How did the people react to apartheid


Unscrupulous exploitation

Apartheid is actually a harmless Afrikaans word and stands for isolation or separation. But it has lost its insignificance as a concept of strict racial segregation that has lasted for decades in South Africa. Apartheid stands for the systematic oppression of a non-white majority of the population of around 41 million people by four million whites.

In the course of the 20th century, the discriminatory laws, which meant that a white minority could unscrupulously suppress and exploit a black majority, became more and more numerous.

It was only after long years of protest and resistance struggle that a turning point became apparent in the 1980s. Whites and blacks no longer fought each other exclusively, instead talks increasingly took place in order to build a new South Africa.

The road between war and peace that South Africa moved was narrow, but the South African miracle happened: peaceful change took place.

Nelson Mandela was the charismatic black leader who led the country into a new era. In 1994 he became the first black president of South Africa.

Beginnings of political racial segregation

Apartheid refers to the policy of consistent racial segregation, which began as early as 1910 with the first legislative measures in the then newly founded South African Union. In the Mines and Works Act of 1911, blacks were obliged to do low-level jobs. With the "Native Land Act" of 1913, settlement areas were designated only for blacks. At the same time, they were forbidden to buy land outside of these areas.

Apartheid reached its peak after the Second World War, fueled by numerous strikes by black miners. Black radicals founded the resistance organization "ANC Youth League" in 1944, a youth organization of the "African National Congress ANC". "Africa is the land of blacks" was their motto. The founding fathers included Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu.

In return, white nationalists stirred up fear of a "swart gevaar", a black threat, and rose to be leaders of the allegedly threatened South Africa. In 1948 the racist party National Party NP won the elections with this policy and finally transformed South Africa into a white unjust state.

Isolation of the black population

From 1948, all public life was characterized by strict racial segregation, compliance with which was enforced with massive police violence. The aim was to protect the rights and privileges of the white minority and at the same time to have cheap black labor available.

The establishment of so-called Homelands (formally independent tribal areas of the blacks) such as Transkei, Ciskei, Venda and KwaZulu was supposed to perfect racial segregation. With these giant ghettos, in which only blacks were allowed to live, the South African government tried to completely evade political, economic and social responsibility.

Student riots in Soweto

Any opposition to apartheid policy was considered a criminal offense and the South African state cracked down on any resistance.

On June 16, 1976, the situation escalated. Black school children in Soweto, a township southwest of Johannesburg, protested peacefully against the introduction of Afrikaans as the language of instruction instead of English. The police fired at the children. 600 people died in the massacre, a quarter of them were children. The pictures of dying youngsters went around the world.

The Soweto incidents aroused global outrage and in South Africa resistance to apartheid escalated into open civil war. Internationally, South Africa was ostracized and isolated by UN sanctions, which over the decades made the white minority more willing to compromise for general democratic elections.

The end of white rule

In the course of the 1980s, the South African government came under increasing domestic and foreign policy pressure. The end of apartheid could no longer be stopped. The reforms of the new President Pieter Willem Botha, who took power after the Soweto incidents and ruled until 1989, did not go too far.

Black charismatic leader Nelson Mandela had been in prison for over 20 years by the mid-1980s. People around the world demanded his release. In the early 1990s, the white government had to give in to international pressure. Mandela was released and immediately assumed a leading political role.

When the white minority government under the white Prime Minister Frederik Willem de Klerk prevailed with a reform program in 1992, the participation of the black majority in government could no longer be stopped.

After the first free elections for all South Africans, Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black Prime Minister for five years on May 10, 1994. Although the apartheid regime officially ended in 1994, many South African governments will still have to bear the serious social and societal consequences.

SWR | Status: 22.06.2020, 2:30 p.m.