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Mimmi Rönnqvist
Spring Term 2011

List of contents

1 Introduction                                                                                                1

1.1 Aim                                                                                              1

1.2 Issue                                                                                            1

1.3 Material and Method                                                            1

1.4 Limitations                                                                                 1

2 South Africa                                                                                               2

3 Background                                                                                                 2

3.1 Colonization                                                                              2

3.2 The End of Slavery                                                                                       3

4 Apartheid                                                                                                 3

4.1 One People - Two Colors                                                    3

4.2 The African National Congress                      4

4.3 The Apartheid System                                                         4

4.4 The Sharpeville-Massacre                                                      5

4.5 Fighting for Freedom                                                              5

5 The End of Apartheid                                                                         6

5.1 The First Democratic Election                                              6

5.2 Aftermaths                                                                                 6

6 Conclusion                                                                                               7

7 Summary                                                                                                       8

8 Bibliography                                                                                              8

1 Introduction

1.1 Aim

The purpose of this report is to investigate how the apartheid system was created and what it meant to the people in South Africa. I will also analyze how this has affected todays society in South Africa and how they are developing as a nation after the end of Apartheid.

1.2 Issue

Why was the apartheid system introduced?

How has it affected life and development in South Africa today?

1.3 Material and Method

I have chosen to write my essay in a descriptive way and my sources are few due to a lack of useful English printed books on the subject of Apartheid. I have used and compared the sources I have to find what I deem to be valid information that gives justice to both sides of the story. My sources consist of books and magazine articles in both English and Swedish. I started out with many different sources but chose to only work from three different ones because they held the most valuable and usable information.

1.4 Limitations

In my essay I have decided not to explain the rules of the apartheid system in detail because I do not find it important for the aim of the investigation. I also have only written about one attack, the Sharpeville-massacre, and that is because naming more would only cause confusion.

2 South Africa

South Africa is a country going through many changes. They are swiftly developing their economy and exports and they work hard to improve the situation for their citizens. The country has been one of the most powerful countries in Africa since 1994 when the ANC party, led by Nelson Mandela, won the first election where the black citizens could vote.
     Sadly South Africa's history is not nearly as bright as the countries situation today. The political party the African National Congress, the ANC, has dominated the political influence and has been the ruling party ever since 1994 until today. Before their victory in the election in 1994, their struggle has been both long and hard and filled with violence and discriminating and inhumane actions from the white Boers.[1]

3 Background

3.1 Colonization

In the 1650's Dutch ships built camps along the coast of today's South Africa. They were heading to the East Indies, just like many other countries from the west. The camps grew bigger and became established bases on the way to the East Indies. Their purpose was to provide water and food for the long journey. It was a lucrative business and the soon the bases had evolved into colonies with a large amount of Africans working as slaves.
     The white men had guns and went on well organized excursions to find more tribes of native Africans to enslave. 20 years after the white men came to South Africa there was 1779 white people and 1107 black slaves. Another weapon the white men brought with them was smallpox that was a lethal disease for the natives whose immune system had never faced a virus like it before.[2]
     The colonies grew with great speed and by the end of the eighteenth century the white men, now known as the Boers, had expanded their business to an area twice the size of England. The number of slaves grew and as did the Boers who took all rights away from the black natives who could not do much else than obey their white lords.[3]

3.2 The End of Slavery

As war raged in Europe, Britain was able to conquer the Dutch colonies in 1806 and when they ended slavery in England, they also ended slavery in South Africa. This upset the Boers who believed they had birth-right to their African land and also to their black slaves and therefore wanted to keep their independence. Discontent grew among the Boers and they prepared to strike back against the British and their outrageous decision.
     During the coming decades the British and the Boers faced each other in battle many times which led to Boers being forced off their farms and put into camps to prevent them from planning further attacks on the British and the natives. It was not until 1902 the Boers accepted the British rules and got their homes back. The camps had been poor and many Boer families had died from diseases and starvation. Britain wanted to try and reconcile with the white inhabitants of South Africa and compensated their destroyed property with money and united all the different colonies into one state, the Union of South Africa, controlled by the Boers.[4]

4 Apartheid

4.1 One people - Two colors

The people of South Africa were now considered joined together as one, but the citizens were still very divided. The Boers only consisted of around 20% of the total population and the former black slaves and other colored people made up the remaining 80%. Yet the Boers owned 90% of the country and had long ago chosen the best areas for farming and keeping cattle. There was even a law minimizing the amount of land a black man was allowed to have. [5]

4.2 The African National Congress

The black community decided to try and change their situation and founded the ANC, the African National Congress, in an attempt to unite black people with a strong urge to win their country back and be free from the Boer-discrimination. The organization expanded rapidly but at the same time the Boers started a new political party focused on freeing themselves from their British overlords.[6] The Nationalist Party became popular among the white people of South Africa and as time went by the government fought to free itself of Britain. [7]

4.3 The Apartheid System

During the First World War South Africa exported a lot of metal, a business that gave job opportunities to the poorly educated black men who lived in native reserves around the country. They left their families for the larger cities and earned money which they brought back home. This frightened the white miners who were afraid of the black men would take their higher positions and so their own political party joined the Nationalist Party and together they managed to change the British Union Jack into a new flag that would represent their own South Africa. The Boer language Afrikaans was also made an official language and with it the rift between the blacks and the whites grew additionally.
     In 1929 the government instated a racial separation system called Apartheid which roughly translates to "separatedness". Apartheid was the end of any kind of freedom for the black community.[8] The system divided the people of South Africa into four groups:

  • Whites
  • Blacks
  • Asians
  • Colored - Mixed race South Africans

The new apartheid law made the black peoples' situation even worse. Relationships between blacks and whites were forbidden. Black people could not move where they wanted and they could not walk certain streets. Restaurants were divided into white and black and even toilets were specified to a certain color. A couple years later it was decided that all public areas would be divided, so playgrounds, cinemas and even busses were made black and white. Even schools and hospitals were bound to this law.
     Not only was it forbidden for black people to walk white areas, but they had to bring pass books to insure that they were allowed to stay in the area that they were entering. They had had enough. The ANC demonstrated and chose not to use any kinds of violence against their white government. The Boers answered with creating new laws against civil obedience. Protesters who wanted to get rid of the apartheid system was arrested and thrown into prison. [9]

4.4 The Sharpeville-Massacre

In 1960 there was a large demonstration going on, protesting against the governments pass book-law. Around 6000 people had gathered to show their discontent and soon the numbers grew and the protesters were suddenly over 20 000 men and women. This caused the police to call in reinforcements, even though the crowd was unarmed and calm. As the armed police force tried to disperse the many protesters, stone throwing began and the police was ordered to open fire, an order that left 69 people, men, women and children, lay dead on the street and an additional 180 people were wounded.[10]
     After this dreadful massacre the ANC held a national mourning day meanwhile the government banned the organization and imprisoned many of the ANC-leaders. Yet another law was created to let the police hold people in custody without any specific charges. The governments grip around the black people tightened even more.[11]

4.5 Fighting for Freedom

The ANC members and the police faced each other in one attack after the other. The last straw was on the very same date as the Sharpeville-massacre 25 years later. Police forces shot at a funeral procession killing 20 people. The protests from the black community escalated swiftly and it created a wave of demonstrations all over the country.
     As media and communication developed the people in South Africa could show the world their situation and the world did not approve of the Nationalist Parties ways. South Africa's once blooming exports were declined from the buyers and the country became more and more isolated every day. Suddenly the president and leader of the Nationalist Party, P W Botha, resigned from his post. His successor F W de Klerk quickly announced that the ban of ANC and other organizations of resistance was being lifted. The new president also decided to release prisoners such as Nelson Mandela, a member of the ANC that had done all he could and even more for his people.[12]

5 The End of Apartheid

5.1 The First Democratic Election

In 1991 all laws bound to the apartheid system were discarded, along with a positive response from the majority of the white community. The blockage from the rest of the world had created an enormous financial crisis that would not end until the segregation was to its end. Many of the past apartheid-enforcers left the country to avoid being convicted for things they had done against the black people.
     Nelson Mandela took charge over the ANC and for the first time in South African history there was a truly democratic election in the country. Every adult citizen in South Africa was for the first time ever allowed to put their vote in the election urn. The election was aired all over the world and there was a tension in the air because of the past years guerilla warfare, but the entire vote went through as planned, calm and civilized.
     The ANC won the election with 62,6% and from that moment on Nelson Mandela began his journey to make South Africa a new and improved country where black and white people could live side by side.

5.2 Aftermaths

Nelson Mandela was world famous before he was released from prison and the year before he opened up South Africa to the rest of the world he received the Nobel Peace Prize together with the white president de Klerk. Ever since, people all around the world has seen Nelson Mandela as a beacon of peace and hope. He forgave the men who imprisoned him for almost 30 years and told his people to do the same against their fellow white South Africans.
     The surrounding world now got the chance to see the new side of South Africa and once again the nation was accepted in worldwide events such as sport-related championships. There was still a long way to go until the country would be seen as a real and trustworthy democracy and the financial situation that the Nationalist Party had caused would take years to solve. But all in all the future looked bright for Nelson Mandela and the ANC.[13]

6 Conclusion

The Boers' fear of a black revolt only made life worse for the natives. As the pressure from Europe and USA grew bigger the Nationalist Party government did not see any other way but to create laws to silence the black people's voices. What amazes me is that after the ANC won the election in 1994 they chose not to prosecute the people who had wronged them in the past. From the beginning Mandela and his comrades had used friendship and righteousness as their strongest tools to be free in their own country. I find this very strong of them, not to seek justice and avenge every single one of the white men who had treated them like unworthy scum for centuries.
     A few years after the ANC won the election they founded a court that would allow the Nationalist Parties henchmen to step forward and tell their story and receive amnesty for telling the truth about what had been going on in the nation to get a better view over their dark history that the ANC wanted to leave behind and start anew.[14] And so they did. I think the reason that South Africa is developing in such speed is the mentality that Nelson Mandela has taught his citizens. Respect, equality and peace makes a strong and stable ground to start with when rebuilding a torn down society like South Africa.

7 Summary

The natives of South Africa were discriminated and abused by their white overlords, the Boers, for centuries. The Boers brought diseases and weapons that weakened the black tribes and then they enslaved the black people and...

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Inactive member [2011-04-28]   Apartheid
Mimers Brunn [Online]. https://mimersbrunn.se/article?id=58923 [2020-08-14]

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