Sample History Essay on Apartheid in South Africa

Apartheid in South Africa

Apartheid was a South African philosophy that initiated the separation of the races among South Africans. The ideology was established by the members of the National Party who were aiming at controlling the South African economy as well as its political system. Racial discrimination was the norm during the period of apartheid, with the whites who were the minority ruling over the black majority. The blacks were denied their political, economic, and social rights. In addition, their lands were grabbed, and both men and women were forced to work on farms for commercial products without payment. The blacks were forced to live in squeezed, poorly situated areas that were infertile, after their displacement. Land ownership by the blacks was restricted by the whites, following the Natives Land Act of 1913. This Act contributed majorly to apartheid by limiting the blacks to conduct any form of land transactions while crowning the whites with rights and titles to own land as well as the ruling power over the black majority.

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Based on the Native Land Act of 1913, the natives were not allowed to enter into any agreement or transaction for the purchase, hire, or acquisition of land from another person except the fellow native. Equally, the Act states that no other person besides a native is allowed to engage in any form of land transactions in the area scheduled for the natives. The laws greatly disadvantaged the natives since the reserved land for the black was very small compared to the land set aside for the whites. The whites thrived economically and socially as a result of these native land laws. The white minorities enslaved the blacks by forcing them to work on farms and provide domestic services for them, without offering the blacks payment. The black South Africans were totally deprived of their rights to own land and compete favorably with the white South African farmworkers for jobs. Similarly, the natives were harassed by their bosses who evicted them without notice whenever they failed to comply with the boss’ cruel demands, as indicated by Plaatje who recounts the effects of the Native Land Act before the apartheid. Plaatje states that groups of families who had been evicted traveled in hardship in search of asylum, along with their households including their stock. Some of their cattle died on the way as a result of poverty, yet some natives could be imprisoned for traveling with the dying stocks. Moreover, some families were compelled to travel with their sick children who barely survived the harsh conditions of the journey with no food nor water (Plaatje). Most of them died on the way and were secretly buried in graves during nightfall since they had no right or title to lands these lands. The black South Africans suffered social discrimination, economic and political rights deprivation in their own country, with no one to advocate for them. They had to bear with the tough conditions for survival.

Basing on the Native Land Act of 1913, the White governance made laws that furthered racial discrimination among South Africans during the apartheid era.  Individuals were compelled to live and develop in seclusion from other races. South Africans were registered by the Department of Home Affairs based on their racial groups (South African History Online). People were treated differently according to their groups. The whites were the superior minorities who possessed ruling power over other races that were considered inferior including the blacks, Asians, and Indians. Among other South African laws, the 1913 Act was a foundation of the subsequent land legislature, and removal of natives from their lands, which promoted apartheid and impoverishment by many South Africans. The apartheid laws that revolved around the Natives Land Act of 1913 according to South African History Online were the Group Areas Act of 1950 and the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959. The Group Areas Act of 1950 demanded the resettlement of some racial groups to their secluded area of habituation, thus initiating the physical racial separation that mainly occurred in the urban regions. This physical separation weakened the people’s will and strength to fight for their dispossessed rights hence they were compelled to remain under the harsh governance of the whites. On the other hand, the Promotion of Bantu Self-government Act of 1959 demanded that different racial groups had to occupy different areas of residence (South African History Online).following the establishment of the 1959 Act, the blacks were allocated for a minimal percentage of South African land, where they were to establish homelands with their entire households and stock.

The Act equally ensured that all black people who were residing in the white people’s area were removed and resettled in townships outside the cities. South African History Online states that most black removals occurred in cities like District 6, Sophia town, and Lady Selborne. No native could own property in these cities besides renting, since they were exclusively owned by the whites. The natives were greatly inconvenienced due to the loss of their homes, which they had owned for several years. The majority lost their jobs following resettlement to underdeveloped regions that were very far from work. The apartheid laws resulted in extreme poverty among the natives as well as other inferior races, while the whites amassed wealth continually. Additionally, apartheid was against intermarriage systems and social incorporation among different races. Individuals had to marry from their designated races to avoid punishment from the white authority. Any form of friendship among individuals of different racial groups was equally prohibited and punishable accordingly. The hostile condition caused the blacks pain and hatred against the whites, which led to resistance.

Following the formation of the South African Native Land Act of 1913, which initiated the territorial segregation of the natives from the whites, other laws including those established during the apartheid was formed to continue social discrimination, political suppression, and economic deprivation by the weak majority-black race. The natives were denied rights to acquire property in their own country, by the whites who had gained power and formulated policies in their own favor. They evicted the blacks from their lands, which they had owned for many years, and resettled them in smaller congested regions which were not suitable for farming. Instead, the whites grabbed the blacks’ fertile land and forced them to work on the land for produce for the whites’ benefit. The natives were subjected to tremendous torture, from slavery to poverty in addition to the deaths of their beloved ones and their stock. They were inhumanely separated and confined according to their races. Social integration between races was unheard of during the apartheid era. Thus, the Native Land Act of 1913 was the basis of apartheid which promoted discrimination against the South African natives.

Works Cited

Plaatje, Sol. “Native Life in South Africa.” Braamfontein: Ravan Press. 2017 12 Dec. 2019.

South African History Online. “A History of Apartheid in South Africa.” South African History Online. 23 July, 2019. 12 Dec. 2019.