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Apartheid in South Africa

South Africa is one of the most well known countries in the massive continent of Africa. Located on the southern tip of Africa, it contains many great cities, including Cape Town and Johannesburg, and landforms, such as Table Mountain and the Kalahari Desert. The people today live with good confidence and proud to live in one of the most successful African countries, but the past is a whole different topic. Whites wanted to develop separately from blacks and colored people, thus starting apartheid in 1948. Apartheid, which was started by white European settlers, is considered by many to be one of the worst eras in the history of not only South Africa, but also the entire continent. It induced harsh laws in favor of white minority rule. Under the policy both South Africans and the world responded, and after over four decades of crisis, apartheid ended in 1994.
“South Africa was colonized by the English and Dutch in the seventeenth century. The discovery of diamonds in the colonies of Orange Free State and Transvaal from the English invasion started the Boer War. South Africa soon gained independence from England, but there was a struggle for a ‘sharing of power’ in the country between the white Europeans and the black South Africans.” (Stanford.edu) The policy of apartheid, or separate developing, was started in 1912. It wasn’t a big development in its first couple of decades. However, in 1950, the real crisis began with absurd laws that ruined the lives of blacks everywhere in South Africa.
Apartheid had two main views, pro-apartheid and anti-apartheid. Pro-apartheid was the white point of view. They wanted this policy to be used because they thought they should develop separately from blacks and colored. Going deeper into that, white’s opinion on the other colored peoples was that they were not as “fully developed” as them. Whites also compared Black Nationalism to communism. One of the main features of this policy was that blacks would live in separate homelands from the whites. Because the people were separated, whites could control the government freely without the “instability” that they thought could exist if blacks took control. Another point that whites had was that if blacks came to power, they would discriminate against them. On the other hand is the anti-apartheid view, made by blacks and colored people. The primary argument was that blacks had little space in which to live. Whites controlled an astonishing 87% of South Africa while blacks and colored people controlled 13% (Stanford.edu). Another interesting statistic is that there were approximately four times as many blacks as there were whites during the era of apartheid (Stanford.edu). These facts led critics to begin to believe that the policy is all about maintaining white supremacy. Another argument critics brought up is that this violated human rights, which were regarded by many at the time as all that people had. “Another criticism of apartheid was that the government’s homelands scheme artificially subdivided blacks. Nearly a century of urbanization had reduced many of the ethnic differences between blacks, and government policies tried forcibly to re-establish them.” (Watson 33) Without surprise, there were many responses to apartheid. Blacks began the African National Congress (ANC) as their initial movement to stop apartheid. The ANC’s tactics began as peaceful protest and pleas to the government to restore black rights. But as time passed, people under the influence of Nelson Mandela and others began to adopt more drastic tactics. These included strikes, marches, and boycotts. The responses of the government were stunning. In 1960, 69 protesting blacks were killed by the South Africa police force (Watson 33). After that, the ANC and other anti-apartheid movements were outlawed. Then it was the political leaders who took a hit, especially Nelson Mandela, who was sentenced for a life imprisonment. The crisis began to escalate as more and more lives of black and white activists for the anti – apartheid movement were taken. World attention soon focused on what was happening in South Africa. The rest of the world had a significant response to the situation of the apartheid policy. The country was expelled from the United Nations and economic sanctions were imposed. The economic sanctions prohibited the country from various business dealings. “Between growing black protest – as well as criticism from liberal-minded whites and minorities – and economic and international pressures, toleration of apartheid dwindled.” (Watson 33) During the 1980s, President P.W. Botha maintained his policy of white dominance. States of emergency were declared more often. Tensions grew as blacks became more dissatisfied and responsive. Violent protests took place daily. Economic sanctions became stricter as the world’s attention was on the southern tip of Africa. The pressure came to an overwhelming point, and South Africa had to change the direction of its government. Botha later proclaimed that apartheid was an “outdated concept” and reforms were coming. Botha’s declining health led to F.W. de Klerk to become the acting successor. In September of 1989, Parliament voted de Klerk to a new five-year term as president, which would prove to be a great change for South Africa. As expected, reforms continued. De Klerk’s first move as president was to make anti-apartheid movements, such as the ANC, legal again. A few months later, Nelson Mandela was released from an excruciating 26 years in prison. Over the next few years, apartheid’s harsh law against blacks became weaker and weaker. Public areas were no longer isolated. “De Klerk later terminated the Group Areas Act and the Natives Land Act, which placed blacks into homelands” (Eades 69).
Although the overall framework of apartheid was melting, whites still controlled the major political and economic institutions. Mandela’s ANC and the National Party began talks for a constitution to restructure power. “De Klerk held public votes for certain changes to the government as well” (Eades 69). “White extremists had strong opposition, but white supporters gave de Klerk 68.7% of the vote to continue the demolition of apartheid. The next year, talks resumed for making the new constitutional reform. Finally, on December 22 1993, the new constitution was made to an accord. It included equal citizenship for all and nine new provinces were made that were originally part of the 10 homelands” (Eades 70). National elections followed in April of 1994, which included various races for the first time since the dark years in South Africa.
South Africa survived one of the darkest eras in the world’s history under white supremacy. The extreme laws were countered by various responses to the policy, which later would ultimately result in the end of apartheid. The two views had very intriguing arguments, and battles followed between the people and government, as well as world responses. But once F.W. de Klerk took over as President, apartheid was a car dangling from a cliff. Reforms, the freeing of political leaders and the ratified constitution eventually ended the 43 year crisis in South Africa, or just simply called apartheid.

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