RACISM - Apartheid

 4d922144c5a7829032011.jpg                4d92239c65a5b29032011.jpg                                                       Apartheid

There has been racial segregation in South Africa ever since the Europeans colonized South Africa in the seventeenth century. But when there was election in 1948, the  

There has been racial segregation in South Africa ever since the Europeans colonized South Africa in the seventeenth century. But when there was election in 1948, the Afrikaner Nationalist Party, which was the most conservative of the white political parties, was elected by the whites, since the blacks weren’t allowed to vote. The Afrikaner Nationalist Party introduced a program called apartheid. Apartheid means “living apart” or “separateness”. It separated the people of South Africa into four groups: Bantu (black African), white, colored (mixed race) and Asian. There were around 20 % whites in South Africa, there were around 2 % Asians, there were around 8 % colored and around 70 % Bantus. But even though there were most Bantus (blacks), they had the lowest status in South Africa. The whites ranked highest, the Indians were second best, the colored ranked third and then there were the blacks.

When the African Nationalist Party introduced apartheid as a program they also made laws, which would segregate the population of South Africa even more.

There were for example a law that said that blacks couldn’t live in the cities. Instead there was made so-called “homelands”. Homelands were independent states, which made every black a citizen of one of the ten homelands. The idea with the homelands was that the citizens of the homelands would lose their citizenship in South Africa and only be citizens of the homelands. The Africans that lived in these homelands needed passports to enter South Africa and they could only leave the homelands for three days at a time.

All blacks had to carry passports containing fingerprints, photo, information about what racial group they belonged to and information on access to non-black areas. They could be inspected anytime by policemen or agents of the government whenever asked, and blacks also had to get special permission to travel to different activities.

There were laws that made white schools better than black schools, which meant that not many black children went to school. They also made education easier for the whites; their exams were easier than the blacks’ and more whites were accepted on the universities.

There were made laws that divided public places into places for white and places for non-white. That would be benches, bus stops, beaches, cinemas, and trains, and if a black person went to a place for whites only, he or she would get arrested.

Marriage between a black and a white was also illegal, and there were even laws against white and black people kissing.

There was a variety of political groups that fought against apartheid. The people were people of all races. They used different tactics for example strikes, demonstrations, violence and sabotage.

The government, however, fought back. The police began to arrest people, and at times peaceful demonstrators were killed. In 1960 a group of blacks in Sharpeville refused to carry their passports. The government revenged themselves and that resulted in the Sharpeville massacre, where the police shut the demonstrators. 69 died and 187 were wounded. 

The year after this, in 1961, South Africa was forced by member states to withdraw from the British Commonwealth. The member states of the British Commonwealth were critical of the apartheid system. But the apartheid system kept going. In 1976, a group of children began to protest, by dancing around in the streets and singing anti-apartheid songs. The police started shooting at the children, and after that, people all over the country began to protest against the apartheid system. Hundreds were killed and thousands were put in prison, that including children too.

In the 1980’s many countries decided not to support the apartheid government of South Africa. The countries refused to trade with South Africa, and South Africa was not invited to the Olympic Games and the Soccer World Cup. In 1985 the governments of USA and Great Britain imposed economic sanctions on South Africa in protest of the policy of apartheid. As the pressure from people and countries who were against the apartheid system began to grow, the South African government, led by President F. W. de Klerk, began to dismantle the apartheid system in the early 1990’s. Prisoners were set free and in 1994 the county’s constitution were rewritten and for the first time in South Africa’s history there were free election for all. At this election, the first black president was also elected and the apartheid system was outlawed. The new government, led by President Nelson Mandela, dedicated their energy on building up a new constitution and new laws that made racism illegal. The new government wanted to ensure that the old discrimination habits were wiped out through education. And the living conditions have generally been improved. There are better education possibilities and 95 % of the black people under the age of 18 can afford to go to school. However, many blacks in South Africa don’t believe that their lives have changed. They think that racism is still a part of the society.

There has been a couple of racial discrimination acts in South Africa after the end of the apartheid system. In 1998, three illegal immigrants from Mozambique were brutally savaged by six South African white policemen and their aggressive dogs in a so-called “training exercise” near Johannesburg. And in 2001, nine white men murdered a black teenager. Many blacks also think that there is discrimination on the labour market. They think, for example, that, even though they have the same job title as their white colleagues, they are not offered the same responsibilities. In March 2001, on the Human Rights Day, the South African Justice Minister Penuell Maduna said that South Africa still had a long distance to go, to create the society in their conviction.

In the BBC’s African correspondent Andrew Harding’ blog on www.bbc.co.uk, he says: “I have never lived in a place more openly, exhaustingly, poisonously preoccupied with race and racism.”  He adds that it is understandable, since “apartheid is still fairly fresh in its gave”, and he thinks that it will take another generation or more for South Africa to change the economic legacy.

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