Colonial Institutionalisation of Poverty among Blacks in South Africa

Tshepo Lephakga


This article examines colonial institutionalisation of poverty amongst colonised and conquered blacks in South Africa. Colonialism divided the world in two:  the centre, which is occupied by Europeans, and the periphery, which is occupied by non-Europeans. This division institutionalised poverty amongst the colonised to maintain the supremacist status of the coloniser and the colonial status of the colonised as non-beings. Colonial apartheid, following the colonial epistemological foundation(s) and justification(s) of the centre imposing itself on the periphery, strived to make black people go through social death, which became a necessity fed into the colonial thinking that those in the periphery are lesser beings. Social death was engineered and maintained through the impoverishment of black people. Poverty and colonial dependency syndrome were institutionalised following the systematic institutionalisation of the social creation of race. A number of scholars have noted that race is a social creation with real consequences. It is thus not surprising that the painful history of South Africa resulted in the impoverishment of the majority of the people in the country. Following its long historical institutionalisation, poverty resulted in poor black people internalising oppression and doubting their humanness. This paper contends that colonial apartheid is the cause of a vast inequality in the South African society, including social institutionalised poverty among the blacks in South Africa.


Poverty; colonialism; institutionalisation; economy; conquering; social death; transition; neo-liberal transition

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Tshepo Lephakga

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.