Apartheid in South Africa: Regime, Supremacy, Laws, Racism
Definition of Apartheid
Apartheid (“apartness” in the language of Afrikaans) was a system of legislation that upheld segregationist policies against non-white citizens of South Africa. After the National Party gained power in South Africa in 1948, its all-white government immediately began enforcing existing policies of racial segregation. – Source: History.Com
Introduction to Apartheid in South Africa
After the Second World War, when most African countries attained independence, South Africa was still in the firm grip of racist leader, Fredrick W. De Klerk. Because of its complex nature, South African nationalist movements were not restricted to black Africans alone. the English-speaking people of South Africa wanted a union in 1910, the idea was to bring together all white South Africans under a nation.
The Afrikaner, the descendants of the Dutch farmer called boers, wanted autonomy from the white and black Africans. African nationalists comprised the Bantu tribes who fought independently to have a separate state. The whites in South Africa continued to enjoy on restricted freedom and privileges under the apartheid enclave at the expense of the blacks.
Rise of White Autocracy
The rise of white autocracy, supremacy and their policies.
The establishment of an autocratic status of the white minority rule has been the bane of South African apartheid system. This system allowed the white minority, irrespective of religion, origin, or accomplishment, an immeasurable access to assets of the Nation; while non-white (blacks) were denied the same opportunities and privileges.
In churches, the line were drawn between the Christians and Barbarians, while Van Riebueck said the whisper distinction should be the civilized and uncivilized.
The aristocratic society who was originally adopted as a way of life and frontiersmen, but later taken over and repackaged to meet the circumstance of the white minority rule.
The master and servant act regulated these relationships. The whites even reported in 1922 to uphold the ‘Civilized Labour Policy‘. Four-fifths of the members supported the move to maintain the aristocracy, whether they were poor or rich, they can speak English or not.
Professor P.V. Pistorius summed up the conflict in modern terms: “the bare and unshamed facts is that the European needs the Native as a labourer, but that he is not prepared to allow him to cross the economic colour bar nor to give him political equality”.
The white minority acquired and commanded land meant for the natives. The dismantling of the frontier policy created more opportunities for the white to acquire more land and throw the natives to few acreage available. The non-availabilty of land forced the Africans to become labourers on their own land.
The South African Nationalism
There was no marked nationalist movement among the whites. What day did instead of forming a formidable nationalist movement was to form a union. The union was based on speakers of English and Afrikaans. This did not make a meaningful impact on the agitation for independence. In fact, it was not set up for independence but instead it was set up to achieve a single white nation.
The emergence of afrikaner nationalist movement was remarkable. Its two traditional enemies were British and the Africans. In the first phase of the movement, it did not only reject Dutch rule, but its culture as of their own. Though rooted in Dutch, they have their own literature and language. Their belief was to bring civilization to the barbarians. They developed in the afrikaner nationalism, ‘a sense of having been called and chosen… a belief in a kind of supernatural or mystic creation of the Afrikaner Nation’. The Afrikaner nationalist movement was parochial in its aim. Though it fought the British overlords, it was not successful at changing the status quo of members.
Apartheid Regime in South Africa
Apartheid was the ideology supported by the National Party (NP) government and was introduced in South Africa in 1948. Apartheid called for the separate development of the different racial groups in South Africa. On paper it appeared to call for equal development and freedom of cultural, but the way it was implemented made this impossible.
Apartheid made laws forced the different racial groups to live separately and developed separately, and grossly unequally. It tried to stop all intermarriage and social integration between racial groups. During apartheid in South Africa, to have a friendship with someone of a different race generally brought suspicion upon you, or worse.
More than this, apartheid was a social system which severely disadvantaged the majority of the population, simply because they did not share the skin colour of the rulers. Many were kept just above destitution because they were non-white.
Racial segregation and white supremacy had become central aspects of South African policy long before apartheid began. The Controversial 1913 Land Act, past three years after South Africa gained its independence, marked the beginning of territorial segregation by forcing black Africans to live in reserves and making it illegal for them to work as sharecroppers.
Opponents of the Land Act formed the South African National Native Congress, which later became the African National Congress (ANC).
The Great Depression and World War II brought increasing economic woes to South Africa, and convinced the government to strengthen its policy of racial segregation. In 1948, the Afrikaner National Party won the general election under the slogan “apartheid”, which means separateness. Their goal was not only two separate South Africa’s white-minority from it’s not white majority, but to also separate non-whites from each other, and to divide black South Africans along tribal lines in order to increase their political power.
Apartheid Laws in South Africa
Numerous laws were passed in the creation of the apartheid state. Below are a few of the pillars on which it rested:
#1. Population Registration Act, 1950
This Act demanded that people be registered according to their racial group. This meant that the department of home appears would have a record of people according to whether they were white, coloured, black, Indian or Asian. People would then be treated differently according to their population group, and so this law formed the basis of apartheid. It was however not always that easy to decide what racial group a person was part of, and this caused some problems.
#2. Group Areas Act, 1950
This was the Act that stated physical separation between races, especially in urban areas. The ACT also called for the removal of some groups of people into areas set aside for their racial group.
#3. Promotion of Bantu Self-government Act, 1959
This Act said that different racial groups had to live in different areas. Only a small percentage of South Africa was left for black people (who comprised the vast majority) to form their homelands.
This ACT also got rid of black spots inside white areas, by moving all black people out of the city. Well-known removals were those in District 6, Sophiatown and Lady Selborne. These black people were then placed in townships outside of the town. They could not own property there and only rent it, as the land could only be white owned. This Act caused much hardship and resentment. People lost their homes, were moved off land they had owned for many years and were moved to undeveloped areas faraway from their place of work.
Other Important Laws were;
• Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, 1949
• Immorality Amendment Act, 1950
• Seperate Representation of Voters Act, 1951
Opposition to Apartheid in South Africa
Resistance to apartheid in South Africa took many forms over the years, from nonviolent demonstrations, protests and strikes to political action and eventually to armed resistance. Together with the South Indian National Congress, the ANC organized a mass meeting in 1952, during which attendees burn their past books.
Another opposition was a group called itself the Congress of the People adopted a freedom charter in 1955 asserting that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black or white.” The government broke up the meeting and arrested 150 people, charging them with high treason.
In 1960, at the black township of Sharpesvillage, the police opened fire on a group of unarmed blacks associated with the Pan-African Congress (PAN), an offshoot of the ANC. The group had arrived at the police station without passes, inviting arrest as an act of resistance. Total of 67 blacks were killed and about 200 black people are injured.
Sharpesvillage convinced many anti-apartheid countries that they could not achieve their objectives by peaceful means, and both the PAC and ANC established military wings, neither of which ever posed a serious military threat to the state.
By 1961, most resistance leaders had been captured and sentenced to long prison terms or executed. Nelson Mandela, a founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the military wing of the ANC, was incarcerated from 1963 to 1990; his appointment would draw international attention and help garner support for the anti-apartheid causes.
The End of Apartheid
The apartheid system in South Africa was ended through a series of negotiations between 1990 and 1993 and through unilateral steps by the De Klerk government. These negotiations took place between the governing National Party, the African National Congress, and a wide variety of other political organisations. – Wikipedia
In 1976, when thousands of black children in Soweto, a black township outside Johannesburg, South Africa, demonstrated against the Afrikaans language requirement for black African students, the police opened fire with tear gas and bullets.
The protest at government crackdown that followed, combined with a national economic recession, do you more international attention to South Africa and shattered all illusions that apartheid had bought peace and prosperity to the nation.
The United Nations Organisation General Assembly committees had denounced apartheid in 1973, and in 1976, the United Nations Security Council voted to impose a mandatory embargo on the sale of arms to South Africa. In 1985, the United Kingdom and United States imposed economic sanctions on South Africa.
Under pressure from the international community, the National Party government of Pieter Botha sought to institute some reforms, including abolition of the press laws and the ban on interracial sex and marriage.
However, The reforms fell short of any substantive change. By 1989, Botha was pressured to step aside in favour of F.W. De Klerk. Klerk’s government subsequently repealed the Population Registration Act, as well as most of the other legislation that formed the legal basis for apartheid. A new constitution, which emphasized blacks and other racial groups, took effect in 1994, and elections that year led to a coalition government with a non-white majority, marking the official end of the apartheid system in South Africa.