The origin of apartheid

Apartheid did not just happen overnight. Conflicts between Whites and Blacks had existed from the earliest days of colonization, but it was officially in 1911 that the first law of segregation was implemented. The Mines and Works Act limited the rights of Blacks in terms of employment. Other laws limiting the rights of Blacks and Métis were adopted in the following years.

In 1948, the United Party was elected by advocating real apartheid. Racism becomes the official value of the government. In 1950, the Population Registration Act outlined the four racial groups and established the criteria for membership. Shortly after, in 1953, signs reserving certain services and places for Whites or Blacks appeared across the country. Gradually, other laws were added to the basic policies of apartheid.

The politics of apartheid

Officially, apartheid aimed to ensure the separate development of ethnic communities. It was motivated by the fear of Afrikaners of being assimilated by the Black people around them. The aim was to make sure that Whites were the majority in South Africa. As a result, Blacks were moving to the homelands and were encouraged to become independent. In 1970, the government passed a law that removed South African citizenship from Blacks living in the homelands. In 1980, although the country was a republic, the racist policy of apartheid was still in force in South Africa. Only Whites enjoyed the usual rights and protections of a democratic government.

The end of apartheid

Because of both pressure from the international community and demonstrations by Black activists, apartheid was abolished in 1989. Nelson Mandela, a fighter against apartheid, was released after 27 years in jail. The first multiracial elections were held in 1994 and led to the election of Nelson Mandela, the first Black President of South Africa, and the election of his party, the African National Congress. This party was still in power in 2010.

Author:  Alexandre Lanoix

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