The word “apartheid” originated in South Africa. It is an Afrikaan word meaning ‘apartness.’ It was introduced by the minority in South Africa as a result of their erroneous belief that they were the superior race and that the non-whites did not deserve to mingle with them. It started with the controversial land act and culminated to a point when apartheid was a legal policy in South Africa. Despite reactions from the international community, apartheid reign continued in South Africa for more than half a century. Below are some real facts about the apartheid age.
1913 Land Act
This was the first formal move to establish apartheid in South Africa. It compelled colored people to live in reserve areas. These reserve areas was about 10% of the total land mass of the country. This act restricted their movement to certain areas, unless they had a document authorizing their presence under the ‘pass law.’ They were equally restricted from working on lands owned by the whites.
1948 General Elections
The 1948 general election in South Africa saw the National Party in power. The all white government then officially adopted a system of segregation called apartheid, which aimed at enforcing the previous racial segregation policies.
Population Act 1950
By 1950, the ruling government classified the people of South Africa into four races: Bantus (blacks), coloured (mixed), Asian (Pakistan and Indian), and Whites. This went further to ban marriages between non-whites and whites.
Education Segregation Law
In 1953, the education segregation law was passed, denying the non-whites access to quality education. Hendri Verwoer, the minister of native affairs affirmed that the law was meant to lure the blacks into manual labour in his speech saying, “there is no place for the Bantus in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour… what is the use of teaching a Bantus child mathematics when he cannot use it in practice”.
In 1958, the PM, Dr. Herdwikverwoer introduced the policy of separate development, which divided the Blacks into ten distinct groups. Each with a local leader, thus giving them a view of local independence and limiting their chance of national coalition. It was also meant to denounce their claim as one Bantu and a majority race in South Africa.
The Soweto Uprising
16th June 1976 marked the beginning of the Soweto uprising when over 20,000 high school students protested the use of Afrikaan as a language of instruction in the non-white schools. The police opened fire on the protesters. At least 176 citizens lost their life during the Soweto saga. Consequently, the UN Security Council placed an embargo on sale of arms to South Africa. The US and UK equally imposed economic sanctions on South Africa in 1985.
End of Apartheid
In 1990, the president De Klerk started the negotiation toward ending apartheid. The efforts of the South African Icon, Nelson Mandela (late), who was released from prison the same year after spending 27 years in jail, coupled with efforts of the president brought to reality the end of apartheid. The reign of apartheid officially ended in South Africa in the year 1994, after the general election which saw the ANC as the ruling party with the late icon Nelson Mandela as the president. The election has majority blacks in power, and thus constitutional reviews followed.