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South Africa is a land of many cultures. For several hundred years, British and Afrikaaner whites controlled the country, systematically manipulating black people to the whites' advantage. For the most part, however, whites tolerated the continuation within black communities of traditional marriage practices that white Christians considered uncivilized. In 1994, South Africa changed governments. A black majority Parliament came to power, adopting a consitution dedicated to equality and human dignity. Four years later, Parliament adopted a new marriage law that, though permitting some of the external trappings of the traditional marriage system to continue, eliminated by law much of the core of its male-centered rules. From the point of view of the legislators who voted for it, the new law was required in order to promote gender equality under the new consitution. From the point of view of traditional leaders and some other rural dwellers, the new law was unjustifiable because it failed to honor black people's traditions in a new black South Africa. This essayy is about points of view - the multiple points of view of South Africans, and the point of view of one admiring American, who is trying to understand.


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