutch settlers, where the pupils are taught a revisited version of South Africa’s history, where people settle to avoid any sort of ethnic diversity while others seek to avoid violence and racial tensions.
The characteristics of Orania : a christian Afrikaner-only community founded after the collapse of the apartheid with 1,500 inhabitants and its own currency and flag.
The town’s spokesman introduces the town saying that Orania is an Afrikaner settlement which aims at becoming a self-sufficient town. He explains its creation by the fact that South Africa has a black majority which, he says, is not very kind to the Afrikaners. So the idea is to stay out of the rest of the country.
The first witness has been living there for 5 years after being evicted from his land which was claimed by black South Africans; the government gave him compensations which he accepted. After being threatened, he followed his father’s advice to let go his land because he thought Afrikaners couldn’t keep all the land. Here in Orania, he feels safe and happy but also concerned : he could be soon exproprieted without any compensation as the government is speeding up the redistribution of land.
The journalist tells us that the inhabitants fear their heritage could slowly disappear and then introduces us with the second witness who is a school teacher presenting the 2 sets of programmes the pupils study. She considers that the one set up by the new regime is subjective ; with Orania’s programmes, she thinks that the pupils can compare the two visions and make their own opinion. In Orania’s syllabus (= programme), Mandela is not mentioned at all as they consider he is not part of their history.
The third group of witnesses are black workers discovering the town for the first time. The first interviewee considers that both communities should be living together since they are all human beings. The second black worker is very sad and thinks these people live alone.
The journalist wonders whether this town is a refuge for nostalgics of apartheid or a reflection of an unease among certain Afrikaners today.
He tries to answer this question with the example of a white couple who is considering joining the settlement withnthe help of the local council. The laws aiming to increase black employment have turned against white south Africans ; that is the reason why this man is jobless and has come to Orania to see if he can set up his electrical company. His wife adds taht it is getting worse and worse especially regarding safety ; she doesn’t go shopping alone anymore.
The journalist concludes his reports with figures (= chiffres) : There are 57 murders a day in South Africa and this figure has been increasing over the past 6 years and over the same period, Orania’s population rose by 10 %.


(1) When the white bodyguards enter the room, Jason fears they might have come to arrest him, which was logical during the apartheid era. (2) Surprisingly, they have been asked by Mandela to protect him. (3) Yet Jason is so doubtful that he goes to Mandela’s office for explanations. (4) Mandela explains that he considers his bodyguards as examples who should show that collaborating with the former (= ex) enemy for the greater good of (= dans l’intérêt de) the country is possible.                                                                                                                                 (5) When Madela says :« Forgiveness starts here too. Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon, » he means that to be freed from fear and prejudices, former enemies should reach out (= tendre la main) and grant their pardon. This is the only way to pacifically win over their enemy.


(1) When Mandela embraces the presidential office with a glance, he looks at the path he has travelled from Robben Island and contemplates (= think about / imagine) the future.

(2) He tells his two coloured security guards to stand back for (= because) he doesn’t want to appear threatening and revengeful (= vindicatif / revanchard). (3) Indeed, Many members of the staff imagine that he is going to fire them, and they dread (= appréhender / craindre) the meeting. (4) Yet, Mandela doesn’t consider the employees as responsible for the racial situation in SA; he does not hold any prejudices against them.

(5) When he says, « If you would like to stay, you would be doing your country a great service, » he means that without them he will not be able to rule the country.


(1) When he gets wind of (= avoir vent de) the fact that the National Sports Council has voted to completely reconstitute the national rugby team Mandela directly goes  to their meeting to speak with them and convince them to keep the old rugby team. (2) Once there, he mentions his prison years  in order to (= afin de) tell them that if you want to win over your enemy, you need to know them and this is what he did in prison, he studied his jailers (= geôlier). (3) He urges them to practise such understanding and forgiveness to move forward. (4) Yet, he acknowledges (= reconnaître) that Afrikaners denied black South Africans generosity and humane treatment. (5) But he advises (= conseiller) the black South Africans who have come to power to promote peace and show compassion to unite the country.


(1) Before and during the meeting, François looks nervous. He wonders (= se demander) what Mandela is going to tell him. Maybe he fears Mandela might forbid the team to play the rugby cup. (4) In the conversation, Mandela mentions some English traditions: rugby and afternoon tea.
As a matter of fact (= en réalité) (2) François has been summoned (= convoquer) by President mandela because he is the captain of the national rugby team and (3) Mandela thinks that being captain of the Springboks is a very difficult job. (5) Mandela wants the Springboks to be better than they think they can be to be able to win the cup. He intends to encourage them but he doesn’t know how.
Then he mentions his life in  prison; (6) when he was in prison, he found inspiration in a poem.
(7) For the president, in order to build the South African nation, people need to make efforts and exceed their expectations.
(8) François explains that before big matches, the Springboks listen to a song ; that helps them focus on their goal.
In the end, (9) Mandela
wants inspiration to build a strong nation. He believes that if he can unite the nation through rugby, then he can unite them in larger ways.


(1) In this scene, the team has travelled to a black township outside of the city. The team members look gloomy (= morose) and unenthusistic (= peu enthousiaste) and as they emerge from the bus, François reminds them that they will have cameras on them the whole time. (2) In this team, there is only black member: Chester. (3) When the bus reaches its destination, the kids are excited and soon cheer (= acclamer) and swarm around (= grouiller autour) Chester and start playing with him. (4) Then the Springboks players teach the young boys the rules of rugby, and have a good time.

5) The goal of the visit is clear: the footage (= le film / le tournage / les images) of the visit to the township with its coaching session aims at sending a message of unity advocated (= prôner) by both Mandela and Francois.


(1) In this scene, the Springboks team visits the the prison where Mandela was detained for 27 years. When Francois steps into Mandela’s cell, he has visions of Mandela in it, as well as him working outside at the prison. (2) Even ifFrancoise doesn’t show anything, he gets very emotional (= ému / touched) when thinking about the deprivation (/ˌdɛprɪˈveɪʃən/) (= dénuement) Mandela suffered from for so many years. Indeed, (3) He sees visions of the president as he appeared all those years ago. He and his fellow prisoners are portrayed as ghostly (fantomatiques) figures (= silhouettes), fading in and out reality. (4) We understand that the poem’s verses helped Mandela understand that through all the hardships, he was the master of his own fate. That was why he never gave up the fight.

Invictus By William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.


A South African Airways pilot swoops (= piquer sur) twice over Ellis Park stadium in a big jet at the start of the June 24, 1995, rugby final.

A message underside of the plane reads « Good Luck Bokke » as a sign of support for South Africa’s national team, the Springboks.

For the black body guard, it is a surreal (= irréel/surréaliste) feeling ; the sound must have been deafening (= assourdissant) and you could have touched the belly of the plane.

That daring (= risky / bold) stunt (= accrobatie / cascade) scare Madela’s security services which think it is a terrorist attack while it electrifies the tens of thousands of fans in the stadium.

Essai argumentatif

To what extent can we say that Nelson Mandela contributed to reduce the gap between blacks and whites in South Africa?

Grammar exrercises

Exercices p1

Exercises p2

Key to the exercises p1

Key to the exercises p2