What is Apartheid?

by Washington Office on Africa Educational Fund
Washington, DC, United States
Undated, 1983 or 1984?
2 pages
Type: Report
Coverage in Africa: South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
Contents: definition • history • apartheid in action • land • pass laws • employment • education • health • The report says Apartheid (pronounced apart-hate) is a word meaning apart or separateness. The report says it is the name of the system of government in the Republic of South Africa. Under this system of apartheid, all persons in South Africa are classified by the color of their skin into the following races: whites (persons of European descent); Blacks (persons of African descent); Coloreds (persons of racially mixed descent); and Asians (persons of Asian, mostly Indian, descent). The report says although whites constitute only 15% of the population, the system of apartheid mandates them to control every aspect of life for the other races; under apartheid, the races are forcibly kept apart with the freedom of Blacks, Coloreds, and Asians sharply curtailed; separation of the races in South Africa was enforced by whites from the earliest encounters between Africans and Europeans; largely because of superior weapons, Europeans won the continual wars against Africans; although white domination had been going on for centuries, until 1948 there were only a few laws to define apartheid; in that year, the whites elected the Nationalist Party to govern the country on a platform of white supremacy; much repressive legislation was passed to insure white control. The report says under apartheid, the rights of all people in South Africa are determined according to the racial group into which they are classified; this determines where they are allowed to live, what work they may do, what type of education they can receive, what political rights, if any, they will have, whom they may marry - in short - the total extent of their freedom of action and movement; the races live in separate districts and travel in different buses and trains; they attend different schools, churches, restaurants, cinemas, beaches, clubs and sports events; they walk through separate doorways and use separate telephone booths and bathrooms; they go to separate hospitals and are buried in different graveyards; all the facilities for whites in South Africa are superior, all those for Blacks are inferior. The report says the differences in standards of living is enormous: More than 90% of white households have refrigerators while less than 2% of Black families have one; only one African family out of 1000 has a telephone, while there is a swimming pool in virtually every white family's backyard. The report says 87% of the most fertile land is set aside for the white minority; less than 13% of the worst land is left for the Black majority; no Black is entitled to acquire freehold title to land anywhere in South Africa; the areas designated for Africans have been divided into ten fragmented areas called Bantustans, homelands or national states; the South African government forcibly removes the Black population from the "white areas" to these dumping grounds; the homes of those who resist removal are bulldozed or burned; of the ten designated Bantustans, the apartheid government has declared "independence" for four of them; apartheid's grand design is to declare all the i3antustans "independent", thus stripping all Blacks of their South African citizenship; for this reason, no other nation in the world has recognized the independence of these areas. The report says Africans, Coloreds and Asians are excluded from many of the more highly paid skilled occupations, and various laws reserve the better jobs for whites; the majority of Blacks work in the mines, factories, farms and homes in the "white areas", hundreds of miles away from the reserves where their wives and children are forced to live; generally, they are considered foreign migratory workers and must live in specific locations set aside for them in these white areas; Africans provide a cheap labor force for the South African economy; it is difficult for African workers to defend their rights; although African unions exist, until 1979 they were illegal; police harassment, prosecutions and bannings are directed against union leaders. The report says the races are educated separately and differently to prepare them for their predetermined place in society; the Government spends ten times more for the education of white children than for the education of Africans; school is free for white pupils, Africans pay for their education; white and Colored pupils receive free textbooks in all grades; African pupils in secondary and high school must pay for their books; Black parents, unlike white parents, are required to pay school fees; the student-teacher ratio is 20 to 1 for whites, 47 to 1 for Africans; South African school books teach the African that he occupies an inferior position in society; white children are taught that Europeans are superior and that Africans are "primitive and barbaric." The report says apartheid South Africa offers one of the best health care systems in the world to its white population - but health services for Africans rank amongst the poorest, in spite of South Africa's great wealth and resources; the two outstanding causes of ill health and early death among Black people in South Africa are malnutrition (the prime cause of which is poverty) and communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, measles, polio and diphtheria; these diseases are mainly the result of substandard housing and poor sanitation in the Bantustans. The report discusses the Nationalist Party (National Party).
Used by permission of Africa Action (successor to the Africa Policy Information Center).
Collection: William Minter Southern Africa Papers