The government called this group Bantu, the name of their language, but they referred to themselves as Africans. They were divided by the State into ten ethnic groups. From 1951 each group was assigned to a specific territory, a homeland, where they were forced to settle. These peoples, such as the Nguni, Xhosa, Zulu or Swazis had lived in southern Africa for thousands of years. Nearly two-thirds said they belonged to various Christian denominations that had been established in Africa when the European colonizers had arrived.

One-third of Black Africans lived in urban centers, where they made up more than half the entire population, including all ethnic groups. The township of Soweto, near Johannesburg, had the biggest population in South Africa. However the majority of Blacks lived in rural areas, in homelands or as tenants in White territories. They had to pay the White owners in order to work. They paid by working for them, giving them money or handing over a portion of their crops.

Author:  Marianne Giguère

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