“a” or “A” for Apartheid?

Beyond the Holocaust

Up until I reached my mid twenties, I was always under the impression that the word “apartheid”, a term which is so integral to both South African history  and the world’s understanding of racial oppression, was written with a capital “A”. For me, it made sense to think of the term in this way.  As we learned during  childhood, when we encountered language and its intricacies for its first time, a capital letter carries with it a certain sense of personal, social and political prestige. It’s used to emphasize importance, magnitude, identity and belonging. We cannot, in essence, speak about an event such as the Holocaust without the presence of the capital “H”, an emphasis which goes beyond the necessity of grammar rules to draw our attention to the gravity of the Holocaust and its impact within public consciousness. Some literary critics have identified a non capitalized version of this…

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