To understand how South Africa changed, one must know the history of Apartheid and the effects it had on the country. Apartheid was a form segregation enforced by law in South Africa. The system was in effect from 1948 to 1993. During this time the majority black and other non-white population was unfairly discriminated against. Segregation in South Africa started during the country's colonial period. Apartheid began as a political movement after the elections in 1948. The government began writing laws that put the population in different racial groups. Since 1970, members of the black population had its citizenship taken away, by the new written laws. They were put categorized into many different tribal groups that governed themselves. The tribes were called Bantustans. [Paul] The government separated everything that it could. It separated education, health care and many other public services. The white population got much better service and care than the majority of the population. Apartheid sparked many resistance groups in the country and violence was becoming more and more frequent. As countries around the world were becoming more democratic, they imposed an international trade embargo against South Africa. Starting in the 1950's, resistance and protesting began. The government treated these movements very cruelly by putting participants in jail and with police brutality. [Paul] Apartheid started towards the end of World War 2. Before the 1948 elections, the Afrikaner party and the Herenigde National party merged and started the movement. The new party won the election and began writing its new laws to segregate society. [Nelson Mandela: From 'Second-Class Citizen' To World-Revered Leader] The very first law that was passed was the Population registration act of 1950 [Paul]. The law defined racial separation. It also required an ID card for everyone over the age of 18. The government created teams that sorted the people into the different racial groups. The sorting was very unorganized and unfair. The government teams even went as far as separating families. The second grand law that was passed was the Group Areas Act of 1950. Most areas in South Africa had a mixed residential base. This law put an end to that and created districts for each race. This law was used to justify evictions. A further change in this law in 1951 gave the government permission to demolish homes and settlements in order to force eviction. [Madikizela-Mandela] Another law that the government implemented was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages of 1949. The government did not want the population to have mixed DNA. This law made it illegal to marry someone of a different race. Another law was also passed with this one in order to make sure that the population would not mix, the Immorality Act of 1950. This law made interracial relations illegal as well. [Paul] Two final grand laws were passed in time. The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953 allowed area of land including beaches, hospitals, schools, and universities to be set aside for any race. This was used mostly for the white population to have private recreational areas and service areas. Another law that the government passed was the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950. This allowed the government to ban any political party that opposed the government. The government just had to label any opposing party as a communist party in order to outlaw it. Also this law allowed the government to ban the right to public assembly. [Paul] Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress found a man with great political potential experience and a leader that could unite an entire nation against segregation and discrimination. Mandela had political influence since his childhood. He was born in the small village of Mvezo. His father was the leader of this town. From his father Mandela learned a lot about political leadership. [Keller]
Mandela was the first person in his family to attend a school. While he was attending school he was required to have an English name. He was given the name "Nelson" by one of his teachers. When Mandela was 9 years old his father died. Mandela was then sent to mission school while he lived with a family friend. After Mandela completed school and earned his Junior Certificate, he attended Fort Hare University to study for his Bachelor of Arts degree. While he was at the university, he met Oliver Tambo who was to be a future African National Congress leader. While working with Tambo, Mandela began to take a serious interest in politics again. After he was done at the university, Mandela moved to the city of Johannesburg. There he worked at a small law firm where he learned a lot about the process of law and how laws were made. While working Mandela studied at the University of Witwatersrand to learn more about law. While there he met Joe Slovo, Harry Schwarz and Ruth First. All of these men were future members and leaders of the African National Congress. [Paul] Mandela started to take part in politics after the election of 1948. He began to lead the African National Congress's 1952 campaign against Apartheid. He also led the 1955 Congress of the People which created the first written base of the anti-apartheid movement. He was also hard at work with his friend Oliver Tambo in creating and maintaining a law firm that helped those who couldn't afford representation. The government began to take an increasing interest in what the African National Congress was doing. [Paul]
At first Mandela was devoted to nonviolent acts of protest. In 1956 Mandela and 150 others were charged and arrested with treason. After his treatment in prison Mandela changed and took another approach to protest [Madikizela-Mandela]. In 1961, the African National Congress created an armed resistance branch. The branch was called Umkhonto we Sizwe, which translated to Spear of the Nation [Paul]. Mandela became the leader of this branch. He began to take action against the government in the form of sabotage acts against military bases and government buildings. He also went as far as planning a guerrilla war if the sabotage attempts failed to end Apartheid. [Paul] In 1964 Mandela was arrested for armed resistance against the government and was sent to the Robben Island prison in the city of Cape Town. He spent 18 years in that prison. His reputation was growing as a freedom fighter and as a political leader. After 18 years in the Robben Island Prison, the government moved Mandela to Pollsmoor Prison, which was more secluded from the public, to reduce the amount of influence that Mandela had on the younger generations in South Africa. In 1985, the government offered Mandela freedom as long as he gave up his political position. Mandela refused the offer and saw it as the government becoming fearful of the African National Congress. Mandela was moved from Pollsmoor Prison to Victor Verster Prison in 1988. After many years, Mandela was finally released from prison in 1990 after many local and international leaders pressured the Apartheid government for his release. His release from prison was broadcasted and viewed around the world. Prison seemed to change Mandela's views on politics like it had his first time in prison. He again took a peaceful approach to politics. After his release he committed himself to peace and prosperity with the country's ruling white population. He again led the African National Congress by having negotiations with the ruling National Party. [Paul] The negotiations led to the country's first multi-party elections and in 1991 the African National Congress had its first national conference and Mandela became their candidate for the presidency. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his new peace talks. After the negotiating and urging from the United Nations, the new elections were set for April 27th, 1994. Mandela won the presidency of the new democratic South Africa. [Madikizela-Mandela] After his election, Mandela worked hard to remove all the laws and damage the Apartheid had made. Mandela's fight affected the country dramatically. [Nelson Mandela]The trade bans imposed on the country were lifted and South Africa's economy recovered. New jobs were created and were available to all of the population. South Africa was also able to make sport's history as well. Last year South Africa became the first African nation to host the Fifa World Cup, which is a monumental event around the world. The World greatly boosted South Africa's image and increased its level of tourism. As explained before, Apartheid was a very dark time in the country's history. I believe that if the country had not had the African National Congress and the charisma of Nelson Mandela, South Africa would still be a third world country under Apartheid's rule.