Apartheid In Africa

Apartheid was a long shadow in the history of South Africa.
Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an
international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial
oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of
his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a
quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most
compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the

African National Congress and head of South Africa\'s anti-apartheid movement, he
was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority
rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights
and racial equality. The election of Nelson Mandela in 1994 marked the first
time all race elections were held in South Africa and the end of all white rule
in South Africa. Prior to 1994, only white people held political control with
the majority of people living in South Africa having little to no real
representation in government. One word described the racist system that kept
non-whites from political and social equality and became infamously known around
the world: Apartheid. Apartheid was not a case of just "I am white and I don\'t
like blacks." It was a complex system of social separation - called
segregation under British rule. It was a system of cheap labor enforced by laws,
social, and industrial practices. There was also an ideology that justified it;
whatever one did to question it, there was the pre-existing attitude "we are
civilized and they are not." In 1910 the British parliament passed the Act of

Union that brought British and Afrikaans colonies together to create a united
and independent South Africa. Unfortunately, the newly created country did not
break from a tradition of discrimination and segregation. Instead these
practices became even further entrenched as bills were passed to ensure white
domination. However, it wasn\'t until 1948 and the election of Dr. D.F. Malan\'s

Nationalist Party that the concepts of apartheid became officially government
policy (Moodie, 1994, p12). Malan was victorious in the election, beating the

United Party and its leader Jan Smuts by portraying Smuts and his party as too
liberal and not capable of dealing with the swart gevar (Afrikaans for
"black peril"). In a country controlled by a white minority, fear
tactics worked for the Nationalists, and they managed a slender parliamentary
majority. From 1948 on, official apartheid principles were put into practical
effect, and Malan\'s government passed bills designed to maintain political,
economic, and social control by whites over non-whites (Robinson, 1968, p.87).

Under apartheid, people were classified into one of four categories: White,

Colored, Indian, and Black. As a non-white, one was required to carry a passbook
that detailed one’s racial grouping, employer, place of dwelling, and
permission to be (on a temporary basis only) in a white area. In 1954 the

Resettlement of Natives Act meant that entire towns and villages in which
"non-whites" lived were suddenly designated to be
"white-only" areas. The entire population would then be forced to
resettle into "tribal reserves." As well, Blacks not needed for labor
in white communities (referred to as "superfluous Bantu" by the
nationalist government) were sent to live in these homelands. During the 1960\'s,
nearly three million Africans were moved onto the Bantustans (Porter, 1991,
p.32). Blacks would be removed from their homes, trucked to their new homeland,
and dumped on land with little or no agricultural value and no infrastructure.

The result was mass starvation and major epidemics. In an effort to give
credibility to the reserves, the 1953 Nationalist government passed the Bantu

Authorities Act allowing Bantustans to become "independent" homelands.

In reality, however, Bantustans proved to be nothing more than holding areas for
cheap labor for the white economy (Report of the Select Committee on the

Immorality Amendment Bill, 1968, p. 9). Meanwhile charges of racism were coming
from both inside South Africa and around the world. Oliver Tambo, a leading
political activist against apartheid and president of the African National

Congress (ANC), outlines what it meant to be a non-white living in apartheid

South Africa in his paper Human Right in South Africa: During the last two
decades human values in our country sank to primitive levels as elementary human
rights were trampled underfoot on a scale unparalleled in recent history. This
occurred in open and direct defiance of the United Nations and the entire
international community. It is as well to remember that the men in power in

South Africa today wholeheartedly supported Nazism and have never repented of