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Apartheid in South Africa

Apartheid is social policy that promotes segregation in terms of political, economic and racial difference. It involved discrimination against people who are not whites. It is the system of governance that was adopted in South Africa between 1948 and 1994. This system is well known to have taken its toll in South Africa a great deal; it curtailed the rights of the black South Africans who were the majority inhabitants of the land. It sidelined the blacks and rendered the whites superior in every aspect of life. Public amenities were never shared among the factions because one was considered the disadvantaged and not fit for association. Elements of this policy are currently experienced in Israel.


Apartheid rule in South Africa crumbled down due to the factors that discouraged its existence like numerous resistances and international pressure.

Origin of Apartheid in South Africa

Although racial discrimination in South Africa started during the colonial times, the apartheid policy was adopted after the national election that was held in 1948. This system classified the inhabitants of South Africa into four main groups. These groups included natives of the land, white settlers, colored people and Asian origins (Weisse, 53).

It is argued though that racism might not have been the original cause of apartheid. It is rather believed that the architects of this policy were the Afrikaner intellectuals. The system was put into place to aid in developing the different population groups. This was to be achieved by dividing the black population into nine tribal groups so that they could realize their national aspirations. The remaining groups were incorporated into a federal government structure, giving them the mandate to lead South Africa into realizing a peaceful development to the entire population.

The system was probably brought to preserve the identity of the Afrikaners and to respond to the problems that a culturally diverse nation like South Africa needed. This Afrikaner group is a very religious and much disciplined group indeed. The Afrikaners had undergone deep unfortunate adversities like the brutal invasion by the British. They were detained in concentration camps and a thought of this normally created tension between them and the Britons. Thinking that racism is the main cause of apartheid may be a wrong conclusion. It can, therefore, be said that it was not the cause but rather the consequence of the apartheid policy.

The restriction of blacks from moving from rural areas to urban areas was not on the ground of racial difference. It was imposed to control an introduction of cheap labor into South African cities and to protect White labor from depreciating. This benefited the whites economically but pressed the employers who could have otherwise gained from plenty of cheap labor provided by Blacks. This can suggest to us that the labor union of the Whites might have been the main driving force behind discrimination in South Africa (Yousaf, 84).

Segregation dates back in the 1800s when the British government decreed that, for the Hottentos to move, they needed passes from their masters. The 49th ordinance of 1828 demanded that black immigrants who were prospective were to be accorded with passes to help them in job seeking. This ordinance was repealed for the Khoikhoi and the colored citizens but not for other Africans who continued to walk around with passes for identification.

When the act to abolish slavery was enacted, the South African government responded to this by now referring to the slaves as indentured laborers. This indenture system was introduced in Xhosa in 1848.  It was not very far from slavery. This was followed by creation of a law that limited the freedom of unskilled workers and enforced restriction on the indentured workers.

1892 and 1894 respectively saw an enactment of law based on financial and educational abilities. These acts were meant to deny Indians the right to vote. In 1905, the Blacks were completely denied rights to vote. They were restricted to live in certain areas and forced to carry passes around. In 1906, an act that required the Indians to be registered was introduced (Chandler, 155). They too were required to have passes. In the year 1910, South Africa was recreated as a dominion which had the power and ability to govern itself. The Whites were given all the political power to control the government. On the other side, the Blacks were denied several rights including the right to be represented in the parliament.

Since the act of slavery and discrimination was being abolished in the whole world, the whites in South Africa did not accept it. In fact, they went ahead and forced the government to kill any prospects of Africans doing skilled work to get better wages. They wanted them to continue providing cheap labor to the farms. There was no way they could come to the acceptance of the fact that Africans were to be free too and carry out their own independent adventures (Harrison, 8).  In 1948 election, John Smuts was defeated by Daniel Malan because Malan campaigned on the apartheid policy.  It was apparent that those who wanted to stop apartheid policy were not favored. The privileged white voters did not want change that is why John could not clinch the seat. He tried to abolish this policy. Malan therefore became the first prime minister in apartheid rule.

What Apartheid Entailed

The apartheid policy was a total racial segregation that was designed to divide people along racial lines and to oppress the Africans who were considered lesser beings in the country. There are many areas that black South Africans were prohibited from going. This was to prevent any contact with the Whites. There were things that they were denied the right to practice. The following were the practices that described apartheid: they enacted laws that were meant to sideline the interest of the non white citizens and placed the White citizens on pedestals high above the Blacks. Mixed marriages were not to be allowed. This rule was put in place in 1949. It prohibited marriage between the white population and the other races. This led to very few occurrences of mixed marriages. There were fewer numbers of mixed marriages as compared to pure White marriages.

The immorality act was introduced in 1957 (Konadu, 251). It prohibited any sexual immorality or sexual intention that could be between whites and blacks. The two races were not to be seen having sexual intentions amongst themselves as that was treated as a grave, criminal offence. Another act that required that the population be registered was enacted in 1950. Everyone was registered under a particular race. This would be used to identify people in times of crucial disputed cases. Another act that brought into the several groups into seclusion was introduced in 1950. It physically separated the races by grouping them into different areas of residence. This act led to forceful eviction of people living in some areas to create space for others who were considered best to live in such areas. For examples, the coloreds were evicted from District 6, a region in Cape Town (Nowak, 127).

The Bantu homelands were also introduced where the Africans were grouped into eight tribal groups. Movement was limited for them at all cost. Another act that suppressed communism was brought into life in 1950. It prohibited communism and discouraged parties within the communities. Communism was discouraged to oppress any possible cause of change and; therefore, any attempt to come up with any was met with serious call for banning.

The act that allowed Blacks to be trained was created in 1951. The black South Africans were to be trained but only work within the black communities. It would be a serious offence to practice skilled labor in the cities where only the Whites were accorded the right to practice.

Voters’ act of 1951 removed the coloreds from the voting list. They were denied the right to vote in the leaders that they preferred. Denying coloreds the right to vote, was a means stopping them from voting out the white oppressors (Louw, 77).

The minister of native affairs was given the power to decide to evict blacks from public or private lands and to look for them an alternative resettlement area. The act of Bantu authorities was constituted in 1952. It created black establishment homelands objectively to create self governance. The amendment of native laws defined the categories of blacks. This gave a right of residence in towns to Africans who were born or had lived or worked in town for at least 15 years. All the blacks were required to have identification pass while going anywhere. Lack of passes was considered a great criminal offence in case one was not able show his when asked to do so. No black was allowed to leave a rural area and go to a town without getting a permit from the local authorities. Once in a town, one was required to obtain a permit that allowed them to seek jobs in the town within 72 hours. Strikes and demonstrations were prohibited. No black had the right of expression. An attempt to go against this law would land one into serious trouble.

Education system that was offered to the blacks was very different from that which was offered to the whites. The whites had a more superior system as compared to the poor ones for Africans. Schools were not to be shared. There were separate schools for Africans and separate ones for Whites.   The curriculums were not balanced to prevent the Africans from gaining the knowledge that would empower them to compete with the Whites (Ellis, 6).  Social amenities were created separately. There was no sharing of transportation, buildings, and recreational facilities. Often there were signs of “whites only” and “non whites only”. Contact with the blacks was avoided at all cost.

End of Apartheid Rule

Whites did not just wake suddenly to end the apartheid rule in South Africa. A number of factors played an important role in ensuring the end to this monster of governance. First, the pressure from the international community was very effective in realizing this. Several sanctions were put on the government of South Africa. President de Klerk and other likeminded ministers played a very crucial role in commissioning the negotiations to stop White minority rule and embrace majority rule. They started by sharing leadership between Mandela and the president (Bozzoli, 96). Another factor was the persistent violence that consequently led to decrease in investment. The atmosphere was now not favorable for investors to come and venture into the South African grounds. Those who had already invested withdrew. This disinvestment highly affected the economy. Another factor that led to end of apartheid rule was the fall of Soviet republic. There was also withdrawal of military by the Americans because the uprisings in South Africa were now not considered as driven by the spirit of communism (Giliomee, 477).

The great influence by South Africa’s first president cannot be underestimated. The existence of Mandela inspired those who were in the forefront fighting to end apartheid rule to continue fighting.

There was internal opposition to apartheid rule. In areas where the blacks lived, frequent unrests were evident. There were strikes and demonstrations. These people could no longer be governed. A number of bomb attacks were witnessed. Opposition by international organizations and campaigns by people of different divide boosted the fight. In 1949, the youth members of ANC rose to be in charge of the party. They advocated for a series of mass campaigns as the only way to defeat the apartheid monster. This saw a number of actions rising up from 1950. In 1969, the likes of Steve Biko organized resistances against apartheid. He was arrested under the terrorism act and briefly jailed. In 1976, students from SOWETO began strikes and collided with the police.

Industrial strikes that were meant to boost workers’ pay, for example, the Durban strike became the order of the day. When the garbage piled, the government did not have otherwise but to give in to the worker’s demands. The effect on the country’s economy became very sound because, in the past, the whites had discouraged the employment of Blacks to take over the skilled jobs. This led to less skilled labor than before due to failure to train personnel (Shimoni , 60). This put the country through a negative economic growth. The trade unions led by the whites also began to realize the situation and they agreed to the fact that very soon they were to start employing the black workers anyway.

Due to these riots, there were many loses. People died in large numbers. Many children stopped going to schools. Economic decline was evident. Something had to be done. Human rights activists both locally and internationally were very vocal in the fight to have South Africa free of discrimination. The likes of Desmond Tutu were not left behind in this revolution. The international community could not be silenced by the inhumane acts and brutality that was used to treat the black South Africans. All in all the several internal resistances were the factors mostly responsible for the abolition of apartheid rule. A split in the party due to different stands on whether to abolish or sustain the apartheid rule also weakened the forces responsible for apartheid. Looking into the 1980s, there were already a number of repeals on the laws. This slackened them one by one such that by the time the resistances heightened, the only apartheid law that fully survived was that associated with limiting political power. When a referendum was carried out, two thirds of the Whites favored a negotiation to stop the white minority rule. Power was finally handed over to ANC in1994 when the first ever free and fair election was held. ANC won with a majority vote. Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the first Black president of a free South Africa (Lowenberg, 101).


Apartheid in South Africa dated between 1948 and 1994. It was a cruel and inhumane act against the people of South Africa. That which was intended to enhance development in all the administrative regions ended up negatively affecting the socio-economic aspect of South Africa. The inhabitants of South Africa had negative perceptions about one another; this prompted the discrimination that lasted for a long time. The country suffered a great deal in the long run. Someone was needed to save this ugly situation. Thanks to the numerous internal resistances and the spirited fights by certain individuals. These fights provoked a worldwide condemnation to this vice. Today South Africa is a State free of apartheid rule and unity and development is raging on high.

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