Apartheid From 1948 to 1994, the System Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1717 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature - African


From 1948 to 1994, the system of apartheid ruled the lives of everyone living in South Africa, including all individuals of every race (Eades, 3). This separation of races was an extension of the concepts of segregation, and went far further in breaking apart the entire region along racial lines. While the system of apartheid was certainly created to benefit those of European decent, and did just that in many cases, there were certainly those of both the white and black races who were negatively affected by the system, and who fought to restore order to the institutions of government. In all cases, the lives of both white and black South Africans were changed forever.

This paper will examine the historical beginnings of apartheid, and will discuss how this repressive system gained popularity. Further, this paper will discuss the impact of the new system on the lives of white South Africans, from the perspective of both those who benefited from the system, and those who fought against it. Finally, a discussion of the impact of apartheid on black South Africans will occur.

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First, it is important to understand the events occurring in South Africa that led to the creation of the apartheid system. In 1652, the Dutch East India Company established a fort in Table Bay, and settled along the Cape region of South Africa. By 1670, most of the blacks in the Cape region had lost their independence as the settlers began to expand their territory, and by the late 18th century, the Dutch colony had reached across the Cape to the Xhosa region (Eades, 4). Many of the black inhabitants were used as slaves, or indentured servants.

Term Paper on Apartheid From 1948 to 1994, the System Assignment

During the 18th century, the slaves and servants of the Dutch joined with the Xhosa inhabitants, whose territory was being threatened. This opened the door for British intervention, and the area was taken by Britain in 1806. As the colony began to come under the complete control of Britain, the Boers, or Dutch settlers, began to oppose the new party's views on slavery and land ownership. Under British rule, slavery was abolished, and the freed slaves were considered equal to the Boers. As a result, the Boers moved north and west, and established the Transvaal and Orange Free State, both of which reestablished the inequality of the original settlement (Eades, 4). By the end of the nineteenth century, violence had broken out between the blacks and Boers, as well as between the Boers and the British, and as diamonds were found in the area, the violence escalated.

With this change in policy from aggressive liberalism to imperialism in an effort to gain control of the mines, the British in the Cape also began to see the Africans more as obstacles than allies. Lands began to be seized, taxes were imposed, and the entire culture changed from African to British (Eades, 8). South Africa as a state has been established, but it was done by creating a racial economy, where black provided labor, and through racial segregation.

Over the next twenty years, laws were enacted to further this segregation, and it was this system of laws that turned into apartheid. In 1911, the Mines and Works Act created "white only" jobs in the mines and on the railroads. The Native's Land Act in 1913 restricted Africans to ownership of just seven percent of the lands in South Africa. The Native Affairs Act in 1920 created management and judicial systems for the reserves that was separate from those for the whites (Falola, 197).

Further segregation was created when the Natives Act of 1923 was enacted, which restricted in white urban areas. The laws stated that black were only allowed in urban areas for labor, and that any black township was to be created away from the white urban centers. Further, all blacks and those of mixed decent were required to carry pass cards at all times in white areas, further restricting their access (Falola, 198). In 1927, the Native Administration Act further increased the power of the British by giving the government authority over Africans living outside the Cape. The white government was now responsible for appointing African chiefs, defining land boundaries, and relocating citizens (Falola, 201).

During the 1940's, the Afrikaners, descendants of the Dutch settlers, gained power as the National Party, and apartheid came into existence in full force. In 1948, the National Party won elections, and as the new power, began to enact laws representative of this new system of separateness. The basic premise was that in order for the whites to survive, the blacks must be controlled, due to their superior numbers (Falola, 202). Under apartheid, all South Africans would be classified based on race, which included whites, and non-whites, separated between colored, native, and Indian. All tribes were allocated reserves, equaling only 13% of the land, while whites controlled 86%. All movement off the reserve was controlled using the pass cards, which identified the individuals based on race and tribe. Opposition was labeled "communism," and those labeled as communist were banned from most social encounters, and often faced imprisonment. Black "squatter towns" were destroyed, political rights were denied to blacks, educational attainment for blacks was impossible, black workers were not allowed to strike, and were not allowed the same wages as white workers (Falola, 203).

The effects of the system of apartheid were drastic for whites and non-whites alike. Quite obviously, non-white Africans suffered greatly during apartheid as their quality of life, and in some cases their lives, were demolished by apartheid. Limited to small reserves far too restrictive to support populations, the non-whites often lived with more than fifteen people in four room squatter houses. While their population was over four times that of the white populations, they controlled only 13% of land, and even those lands were dictated by the National Party. Non-whites held less than 20% of the national income, and earned not even one-fourteenth of the wages of white earners. Medical care for non-whites averaged one doctor per 44,000 individuals. Infant mortality rates, as a result, increased up to 20% in urban areas, and as high as 40% in rural areas. Spending on education per pupil was only one-thirteenth of that spent on white students. Further, the average ratio of teachers per students was one to sixty (Leonard, 80). Non-whites were often barred from certain employment opportunities, urban areas, housing, and any other social institution.

Apart from living condition alterations, non-whites also experienced severe legal ramifications following apartheid. Pass card raids were undertaken by white law enforcement, and from 1948 to 1973, over ten million non-whites were arrested due to pass card violations. Millions of non-whites rose up against apartheid, such as during the Soweto Uprising in 1976, in which 575 lost their lives and thousands were injured or imprisoned (United Nations, handout). Millions more were killed, imprisoned, fined, or beat for protesting the system.

While it would appear that whites benefited from apartheid, and in most cases did so, there were some whose lives were also negatively impacted by the system of extreme segregation, particularly those in the lower economic statuses and those in opposition of the apartheid system. For lower class whites, the system of apartheid really did not benefit their living conditions. Many were rural farmers or workers in the mines, suffering somewhat negative living conditions as well. While this is not to say their conditions were as inhumane as those of the non-whites, their situations did not improve once apartheid was in place. They did not benefit from increased land availability, since they still could not afford more land. In other words, their overall lives were not improved by the system of apartheid (Lazerson, 44).

For white opponents to the system of apartheid, the situation was far more dangerous. Often member of the Communist Party, vocal opponents to the system were often subjected to imprisonment, fines, and a loss of all land ownership and employment. The Suppression of Communism Act in 1950 gave the Minister of Justice the power to ban any individual or organization deemed communist. This ban included a prevention of association, where the accused could not associate with other whites, or could only associate with two persons at a time. Further, anyone convicted of promoting communist ideas against apartheid were subjected to punishments of up to ten years imprisonment, and with the passage of the General Laws Amendment Act in 1963, police had the power to detain and arrest people without charge, and hold them for up to three months. This law served to help the government arrest and detain white and non-white individuals and government officials who opposed apartheid (Falola, 208).

As mentioned, however, many upper class whites did in fact benefit greatly from the apartheid system. Their access to education, land ownership, employment, wages, politics, and all other forms of social, political, and religious institutions was unmatched, and their quality of life showed this clearly. Their lives were comfortable: their children were cared for… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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