Search This Blog

Friday, 12 August 2011


The term ‘apartheid’ was coined in the late 1930s by the South African Bureau for Racial Affairs (SABRA), which called for a policy of ‘separate development’ of the races.

In the run-up to the 1948 elections the Afrikaner National Party under the leadership of Protestant cleric Daniel Francois Malan, campaigned successfully on its policy of apartheid. Malan became the first apartheid prime minister.

The state passed laws which paved the way for "grand apartheid", which was centered on separating races on a large scale, by compelling people to live in separate places defined by race. The principal measures adopted included introduction of the ‘pass laws’ of 1950, which required all black people over the age of 18 to carry identity documents.

Other measures adopted included the prohibition of mixed marriages (1949) and sexual relations between individuals of different race (1950).

The policy led to South Africa's withdrawal from the British Commonwealth in 1961.

March 21 is a public holiday in South Africa to honor the 69 black Africans massacred that day in 1960 when police in Sharpeville opened fire on crowds protesting apartheid. A storm of international protest followed the Sharpeville shootings, including condemnation by the United Nations. The massacre marked a turning point in South Africa's history and the country found itself increasingly isolated in the international community.

Painting By Godfrey Rubens depicting victims of the massacre. Wikipedia Commons

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on November 6, 1962, condemning South Africa's apartheid policies and calling for all UN member states to cease military and economic relations with the nation.

Anti-apartheid feeling resulted in many uprisings, including the Soweto riots of 1976, which were prompted by the government's ruling that Afrikaans was to be the language used in African schools.

In 1991, after years of internal dissent and violence and the boycott of South Africa, including the imposition of international trade sanctions by the United Nations (UN) and other organizations, President F W de Klerk repealed the key elements of apartheid legislation.

 A referendum to end apartheid in South Africa was passed 68.7% to 31.2% on March 17, 1992.

The first multiracial elections were held on April 27, 1994 and went off peacefully throughout the country as 20 million South Africans cast their votes. The anniversary of the elections, 27th April, is celebrated as a public holiday known as Freedom Day.

Nelson Mandela won the 1994 general election. Mandela was the first South African President elected in a completely democratic election and the first modern black president of his country.

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2011. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

No comments:

Post a Comment