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What Was Apartheid in South Africa?

Apartheid is an Afrikaans word that means separation. It is the name given to the particular racial-social ideology developed in South Africa during the twentieth century.

At its core, apartheid was all about racial segregation. It led to the political and economic discrimination which separated Black (or Bantu), Coloured (mixed race), Indian, and White South Africans.

What Led to Apartheid?

Racial segregation in South Africa began after the Boer War and really came into being in the early 1900s.

When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 under British control, the Europeans in South Africa shaped the political structure of the new nation. Acts of discrimination were implemented from the very beginning.

It was not until the elections of 1948 that the word apartheid became common in South African politics. Through all of this, the white minority put various restrictions on the black majority. Eventually, the segregation affected Coloured and Indian citizens as well.

Over time, apartheid was divided into petty and grand apartheid. Petty apartheid referred to the visible segregation in South Africa while grand apartheid was used to describe the loss of political and land rights of black South Africans.

Before its end in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela, the years of apartheid were filled with many struggles and brutality. A few events hold great significance and are considered turning points in the development and the fall of apartheid.

What came to be known as pass laws restricted the movement of Africans and required them to carry a reference book. This held identification papers as well as permissions to be in certain regions. By the 1950s, the restriction became so great that every black South African was required to carry one.

In 1956, over 20,000 women of all races marched in protest. This was the time of passive protest, but that would soon change.

The Sharpeville Massacre on March 21, 1960, would be the turning point in apartheid. This too was a protest against the pass laws and a

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