Josephine Amakye ’21 studies race relations in South Africa


Josephine Amakye ’21 writes notes about post-Apartheid South Africa. Credit: Josephine Amakye, used with permission.

Lily Lee

Josephine Amakye ’21 studied race relations in post-Apartheid South Africa as part of the school’s Junior Fellowship program this summer. While she was not able to physically go to South Africa as planned, Amakye said she successfully accomplished her goal of meeting with students, teachers and others in the South African community to learn more about how race relations have changed since Apartheid.

After hearing about the inequities in South Africa, Amakye’s views on race relations shifted.

“I originally thought that I would find a peaceful society where race relations were perfect, but I realized that race relations have [only] been reconciled [on an emotional level],” Amakye said. “People are treating each other better, but economically, there’s a lot of divides along race. There are still so many inequities in South Africa, so those inequities sometimes lead to friction.”

Through the fellowship, Amakye virtually met with Reverend Stephanie Clarke after reading her book “The Miss-Adventures of an Irreverent Reverend: A Spirit-ed Guide for Rebels and Renegades.”

Amakye said she was moved after hearing Clarke’s experiences.

“Her story was inspiring because she went there to teach kids how to read and how to speak English,” Amakye said. “She had to meet in her church because, at the time, gathering in groups was illegal if you were Black, so for her to go against the laws that were in place was super inspiring to me.”

Amakye enjoyed seeing many perspectives during this project and will present her findings to the committee that selected her to participate in this project this fall.

Amakye said she believes studying Apartheid should become a larger part of the school curriculum. When she observed that none of her friends had heard of Apartheid, she realized that the lack of representation in the history syllabus was a problem. .

“It was shocking to me that when I told my friends, none of them had heard about [Apartheid], and it’s a really big event that happened less than 20 years ago,” Amakye said. “Empathy is a really important thing in life. Talking to people and connecting with them helps you get over your prejudices against them. If we all could just be more empathetic and really try to reach out and connect to people, I feel like our world could be better.”