State of southern Africa, of which it occupies the entire southern portion, includes Lesotho within its borders. Vast, rich in precious resources, with exceptionally hospitable environments, South Africa has attracted Europeans since the century. XVII, that is, when Europe began to know the discomfort aroused by the first demographic pressures. They found an ideal land to exploit and settled there, taking root there, despite the presence of well-organized African populations, with respect to which they behaved with the presumption of their cultural superiority and the legitimacy of their actions. The work of colonization and exploitation, particularly of the Boers, of Dutch origin, and their descendants, the Afrikaners, moved by the ideals of productivism and enrichment, typical of European ethics (largely political motivations had instead the British arrivals, who managed to annex the country to Great Britain but not to steal the levers of economic power from the Boers), the entire geography of South Africa has spanned just two centuries. Splendid cities have sprung up, plantations have been created, very rich mines opened, industrial activities started. All this took place according to a policy which rigidly excluded the African masses from any participation in the benefits derived from the new forms of economy; on the contrary, they have been exploited precisely to create those businesses that have made the country’s wealth. The conquest of power in Mozambique and Angola by progressive movements (1975) for the first time created problems for the political regime of South Africa based on the “separate development of racial communities”, ie apartheid, the principle of rigid racial separation by virtue of which whites, descendants of the colonizers, although in a strong numerical minority, held all power. After a phase (which lasted until 1987-88) in which the South African government tried to face these difficulties by strengthening its military presence in neighboring states, subjecting the country to a particularly onerous effort and aggravating the already heavy condition of isolation in the international context, starting from 1989, with the advent of new political personalities, there was a marked change in both internal and external relations. The racist laws were gradually attenuated and a process of reconciliation began which (although not without uncertainties and contradictions on the part of both the white ruling groups, apartheid: the point of arrival of the long struggle to overcome racial segregation and, at the same time, the starting point for achieving real racial, economic and regional integration. At the beginning of the 21st century, according to extrareference, South Africa was the most advanced country on the continent, it consolidated its role as a regional power and a leading economy. The great internal problem, however, is constituted by the spread of AIDS and by high unemployment, which affects about a quarter of the population. Major infrastructure works were carried out on the occasion of the 2010 World Cup.
The first examples of professional theater date back to the end of the century. XVIII, but it was only a century later, coinciding with the discovery of diamond deposits and gold mines, that permanent theaters were built. Foreign companies, mostly English, and local amateur groups performed there, in English (with a repertoire of commercial hits imported from London and Broadway) and in Afrikaans (with original lyrics, mostly tear-jerking melodramas). In 1947 an Organization of the National Theater was established: now professional companies depend on it, acting in the two official languages, an opera house and some ballet formations. Numerous rooms have been built or adapted, many of which are small and with experimental intent. Not much is known about the theatrical activities of the black population except for some eminently folkloric products that the government encourages and even exports. Instead, the protest theater was, until the early nineties, heavily influenced by censorship and by strict ethnic discrimination legislation. In addition to the clandestine black companies, some private groups operating in cultural circles have partially escaped these constraints: the most notable activity is that promoted by Athol Fugard (b.1932), the greatest national playwright well known also to the ‘abroad. A musicals like King Kong (1969), for example, or an adaptation of Macbeth with the title Umbatha (1971) have also been seen in Europe. The Eoan Opera Group continues to be very popular in the country, an all-black company that also represents operas and organizes performances of various kinds. Established in 1976, Johannesburg’s Market Theater has hosted numerous anti-apartheid comedies over the years, as well as many premieres of Athol Fugard’s successful plays. Its history closely intersects with the cultural, social and political struggle for freedom in the country.