Apartheid in South Africa

And the effects on Black South Africans

Apartheid: An overview

Apartheid was a period of segregation between the different races of South Africa occuring from the early 1900s and onward, which was put in place by the National Party of South Africa. During this time, dozens of laws and acts were put in place which separated and categorized people based on their origins and the color of their skin. Nonwhite Africans suffered greatly as a result of this change, as many of their job opportunies were taken away and the places they could go became limited. Worst of all, their rights themselves were even stripped from them over time.

The Causes of Apartheid

There were many causes to the beginning of Apartheid in South Africa. One of the main reasons for its existence was the concept of Social Darwinism, which had principles stating that each race had its own individual destiny that it must complete on its own. Because of this, all of the races have to be separated in order to prevent their 'destiny' from being jeopardized. Another cause of Apartheid was the beginning of World War II. The large European population had a decent proportion of people of German descent, and when Hitler and his ideas took charge, it influenced them as well. Blacks were one of the races which Hitler disapproved of, so this component of his political agenda rubbed off on South Africa's as well, thus adding to the tensions which began the segregation.


During Apartheid, a multitude of laws were passed against black South Africans under the rule of several different leaders. Though the British gained control of South Africa, the Afrikaners maintained effective power over the country. The Afrikaners were generally represented by the National Party of South Africa, who won the majority vote in 1948, as the remaining nonwhites were removed from the voting rolls during the 1930s. This party and people associated with it passed segregation laws, both before and after it won majority status, such as the Native Land Act of 1913, which gave 80% of good land to whites and restricted nonwhites to "homelands." Another act was the Population Registration Act of 1950, which placed all South Africans under categories of race. An additional legislation passed in 1950 was the Group Areas act, which separated whites and nonwhites into different commercial and residential lands and also completely restricted nonwhites from entering certain areas.
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The Social Aspects of Apartheid

The social aspects of Apartheid had many negative consequences for the black citizens of South Africa. Apartheid was originally coined as a derivative of the concept of Social Darwinism, which stated that each race had its own individual destiny, which could only be completed without the influence of other races. This inspired the segregation that Apartheid brought upon South Africa, as the Afrikaners believed that if they were to associate with black South Africans, their destiny would be jeopardized. Some laws passed to restrict the commingling of whites and nonwhites are the aforementioned Group Areas act, as well as the the 1953 Education Act. The 1953 Education Act forced all nonwhite Africans out of mission schools and placed them into state-run schools, where students were taught about the concepts of Social Darwinism, as well as the importance of segregation as thought by the Afrikaners. Other laws tried to restrict certain job positions only available to whites and create separate public facilities for both racial categories (white and nonwhite) in order to prevent interaction.
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The Economy

Though the economy in South Africa improved drastically during the era of Apartheid, the decisions of the government often challenged preset beliefs and brought upon turmoil as a result of international influence. As aforementioned, many laws were passed with the intention of only allowing white South Africans to have certain job positions. These legislations were changed before and during World War II because of the economic pressure that was put on South Africa. Later on, the United Kingdom tried to pressure its former colony into removing its segregation policies in 1961. This resulted in South Africa becoming a republic of its own and leaving the British commonwealth, which resulted in economic growth. A bit after in 1970, the worldwide oil crisis threatened this prosperity which the country had maintained for so long. To further jeopardize their status, Apartheid gradually became less and less acceptable and other nations began to take notice. Companies in Europe and North America started to stop trading with South Africa, as well as the government itself, resulting in an economic decline.
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The Resistance Movements

Many Black South Africans refused to submit to the restrictive laws and fought back. The main resistance to Apartheid was known as the African National Congress, which was formed in 1912. In the '20s and '30s, the Congress had moderate, reform-driven principles, but the younger generation was upset at the lack of progress. When the National Party won in 1948, however, they were forced to begin to take action. One of the ways which the ANC fought back was refusing to carry their passes which identified them by tribe. This was against the law and was done in protest. The protest was conceived by Johannesburg lawyers Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu, who would later become the leaders of the resistance movement in general. Nelson Mandela in particular felt that peaceful protests were not enough and broke off from the ANC to create the "Umkhonto we Sizwe," or the Spear of the Nation. This group focused more on offensive, sabotage-based tactics. Irrelevant to the groups, many other protests occured, such as the Sharpevilles protests in 1960 and the Soweto protests in 1976. Both of these ended in police brutality, with over 60 and over a thousand deaths, respectively.
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The Aftermath of Apartheid

When the president in 1989 had to retire due to his ailing health, he was replaced by Frederik de Klerik. Frederik de Klerik noticed the country's rapid decline since the '70s, so regardless of his status as a National Party member, he knew change needed to occur. Working with Nelson Mandela, who was incarcerated for nearly three decades for his work as the leader of the Spear of the Nation, he began to reappeal Apartheid's most important laws. In 1992, South Africans voted to end Apartheid and later on in 1994, the first ever racially-inclusive election took place and the African National Congress finally won. Nelson Mandela became the new president and served until 1999. Though Apartheid ended, its effects still scar South Africa. Many black South Africans remain in poverty and racism still is present. Thankfully, the nation is recovering and in time, it will be a prosperous country, for all races to enjoy.