Meaning & definition apartheid
Scheme of racial separation in South Africa
The term apartheid was officially used for the first time in the early forties of the 20th century. The actual apartheid began already after the arrival of Dutch settlers in the seventeenth century, when a distinction was made between white and black in terms of housing, property of land, marriages and the like. After the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, the whites in power sought a complete separation of the four populations: blacks, black people, white people and Indians. The rulers justified this system by proposing it as a separate development for the benefit of the different populations, based on the premise that each race should have the opportunity to develop its qualities in its own environment.
Initially, the separation was limited to what was called small apartheid. This meant a separation of race in public life: separate buses, separate schools, separate entrances to buildings, separate parks, separate beaches and so on. Under Prime Minister Daniel François Malan (1948-54) apartheid was enshrined in laws. Officially, it was recorded to which race they belonged; marriages between whites and blacks were forbidden; blacks were not allowed to work wherever they wanted, while most of the population was not represented in parliament. Apartheid became a system of compulsion that oppressed non-whites and held powerless. Minister Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd worked out apartheid policy as Minister for Bantu Affairs; under his responsibility pass laws were enacted and home country policy came off the ground. Home country policy was also called the great apartheid. As a result of the Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959, ten homelands or Bantu were established for the various black peoples. They were only allowed to leave their territories to work in the white part of South Africa. In the homelands, which accounted for only thirteen percent of the territory, lived more than 70% of the population, which had a great economic backlog on the whites.
Apartheid was maintained with a hard hand. One of the most notorious incidents was the Sharpeville massacre on March 21, 1960, when police shot at a peacefully demonstrating black crowd, 67 dead and 186 wounded. There would be many thousands of deaths before apartheid was abolished. Among them was Steve Biko, a well-known radical black leader, who was found dead in a police cell in 1977.
The Sharpeville massacre and other acts of violence strengthened international pressure on South Africa. Famous anti-apartheid fighters such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu received support from the United States and from other countries, which led to an economic boycott of the white minority regime.
During the 1980s, the apartheid system was somewhat relaxed. The South African parliament added chambers for colored people and Indians, who had little influence, but in some sense they still meant recognition of these populations. However, the blacks remained outside the parliament.
The great breakthrough came under the reign of President Frederik Willem de Klerk (1989-94); he blew a new wind through South Africa. The international pressure and the growing opposition in their own country led to a breakthrough. On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released. Negotiations began with the African National Congress on the future of South Africa. In the course of 1991, most apartheid laws disappeared. In April 1994, free elections were held for the first time in South Africa's history. On May 9, 1994, Nelson Mandela became the country's first black president. In November 1995, the first municipal elections were followed, in which all population groups could participate.
[Source: Ensie author Liek Mulder]