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History of South Africa: Main Aspects

Apartheid refers to a system under which there exists discrimination between or among races, co-existing within a region. In South Africa, apartheid was a regime under which the White race discriminated other races like Blacks and the Indians. In this system, there was a significant segregation among the races which meant that each race had its own way of life, different from the others. From the system it was evident that, the superior race discriminated inferior races by restricting their access to sophisticated social amenities (Thompson 1995, 231).

Legal policies of apartheid in South Africa were implemented during the time of colonialism; during which the Whites officially discriminated other races by putting barriers to them, so as not to be able to access crucial social amenities which the whites were receiving. Specifically, apartheid was officially introduced in South Africa in the year 1948; during the general elections after which the minor race of the Whites deprived the Blacks of their citizenship rights by use of force and also, segregating the places of residence between the Whites and other races. This meant that the whites lived in the highly sophisticated areas where, no other race was allowed to reside in (Thompson 1995, 241).

Education was also another social amenity under which apartheid was highly practiced; where there were schools for Whites, Blacks and the Indians. Under this system; the children of the white people were learning in very well built schools with all learning facilities, and highly qualified professionals. On the other hand the Blacks’ children were learning in schools with very poor learning facilities, and inferior teaching staff. Further, the location of these schools for Blacks and Indians were separated from those of Whites and the other superior races in South Africa (Williams 1997, 111).

Another remarkable instance of apartheism in South Africa was that, the Africans were deprived of their citizenship rights and were restricted from accessing vital national facilities like hospitals. This kind of discrimination can be described as the worst; during which foreigners who formed the minority had taken full control of the country ending up to depriving the natives; of their own legal rights in their country (Williams 1997, 120).

The objective of this system of apartheid was to eliminate the Africans’ sovereignty and make them slaves in their own land; while at the same time giving the foreigners a legal right to become citizens of the country. The formulation of policies in the apartheid system was determined to ensure that Africans and other inferior races could not access crucial services and other social amenities; which could make them equal. This was followed by the withdrawal of Africans’ national citizenship in the year 1958, making them to become citizens of the ‘Ten local governments’; which were merely based on tribal foundations (Williams 1997, 133).

This system of apartheid was strongly supported by the Whites whom, to a great extent were the ultimate beneficiaries of the system. This was because all the policies made in the apartheid system seemed to favor the whites, discriminating the other races in South Africa. On the basis of this, the white race was greatly supporting the system which was meant to propel them higher in power and the control of the country’s resources.

These attempts were based on that South Africa had a lot of valuable resources, the major one being gold which was held under the control of the whites. Generally, the whites were given the opportunity of receiving or accessing superior resources and also controlling state affairs. This privilege gave them a basis to strongly support the apartheid system, without compromising with the other races in the country (Thompson 1995, 256).

On the other hand, the Blacks and Indians were the major opposers of the apartheid system; at least to see if they could be at liberty to access the national resources within the country. As the policies in the system stipulated, there were segregated facilities both for the whites and the other races in the country. The Blacks were the worst treated, as they were deprived of even sharing the same residential environment with the Whites. The withdrawal of their national citizenship also steered up a controversy, which led to the Blacks not supporting the apartheid system at all (Williams 1997, 148).

All superior resources of the country; that at one time could be accessed freely by all people were restricted allowing only Whites to access them, at the expense of the Blacks despite their being in their homeland. These conditions upset the Blacks very much leading them to oppose the system fiercely, as it seemed to deny them of their legal access to the country’s superior resources. (Williams 1997, 161).

The supporters of the apartheid system, mainly the Whites restricted the movement of the Blacks from their native lands; also restricting them from accessing the sophisticated regions occupied by the Whites. These White colonialists also made laws and policies which further restricted the movement of Blacks from one district to another, though occupied by their fellow blacks. This ensured that, the Blacks were scattered which made them not to make any strong anti-apartheid groups (Thompson 1995, 271)

Most of these anti-apartheid groups’ leaders were arrested by the colonial administrators and imprisoned afterwards, which intimidated many Blacks. More so, the Indians were denied of their voting rights which meant that the whites could manipulate the votes made by the blacks, ensuring that they remain in power for long. The denial of voting rights to Indians by the whites also reduced the number of voters leading to the superiority of the whites (Williams 1997, 180).

The apartheid opposition groups voiced their objections in various ways and modes; some forming anti-apartheid groups which carried out public demonstrations leading to some of their leaders being arrested by colonial administration police officers. The Black youths also united and made public campaigns against the ruling of the whites within the country, which up-roared and stirred up a serious police brutality and cruelty. Various strikes were also made by African resisters of apartheid at various parts of the country, which greatly alarmed the colonialists (Williams 1997, 181).

Apartheid in South Africa had to come to an end because; up to the year 1980 the country had experienced a severe isolation from international activities like sports among others. This isolation and the sense of being not at par with the rest of the world made apartheid to lose power in South Africa. Apartheid was officially terminated by the United Nations; as a result of it being discussed in various meetings where apartheid in South Africa was one of the major agendas (Thompson 1995, 266).

Apartheid in south Africa was a very serious condition which led to many of the blacks suffering, as well as making them be imprisoned as a result being anti- apartheid leaders. Generally, this system of apartheid led to significant long-term colonization of South Africa.


Thompson, Leonard. A History of South Africa. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Williams, John. From The South African Past: Narratives, Documents, and Debates. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

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