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A Summary of South African Apartheid

Just because you"ve heard about South African apartheid doesn"t mean you know its history or how the system of racial segregation actually worked; with this summary, improve your understanding and see how it overlapped with Jim Crow in the United States.

The European presence in South Africa dates back to the 17th century, when the Dutch East India Company established the Cape Colony outpost.

Over the next three centuries, Europeans, primarily of British and Dutch origin, would expand their presence in South Africa to pursue the land’s abundance of natural resources such as diamonds and gold. In 1910, whites founded the Union of South Africa, an independent arm of the British Empire that gave the white minority control of the country and disenfranchised blacks.

Although South Africa was majority black, the white minority passed a series of land acts that resulted in them occupying 80 to 90 percent of the country’s land. The 1913 Land Act unofficially launched apartheid by requiring the black population to live on reserves.

Apartheid officially became a way of life in South Africa in 1948, when the Afrikaner National Party came into power after heavily promoting the racially stratified system. In Afrikaans, "apartheid" means “apartness” or “separateness.” More than 300 laws led to apartheid’s establishment in South Africa.

Under apartheid, South Africans were categorized into four racial groups: Bantu (South African natives), colored (mixed-race), white and Asian (immigrants from the Indian sub-continent.) All South Africans over the age of 16 were required to carry racial identification cards. Members of the same family often were categorized as different racial groups under the apartheid system.

Apartheid not only banned interracial marriage but also sexual relations between members of different racial groups, just as miscegenation was banned in the United States.

During apartheid, blacks were required to carry pass books at all times to allow them entry into public spaces reserved for whites. This occurred

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