Durban is one of the country’s most popular holiday destinations over the Christmas holidays, with about half a million people visiting our beaches between Christmas day and New Year’s eve. It’s a melting pot of cultures, races, and classes as people take in the sun and the great entertainment that the promenade offers. A look at videos of Durban’s beachfront offers great insight into how the city has changed for the better over the past few decades.
Footage from the 1960s presents Durban as an idyllic holiday spot – provided that you were a well heeled white person. The only non-white folk in these videos are the drivers pulling rickshas, which according to the narrator of one video, look like they’re on holiday too! To watch these PR videos of Durban one would imagine that there were only white people living in the city, but in truth the lack of other races was a result of the policies of racial segregation that prohibited non-whites from visiting the majority of the city’s well serviced beaches.
It was only towards the end of 1989 that the then President, F.W. de Klerk, announced that South African beaches would be opened to people across all racial lines. South Africa saw a great deal of protest action over the course of apartheid, including multiracial swim-ins by anti-apartheid activists. Mounting international pressure, as well as pressure from the likes of these swim-ins, where people of different races flouted the laws by swimming side by side in the ocean, resulted in de Klerk’s decision to officially re-open the beaches to all residents and visitors to the country’s beaches.
Some thirty years later, a 2015 video of Durban now shows the city at its best, including shots of the beachfront with all of the country’s people enjoying the sights and sounds of Durban’s fabulous beaches!