apartheid durban noticeboard at beach


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Apartheid is a mind-set that took 300 years to put in place in South Africa, which relied on racist attitudes of successive white-settlers who accumulated power over time. The major social-engineers of apartheid included prime minister Daniel Malan (the 4th prime minister of the Union of South Africa), prime minister Johannes Strijdom, and prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd. Apartheid was able to function due to the rule of the National Party – a far-right racist white-run party and through non-political affiliations such as the Afrikaner Broederbond (the Afrikaner Brotherhood).

In 1963 South Africa had a population of 12 million non-white people, composed of 10 million supposedly “unmixed” Africans, 1.5 million colours (mixed whites which white South Africans considered the offspring of “white” and “black” African sexual unions), and 0.5million Asians mainly of Indian ancestry. The population of the white South Africans was less than 5%.

South Africa claimed to be the most advanced nation in Africa. Their definition of advancement was not diminished by holding morally abhorrent values. They believed that because South Africa mined diamonds, uranium, and gold with forced labour, assembled cars, exported rock lobster and provided a safari industry, it was the most industrialised, Western, and economically stable country in Africa. The white South Africans wanted black South Africans to be beast of burdens at all times. A lot of Africans were kept out of work in order to ensure that labour costs were low at all times.

Apartheid (meaning “separateness”) was a fancy name for total enforced segregation – at every levels in businesses, in government, and in every area of life. It is total political, economic and social segregation. A lot of ministers and government officials of the Union of South Africa were pro-Nazis. They called their political system which excluded black South Africans by law a democracy.

The white-minority Apartheid government thought that white people were created differently to black people. They believed white people and black people had different hopes and dreams. They believed that white South Africans were following a different evolutionary growth path and that this ethically justified their policy. A lot of white South Africans believed in a debunked Christian heresy called the Curse of Canaan.

They called all native Africans in South Africa “Bantu” although linguistically and academically it was “an idiotic label” since South Africa contained Xhosa, Khoi speakers and San speakers.

Black South Africans could not live with Coloureds, Indians, Chinese people or White people. White people could not live among the Black South Africans, Coloureds or Asians. All native Africans were in general forced to live up to 20 miles away from cities. The white South Africans feared having hundreds of thousands of blacks in their midst. Black Africans were continuously evicted from their lands as the white population expanded to force them to create more room.

There were constant segregation signs everywhere. Europeans meant white and non-European meant black. There were separate entrances, bus stations, railway cars, eating and drinking utensils.

All black or coloured South Africans had to carry passes at all times. They faced fines, imprisonment, floggings or beatings if they did not carry a pass. Every day people got arrested for past offences. They would do spot checks on any day, enter family homes, search their homes, strip search black Africans and leave their house in a mess at any unspecified time. Each year 17,000 prisoners received 81,000 floggings to keep black South Africans in fear and submission.

White South Africans who felt the behaviours of the apartheid regime were immoral and depressing were suppressed and humiliated to bring them back in line.

White South Africans felt that black South Africans were barbarous people and Asians were semi-barbarous. They felt that South Africa would fall to pieces if there was no longer a white aristocracy and bourgeois. They tied their ability to main a white civilised race to being able to keep the black South Africans in a lower caste.

Only 2,000 out 11.5 million black or “coloured” South Africans were allowed to get a university education.

The mines had a high turnover rate (of leavers and replacement staff) of over 400,000 per year. All potential mine workers were humiliated and inspected nude for physical fitness before being hired like animals. 76% of mining interests were owned by American and British interests. Within the mining industry non-white South Africans had NO right to strike. The wealth of mining financed infrastructure projects, tax revenue and the armed forces. Black South African miners were only be paid circa 2 cents per day. The bureau of mines made sure wage levels always kept black South Africans in extreme poverty. They believed the black man was not a worker prior to their invasion of south Africa but was a warrior. They said they had to “teach the black man” the “dignity of work”.

Natives were considered primitive, dumb, uneducated and tribal. It did not occur to them that the tribes were the result of assembling land across multiple pre-conquest kingdoms and confederacies. Representatives of the natives, such as the Chief Minister of Transkei, had a basic job to get black South Africans to accept segregation, to get them to never protest, and to also get them to accept laws enacting discrimination such as the Bantu Authorities Act. Representatives who caused any trouble were stripped of status and re-located to another location in South Africa where they would have no influence and no ability to cause trouble as a lesson to demoted “chiefs” and the replacement “chiefs”.

Black South Africans were forced to live in concentration camps called “independent black lands” or in apartheid legislation referred to as “Bantustans”, irrespective of what their previous place of residence was prior to the implementation of apartheid laws.

If you were black in South Africa, you could be imprisoned without trial or deported without trial and without charge sent into exile. White South Africans who spoke out against apartheid were banned from freely speaking and limited to the equivalent of house arrest.

Any critic was a traitor. Those who spoke out against apartheid were called enemies of the state. Protest was called treason. Criticism was called sabotage. Opponents were banned from public life or arrested.

Incidents of violence were many. Women, children, elderly people all unarmed were generally shot in the back during peaceful protests – regularly. Accurate statistics were not kept of the number of deaths, because the apartheid government didn’t think it was killing human beings.

South Africa had a terrible reputation amongst many countries.

Black South Africans who wanted to liberate themselves by force were called terrorists. What did these terrorists want? To be recognised as humans not animals and to be treated as equals. Clearly, no other country on earth was willing to end apartheid by force. This led people like Oliver Tambo to speak out against South Africa from abroad.

White South Africans who wanted the injustice to stop formed a human rights organisation called the black sash. The members of the black sash were subjected to house arrest based on how often they caused trouble. All friends and family of white south Africans put under house arrest would be cut off and those under house arrests would be made to report to the police a certain number of times each week, usually daily, to prevent them from having any positive effect on the public. This was considered “civil death”.

The activists that fought apartheid from within were many*.

The apartheid government had death squads whose function was to torture or kill anti-racism anti-apartheid activists, through the efforts of operatives such as Eugene de Kock and Barend Strydom.

The countries which boycotted apartheid South Africa were mainly other African countries and Sweden[1]. The United States of America (USA) called apartheid immoral but the USA considered international boycotts impractical and illegal.

South Africa became a republic, instead of remaining a Union, due to condemnation of the Sharpeville Massacre by the United Kingdom.[2]

Organisations which opposed apartheid included the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Catholic Church[3], the United Nations[4] and the Commonwealth – due to opposition by African countries, South Asian and Southeast Asian countries to the Republic of South Africa to South Africa being a member of the Commonwealth.

Today apartheid is considered a crime against humanity in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, adopted on 17 July 1998. Too little too late:

For the purpose of this Statute, ‘crime against humanity’ means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

  1. Murder;
  2. Extermination;
  3. Enslavement;
  4. Deportation or forcible transfer of population;
  5. Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
  6. Torture;
  7. Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
  8. Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
  9. Enforced disappearance of persons;
  10. The crime of apartheid;
  11. Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health[5]

Hendrik Verwoerd was assassinated in 1966, by an anti-apartheid, anti-racist and anti-colonial activist called Dimitri Tsafendas who believed that cutting the head of the snake (the leader of apartheid government) would kill the snake (apartheid). The assassinated did not stop apartheid.

Churches were segregated in South Africa. Almost daily, some of South Africa’s racists would claim that Jesus was white, that Christianity was a white man’s religion, and that “white” and “black” humans were created differently, in a hierarchy with the white predestined to enslave all blacks, in contradiction to knowledge from modern genetic science as of 2022 and the position of the United Nations. One of the consequences of this constant misrepresentation of the Christian faith and prolonged experience of racial hatred, particularly this white supremacist version of the Christian faith, is that today many black South Africans not only see Christianity as a white man’s faith but they actually believe Christianity is a white man’s faith. Therefore, they consider any Black African that chooses to be a Christian an immense moron, incapable of exercising basic common sense, self-preservation, and find it difficult, if not impossible, to choose Christian as a belief system.

As a result, many South Africans often have a different perception of Christianity to Africans outside of South Africa since their contact with that religion came through far-right racists.

To learn more about apartheid, I highly recommend also doing your own research. This is a crash course for many Africans who have heard about apartheid but who never really got to learn what it was like.

* Activists who opposed apartheid:

  1. International Labour Office (1991). Apartheid: Special Report of the Directed General on the Application of the Decoration Concerning the Policy of South Africa. International Labour Organization. p. 46.
  2. “Apartheid part 06”Prime okbuy.eu search gizmo. 19 September 2017. Archived from the original on 3 July 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  3. Pope Attacks Apartheid in Speech at U.N. Court Los Angeles Times, 13 May 1985
  4. Nelson Mandela Archived 20 June 2017 at the Wayback Machine United Nations
  5. United Nations (2002). “Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Part 2, Article 7”. Archived from the original on 12 July 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2007.

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by Editorial Team time to read: 14 min