The Causes Of Apartheid

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Did colonization really act as an important catalyst for apartheid in South Africa?

One of the most horrific chapters in South Africa’s history has been apartheid – it was a time when black people were segregated in their own land. The origins of apartheid lies in the colonization of South Africa and several laws that were introduced in Cape Colony (South Africa), which had snatched away the rights of black people. The injustices were very different, however, to the kinds which were to befall upon coloured South Africans, some years after independence from the United Kingdom.

In British Cape Colony, black people were not allowed to own any lands and they were to only have cheap labour. Furthermore, high paying jobs were only reserved for whites because it was perceived that blacks did not hold the necessary skills etc. to work these jobs. Laws, such as these were the catalyst for apartheid, introduced from 1948 onwards, which amongst many things prohibited blacks and whites from having the same wages even if they worked the same jobs or the same numbers of hours, which is just an outright wrong thing to do. If blacks have the necessary skills to hold the same jobs as whites, and also work the same hours as them, then they should be paid the same.

It is an entirely different kind of injustice inflicted by the British Empire on South Africans if the idea prevails during the latter’s colonization, that black people might not be skilled enough to hold the same kinds of jobs as whites: South Africa was (and still is) a much less developed state than those (United Kingdom and the Netherlands, for example) that are native to European colonialists. As a result, acquiring skills to work high-paying jobs might not really be as readily accessible to South Africans as to whites because of the state’s impoverished circumstances.

In fact, the differences are plenty: the Natives Land Act (1913) is actually one of the most important contributors to the creation of apartheid, after the British had left South Africa in 1961; South Africa had become a self-governing state in 1934 but dominion-status for it came to an end in 1961. The act had placed 10 percent of blacks to reserves, and forbade black people to own lands outside of these reserves, as well. In 1948, when apartheid was put into practice in South Africa, the South African government snatched away the rural areas classified as white and relegated blacks to camps aiming to resettle blacks but over there, there were neither any prospects for employment, nor any services in place. The camps were also located in infertile places and the government had labelled black people as non-essential to the South African labour market.

Meanwhile, the Land Act, when it was introduced had permitted black people to own lands in reserves but what was done differently during the age of apartheid was that black people’s lands were sold off to white farmers at low prices. This was truly horrific. Apartheid, gratefully, came to an end in 1994, when elections were held and a nonwhite government of the African National Congress (ANC), led by Nelson Mandela, came into power.


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