South Africa under the apartheid system
Apartheid was a socio-political policy of segregating and discriminating the citizens and even visitors in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.The system was put into action by the government of the minority white population. The system’s basis of segregation and discrimination was pegged on the color of the skin.
The system categories people into four distinct groups. The groups included blacks, colored, Asians and whites.
The Apartheid policy was made possible and implemented in 1950 by the Population Registration act of 1950.The policy was later referred to as the separate development policy. The Act divided the South Africans into three racial groups. The categories that were originally created included the black African (Bantu),mixed race (colored), and white. Later on a new category was created which included Pakistanis and Indians. The group was referred to as Asian.
The enactment of the apartheid system was a result of a series of laws that were passed earlier on in 1950s.Originally the Group Areas Act of 1950 classified the different racial groups in terms of their residential and business sub-divisions in the different urban areas. Subsequently the lands Acts (1954 and 1955) confined the nonwhite residence to certain areas of South Africa.
These laws that were later passed further reduced the right of black Africans. Their right to own land became more limited. This increased the white minority’s rule and control over most of South African land. Several other laws worsened the situation of racial prejudice. For example there were other laws that prohibited social contact between the various racial groupings. Some laws enacted the segregation of public utilities and infrastructure. For example different toilets were constructed for the various racial groups. There was never any form of sharing of facilities. Standards of educations were also designed or rather separated to fit the various racial groups. The best education standards were reserved for the minority white while the worst was for the black Africans. Job categories were also tailored to be race- specific. The best jobs for the white South Africans while the worst jobs with the least pay were for the black South Africans. Later on, the powers of nonwhite unions were reduced and participation of nonwhites in the government was also prohibited.
The 1951 Bantu Authority Act and the 1959 Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act aggravated the racial divisions by coming up with ten African “homelands.” These administrative unites were managed through tribal organizations. Every black South African was made a citizen of one of the ten administrative divisions. This was made possible through the provisions outlined in the 1970 Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act. This automatically expunged the blacks from the mainstream South African politics. The ruling white minority specifically and strategically crafted the design and location of the homelands in order to maintain maximum control of their citizens. The homelands for example were located in areas that were devoid of useful natural resources and therefore lacked any economic viability. They were overcrowded and heavily segmented .They also lacked the autonomy associated with independent states.
There were several reactions to the apartheid rule in South Africa. The reactions were both from within and without South Africa. The black South African together with the sympathetic whites South Africans both used several techniques to oppose the discriminatory rule. Several black political movements with the support of sympathetic whites employed an array of tactics to oppose the apartheid rule. Such tactics included the following: demonstrations, violent strikes and even sabotage.Thier strategies were always met with fierce reactions by the ruling white government. In 1961, the international community criticized the South African apartheid rule. The international denunciations saw South Africa withdrawn from the British Commonwealth group of nations. This was due to the pressure from the Commonwealth member states who were opposed to the apartheid system of governance. Later on in 1985 the U.S.A. And The Great Britain imposed various sanctions on South Africa as a protest of the apartheid policy
Finally, the pressure fro within and without South Africa forced the South African government to succumb to the needs of the citizens.Therefore, the government under the leadership of President Fredric de Klerk initiated the steps that led to the abandoning altogether of the racial apartheid system. Immediate reforms were necessary so in 1990 the national Party government was formed in order to drive the reform agenda. The black congress that was earlier on banned was then legalized and the black leaders who were imprisoned were released from jail. 1994 saw the countries constitution redrafted and for the very first time in history free and fair general elections were held. Nelson Mandela was declared the winner in the election and he became first South African black president and the apartheid system was then disbanded and abolished
How and why apartheid system began in South Africa
White supremacy and racial segregation had excited in South Africa for a long time. Racial prejudice had been traditionally accepted before 1948.However, during that years’ general election, the apartheid policy was included in Afrikaner Nationalist Party platform by Daniel F. Malan.That brought the party to power for the initial time.
A series of Laws and Acts are what culminated to the apartheid system of governance.
During the 19th century, the British colonial masters crafted a system that included Pass Laws in South Africa. The Pass Laws system was administered in their Cape Colony together with the natal Colony. The pass system was meant to restrict the movement of blacks from the tribal regions where they lived to the areas occupied by the whites and the colored. The Pass Laws that were put into place were meant not only to restrict the movement of the blacks between the colonial districts but also to prohibit their unwarranted movement without the signed pass.
There was selective curfew against the blacks in both the Natal and Cape colony. They were never to walk after dark and they had to bear their passes on them every time.
Historical precursors of Apartheid
In 1892, the Franchise and Ballot Act put limitations on the financial might and educational level of the blacks’ community. In 1894 the natal Legislative Assembly Bill stripped Indians of their voting rights. Then in 1905, the General Pass Regulation Bill blocked blacks from voting at all. It also confined them to predetermined areas of scarce natural resources through the Pass system. The Asiatic Registration Act of 1906 then required all Indians to be registered and to bear passes at all times. Later on, the South Africa Act was passed in 1910.It gave the whites total authority and political control over the remaining South African races. It also stripped the blacks of their right in the legislative assembly (Parliament).
In 1913, the Native Land Act prevented all blacks in most parts of South Africa with the exception of Cape Province from acquiring land from outside the predetermined “reserves.” The 1918 Urban Areas Bill was enacted to push black into “locations.” Then followed the 1923 Urban Areas Act which brought into place the segregation based on residence and exploited the blacks in terms of providing cheap labor to the white driven industry. Later on in 1926, the Color Bar Code Act barred blacks from engaging in skilled trades.
The British Crown was then made the supreme head of all African affairs by the Native Administration Act. A role formerly reserved for the paramount chiefs. The representation of natives Act was also enacted. It eliminated blacks from the voters’ register in Cape. Then in 1946, the Asiatic land Tenure Bill was passed by Jan Smuts’ United Party government. The bill banned the sale of land to Asians.
Then during the Second World War Jan Smuts’ United Party government started to drift away from the discriminatory laws but no without the fear that were associates with such a move. Their biggest worry was concerning the effects of racial assimilation. Therefore the Sauer Commission was then mandated by the legislature to conduct an investigation in the effects of Jan Smut’s Party’s policies. The commission of inquiry recommended that integration would result in a complete loss of personality for the various racial groups.
After the 1948 general elections, the Apartheid regime was born through the National Party. The existing policies were legalized and formalized into a complete system of formalized racism accompanied with white domination. Legislation was passed to support Apartheid. The legislation classified the citizens and visitors into different racial categories. The categories included the more superior whites and the less superior black, colored and Asian groups. It is worth noting that Werner Eiselen, the Apartheid architect pointed out that the South African government could not uphold the segregation and its accompanying evil of white supremacy.
Events that took place under the Apartheid System
The apartheid system was classified into two main categories. The first category was referred to as the ‘grand apartheid’ while the second one was referred to as “petty apartheid.” The former involved the actions that were geared towards separating South Africa into separate states through partitioning., while the later involved the elements and actins of segregation. It was the grand apartheid that was practiced by the National party for a longer period of time (up to 1990s) whiles the petty apartheid was abolished way earlier in the 80s.
The Homeland System
Through this system, several black South Africans had their citizenship revoked. Forcing them to legally become members of one of the ten tribally-based units of administration (Bantustans-tribal homelands).Out of the ten tribal homelands four later became independent states. The homelands were situated in areas that were tiny and lacked any form of viable economic resources. They were generally unproductive parts of South Africa.
However several blacks never stayed in their designated homelands. The system therefore disenfranchised the blacks who resided in the “white” part of South Africa. This was because it restricted their voting rights to their originally predetermined black settlements. Other areas that the government segregated included education, medical services and several other public services. In a nutshell, the government provided the blacks with inferior services of all the races. The government designed the education system for the blacks to prepare them to come out of school as a laboring lot.
The Homeland system was based on the basic tenets of segregation. The following were the basic tenets that the homeland system relied on:-
The first one was to arrange the South African population into African, Indian, colored and white racial groups. Then the second tenet was segregate according to race, the South African urban population. This was then followed by the restriction of the process of urbanization of the African communities. Another tenet just concentrated on tightly controlling and restricting the migration of labor. The homeland system further preached more tribalism in the way Africans were administrated. The final tenet was aimed at giving more powers to the legislations that were concerned with security and control of the population.
The government designed the homelands as a way of separation on the basis of territories.
The “grand apartheid” was put in motion by two laws. This form of separation was centered on the idea of separating the South African races by means of special separations. The divisions forced people to live in separate places as prescribed by their races. In 1950, the first grand apartheid law was passed. The Population Act demanded that all citizens be grouped in accordance to their respective races. Their races were then recorded in their identity cards (passes).However, a problem arose for the people of mixed races (colored) since it was difficult to determine their race exactly. The government then formed Official boards to handle the issue. This resulted in a lot of difficulty for the people of mixed races since their families were separated and located in different races.
In the earlier 1960s and unto the 1980s the South African government put in action a policy that seeks to resettle people onto their originally designated “homelands.” Millions of South Africans were forced to move to their original tribal homelands during that period. The forced removals included South Africans who were evicted in the process of slum upgrade processes. Others who were moved included black land owners who were unlucky to be surrounded by the whites since their settlements were referred to as the black spots. Several people were evicted from Western Cape and then relocated and settled to Ciskei and Transkei homelands.However, the most notable resettlement was the on that involved the relocation of over sixty thousand people from Johannesburg to the newly established Soweto Townships.
Another notable example of forceful resettlement was that one of Sophiatown.It had been the one of the very few urban centers where black people were allowed to own land and property. It rate of growth also allowed it to contain other races within its residents.However, as the Johannesburg industry grew, it turned to be an exponentially growing residence of black workers since it was near to town and more convenient in its location. As it was one of the pioneer black settlements in Johannesburg, it held an iconic value to the black South Africans. Its unique value added to its value by the blacks. It contained over fifty thousand black South Africans.
The ANC held heated protest s in order to oppose the government’s plan to destroy Sophiatown.However, the government finally removed the town after evicting the residents forcefully. The resident of Sophiatown was resettled on a very large piece of land a little far from the city center. The piece of land was called the Meadowsland and was earlier on purchased by the government. It later became part of the black city — Soweto.Sophiatown was bulldozed and a new white suburb called Triumph constructed to replace it .There was a series of forced evictions over the years and it never was targeting only the black residences but also the colored and the Indian residences and settlements. Other areas from which people were evicted included Durban, Cape Town and District Six.
The dominating National Party approved a series of laws and Acts that were referred to as the petty apartheid. These pieces of legislations governed various aspects of the South African races. They dictated how the married, how they had their leasure, where they seated, where they walked and even how they dated in relationships.
The very first of the petty apartheid acts to be passed was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Acts of 1949.The acts put a stop to marriages between the white people and people of other “lesser” races. Then followed the Immorality Amendment Act of 1950.It prohibited unlawful racial relationships and any other indecent acts associated with it.
Human Rights Violations in the Apartheid era.
The human right violations that occurred during apartheid were countless.
The main ones included the killings and torture such as that of Steve Biko
There were also cases of denial of freedom of speech and assembly — An example is the killings that occurred during the student protests in Soweto Uprising. There were also cased of discrimination and oppression. The blacks were subjected to harsh living conditions. They were also called names and treated without equality.
The other forms of human rights violation included the denial from quality education and proper medical care.
Lack of freedom of movement was also notable through the administration of the Pass Law. Unjust imprisonment was also notable.
The blacks were also forced to do hard labor with low pay
In a nutshell a variety of human right violations occurred in the apartheid era. The magnitude of which varied over time and also depending the ruler who was in power at any particular time of that dark regime.
World’s reaction to apartheid
Several nations criticized the South African regime of apartheid. This was mark able when the Commonwealth member countries forced South Africa out of the association due to its low record on human right as concerns the apartheid rule.
It is worth noting that it was only the Nordic countries such as Sweden that supported the ANC both morally and financially. They supported the anti-apartheid campaigns in full.
Other Western countries adopted a non-committal stand. It was later on when they all nations jointly criticized the system after the establishment of the United Nations.
Other countries such as The U.S.A. slapped the South African government with economic sanctions.
It is important to note that the abolishment of the apartheid movement was to a large extent due to external pressure from other nations of the world
The end of apartheid
The apartheid system had its first signs of failure in the 1980s.With factors such as millions of unemployed population, and a decreasing white minority, the onset of the apartheid failure began. Other factors were the increasing black resistance and several international sactions.It was in 1989 after Fredrick de Klerk was elected president that he committed himself to uniting the minority and the majority.
The fall of Communism also marked an important milestone in the abolishment of the apartheid era. The soviets were supporters of the oppressive system.
In 1990.Fredrick de Klerk removed the ban on AC and freed Nelson Mandela from prison. He also saw the peaceful transition of South Africa to a multiracial state.
Free multi-racial elections were then held in 21994 and Mandela elected the President. Apartheid the was fully abolished.
The Key figures involved in the Apartheid era
The following are the key figures who were involved with the apartheid era.
Supporters of Apartheid
Louis Botha-He ruled South Africa between 1910 and 1919 as the first Prime Minister.
Jan Christaan Smuts — He became the Prime Minister after Louis Botha between 1919 to 1924.He played a very fundamental role in the formation of the League of the Nations.
He formed a coalition with the Nationalist Party lead to the existence of the United Party. His tenure as the Prime Minister lasted between 1939 and 1948.
J.G.H. Hertzog — He was the founder of the nationalist Party.The party advocated for the complete independence of South Africa. His tenure as the Prime Minister was between 1924 to 1939.He later formed a coalition with the Smuts.
Daniel F. Malan-Was the founder of the Purified Nationalist Party (1934).In 1948 he became the Prime Minister. He served as the Prime Minister up to 1954.He is the one who introduced the infamous apartheid policy. He firmly believed in the theory of white supremacy.
J.G. Strijdom — He was the Prime Minister from 1954 to 1958.He was chosen as the leader of the Nationalist Party. He is known for coming up with an Afrikaner Republic that was outside the Commonwealth. He is also known for destabilizing the senate’s balance so as to gain the mandatory votes in order to drive through his apartheid principles.
H.F. Verwoerd- He was the Prime Minister from 1958 to 1966…Togather with the person he succeeded (Strijdom); he brought about most of the legislations that were pro-apartheid. It was in 1961, while he was a leader when South Africa became a Republic. In 1966, he was assassinated while in Johannesburg.
John Vorster — He was elected the Prime Minister after Verwoerd’s death. Later on in 1978, he became the President of South Africa. He was later on forced to resign after being implicated with embezzlement of government funds.
Pieter Botha-He was the Prime minister between 1978 to 1984.Howevwer he had a stroke attack in 1989 and forced to pass over his presidency to his successor was Prime Minister from 1978-84 and the First State President (1984-89). He suffered a stroke in 1989 and was forced to succeed his state presidency to his successor,
F.W. de Klerk.-He was president from 1989 to 1994.
He is praised for bringing about several reforms in South Africa. These reforms include the freeing of Nelson Mandela from prison. He also uplifted the state of emergency. He dismantled the apartheid policy. He also initiated and allowed constitutional debates. However, even though he brought about major reforms, violence still persisted within the communities. In order to stop the violence that was mainly between the African National Congress and the Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party, he signed an agreement that affected the South African Constitution with Mandela. De Klerk and Mandela the shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela. He became the first Vice President in the post apartheid South Africa.
Leaders who opposed of Apartheid
Albert Lutuli-He served as the ANC’s president between 1952-60.He was honored with a Nobel Peace prize in 1960 for his opposition of the violence that marked apartheid.
Mangosuthu Buthelezi, (Chief Buthelezi).He is the founder of Inkatha, an organization with an aim of achieving a non-racist democratic system of governance. In 1994,he was appointed by as the Home affairs .
Oliver Tambo- in 1944 he joined ANC and was later appointed as the vice-president of the youth league. In 1967, while Mandela was in prison, he became the acting president of the ANC and in 1977 was elected president of ANC
Stephen Biko He founded and led the Black Consciousness Movement. He also founded and was the first president of the all-black South African Students Organization. He died of severe beatings while in police custody.
Desmond Tutu-In 1984,he was the very fist bishop of black descent in Johanessburg.In 1986,he became the and Archbishop of Cape Town. He became a negotiator of peace between the whites and the blacks and therefore was honored with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
Joe Slovo — Was among the most respected and influential white South Africans who opposed the apartheid regime. He was associated with the NLM (national Liberation Movement).As a member of the Communist party, he held very important positions in both African National Parties and The Communist Party. He was later appointed the Housing Minister by Mandela in 1994.
Thabo Mbeki-he is one of the Leaders of ANC.He was elected to the national Executive Committee in 1975.He became the first deputy president in the Mandela’s government in 1994
Nelson Mandela-He was an important personality in the anti-apartheid fight. In 1942,he joined the ANC.In 1944 he then joined the Youth League movement. His campaign was against the apartheid government because of the apartheid system and its associated racial prejudice. His campaign was never violent but was administered through peaceful protests. After the ANC was outlawed. He was arrested and put to jail. His sentence of life imprisonment was passed in 1964.The crime of which was sabotage. She later got released in 1990 and became the president of ANC (1993).He got Nobel Peace Prize which was co-shared with de Klerk.In 1994 he became the president of South Africa and was succeeded by Thambo Mbeki.
The Apartheid era in South Africa was one of the darkest examples of governance that shown how terrible other humans could treat others it also acted as one of the worst examples of crimes against humanity. The forms of human abuses that were committed were very disturbing. The various nations of the world should therefore learn to subject their citizens to equal rights to all the basic necessities of life.
The apartheid regime has also served to show the power of forgiveness as most people who were affected have forgiven their tormentors. Some of the pro-apartheid have also apologized publicly.
Lodge, Tom “Black Politics in South Africa Since 1945″(1983).. Longman
Allen, John ” Apartheid South Africa: An Insider’s Overview of the Origin And Effects of Separate Development. “(2005). iUniverse. p. xi.
Leach, Graham “South Africa: no easy path to peace. Routledge. “(1986). p. 68
Beck, Roger B. “The history of South Africa. Greenwood Publishing Group”(2000).
Richmond, Anthony H. “The colour problem: a study of racial relations. “(1955). Penguin Books
Muller, C.F.J. “Five hundred years: a history of South Africa?. “(1975). Academica
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