3. The Eyelid Test

In this lesson the class watches a series of short clips about the "Eyelid Test" used to determine racial category during Apartheid.

Resources Needed
Access to internet.
Clip 1: http://www.cvet.org.za/displayclip.php?vid=428 
Clip 2: http://www.cvet.org.za/displayclip.php?vid=229 
Clip 3: http://www.cvet.org.za/displayclip.php?vid=410.

Curriculum Links
This lesson plan has links to Curriculum aims in History.

Learning Objective
To understand the meaning of apartheid.

Learning Outcome
To recognise that apartheid was a policy brought in by the state. 

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In pairs students try to work out what “the eyelid test” might be. Feedback to the class and note down what they consider to be the most likely explanations.

Main Activity
The class watches 3 short clips which are all connected to the eyelid test. Ask them to complete the worksheet with their ideas about what each person/group is fighting against. Give students an opportunity after each clip to discuss the questions in pairs.

Explain that each clip is describing the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. Only 30-40 years ago. Looking at the details they wrote down from the film students decide what apartheid was and feedback to the class. Discuss the meanings of “separateness” and “segregation”. Can the class think of ideas why apartheid began in South Africa after the Second World War?

Return to the original definitions of “the eyelid test”. Ask if they have changed at all. Read the explanation of “the eyelid test” below. How many of the class would pass this test? What does it tell us about the ways in which apartheid was enforced?

“The eyelid test is this: if when a person closes his eyelid under ordinary conditions the colour is continuous and uniform there is nothing to indicate “coloured” blood. But if the eyelid is rather startlingly white – that is one of the signs. I used to test people by dropping something and their eyes would look downwards, and then you knew who they were. It was so simple.”

Mr. W.H. Stuart, The Native Representative for the Transekei’s method of determining a person’s racial category. 
Adapted from “Apartheid: the Lighter Side” by B Maclennon, Chameleon Press, Cape Town, 1990 p.20