South African: The Rise, Fall, Term Paper

Length: 11 pages Sources: 7 Subject: Literature - African Type: Term Paper Paper: #93278598 Related Topics: South American, Nelson Mandela, Portuguese, Measure For Measure
Excerpt from Term Paper :

This was largely because the resistance was split along racial lines. For instance, the Afrikaans National Council wanted freedom from foreign oppression without taking into consideration the needs and demands of the Colored. Similarly, the Non-European Liberation League, another group that opposed the current practices, were the proponents of the issues of immediate concern to Colored but African people. This lack of unity proved decisive, taking into consideration the immediate rise to power of the Nationalistic Party in 1948 and the subsequent inability to immediately react to the measures that would be taken in the following years.

The South African society, following the war was left without a well-defined national identity because of the continuous struggle to face the conquering forces of the Dutch and the British. Consequently, the rise to power of a nationalistic party can be seen as predictable, taking into consideration the general trend existing in the era, which demanded a full independence from the former colonial powers. In this sense, the party consolidated on the idea of uniting for a common cause and emerged as the force that would offer unity to the cultural, economic, and political segments. Hofmayer argues that indeed, the party policy was to stimulate the reaffirmation of the popular culture, the language, and the history, in order to mobilize the Afrikaners politically and economically. By acting on the desire of the people to define their own national identity, the party managed to win the elections and thus, get hold of the political power and set in place a series of policy changes that would lead to the institutionalization of the apartheid policy.

The National Party in 1948 is perceived as an intensification of the white dominated political structure, as "it came to power on a policy aimed at suppressing the emergent black opposition which threatened the reproduction of white domination, that is, threatened the conditions which would enable the regime to meet, inter alia, the demands of white farmers and protect the interests of the white working class." This can be considered as being the result of the overall policy conducted following their attainment of power. There are numerous debates over the exact desires of the party in relation to the Colored population. Thus, "National Party ideologues talked at length about their ambitions to develop a sense of pride and achievement amongst Coloreds which would herald the birth of a Colored nation." Still, their measures and reactions proved to have the opposite effect. They rested on the restructuring of the world the Colored lived in such a way as to impose their segregation. Their aim was to insure a separate development of the society, yet it was clear that an unequal evolution was inevitable. Therefore, the Party's actions were from the start aimed at creating a two standard society, in which the white minority would dominate the rest.

The means through which they achieved this were mostly legal ones. It was up to the executive power to operate on them. Therefore, from the very beginning, legislation was set in place to prevent both Whites and Coloreds to interact, thus becoming part of the Colored society, and at the same time to stop any possible movement of persons in the opposite direction, other than that indicated by law.

These actions were taken based on a series of legislative acts that limited and clearly violated the freedoms and right of the human being. The Group Areas Act of 1950 delimited by law the respective districts for each race, "and members from other races were barred from living, operating businesses, or owning land in them." From a historical perspective, this final act was the last piece in a wider system of legislative actions that started with the Land Act from 1913 and 1936. They were meant to gradually decrease the possibility of land ownership for the non-white majority in favor of the white minority.

There was also a clear determination in terms of race and color. The 1950 Population Registration Act posed the question of race in front of the law and classified...


As a result of this labeling, there were special jobs for the white population, less well-paid jobs for the blacks, and sordid ones for the colored. Still, the whites were now more engaged in "white collar" activities, as the need for a proper and more advanced bureaucratic system was needed. Moreover, due to the increase of foreign investments in the economic sector, unskilled labor force was needed in order to satisfy the demand of the industrial sector. For jobs such as those in the mining area, black people were exclusively hired, most of the times based on their appearance and skin color.

In order to secure the implementation of the segregation laws, the authorities imposed certain checkpoint offices where special papers were necessary in order for the nonwhite minority to have access in restricted areas. "Other laws forbade most social contacts between the races, authorized segregated public facilities, established separate educational standards, restricted each race to certain types of jobs, curtailed nonwhite labor unions, and denied nonwhite participation (through white participation) in the national government."

These measures also affected the social activities in the country. Due to the limitation of movement in different areas, people rarely had contact outside their designated places. Moreover, they were not allowed to marry someone from a different race, and the breach of the order would trigger serious consequences.

The black and colored people were denied any political representation. This was made possible in the 1970s, through legal measures such as the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act, which made "every Black South African, irrespective of actual residence a citizen of one of the homelands." Although the politicians wanted to make a clear and legal distinction between the whites and the nonwhites, due to the economic dependence on the nonwhite labor force, this could not have practically gone through. This is why, although there were a project of separating the Black states from the white territories, they remained dependent, both politically and economically on the South African government.

The government proved its desire to arbitrary use the power at its disposal through different legal initiatives that allowed it to impose an emergency state whenever it considered, without any due regard for the conditions demanding such a measure. These measures included the Public Safety Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1953. Such a discretionary rule made it possible for the government to have absolute control over any eventual political adversaries and imposed at the same time a certain restrain in the minds of the public opinion over the possibility of rebellion.

There are a number of theories set forth to explain the eventual defiant attitude of the black population in the 60's and 70s. For once, there are those that consider the rise against the white domination as being the obvious reaction of the oppressed. From 1948 to 1960, the black community began to manifest itself in organizations for liberation "capable of organizing powerful mass struggles," which in turn determined the conflict at the core of the regime. It triggered a deep sense of opposition for the current legislative and executive branches of the regime. At the same time, the arbitrary nature of the judiciary also determined increased discontent among those underprivileged. They manifested "in the growing involvement of the black masses in the national liberation struggles." The Sharpeville event where 69 people were killed, and some 200 were wounded sparked strikes and demonstrations throughout the country." The regime, unable to react in an official manner, declared the state of emergency, which enabled them to arrest arbitrary political activists, and other people opposing the regime. It proved to be the first opportunity for the regime to make use of its emergency powers, and thus began to eliminate the political opposition that began to create outside the traditional political system. This included pan African political parties such as "the African National Congress," "The Pan Africanist Congress."

Another possible reason for the development of the black opposition would be the international pressure exercised by most states part of the Commonwealth. Thus, the international community reacted, to a certain degree, to the segregation policy conducted by the South African. As a result, it was forced to withdraw from the Commonwealth in 1961 when a number of its members reacted negatively to the apartheid practices in the country. In a wider context, the U.S. And the UK, as one of the most important actors in international relations threatened and even imposed economic sanctions on the African government in 1985, as a reaction to the continuous breach of human rights that such a policy would imply. Following this line of pressure, certain laws were abolished such…

Sources Used in Documents:


Goldin, Ian. Making race, the politics and economics of colored identity in South Africa. London: Longman. 1987.

Heribert, Adam, and Kogila Moodley. South Africa without apartheid. Dismantling racial domination. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986.

Hofmayer, I., Building a nation from words: Afrikaans language, literature and ethnic identity. University of London, MA thesis, 1983.

Nowak, Michael, and Luca Antonio Ricci. Post Apartheid South Africa: the first ten years. Washington: International Monetary Fund. 2005.

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