Origins of Apartheid
In the seventeenth century, South Africa was colonized by Dutch and British imperialists. In response to British domination, Dutch settlers made two colonies: The Republic of the Orange Free State and Transvaal. Dutch descendants became known as “Afrikaners” or “Boers.” In the early 1900s, Boers discovered diamonds on their land. This led to a Britain invasion and sparked the Second Boer War, which lasted three years. This was the first modern war to see concentration camps; they were used successfully to break the will of Afrikaner guerilla forces by detaining their families. British forces won the war, converting the two Boer states into colonies who were promised limited self-governance. Post-Boer War, the power balance became an uneasy one, until the Afrikaner National Party found a majority.
The party found their majority in 1948. One factor contributing to this majority was that in 1930, the government gave the right to vote to white women thus doubling their political power. In efforts to guarantee their social and economic control over South Africa, the National Party contrived a “Grand Apartheid” plan. The focus of this was to systematically institutionalize racial segregation, and reinforce it with police brutality. Among the first laws passed include The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949), Population Registration Act (1950) and Group Areas Act (1950). The Group Areas Act took information from the Population Registration and set up ethnic areas that only those ethnicities could live in (white, black and coloured areas); these areas were known as Bantustans. The demarcation lines of these areas were absurd, for example, one Bantustan, “KwaZulu, consists of no fewer than ten separate pieces” (Blood in the Homelands, par. 2). If a family happened to live outside their Bantustan, they would be forcibly relocated. This created “white only” areas. If a nonwhite wanted to enter one of these locations, one would have to carry their “pass book” which only gave them limited access.
In 1951, the Bantu Authorities Act was implemented which would later be used to further suppress ethnic groups. It created “homelands” or states for each ethnic group. This had the effect of diverting the majority’s political rights (such as voting, political participation, etc.) away from the National Party and toward their homeland. In 1970, the Bantu Homelands Citizens Act augmented the Bantu Authorities Act. Empowered with this legislation, from 1976 to 1981, more than nine million South African citizens lost their nationality, becoming citizens of their respective Bantustan. They became aliens in their own country for nearly thirty years.
History of the African National Congress
The African National Congress (ANC) was founded in 1912 as a means to protect the rights of black persons. Through this party, a Programme of Action (1949) was born where protests and strikes were organized. This Programme...