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South Africa Apartheid History - Essay Example

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Primarily, apartheid was one of the main forms of racial discrimination, separation of white minority and black majority. Social divisions in this colonial society increasingly took on a rigid racial character1. Between 1950s - 1970s white power was used to forge one of the most extreme forms of racial discrimination in the twentieth-century world. For instance, whereas the strength and size of the settler population in the United States or Australia meant that race relations were for many years relegated to the peripheries of national historiography, race was an abiding concern even in the most inward-looking settler histories of South Africa2.
Apartheid cannot be the best solution for South African because this term coincides with the concepts of racism, segregation and oppression of black population. Segregation in South Africa encompassed many different social relationships. It is often discussed as a series of legislative Acts which removed and restricted the rights of 'non-whites' in every possible sphere. Segregation was more than a set of restrictive legislation: it refers as well to a composite ideology and set of practices seeking to legitimize social difference and economic inequality in every aspect of life3. For instance, "Coloured" was the official apartheid designation for persons of mixed race"4. Many of the spatial and social elements of segregation, such as the division of churches on the basis of color, were initially governed by convention rather than law. It is important to mention the exclusion of blacks from skilled work, and especially from the exercise of supervisory functions over whites, was determined by custom as well as legislative bars.
Apartheid was the system of control which devolved substantial local control to African chiefs who were seen as the best guarantors of a stable social order. The system of apartheid limited social freedom of black communities and controlled their social, political and economic life. The system of segregation and oppression established in South Africa was similar distinctively British colonial racial ideas5. Rather like the practice of indirect rule elsewhere in colonial Africa, its form resulted from the relative weakness of the colonial state and its dependence on the taxation of African peasants. Likewise, in the decade after the Nationalists came to power, its hold was rather more fragile than was apparent in the interlude between the Sharpeville uprising of 1960 and the Soweto revolt of 19766.
The main weakness of Mr. Boydell's arguments is that 'separate' or 'apart' did not mean 'equal'. The black communities were 'separate' but they were not 'equal'. For instance, the era of 'high apartheid, roughly from 1960 to 1976, was a period in which the government engaged in a massive process of social engineering. Relatively rapid economic growth for much of this period provided the apartheid state with the opportunity to put its ideas into practice. The most striking policy development in this respect was the attempt to turn the existing reserves into self-governing ethnic statelets or 'homelands'7. Debates about the homelands have been central to critiques of apartheid. The very word ...Show more


Apartheid was one of the most difficult and cruel periods in the history of South Africa. Thus, Mr. Boydell defends apartheid stating that there is "nothing sinister, cruel or oppressive in it". He interprets 'apartheid' in terms of its original meaning and defends positive changes caused by separation and self-identification of diverse national and ethic groups inhabited South Africa…
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South Africa Apartheid History essay example
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