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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


HARRIS, Karen L.. En route to "Dignity Day": the South African Chinese and historical commemorations. Historia [online]. 2010, vol.55, n.2, pp.147-162. ISSN 2309-8392.

Not unlike most marginalised minorities within South Africa and throughout the world, the South African Chinese community have remained insular and on the periphery of mainstream national South African commemoration. However, unlike other marginalised South Africans, this situation has been perpetuated beyond the old South African dispensation into the new. The fractured nature not only of South African society, but also of the Chinese community itself, along with the changing relations with the Republic of China (on Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China partly accounts for this hiatus. While historical milestones of their presence in South Africa have gone uncelebrated, it was the recognition of their status as "black" which heralded a significant celebratory commemoration. In June 2009 the Pretoria Chinese Association celebrated "Dignity Day" to commemorate the first anniversary of their victory in the Pretoria High Court. After over a century of discrimination since the arrival of their ancestors, the South African Chinese community embarked on a successful legal battle against four ministerial departments to contest their exclusion from the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 and the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act No. 35 of 2003. This article focuses on this event, while at the same time traces the milestones within the history of the Chinese in South Africa that have, to date, remained uncelebrated.

Keywords : Affirmative action; broad-based black economic empowerment; commemoration; employment equity; milestones; minority; post-apartheid; South African Chinese community.

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