On Apartheid Essay Research Paper TopicApartheidThesis StatementOutlineApartheidI

On Apartheid Essay, Research Paper



Thesis Statement



I. South Africa

II. Seperateness

A. Black

B. White

C. Colored (Mixed Race)

D. Asian

III. Segregation

A. Housing

B. Education

C. Employment

D. Public Accomodations

E. Transportation



“Apartheid, pronounced ah PAHRT hayt or pronounced ah PAHRT hyt, was, from 1948 until 1991, the South African government’s policy of rigid racial segregation. The word apartheid means separateness in Afrikaans, one of South Africa’s official languages.

Built on earlier South African laws and customs, apartheid classified every South African by race as either (1) black, (2) white, (3) Colored (mixed race), or (4) Asian. Apartheid required segregation in housing, education, employment, public accommodations, and transportation. It segregated not only almost all whites from nonwhites but also major nonwhite groups from each other. It also limited the rights of nonwhites to own and occupy land, and to enter white neighborhoods.”


“The South African government tried to justify apartheid by claiming that peaceful coexistence of the races was possible only if the races were separated from one another. However, white South Africans used apartheid chiefly as a way to control the vast nonwhite majority.

Most South Africans strongly opposed apartheid. Leading opposition groups included the African National Congress (ANC). Most ANC members were blacks. Between 1948 and 1991, large numbers of people protested apartheid by staging boycotts, demonstrations, and strikes. Violence often broke out, and thousands of people, most of them blacks, were killed.”


“But apartheid’s effects continued even after the laws were repealed. Today, many blacks and other nonwhites continue to face unofficial segregation and discrimination in South Africa.”

Apartheid is the policy of racial segregation formerly followed in South Africa. The word apartheid means separateness in the Afrikaans language, and it described the rigid racial division between the governing white minority population and the nonwhite majority population. Apartheid was the political policy for South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s.

Apartheid laws classified people according to three major racial groups: white; Bantu, or black African; and Coloured, or people of mixed descent. Later, Asians, or Indians and Pakistanis, were added as a fourth category. The laws determined where members of each racial group could live, prohibited most social contact between races, and denied representation of nonwhites in the national government.

Before apartheid became the official policy, South Africa had a long history of racial segregation. In 1910 parliamentary membership was limited to whites, and legislation passed in 1913 restricted black land ownership. In 1912 the African National Congress (ANC) was founded to fight these policies. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s the government implemented a series of reforms, but apartheid continued to be criticized internationally. In 1990 South Africa finally ended apartheid.

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, formed to uncover past events without further polarizing society, released its final report on human rights abuses under apartheid in 1998. Its conclusions were attacked by all of the country’s main political parties, none of which escaped criticism in the report.



South Africa gains independence from Great Britain after the passage of the Statute of Westminster by the British Parliament in December 1931 and its acceptance by South Africa in June 1934. From the formation of the independent country, the white minority controls the government and moves to limit the powers of nonwhites and create special designated areas, or homelands, for them to live.

Dec. 8, 1946

The United Nations adopts a resolution condemning the South African government’s treatment of its Indian minority and asks both South Africa and India to report back as to whether conditions had improved to conform with the U.N. charter. A highly publicized effort by India to prevent South Africa from discriminating against the Indian minority marks the most prominent criticism to date of South Africa’s increasingly divisive racial policies. [See Facts On File print edition 1946, p.39A]

May 26, 1948

The conservative Afrikaner-dominated National Party wins parliamentary elections and gains control of the South African government. The party, under new Premier Dr. Daniel F. Malan, begins taking steps toward implementing apartheid (apartness), the national policy of racial separation. [See Facts On File print edition 1948, p. 171C2]

June 13, 1950

Group Areas Act is enacted. It segregates communities and relegates the black population to a minor percentage of the nation’s land. [See Facts On File print edition 1950, p. 189M]

July 7, 1950

Population Registrations Act is enacted. It requires all South Africans to register their race with the government.


Enactment of pass laws. The laws require blacks to carry passbooks so that the government can regulate their travel through the country.


Separate Amenities Act is enacted, establishing separate public facilities for whites and nonwhites.

June 26, 1955

The African National Congress and other opposition groups adopt the Freedom Charter, calling for equal political rights for all races.

March 21 – April 5, 1960

Police kill 69 unarmed protesters in Sharpeville. The government bans all opposition groups, may of which begin underground armed struggles for black and mixed-race liberation, including the African National Congress. [See Facts On File print edition 1960, pp. 109F3, 103D3]

May 31, 1961

South Africa becomes a republic. The decision to break from the Commonwealth is prompted by Asian and African Commonwealth member sates’ denunciation of South Africa’s apartheid policies, which it refuses to alter. [See Facts On File print edition 1961, p. 97A1]

Nov. 12, 1963

U.N. General Assembly President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria suspends South Africa from participating in the remainder of assembly sessions for that year. The following day South Africa recalls it U.N. ambassador and freezes its $1 million annual contribution to the organization. [See Facts On File print edition 1963, p. 935F2]

June 12, 1964

Nelson Mandela, an ANC leader, is convicted of sabotage and trying to overthrow the government. He is sentenced to life in prison. [See Facts On File print edition 1964, p. 197C1]

June 16, 1976

A student protest in the black township of Soweto against mandatory education in Afrikaans spreads. The government, in an effort to suppress the civil unrest, kills 575 people over eight months. [See Facts On File print edition 1976, p. 425F1]

Oct. 26, 1976

Transkei becomes the first homeland granted nominal independence. The 10 homelands eventually make up about 13% of South African territory. [See Facts On File print edition 1976, p. 813A1]

Sept. 12, 1977

Steven Biko, one of the most influential black student leaders in South Africa, is reported to have died from a hunger strike while in police detention. [See Facts On File print edition 1977, p. 707C3]

Nov. 2, 1983

White voters approve a new constitution that creates separate chambers in the legislature for Asians and Coloreds (people of mixed race), although not for blacks.

June 12, 1986

A national state of emergency is imposed following widespread strikes and riots. The decree gives virtually unlimited powers to the security forces and imposes restrictions on the press.

July 1, 1986

Laws requiring blacks to carry passbooks for identification are scrapped.

Sept. 29, 1986

U.S. Congress overrides President Ronald Reagan’s veto and imposes strict economic sanctions against South Africa.

Sept. 14, 1989

Reformist F. W. de Klerk of the National Party is elected president.

Nov. 16, 1989

De Klerk announces plans to scrap the Separate Amenities Act, and it is subsequently repealed.

Feb. 2, 1990

De Klerk lifts restrictions on 33 opposition groups, most of which had been banned for their antiapartheid activities.

Feb. 11, 1990

ANC leader Nelson Mandela is released after 27 years in prison. [See Nelson Mandela Freed in South Africa]

Oct. 18, 1990

The state of emergency is lifted in Natal province, the last region of the country where it is still in effect.

Jan. 9, 1991

Black students enter previously all-white public schools.

June 5, 1991

The Lands Acts of 1913 and 1936 and the Group Areas Act of 1950 are repealed.

June 18, 1991

The Population Registration Act of 1950 is repealed.

July 10, 1991

President George Bush lifts most U.S. economic sanctions against South Africa.

Sept. 4, 1991

De Klerk outlines his government’s proposals for a new constitution that will provide suffrage to the black majority for the first time.

Dec. 20-21, 1991

Delegations from 19 political groups meet in Johannesburg for talks aimed at ending white-minority rule in South Africa. Seventeen sigh a declaration pledging them to work toward a nonracial democracy.

March 17, 1992

South African whites, voting in record numbers, overwhelmingly endorse de Klerk’s reform policies in a referendum on whether to negotiate an end to white minority rule through talks wit the black majority.

June 17, 1992

More than 40 blacks are killed in the South African township of Boipatong. The incident prompts the ANC to withdraw from constitutional talks for four months, uring the government to take steps to curb township violence that has claimed 1,500 lives since the beginning of 1992.

Feb. 12, 1993

The government and the ANC agree on a transitional “government of national unity” in which bot parties will be partners.

April 10, 1993

Chris Hani, the secretary general of the South African Communist Party, is assassinated. White rightist are later convicted.

July 2, 1993

A date is confirmed for the country’s first universal suffrage elections.

Sept. 7, 1993

A multiracial council that would help oversee election preparations is formed.

Oct. 8, 1993

U.N. lifts most remaining economic sanctions against South Africa.

Nov. 18-23, 1993

Twenty-one of South Africa’s black and white political parties approve a majority-rule constitution that provides fundamental rights to blacks. The document calls for the election of a coalition government that would remain in office for five years after the elections, and for the dissolution of the country’s 10 black self-governing homelands. The U.S. repeals sanctions against South Africa.

Jan. 29-Feb. 2, 1994

Mandela and de Klerk officially launch their respective election campaigns. Mandela presents the ANC’s campaign manifesto detailing the group’s economic-reform proposals.

March 13-31, 1994

The leader of the Bophuthatswana homeland, who opposed the election accord, is deposed by South African government forces. A state of emergency is declared in the KwaZulu homeland following upsuges of civil unrest. Also, 53 people are killed in gun battles in Johannesburg during a protest march by Zulus demanding that KwaZulu be excluded from the elections.

April 19, 1994

The Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party, which has been blamed for inciting violence in its KwaZulu stronghold, agrees to join the elections.

April 26-29, 1994

The country’s first universal suffrage elections are held, and blacks are given their first opportunity to vote.

May 2, 1994

Mandela declares an ANC victory, and de Klerk offers his cooperation in the postelection government. The new parliament is set to meet the following week, and Mandela is scheduled to be sworn in as president May 10.

South Africa is a country blessed with an abundance of natural resources including fertile farmlands and unique mineral resources. South African mines are world leaders in the production of diamonds and gold as well as strategic metals such as platinum. The climate is mild, reportedly resembling the San Francisco bay area weather more than anywhere in the world.

South Africa was colonized by the English and Dutch in the seventeenth century. English domination of the Dutch descendents (known as Boers or Afrikaners) resulted in the Dutch establishing the new colonies of Orange Free State and Transvaal. The discovery of diamonds in these lands around 1900 resulted in an English invasion which sparked the Boer War. Following independence from England, an uneasy power-sharing between the two groups held sway until the 1940’s, when the Afrikaner National Party was able to gain a strong majority. Strategists in the National Party invented apartheid as a means to cement their control over the economic and social system. Initially, aim of the apartheid was to maintain white domination while extending racial separation. Starting in the 60’s, a plan of “Grand Apartheid” was executed, emphasizing territorial separation and police repression.

With the enactment of apartheid laws in 1948, racial discrimination was institutionalized. Race laws touched every aspect of social life, including a prohibition of marriage between non-whites and whites, and the sanctioning of “white-only” jobs. In 1950, the Population Registration Act required that all South Africans be racially classified into one of three categories: white, black (African), or colored (of mixed decent). The coloured category included major subgroups of Indians and Asians. Classification into these categories was based on appearance, social acceptance, and descent. For example, a white person was defined as “in appearance obviously a white person or generally accepted as a white person.” A person could not be considered white if one of his or her parents were non-white. The determination that a person was “obviously white” would take into account “his habits, education, and speech and deportment and demeanor.” A black person would be of or accepted as a member of an African tribe or race, and a colored person is one that is not black or white. The Department of Home Affairs (a government bureau) was responsible for the classification of the citizenry. Non-compliance with the race laws were dealt with harshly. All blacks were required to carry “pass books” containing fingerprints, photo and information on access to non-black areas.

John Dugard, Nicholas Haysom and Gilbert Marcus. The Last Years of Apartheid: Civil Liberties in South Africa. Ford Foundation, New York, 1992.

Revolution is What is Happening in South Africa. The New York Times, page 26, April 5, 1985

In 1951, the Bantu Authorities Act established a basis for ethnic government in African reserves, known as “homelands.” These homelands were independent states to which each African was assigned by the government according to the record of origin (which was frequently inaccurate). All political rights, including voting, held by an African were restricted to the designated homeland. The idea was that they would be citizens of the homeland, losing their citizenship in South Africa and any right of involvement with the South African Parliament which held complete hegemony over the homelands. From 1976 to 1981, four of these homelands were created, denationalizing nine million South Africans. The homeland administrations refused the nominal independence, maintaining pressure for political rights within the country as a whole. Nevertheless, Africans living in the homelands needed passports to enter South Africa: aliens in their own country.

In 1953, the Public Safety Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act were passed, which empowered the government to declare stringent states of emergency and increased penalties for protesting against or supporting the repeal of a law. The penalties included fines, imprisonment and whippings. In 1960, a large group of blacks in Sharpeville refused to carry their passes; the government declared a state of emergency. The emergency lasted for 156 days, leaving 69 people dead and 187 people wounded. Wielding the Public Safety Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act, the white regime had no intention of changing the unjust laws of apartheid.


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