EFFECTS OF APARTHEID IN SOUTH AFRICA
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Apartheid is a word from the Afrikaans that means segregation. True to the meaning of the word, South Africans suffered under it for decades. It was started by The National Party Government in 1948 when they came into power. They treated non-whites such as the Asians and the coloured who were of mixed race as second class citizens and Africans as non-citizens. Although the Asians and the coloured did not have many privileges, they were better off than the Africans who did not have any rights. Apart from that they confined Africans to their homelands and stripped them of their rights as citizens of South Africa. With the introduction of apartheid in South Africa came the struggle against it both in and out of the country which was spearheaded by leaders were in and out the country and they also financed it. The ruling party also suffered a major blow when other countries and the international community failed to recognize the segregation of people into homelands and thus South Africa was suspended from international organisations. Apart from that small groups were formed to help fight against it, which led to uprisings in the country.
Apartheid sparked significant internal resistance and violence as well as a long arms and trade embargo against South Africa. Since the 1950s, a series of popular uprisings and protests were met with the banning of opposition and imprisoning of anti-apartheid leaders. As unrest spread and became more effective and militarized, state organizations responded with repression and violence. This, along with the sanctions placed on South Africa by the West made it increasingly difficult for the government to maintain the regime. Reforms to apartheid in the 1980s failed to quell the mounting opposition, and in 1990 President Fredrik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid, culminating in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, which were won by the African National Congress under Nelson Mandela. The vestiges of apartheid still shape South African politics and society. Although the official abolishment of Apartheid occurred in 1990 with repeal of the last of the remaining Apartheid laws, the end of Apartheid is widely regarded as arising from the 1994 democratic general elections.
South Africa has suffered socially, politically, economically and psychologically due to apartheid. This is due to the racial discrimination and racial segregation that has been on-going in t he country for decades that has seen many people lose their lives and leaders being jailed example being Nelson Mandela who was jailed for 27 years at Robben Island. Although the country gained independence, there are still some cases of racial discrimination. Though the blacks make up the majority of the country, they were deprived of their rights and were places at the bottom of the human class and even considered non-citizens due to their colour.
Apartheid caused people to have some effects one being psychological. Most of the blacks were left traumatized because of the humiliating experience they had under the whites. They were mistreated badly and even abused verbally. The mistreatment came in many forms one being racism towards the blacks. This racism was in form of being segregated from the rest by being sent to their homelands. Apart from that they were forced to work at the mines and being paid meagre salaries. The blacks’ children were not allowed to study at white schools while their parents also worked at white homes as maids.
Family life was disrupted due to the enforced migrant labour system. This involved the taking of able men from their homelands to go and work at the gold and diamond mines in the cities leaving behind their families and hence affecting the family structure. Since the men were kept away from their wives for a long time, they became promiscuous leading to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Most families and children were affected due to the death of their parents because of AIDS that took away the breadwinner. Most were left homeless without being able to take care of themselves.
Traumatization left blacks with mental breakdowns and suicide thoughts on their minds. This was because of physical and mental torture they underwent under the hands of the police officers. The ones who suffered the most were detainees who were caught for interrogation. The treatment involved being locked up in a cell and beaten up merciless or sometimes their fingernails and toenails were removed. In addition to that they were left to starve for days so as to give out the information they wanted. As if that is not enough, they used drugs on them. Their families were also threatened and they were forced to watch their fellow detainees being tortured. Some were humiliated by being kept naked.
Blacks who had mental breakdown were unable to access mental health services since they were unavailable for them. In addition to that the patient doctor relationship between white doctors and black patients was not good. Most white doctors refused to treat black patients due to the high level of racism. The blacks also had poor medical services since they had unqualified black personnel who could not help them. Apartheid also had an impact in the economy of South Africa. The major one being the divestment of foreign companies from South Africa. Companies pulled out of South Africa in a bid to pressurise the ruling party to stop apartheid. In addition to that South Africa also suffered economic sanctions and expulsion from international organizations. This made the economy of South Africa to decline drastically. South Africa also suffered disinvestment such that the foreign capital invested in the country was withdrawn or reduced.
In 1977, the United Nations Security Council in an effort to hurt the ruling government turned to an arms embargo. This meant that South Africa would not be able to buy or sell arms to other countries and they would also be unable to exchange military information. The government retaliated by deciding to produce their own military equipment. This led to the diversion of resources from other uses to maintaining a well-equipped and prepared military. Funds meant for public utilities, education and health care were put towards military readiness. Dissatisfaction with the continued deprivation inside the country began to grow. At the same time, the limited amount of educated manpower in the country was required to serve in the armed forces. Additionally, due to the isolation from the rest of the world more money, citizens, and time were forced to research new military technologies because of the inability to purchase western weapons systems.
In the early 1980s the furthering unrest in the country began to worry many of the foreign investors. Most of the private businesses were under pressure to disinvest. The political instability of the country was the primary concern for many of the foreign companies. South Africa also suffered trade sanctions from the European Community. This led to loss of private capital in the country. The country also suffered from poverty. This was because of high levels of unemployment in the nation and uneven distribution of wealth. A third of the population was unemployed while 10 per cent of the population mostly the whites controlled 80 per cent of the country’s wealth and riches while most of the blacks are homeless and unemployed and lived in degraded neighbourhoods unlike the whites who got all the best jobs and the good land in the country and had good living standards.
With the discovering of gold and diamond in the country, the demand for minerals was high. South Africa enjoyed a long period of prosperity in the mid-1930s due to the high demand for minerals and raw materials by the international community that increased the number of mineral export. Demand during world war two was particularly strong and led again to a large expansion of the mining and industrial sector. This boosted the economy of South Africa for a while though it was declining. Blacks were employed to work at the mines with low wages while their white counterparts were paid well. They posed little competition to the whites who enjoyed the outcome and privileges of the apartheid until the government started to employ more black workers due to the less capital spent on them. More blacks were employed and some even replaced whites in their jobs which caused revolt around the country.
Apartheid also had a major impact on the lifestyle of the people. The 1950 Population Registration Act aimed to divide each race and affected the blacks the most since because they were thought as to be lower class and was inferior to the whites. Apart from that there was another act placed known as Prohibition of Mixed Marriage Act that did not allow marriage between whites and non-whites and aimed to make sure that no more mixed race children would be bone and ensured total separation from the races. This resulted in detachment between families because some parents were classified as a different race to their children or each other. A race group act was put in place that aimed to divide the races into different areas. Some blacks had to shift out of their homes since they were reserved for the whites. The blacks were restricted from moving in white areas, which in turn restricted their freedom of movement. Blacks were required to use internal passports called pass cards, in order to move around their own country especially moving to white areas. The pass had information of the carrier, where they work, there age, race and where they come from.
White tradesman and government officials including police regularly harassed African workers to discourage them from travelling to the mines and competing for permanent positions. This was because the white workers feared the large supply of African labour as the low priced competition that it was. Harassment would be in form of arrest, torture, threat and even taking of pass hence blacks would be charged for being there illegally. Racism tension was high as it even extended to schools. Children from different races were not allowed to study in the same school because they were desegregated. Blacks lacked good education system because they lacked the necessary resources and the teachers were not properly trained. They also had poor facilities. The ruling party spent most of its resources to educate the white children.