South Africa becomes an apartheid state

Historical background

The backstory to apartheid starts with the first European colony in the area - the Cape Colony founded by the Dutch East India Company in 1652. In the following centuries, the area saw a lot of violent conflicts between Dutch and British colonists, and between colonists and the native population.  

In 1910, the Union of South Africa formally became an independent country, after a series of violent conflicts between the British Empire and the ‘Boers’, who were descendants of the original Dutch colonists. The new nation was controlled by the Boers and became independent of the British Empire.

One of the first legal precursors to apartheid was the Native Land Act of 1913. This law created a sharp division between land reserved for natives and land reserved for whites, making it illegal to buy and sell land between the groups. In practice, this meant that the white minority received exclusive rights to the vast majority of the fertile land in the country.

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 was able to secure political support because the United Party was historically unpopular at the time, partly due to the strict rationing laws they had created during World War II. At the same time, the NP relied on various...

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