Apartheid prevailed prior to the 1948 election of South Africa’s white supremacist National Party, which oversaw the underlying laws that divided the country’s ethnic groups. However, political historians have always been fascinated by the fact that segregation was codified into legislation.
Perhaps the cause is the audacity of a white minority in an African nation to insist on dominance and isolation long after the Nazis – the exemplars of white supremacy – were vanquished in 1945. When we look around, it’s almost hard not to see cowardice and wickedness working together to prevent us from living in peace.
Despite widespread condemnation, apartheid lasted almost fifty years. Some argue that this condemnation did not go far enough since politicians of the United Kingdom and the United States seemed unconcerned that Russia did not influence South Africa during the Cold War.
One way the apartheid government felt it could keep the racially segregated culture alive was to split South Africans into four ethnic groups: White, Black, Indian, and Colored (multiracial offspring).
Economic and political stratification resulted from this categorization. However, it was also deceptive in that there were distinctions within each grouping. One was met by descendants of the British and descendants of the Dutch known as Boers by Whites. The several ethnic groups native to that region were among the Black South Africans. Middle Easterners are often referred to as “Indian.”
The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949 was designed to prevent children from being born to “European” and “Non-European” peoples. It’s what comedian Trevor Noah refers to as “born a crime.” The legislation essentially maintained the “purity” of European blood, which was essential to the National Party’s conception of nationhood, which many white citizens embraced.
Apartheid’s long-term plan was for black South Africans to create their own sovereign countries. The scheme was designed to ensure a white nation by alienating and separating native South Africans from their lands and the resources they contain. In the nineteenth century, the emerging states were founded on British colonial authorities referred to as reserves.
Between 1956 and 1976, ten Black nations, or Bantustans, were created. Today, Bantustan refers to gerrymandered areas that lack national, legal, cultural, or moral authority but are used to preserve a status quo or gain an advantage.
Bophuthatswana, Venda, Ciskei, Transkei, and Lebowa were the ten Bantustans. KwaZulu, KwaNdebele, KaNgwane, QwaQwa, and Gazankulu are the others. Since these countries were established on the basis of ethnic groups or races, Black South Africans were forced to flee at considerable expense and risk to their lives and livelihoods. It should be remembered that these areas comprised what is now Namibia.
Owing to procedures overseen by the apartheid regime, these countries gained varying degrees of autonomy. The government went to great lengths to ensure that these Bantustans received foreign attention. None showed up, but that didn’t deter the South African government from pressuring US lawmakers in 1976 to oppose a motion opposing US recognition of Transkei.
Since the Black homelands were given too much economic impetus, life in the Bantustans was dreadful. South Africa has been almost unchanged since 1994 in several respects. Before Nelson Mandela’s presidency, the fortunes of one of Africa’s most powerful countries remained in the hands of white people who had made their homes there.