Racial Segregation

Oct 26, 2020 in Case Study
Racial Segregation Case Study Example

Apartheid in South Africa


Apartheid was a form of governance practiced by the Dutch Empire in South Africa during the colonial era. Apartheid was a rigid ideology that involved racial segregation, political and economic oppression of the colored inhabitants in South Africa. Apartheid laws prohibited non-white inhabitants from having any social advantages (Bond, 2014).

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Legal Basis of Apartheid

The implementation and enforcement of apartheid were based on acts and laws. Those laws gave white people exclusive privileges over other inhabitants of South Africa. The National Party approved most of the legislation. Apartheid was preceded by discrimination laws which were made and enforced by the Afrikaner and Britons. Apartheid was composed of the following acts: population segregation, economic apartheid, education segregation, sexual apartheid, geographic segregation, and land tenure, influx laws, and pass laws. In addition, political representation, detention without trial, and separate development were common (Bond, 2014).

Social Impact on Different Population Groups

According to Irwin (2012), apartheid divided the inhabitants into four distinct groups, namely the whites, the blacks, the Asians, and the colored. Due to apartheid, non-white groups of South Africa did not have an access to education and voting rights. To make identification easier, it was mandatory for non-white to have their identification cards with them all the time. Those who did not adhere to those laws were incarcerated for a period of six months. In 1953, the National Party declared a state of emergency which gave the authorities the permission to execute or torture anyone who presented a threat to the government. Black South Africans did not have freedom to move from rural to urban centers. They had to have a permit issued to them by the authorities. In the case when any of the blacks received the permits, the authorities required them to find a low-paid job three days after arrival. That policy had widened the gap between the non-white inhabitants of South Africa and white (Irwin, 2012).

The Fall of Apartheid and Rise of the ANC

The fall of apartheid rule began when negotiations between the ruling National Party and the African National Congress started between 1990 and 1993 (Apartheid to Democracy, 2016). The Party was formed in 1912, and by then, it had been known as South African Native National Congress. In 1923, it was renamed to African National Congress. Considerable events had happened before the apartheid rule was abolished. Some of the whites joined the non-whites to protest against apartheid. During the 1960s and 1990s, the African National Congress was banned. As a result, its leaders were arrested. For example, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for eighteen years in Robben Island. After F.W de Klerk became the president of South Africa, he lifted the ban imposed on the African National Party and ordered the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990. The release of Nelson Mandela and legalization of other parties formed by non-white became the beginning of the end of apartheid. The leaders of the African National Congress Party fought for the right of everyone to vote, especially the non-white. In 1994, the apartheid rule was dismantled, and Nelson Mandela was elected as the first non-white president of South Africa (Apartheid to Democracy, 2016).

The Role of Nelson Mandela in the Fight for Independence in South Africa

Nelson Mandela spent most of his childhood preparing to be a chief. Mandela played a very crucial role towards the independence of South Africa; his early life as a student prepared him for the struggle. His political career began while he was in college. During his studies, he spearheaded several demonstrations for the rights of the students. His rebellion against injustice resulted in Mandelas expel from various learning institutions (Valodia, Habib, & Ballard, 2015). After attaining a degree in BA, he enrolled for a degree in law. With Sisulu and Tambo, he established the African National Congress Youth League in 1944. It revitalized the African National Congress. The African National Congress Youth League formed the principles on which the ANC was founded. In December 1952, he held demonstrations against the apartheid rule which led to his arrest. Imprisonment did not kill his zeal but rather made him even stronger.

Moreover, he continued to participate in the life of his country. He became the commander of the Umkhonto weSizwe after launching a struggle against the apartheid rule, which made the ruling National Party ban the African National Congress Party and Pan Africanist Congress. However, after having returned home, he was arrested and later sentenced to five years imprisonment for leaving the country without permission and incitement. During his time in prison, the ruling authorities arrested leaders of the African National Congress after raiding their headquarters in Lilliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, north of Johannesburg. During the raid, the authorities found documents that outlined the plans of the party and personal documents related to Mandela. As a result, Mandela and the other party leaders were on trial. Mandela's speech declared from the court gained global attention (Clark & Worger, 2013). Nevertheless, together with the other leaders, he was imprisoned for life in Robben Island. He spent eighteen years in prison. In 1982, he was transferred to another prison. During that period, the authorities realized that he was suffering from tuberculosis. Throughout his imprisonment, Mandela acted as a figure that united the other leaders who fought against apartheid. He spent almost forty years, twenty-seven of which was spent in prison, fighting off the apartheid. He became the central figure in the fight. After his release, he focused on ending the apartheid era that involved the ruling government and the ANC. In 1993, the adoption of the interim constitution led to the first election where everyone was allowed to vote, irrespective of their race. Under the African National Congress party, Mandela became the first non-white president of South Africa.

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Mandela advocated for equality between the inhabitants of South Africa, regardless of their race. His mission was to initiate the end of the apartheid era by reconciliation and inspiring others. In fact, the whites were scared that those whom they oppressed would prosecute. As a result, the majority left the country, but Mandela ensured that the country was against the boundaries of racial discrimination. He, therefore, convinced that there was a peaceful transition from one era to another. Having been a victim of apartheid for most of his life, he made the first gesture by forgiving those who had imprisoned him and urged other South African inhabitants to do the same. By doing this, he became a national and international inspirational figure that motivated fellow South Africans to follow their leader. With the help of Desmond Tutu, Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to begin reconciliation. He led a nation that was divided by racial boundaries. It is not surprising that he is known as one of the world's most renowned activists of social rights (Frost, 1998).


The fight and struggle against the apartheid in South Africa had repercussions, many of which led to the loss of human lives. Nelson Mandela fought against the discriminatory system. His story should be a source of inspiration to the rest of the world, especially when the world still fights against social problems. Mandela proved that by actions people could reach freedom. Undoubtedly, the experience of South Africans should serve as a symbol of unity and peace.

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