Apartheid in South Africa
The apartheid in South Africa refers to an official policy by the government of racial segregation that started in the 20th Century. However, the roots of racial inequality in South Africa date back to the colonial times when blacks outnumbered the whites.
The Boers were among the first Afrikaners or the descendants of the Dutch to settle in South Africa. They arrived in this country in the 1600s and displaced the local tribes. After about 100 years later, the British landed in South Africa and occupied South Africa as a protection base. However, they took over control later and integrated South Africa in the broader British Empire in Africa.
Apartheid is an Afrikaans word that translates to “the state of being apart”. It can also be interpreted literally to mean apart-hood. This policy was implemented via a legislation of the government of the National Party which was the ruling party between 1948 and 1994. This era was characterized by curtailed movements, associations and rights of most black inhabitants. The rule of the Afrikaner minority dominated South Africa.
As of 1950, marriages between individuals of the other races and whites had been banned by the government. Sexual relations between the South Africans of white origin and blacks were also prohibited.
According to the 1950’s Population Registration Act, the apartheid framework classified South Africans according to their race. This included the black Africans or the Bantu, the mixed race or Colored and the white. Asians formed the fourth category and these included the Pakistan and the Indian people. There were cases when this legislation separated families after classifying parents as white and their children as colored.
Over 80 percent of the land was set aside by several Land Acts for the whites. Non-whites were required by the pass laws to carry documents that authorized their presence in the restricted areas. Separate facilities were established by the government to limit associations or contacts between people of different races. The non-whites were not allowed to participate in the national government and their labor union had limited activities.
The non-whites resisted apartheid in different ways. For instance, people engaged in non-violent demonstrations, strikes and protests. They also took political actions and later people engaged in armed resistance.
In 1952, ANC and the South Indian National Congress organized a meeting during which the attendees burned passbooks. In 1955, a group known as the Congress of the People came up with a Freedom Charter. 150 people were arrested when a meeting of this group was disrupted by the government.
A massacre took place in Sharpeville in a black township when the police fired at a group of the blacks that was associated with Pan-African Congress. Over 180 people were wounded and 67 blacks killed during this incident.
Apartheid ended in 1994 after a new constitution was effected enfranchising the blacks as well as other non-white groups. Elections were held the same year and Nelson Mandela was elected as the first black president in South Africa.
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