2 South African Apartheid Segregation is a concept as old as time, and it is not unique to the United States. South Africa still suffers from the effects of an organized and government mandated system of segregation called apartheid that lasted for over a quarter of a century. Apartheid, literally translated from Afrikaans, means apartness (Mandela 40). It is defined as a policy of racial segregation and “political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa” (“Apartheid”). According to Robin Cohen, South African apartheid was based on four basic premises: “white monopoly of political power, the manipulation of space to achieve racial segregation, the control of black labor, and urban social control” (qtd. in Massie 385). Apartheid was widely supported by powerful nations, including the United States. However, the validity of the arguments and actions that those supporters used was questionable and not based in fact. History The brief history on South African apartheid that follows is essential to understanding the whole picture. The 1940s Apartheid began as an implied law in the seventh century with the start of the slave trade where an estimated 25 million blacks were sold into slavery over a period of 12 centuries (Stock 65). However, it was not until 1948 that the South African government actually passed apartheid laws (“Timeline”). The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 strictly prohibited people of different races marrying and having offspring (Stock 21).
3 The 1950s The 1950s were the era of Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, the Minister of Native Affairs, and later, Prime Minister of South Africa. The Population Registration Act of 1950 required all people to be designated and registered by a specific race: white, black, or of mixed decent, considered colored (“History”). This designation was primarily based on appearance, often by means of the “pencil in the hair” test. Officials would begin by placing a pencil in a person’s hair. If the hair was curly enough to hold the pencil while bending over, the person was black, and if the pencil fell out, the person was colored (Massie 21). In 1951 homelands, or bantustans, were established (“Timeline”). The homelands were South Africa’s equivalent to America’s reservations. Blacks, who had no rights outside their homeland, were often violently forced to move based on race and origin (“History”). They were also forced to carry passbooks containing identity, tax, race, and homeland information (Massie 29). During this time, Nelson Mandela began his life of activism against apartheid in South Africa (“Timeline”). The 1960s In 1960 Verwoerd passed the Unlawful Organizations Act that enabled him to prosecute members of existing organizations (Massie 69). This was primarily used to allow him to outlaw the African National Congress. The ANC had been formed in 1912 to “transcend all tribal differences in South Africa and bring the interests of Africans as a whole to bear on the political process” (Massie xxvi); this mantra was in direct conflict with Verwoerd’s apartheid plan. 1960 was especially bloody for opponents of apartheid in South Africa. Protests climaxed in Sharpeville on March 21, 1960 where 69 protesters were killed by direct submachine gun fire (Massie 64). In 1962 Nelson Mandela was
4 arrested and charged