CLIO mr brice - page 16

Apartheid – a system of legislation which enforced policies of racial
segregation – was implemented in South Africa in 1948 after the National
Party gained political power, and it remained in place for over forty years.
But why was it that only a decade before the Civil Rights Movement in
America, which gave black Americans equal rights, took place, South
Africa’s government was headed in the opposite direction?
Racial segregation in South Africa started much earlier than 1948; just
three years after they gained independence from Britain in 1910; the
South African government passed the controversial Land Act of 1913,
under the illusion that separation would bring peace and prosperity to
the South African nation. This new law, which set aside just 7% of land
reserves for the black majority in South Africa, encouraged the formation
of an opposition group, which would later become known as the African
National Congress (ANC), who disagreed with the way black people were
now treated as a separate other, and were made to live in reserves separate
from white people. The Act is therefore arguably the first sign of conflict
in political interests, which would set the stage for following years.
By 1950, the all-white government, advocates of white supremacy, had
split and categorised its population according to the colour of their skin.
The Bantu (black Africans), the mixed raced and the whites could no
longer live together, and over eighty percent of South African land was set
aside for the white minority. In addition, all non-whites needed to carry
pass-books, which allowed them access to most areas and, mirroring
the Jim Crow Laws in America, required them to use separate public
facilities.
However by 1958, the new prime minister, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd,
encouraged the ‘separate development’ of both races. He introduced the
Bantu Self-Government Act in 1959, which allowed the government to
claim that there was no black majority because they were now split into
eight separate reserves (Bantu Homelands). He further separated black
Africans from each other, and created ten new Bantu homelands where,
over the next thirty years, in which over 3.5million black Africans were
deposited.
Demonstrations took many forms over the course of Apartheid: in 1952
the ANC oversaw the peaceful mass-burning of pass books, but after a
police shooting in 1960, opposition groups turned to violence. Nelson
Mandela was arrested in 1963 because of his involvement in violent
protest and remained a political prisoner until 1990, but his role should
not be underestimated: his imprisonment gained international sympathy,
and encouraged foreign nations to support the black Africans in their
opposition to Apartheid, which was ended by President De Klerk in
1994.
Whether or not we have learned anything from the political conflict in
South Africa is difficult to determine at present. But the negative social
consequences of Apartheid in South Africa: that crime rates remain
high, and that many black citizens still remain in poverty, will hopefully
discourage future nations from making the same mistakes that South
Africa did.
By Lauren Holmes
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