- Recently, South Africa celebrated the occasion of the ending of the apartheid system.
- Apartheid Translates to “separateness” or “the state of being apart” in Afrikaans.
- It officially began in 1948, instituting segregation as law and a “fundamental truth” of South Africa.
- citizens were classified into one of four racial groups – black, Indian, coloured (mixed race) and white – apartheid made it illegal for South Africans to pursue interracial relations.
- Black South Africans were denied political and economic rights, essentially were reduced to cheap labour for the Whites.
- Resistance to racism in South Africa pre-dates apartheid. As far back as the 1880s, the Imbumba ya Manyama (Union of Blacks) was formed, articulating an African identity that transcended tribalism..
- In 1912, African National Congress was started as a movement led by the elite Blacks to oppose their disenfranchisement post the creation of the Union.
- ANC started off as an organisation which expressed demands through petitions and polite dialogue. But as the oppression got more brutal, their methods changed.
- In 1949, the ANC introduced its Programme of Action, supporting strike action, protests and other forms of nonviolent resistance. Nelson Mandela became an important figure at this time.
- In 1952, the Defiance Campaign was started by ANC , calling people to break apartheid laws on purpose and offer themselves for arrest.However, none of these was able to bring significant concessions for black South Africans.
- In Sharpeville in 1960, during a large demonstration, the police opened fire and killed at least 69 black South Africans and wounded many more.
- In the aftermath of the massacre, the government declared a state of emergency and arrested more than 18,000 people, including prominent black leaders. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and He would spend the next 27 years in prison.
- In 1976, students in Soweto took to the streets to protest against the imposition of Afrikaans as the only language of instruction. Police opened fire on protestors. The Soweto Uprising was followed by a series of brutal crackdowns on resisting organisations.
- By the 1980s,anti-apartheid forces were largely united around a nonviolent resistance that could achieve maximum participation among non-whites and bring international pressure on the government.
- The latter half of the 1980s saw some of the largest and most impactful protests yet, with mass non-cooperation and strikes organised. In addition to this, resistors also created alternative community-based institutions – such as community clinics and legal resource centres – to replace discriminatory government institutions.
Fall of Apartheid:
- In 1989, The resistance to segregation culminated in the Defiance Campaign with multiracial peace marches across the country, including in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
- In 1990, in a speech to the parliament, President de Klerk announced that “the time to negotiate has arrived”. He lifted bans on political parties such as the ANC, freed thousands of prisoners including Mandela, and lifted the state of emergency that had been imposed amidst rising protests in the 1980s
- On March 17, 1992, a referendum among the white South African population ushered in a new era in South Africa, once and for all. While systemic disadvantages continue to impact black South Africans, an era of political freedom and legal equality was instituted in 1992.
- From establishing the first black law firm in South Africa to forming the African National Congress Youth League to negotiating with State President F. W. de Klerk for the end of apartheid in South Africa and becoming the first black president of South Africa.
Conventions against Racial Discrimination
- International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.: It was adopted in 1965 and entered into force in 1969. It remains the principal international human rights instrument defining and prohibiting racial discrimination in all sectors of private and public life.
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) : an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly that enshrines the rights and freedoms of all human beings.