Examining the Effects of Colonialism in South Africa Apartheid was established in 1948 by the Afrikaner controlled government in South Africa. Apartheid created a system of strict, legalized segregation. Apartheid laws favored the whites living in South Africa at the expense of black South Africans. The vast majority of black South Africans were forced to move from their homes into crowded and impoverished areas called townships. Afrikaners allowed some black South Africans to work outside of their townships in the cities. They received low wages for their work and were required to carry identification cards with them at all times. Failure to have the proper identification could result in imprisonment. The schools that existed for black South Africans were overcrowded and lacked funding. Teachers were not allowed to teach their students the truth about the Afrikaner government. Teachers who spoke out against the government were jailed and executed.
Quick Response… Identify some of the “tools of oppression” used by the Afrikaners against the black South Africans listed in the paragraph above. ___________________________________________________________
Rising Up Against the Odds… The majority of the population in South Africa was black. You may be thinking why didn’t the black South Africans try and overthrow the Afrikaner government? There were attempts to resist the colonial rule of the British and Dutch, but black South Africans lacked the resources (education, money and support) necessary to stage a full-scale overthrow of the government. Black South Africans formed a group called the African National Congress (ANC) in 1912. The ANC had many important leaders who felt that apartheid was unfair including a man named Nelson Mandela.
The ANC had a difficult time organizing people in the early years of the resistance. When the Afrikaner government relocated black South Africans they forced people from different tribes to live in the same townships. Oftentimes, neighbors within the townships did not even speak the same language. This communication barrier made it difficult for black South Africans to unite. In fact, the Afrikaner government had hoped that the black South Africans would fight amongst each other inside the townships instead of organizing together to fight against the colonial rule.
The ANC worked hard to unite all black South Africans as well as people who were classified as coloured and Asian. The ANC convinced people that if they worked together, they may be able to bring an end to white rule and apartheid. In 1952, the ANC launched the Campaign for theDefiance of Unjust Laws, in which they encouraged South Africans to peacefully protest against apartheid using boycotts, strikes and marches. Mandela told South Africans to avoid police provocation. He knew that the police would try and provoke the protestors using violence. Mandela told South Africans that they should not use violence to retaliate against the police.
Quick Response… Identify some of the “pros” and “cons” of ANC’s use of non-violence as a way to end apartheid.____ ____________________________________________________________________________________
In 1960 a group of 20,000 protestors gathered together in Sharpeville, South Africa. They were peacefully demonstrating (holding up protest signs, singing songs, etc…). The police opened fire on the group, killing 67 people and wounding 178 others. This event became known as the Sharpeville Massacre. The South African government feared that widespread rebellion would break out as news of the massacre spread throughout the country. To prevent such an occurrence, the South African government passed a law making it illegal to speak out against the government. All opposition groups, including the ANC, were ordered to dissolve.
A Change in Strategy… After the Sharpeville Massacre, Mandela and the other leaders of the ANC felt that the need to abandon their non-violent tactics. Mandela did not want to continue to see his fellow South Africans slaughtered by the Afrikaner police. The ANC formed a military branch and began training its members. They acquired weapons from other African countries and illegally imported them into South Africa. In the early 1960s, the military branch of the ANC carried out several bombings. They bombed some government buildings, some bridges and power stations. The goal of the ANC’s use of violence was not to kill civilians. Instead they hoped their use of violence would make it difficult for the Afrikaner government to conduct its business. During this time, Mandela was forced to go into hiding because the South African government wanted to arrest him.
Mandela and the other leaders of the ANC were eventually captured and put on trial for treason (attempting to overthrow the government). Mandela was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The South African government did not want to execute him, fearing that doing so might cause the Black South Africans to rebel. Mandela would spend the next 27 years of his life in prison.
Less than a decade after his imprisonment, the resistance movement reemerged with a new set of leaders including Steven Biko. Biko organized the Black People’s Convention in 1971. Other groups also formed to resist apartheid. As the world began to learn of the horrible atrocities that Black South Africans suffered as a result of apartheid, the international community began pressuring the South African government to end apartheid. Resistance within South Africa continued to grow too. Workers strikes and boycotts forced the wealthy South African businessmen to put pressure on the government to end apartheid as well.
In 1990-1991, F.W. de Klerk, the president of South Africa committed himself to ending apartheid. He repealed laws that segregated towns by race and began working to repealing all apartheid laws. In 1990 de Klerk ordered the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. Even with all of that progress, prejudice remained in South Africa and most of the wealth was in the hands of the Afrikaners. In 1994 South Africa held its first multiracial elections. The winning party was the ANC and Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa.
People lined up to vote in South Africa’s first free elections
After his election, Mandela worked hard to repair the damage of colonial rule and apartheid in South Africa. He tried to ease racial tensions and repair the economy. However, the end of apartheid was not an easy transition for people of any race. Black South Africans grew to distrust the police and the government during apartheid and that distrust remains. The new South African government has tried to integrate the formally segregated schools, but this too has been difficult. One of the biggest problems remaining in South Africa is land disputes. In the late 1990s, whites still owned 90% of the land. The government is trying to redistribute the land more evenly amongst South Africans. However, white South Africans have protested that the government should not have the right to take their land.
Describe how the Sharpeville Massacre changed the tactics used by the ANC to end apartheid. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
After the Sharpeville Massacre, the ANC decided to change their strategy and use violence to achieve their goals. They blew up some of the Afrikaner’s government buildings and power plants. Do you consider these acts to be “acts of terrorism” or “acts of patriotism”? Explain your position using evidence from the text. You must define “terrorism” or “patriotism” in your response (ATIC)