An Introduction to South African Apartheid


Apartheid: (Afrikaans pronunciation: [ɐˈpartɦɛit]) Afrikaans word meaning “the state of being apart”, literally “apart-hood”.

The country of South Africa is surely beautiful. With its amazing wildlife, beautiful scenery and rich culture, it is surely one of the most breathtaking places in the world. But behind the beautiful façade is a country burnt with pain and sorrow; a country whose people were forced apart by an evil regime which reigned strong for 46 years. The law of apartheid was similar to the discriminating laws of racial segregation in the United States; members of different races were not allowed to interact with each other. In South Africa, the people who once lived in harmony were forcefully segregated into four groups; ‘White‘ – The elite group comprising mostly of Dutch, British, German, Belgian or French descendants, ‘Black‘ – The native Africans of the many tribes of South Africa, including the Zulu and Xhosa people, ‘Coloured‘ – This group were made up of members who were of mixed racial heritage (For example, one parent was ‘white’, and the other parent was ‘black’. Their child was considered ‘Coloured’, and the children of two ‘Coloured’ parents were also considered ‘Coloured’), whose members tended to marry amongst themselves, developing their own sense of culture and identity, and lastly, the ‘Indians‘ – These were people originally bought over from India as indentured labourers, workers or slaves. These Indians usually came from Southern India. In the 1948 South African government election, leader of the National Party Daniel Francois Malan, put forward the policy of racial segregation to ensure white domination. First, the policy was practised only in major settings such as local society and separate schools, though this was pushed forward towards becoming a default law and basic ideology for the country of South Africa when Malan was elected President.

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

– Nelson Mandela

Racial classifications were usually ranked as the following: Whites, Coloureds, Indians and lastly, Blacks. Black and Indian workers usually worked for White families, the two races being the closest out of all in terms of involvement, but never actually mixing, preferring to stay with their own race as they had been taught. Black South Africans were moved into townships only for their own kind. Races did not mix socially, and to remarry meant a renunciation of your own race and reclassification into the lower race; for an Indian to marry a Black, the Indian must legally become classified as Black, otherwise it would be illegal to marry outside the racial group of your origin as stated in the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949. Public services such as beaches, restaurants, schools and even bus stops were segregated amongst races. The more well-kept services were given to the Whites, and the more under kept, poorer services were gladly allocated to the Blacks. Even in the workplace, no one other than the Whites could receive a chance at a job promotion, no matter how hard they had worked. Generations grew without ever stopping to think that they could speak to their fellow people despite the race they were legally classified as. Apartheid is a very strong example of how an individual’s beliefs and values are developed around the society they are raised in. If hate is taught, then hate is what they will exhibit unless taught otherwise. Some grew to learn of the inconsistency of justice and the way the government racially segregated individuals, while others could not see how destructive, unnatural and wrong such a system could be. Those who supported the policy did not stop to think that it would disable the once beautiful country, causing it to step back in its progression in every aspect of its development.


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