South Africa becomes an apartheid state


From around 1950 to around 1991, South Africa was subject to a series of discriminatory laws designed to keep different ethnicities apart and in effect securing total political and social control for the white minority in the countr…



Apartheid begins

In 1948, the Reunited National Party (NP) won the national election in South Africa and took control of the government (mainly white people had the rights to vote at the time).

Their political campaign had been based on the promise of apartheid or “separateness” - a policy of strictly enforced segregation between the various ‘races’ of South Africa (in contrast to The United Party previously in power, who was in favour of racial integration at the time).

The National Party wa…


Apartheid becomes law

The apartheid government created a large number of laws (or ‘Acts’) designed to enforce the concept of apartheid. The following is a brief summary of the most important ones and their consequences.

The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949) and the Immorality Amendment Act (1950)

These laws made marriage illegal between members of different ‘races’ and made sexual intercourse illegal between white and non-white people. Combined with the Population Registration Act mentioned below, this meant that a number of families were torn apart when these laws were put into effect.

Textual perspective 1 - "Country Lovers" by Nadine Gordimer

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Textual perspective 2 - "The Moment Before the Gun Went Off" by Nadine Gordimer

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The Population Registration Act (1950)

This law required that every citizen of South Africa should receive a racial classification. A person might belong to one of three different ‘…


Living conditions during apartheid

Living conditions during apartheid varied extremely, depending on which ethnic group a person belonged to (see Population Registration Act, above). White people had access to excellent public facilities and enjoyed a high living standard comparable to rich European nations, but people belonging to the ‘Black’ or ‘Coloured’ groups were often confined to ghettos and forced to get by with poor access to public facilities and infrastructure. D…

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