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Apartheid is an Afrikaans word for a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments, who were the ruling party from 1948 to 1994, of South Africa, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy and Afrikaner minority rule was maintained. Literally translated it means 'the status of being apart'. Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times under Dutch and British rule. However, apartheid as an official policy was introduced following the general election of 1948. Therefore it’s better to to understand this racist strategy over a timeline method..


1651: Dutch settlers arrive in South Africa. In 1756, they import slaves from West Africa, Malaysia, and India, establishing the dominance of whites over non-whites in the region.


1700s: Riding on horseback and covered wagons, Dutch farmers (called Boers) migrate across land inhabited by Bantu and Khoi peoples. Armed with shotguns, the Boers seize land used by the tribes for cattle and sheep grazing -- the basis of their economy. Without land, the tribes must work on Boer farms to support themselves.

1810s: British missionaries arrive and criticize the racist practises of the Boers. They urge the Boers to treat the Africans more fairly. Boers justify their practises in the belief that they are superior to Africans.

1867: Diamond mining begins in South Africa. Africans are given the most dangerous jobs, are paid far less than white workers, and are housed in fenced, patrolled barracks. Oppressive conditions and constant surveillance keep Africans from organizing for better wages and working conditions.


 1908: A constitutional convention is held to establish South African independence from Britain. The all-white government decides that non-whites can vote but cannot hold office. A few people in the new government object, believing that South Africa would be more stable if Africans were treated better.

1910: The South Africa Act takes away all political rights of Africans in three of the country's four states.

1912: The African National Congress is formed. This political party aims to organize Africans in the struggle for civil rights. The early leaders are pictured on the right.

1913: The Native Lands Act gives 7.3% of the country's land to Africans, who make up 80% of the population. Africans are prohibited from owning land outside their region. Africans are allowed to be on white land only if they are working for whites.


1920s: Blacks are fired from jobs which are given to whites.


1910s-1930s: Africans educated at missionary schools attempt to organize to resist white rule and gain political power. Their efforts are weakened because few Africans are literate, communication is poor, and access to money or other resources is limited.

By 1939, fewer than 30% of Africans are receiving any formal education, and whites are earning over five times as much as Africans.


1936: Representation of Voters Act: This law weakens the political rights for Africans in some regions and allows them to vote only for white representatives.


1942: While studying for a law degree in Johannesburg, Mandela joins the African National Congress, South Africa's first black political group.


1946: African mine workers are paid twelve times less than their white counterparts and are forced to do the most dangerous jobs. Over 75,000 Africans go on strike in support of higher wages. Police use violence to force the unarmed workers back to their jobs. Over 1000 workers are injured or killed.


1949: An action plan of civil disobedience and other forms of non-cooperation is adopted by the ANC, with the aim of full citizenship and representation for all. The plan was drafted by Mandela and other Youth League members, who soon become elevated to the organization's Executive Committee.


1950: The Population Registration Act. This law classifies people into three racial groups: white, colored (mixed race or Asian), and native (African/black). Marriages between races are outlawed in order to maintain racial purity.


1951: The Group Areas Act sets aside specific communities for each of the races (white, colored (mixed race or Indian), and native (African/black) ). The best areas and the majority of the land are reserved for whites. Non-whites are relocated into "reserves." Mixed-race families are forced to live separately.

The Bantu Homelands Act. Through this law, the white government declares that the lands reserved for black Africans are independent nations. In this way, the government strips millions of blacks of their South African citizenship and forces them to become residents of their new "homelands." Blacks are now considered foreigners in white-controlled South Africa, and need passports to enter. Blacks only enter to serve whites in menial jobs.

The homelands are too small to support the many people in them. In Soweto, for example, seventeen to twenty people live in a four-room house. Typical living conditions are shown in the picture above.

The African National Congress (ANC), a political organization for Africans, encourages peaceful resistance to the discriminatory laws of apartheid. The ANC issues a Freedom Charter that states, "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people." The government reacts by arresting people and passing more repressive laws.


1952: Abolition of Passes and Coordination of Documents Act. This misleadingly-named law requires all Africans to carry identification booklets with their names, addresses, fingerprints, and other information. (See picture at right.) Africans are frequently stopped and harassed for their passes. Between 1948-1973, over ten million Africans were arrested because their passes were "not in order." Burning pass books becomes a common form of protest.

Mandela is approved to practice law. He opens a practice in Johannesburg with Youth League compatriot Oliver Tambo. Theirs is South Africa's first black law firm.


1953: Preservation of Separate Amenities Act. This law created "separate but not necessarily equal" beaches, parks, post office, and other public places for Africans (blacks), coloreds (the term used for Asian and mixed-raced people) and whites.

Bantu Education Act: Through this law, the white government supervises the education of all blacks. Schools condition blacks to accept white domination. Non-whites cannot attend white universities.


1960: 7,000 blacks in the town of Sharpeville refused to carry their passes. The government declares a state of emergency and responds with fines, imprisonment, and whippings. In all, 69 people die and 187 people are wounded. The African political organizations, the African National Congress and the Pan-African Congress, are banned.


1962: The United Nations establishes the Special Committee Against Apartheid to support a political process of peaceful change. The Special Committee observes the International Day Against Racism to mark the anniversary of the people who died in the Sharpeville protest.

1963: Mandela travels to Algeria as part of his training of the ANC's new military unit, which he leads on a campaign of sabotage against government and economic targets. He is arrested for leaving South Africa illegally and inciting strike, and is sentenced to 5 years in prison.


1964: Mandela is sentenced to life in prison and is sent to South Africa's notorious Robben Island facility.


1970s: Resistance to apartheid increases. Organizing by churches and workers increases. Whites join blacks in the demonstrations.

The all-black South African Students Organization, under the leadership of Steven Biko, helps unify students through the Black Consciousness movement. A typical protest poster is shown below.


1976: The Soweto uprising: People in Soweto riot and demonstrate against discrimination and instruction in Afrikaans, the language of whites descended from the Dutch. The police react with gunfire. 575 people are killed and thousands are injured and arrested. Steven Biko is beaten and left in jail to die from his injuries. Protesters against apartheid link arms in a show of resistance



 1980: Bishop Desmond Tutu joins the Release Mandela campaign. Three days later, the South African Council of Churches follows suit.


1980s: People and governments around the world launch an international campaign to boycott (not do business with) South Africa. Some countries ban the import of South African products, and citizens of many countries pressure major companies to pull out of South Africa.

These actions have a crippling effect on the South African economy and weaken the government. The picture on the right shows a demonstration against the company Chase Manhattan.

Hundreds of thousands of Africans who are banned from white-controlled areas ignore the laws and pour into forbidden regions in search of work. Civil disobedience, demonstrations, and other acts of protest increase.

late 1980s: Countries around the world increasingly pressure South Africa to end its system of apartheid. As a result, some of the segregationist laws are repealed (reversed). For example, the laws separating whites and non-whites in public places are relaxed or repealed.


1988: The organization Artists Against Apartheid stages a concert to raise awareness on the occasion of Mandela's 70th birthday. The 10-hour concert at London's Wembley Stadium features Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston, Eurythmics, Steven Van Zandt, Sting, Stevie Wonder and others


1991: South Africa President F.W. de Klerk repeals the rest of the apartheid laws and calls for the drafting of a new constitution. Mandela is freed after more than 27 years of imprisonment. Mandela and de Klerk sign the National Peace Accord, pledging to put a stop to political violence and paving the way for a transition from apartheid.


1993: A multiracial, multiparty transitional government is approved.

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Mandela and de Klerk.

1994: Elections are held. The United Nations sends 2,120 international observers to ensure the fairness of the elections. The African National Congress, representing South Africa's majority black population. Nelson Mandela, the African resistance leader who had been jailed for 27 years, is elected President. Mandela is elected as president of South Africa, with the ANC winning 62 percent of the vote. Thabo Mbeki and Frederik Willem de Klerk were made deputy presidents



P.W BOTHA ("The Big Crocodile" ): He was was the prime minister of South Africa from 1978 to 1984 and the first executive state president from 1984 to 1989. Botha was for eleven years head of the Afrikaner National Party and the South African government. Botha joined the Ossewabrandwag, a right-wing Afrikaner nationalist group which was sympathetic to the German Nazi Party. However, with Allied victory looming in Europe, Botha condemned the Ossewabrandwag and changed his ideological alleigance to Christian nationalism instead


MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI: He is the former prime minister of Zululand and South African Zulu politician who founded the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in 1975


STEVE BIKO: He was an anti-apartheid activist. A student leader, he later founded the Black Consciousness Movement which would empower and mobilize much of the urban black population. Since his death in police custody, he has been called a martyr of the anti-apartheid movement. He was famous for his slogan "black is beautiful", which he described as meaning: "man, you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being


YUSUF DADOO: He was was a Muslim Indian South African communist and anti-apartheid activist. His dying words were "You must never give up, You must fight to the end."


SHEENA DUNCAN : She was an anti-Apartheid activist and counselor. Duncan was the leader of Black Sash, a group of white, middle-class South African women who offered support to black South Africans and advocated the non-violent abolishment of the Apartheid system. For her activism, Duncan was the 1986 recipient of the Prize For Freedom, she was also awarded the Order of Simon of Cyrene, by the South African Council of Churches and made Grand Counsellor of the Order of the Baobab (in Silver). She received honorary doctrates from the University of Cape Town, the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.


F. W. de KLERK: He was the seventh and last State President of apartheid-era South Africa. De Klerk is best known for engineering the end of apartheid. He won the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize in 1991, the Prince of Asturias Award in 1992 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 along with Nelson Mandela for his role in the ending of apartheid.


EUGENE DE KOCK ( PRIME EVIL ): He is a former South African police colonel, active under the apartheid regime. Considered one of the darkest figures of the apartheid period. During the latter stages of the Rhodesian Bush War, de Kock was deployed to Rhodesia to defend its white minority government against the liberation forces of Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo. In 1979, de Kock co-founded Koevoet, an SAP counter insurgency unit tasked with combating SWAPO guerillas in South-West Africa during the Namibian War of Independence. Koevoet became notorious for its high kill rate and for its alleged atrocities against local Namibian peoples.


RUTH FIRST : She was an anti-apartheid activist. She was killed by a parcel bomb addressed specifically to her in Mozambique. Ruth First's parents, Julius First and Matilda Levetan, immigrated to South Africa from Latvia as Jewish immigrants in 1906 and became founder members of the South African Communist Party (SACP). She was the first white woman to be detained under the ninety-day detention law


BRAM FISCHER :He was lawyer of Afrikaner descent, notable for anti-apartheid activism and for the legal defence of anti-apartheid figures, including Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia Trial. Fischer is widely acknowledged as a key figure in the anti-apartheid struggle. Nelson Mandela wrote, Fischer was one of the "bravest and staunchest friends of the freedom struggle that I have ever known. Fischer joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in the 1940s and soon rose to leadership positions within the party. The SACP had a close relationship with the African National Congress (ANC). Fischer was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1967.


CHRIS HANI: He was the leader of the South African Communist Party and chief of staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). He was a fierce opponent of the apartheid government. He was assassinated on 10 April 1993.


JOHN FREDERICK HARRIS : He was a member of the anti-apartheid African Resistance Movement (ARM). Harris was the only white person executed for acts committed in resistance to apartheid


BARBARA HOGAN : She is the former Minister of Public Enterprises in the Cabinet of South Africa. Hogan joined the African National Congress in 1976 after the Soweto Uprising


TREVOR HUDDLESTON: He was an English Anglican bishop. He was most well known for his anti-apartheid activism and his 'Prayer for Africa'. Huddleston wrote Naught for Your Comfort The book was significantly important as it discussed the abuse of black people by American authorities


HELEN JOSEPH :She was an England borned anti-apartheid activist. She was pivotal in the formation of the Federation of South African Women and with the organisation's leadership, spearheaded a march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against pass laws on August 9, 1956. This day is still celebrated as South African Women's Day.


RONNIE KASRILS : He was a son of Latvian jewish immigrants. The Sharpeville massacre radicalised Kasrils against the Apartheid system and he joined the (ANC) and South African Communist Party in 1960. He underwent military training in 1964 in Odessa, USSR and at the end of 1965 was sent to London to work for the movement there. He was appointed as Chief of MK Intelligence in 1983. Kasrils also served on the ANC's Politico-Military Council from 1985 to 1989 and worked underground for the ANC in South Africa during Operation Vula from 1990 to 1991. Kasrils is known for his strong criticisms of the government of Israel and for his sympathies towards Palestinian political struggles. He was Minister for Intelligence Services from 2004 to 2008.


AHMED KATHRADA: He is a South African politician and former political prisoner and anti-apartheid activist. Kathrada's involvement in the anti-apartheid activities of the African National Congress (ANC) led him to his long-term imprisonment following the Rivonia Trial, in which he was held at Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prison. Following his release in 1990, he was elected to serve as a member of parliament, representing the ANC.


JIMMY KRUGER : He was a South African politician who rose to the position of Minister of Justice and the Police in the cabinet of Prime Minister


MOSES MABHIDA : Mabhida was leader of the South African Communist Party from 1978 until his death in 1986


WINNIE MADIKIZELA MANDELA: She was married with Nelson Mandela in 1958. She was held several government positions and headed the African National Congress Women's League . She was most well known for some sharp scandals.


MAC MAHARAJ : Maharaj was a political activist and member of the South African Communist Party who worked closely on anti-apartheid activities with Nelson Mandela. In prison he secretly transcribed Mandela's memoir Long Walk to Freedom and smuggled it out of the prison in 1976. After being released from the Robben Island prison in 1976 he was deployed by the ANC to Zambia in 1977 worked underground in South Africa as part of the ANC's Operation Vula, which was a project to infiltrate the ANC's top leaders back into South Africa. He is currently the official spokesperson of the President of South Africa.


D.F. MALAN : was the Prime Minister of South Africa from 1948 to 1954. He is seen as a champion of Afrikaner nationalism. He died in 1959.


NELSON MANDELA ( MADIBA ): Mandela was a militant anti-apartheid activist, and the leader and co-founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). Mandela went on to serve 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island. He is the symbol name of anti apertheid regime, freedom of blacks and also the first ever to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Mandela has received more than 250 awards over four decades, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.


KAISER MATANZIMA : He was a leader of the Transkei in South Africa. He is a nephew of Nelson Mandela. Mandela condemned Matanzima's de facto support of apartheid, and in his 1975 book Independence my Way, Matanzima argued that liberation would come through a federation of black states, such as Transkei, rather than through liberation movements like the Mandela-led African National Congress.


GOVAN MBEKI : He was a South African politician, and father of the former South African president Thabo Mbeki. He was a leader of the ANC and of the South African Communist Party. After the Rivonia Trial, he was imprisoned for terrorism and treason (1964–1987) with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and other ANC leaders.He died in 2001.


THABO MBEKI : After the arrest and imprisonment of Sisulu, Mandela and his father he left South Africa as one of a number of young ANC militants sent abroad to continue their education and their anti-apartheid activities. He ultimately spent 28 years in exile ( UK), returning to his homeland only after the release of Nelson Mandela. While at Sussex he saw himself as a representative of the ANC and helped motivate the university population against apartheid. He received military training in the Soviet Union and lived at different times in Botswana, Swaziland and Nigeria, but his primary base was in Lusaka, Zambia, the site of the ANC headquarters. Mbeki made a number of trips to the United States in search of support among U.S. corporations. Mbeki was appointed head of the ANC's information department in 1984 and then became head of the international department in 1989, reporting directly to Oliver Tambo, then President of the ANC. Tambo was Mbeki's long-time mentor. served two terms as the second post-apartheid President of South Africa from 14 June 1993 to 24 September 2008. Mbeki has been a powerful figure in African politics. His leadership to establish peace between Sudan and South Sudan governments brought him the man of Africa award in 2012.


ROBERT MC BRIDE : He was the former chief of the Metropolitan Police for Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality. During the apartheid era he was a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the South African Liberation Struggle. Most well known was his leadership of the cell that bombed the "Why Not" Restaurant and Magoo's Bar in Durban on 14 June 1986, an attack in which 3 women were killed and 69 injured. During 2006 McBride received the Merit Medal in Silver and the Conspicuous Leadership Star from the South African National Defence Force for his service and combat leadership in Umkhonto We Sizwe. On 8 April 2011 McBride was convicted of drunken driving and defeating the ends of justice. The Pretoria Magistrate's Court acquitted him on the count of fraud. McBride's bail was extended, pending his sentencing on 15 July


BILLY NAIR : He is best known for being one of the famous Rivonia Trialists as well as a long-serving political prisoner on Robben Island along with Nelson Mandela in the 'B' Block for political prisoners. After the banning of ANC in 1960, Nair became a member of the underground organization Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) which was led by Mandela. Nair was arrested and charged with sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government by violent means and sentenced for 20 years in Robben island along with Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Dennis Goldberg. After the unbanning of the ANC in February 1990, Nair served on the interim leadership committees of both the ANC and the South African Communist Party. Nair received the “Moses Kotane Award” for his outstanding contribution to the SACP while still in prison. He was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in 2007. The Gandhi Development Trust and Satyagraha award was also presented to him in August 2007. He died in 2008.


HECTOR PIETERSON : He became the subject of an iconic image of the 1976 Soweto uprising in South Africa when a news photograph by Sam Nzima of the dying Hector being carried by another student while his sister ran next to them, was published around the world. He was killed at the age of 13 when the police opened fire on protesting students. For years, 16 June stood as a symbol of resistance to the brutality of the apartheid government. Today, it is designated National Youth Day — when South Africans honor young people and bring attention to their needs.


HASTINGS NDLOVU : He was a black Sowetan schoolboy who died in the Soweto uprising against the apartheid system. He is one of the most symbol figures of anti apertheid fighting.


ALAN PATON : He was a white South African author and anti-apartheid activist. In 1953 Paton founded the Liberal Party of South Africa, which fought against the apartheid legislation introduced by the National Party. He died in 1988.


HARRY SCHWARZ : He was a white ( German jewish refugee ) South African lawyer, statesman and long-time political opposition ( United Party, liberal Young Turks, Democratic Party) leader against apartheid. In 1942, aged 17, he joined the South African Air Force during World War II in order to fight Nazism. He served as a navigator and fought in North Africa and Italy. He was South African ambassador to the United States and was also the first South African ambassador to Barbados. Schwarz was a founder of the Torch Commando, an ex-soldiers' movement to protest against the disenfranchisement of the coloured people in South Africa. For decades he was on the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and was one of the Jewish community's foremost leaders. He never lost an election. Nelson Mandela, a friend of his whom he visited while in prison, described him as a "champion of the poor". He died in 2010.


WALTER SISULU : He was a South African anti-apartheid activist and member of the ANC, serving at times as Secretary-General and Deputy President of the organisation. He was jailed at Robben Island, where he served more than 25 years. His father, Albert Victor Dickenson, was white. He joined the ANC in 1940. In 1943, together with Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, he joined the ANC Youth League, founded by Anton Lembede. Sisulu was a brilliant political networker and had a prominent planning role in the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe. He also joined the South African Communist Party. He travelled to Europe, the USSR, Israel, and China as an ANC representative. In 1992, Walter Sisulu was awarded Isitwalandwe Seaparankoe, the highest honour granted by the ANC, for his contribution to the liberation struggle in South Africa. The government of India awarded him Padma Vibhushan in 1998. He died in 2003.


JG STRIJOM ( LION OF THE NORTH ): He was an uncompromising Afrikaner nationalist, and a proponent of segregation that led the way to the establishment of the system of Apartheid. He was Prime Minister of South Africa from 30 November 1954 to 24 August 1958. His second wife was Susan de Klerk aunt of future President F W de Klerk.


JOE SLOVO : He was long-time leader of the South African Communist Party and leading member of the ANC. Slovo was born in Obeliai, Lithuania to a Jewish family who emigrated to South Africa when he was eight. He was an anti-zionist. He died in 1995.


HELEN SUZMAN ( Helen Gavronsky ) : She was a white liberal South African anti-apartheid activist and politician. Her parents were Lithuanian jewish immigrants. Suzman was noted for her strong public criticism of the governing National Party's policies of apartheid at a time when this was atypical of white South Africans, and found herself even more of an outsider because she was an English-speaking Jewish woman in a parliament dominated by Calvinist Afrikaner men. She was often harassed by the police and her phone was tapped by them. She had a special technique for dealing with eavesdropping, which was to blow a whistle into the mouthpiece of the phone. Suzman was awarded 27 honorary doctorates from universities around the world, was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and received countless other awards from religious and human rights organizations around the world. Queen Elizabeth II made her an honorary Dame Commander (Civil Division) of the Order of the British Empire in 1989. She died in 2009.


OLIVER TAMBO: He was an anti-apartheid politician and a central figure in the ANC. Tambo, along with Mandela and Walter Sisulu, was a founding member of the ANC Youth League in 1943. Tambo was sent abroad by the ANC to mobilise opposition to apartheid. He lived in UK untill 1990.He died in 1993.


EUGENE TERRE BLANCHE : He was the leader of the far right neofascist Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) during the apartheid era. The AWB was especially in opposition to the ANC. The organisation was estimated to have had support amongst 5 to 7 percent of the White South African population in 1988He was given several labels during his lifetime, including "white supremacist","nationalist,"and "racist". On 3 April 2010, he was hacked and beaten to death on his farm by a farm labourer


ANDRIES TREURNICHT: He was Minister of Education during the Soweto Riots and for a short time leader of the National Party in Transvaal.


DESMOND TUTU: He was a South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He was the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa). He was against apertheid politics but also harsh in his criticism of the violent tactics of some anti-apartheid groups such as the ANC and denounced terrorism and Communism. After the fall of apartheid, Tutu headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Tutu is generally credited with coining the term Rainbow Nation as a metaphor for post-apartheid South Africa after 1994 under ANC rule. Since his retirement, Tutu has worked as a global activist on issues pertaining to democracy, freedom and human rights. In South Africa he worked against Zuma rule and ANC. This caused very serious criticisms from ANC and sub organizations. Nevertheless he honoured both by Nelson Mandela and international organizations.


H.F. VERWOERD ( ARCHITECT OF APERTHEID ): He was Prime Minister of South Africa from 1958 until his assassination in 1966. He is remembered as the man behind the conception and implementation of apartheid system. He died in 1966.

B.J. VORSTER : He served as the Prime Minister of South Africa from 1966 to 1978 and as the 4th State President of South Africa from 1978 to 1979. Shortly after the Internal Settlement in Rhodesia, in which he was instrumental, he was implicated in the Muldergate Scandal and resigned the premiership in favor of the ceremonial presidency, which he was forced to give up as well eight months later




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