Oti Mabuse has said she feels like ‘apartheid is still happening’ as she visited a whites-only town in South Africa in a powerful new BBC documentary.
In Oti Mabuse: My South Africa the former Strictly Come Dancing star returns to her childhood home, to revisit the people and places that inspired her to be the dancer and woman she is today.
On her journey, she meets inspirational people, including musicians, farmers and dancers, contributing to the country’s culture and she delves back into her own family’s dark past under apartheid.
Apartheid was a system of racial segregation, causing the institutionalized oppression of the Black population, that existed in South Africa from 1948 and ended in 1994, thanks to activist Nelson Mandela.
The Masked Dancer judge takes a road trip towards Cape Town, where she used to travel with her family as a child.
As she drives, the Dancing on Ice judge says: ‘The landscape makes me so happy. It’s full of life. It’s taking me back to the long road trips we took as a family.
However, as she continues on her route, Oti remarks the area is becoming ‘less familiar’ as she approaches the heartland of white Afrikaans South Africa.
She remarks: ‘On our Dad’s travels, we often didn’t even get out of the car in this part of the country.
‘I’m going to places that we intentionally didn’t go [to], because they were just places where Black people were not welcome.
‘I don’t think my parents wanted us to be subjected to looks, to people calling us names. And I think my dad really just wanted to protect us.’
As she reaches Orania, which is still a whites-only town, Oti says: ‘Many things have changed since we drove this road 20 years ago, but not everything.’
Oti explains the settlement consists of 2,500 people who are ‘exclusively Afrikaans’, adding: ‘It looks empty.’
The 32-year-old says: ‘This for me, takes me back. I feel like apartheid is still happening.
‘It’s not just South Africa that’s trying to move forward. It’s the whole world. And I just feel like this is 10 massive steps backwards. I just feel a long way from a township home.’
Later on in the documentary, Oti speaks about how apartheid affected her parents, who were forcibly relocated into townships in the 60s.
She says: ‘It is really a hard concept to take in. How terrible was the treatment that they got? My parents are my heroes.’
Oti Mabuse: My South Africa airs on BBC One tonight at 9pm.
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