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1948 - early 1990s
South Africa, South West Africa (Namibia)
Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning "separateness." Apartheid was a system sanctioned by law, of racial segregation in South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia) from 1948 until the early 1990s.
Sanctioned racial segregation was widely practiced in South Africa before 1948. In 1948, the Afrikaner National Party won the general election and extended the policy that called "apartheid." As result, non-white South Africans would be forced to live in separate areas from whites and use separate public facilities. Apartheid laws remained in effect for the better part of 50 years.
Through the Population Registration Act of 1950, South African population was classified as either Bantu (all Black Africans), Coloured (those of mixed race), or white and a fourth category, Asian which was added later.
The Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959 created 10 Bantu homelands known as Bantustans, that were designated by the white-dominated government of South Africa as pseudo-national homelands for the country’s Black African population during the 20th century. From 1961 to 1994, more than 3.5 million people were transfered in the Bantustans.
One of the first and most violent demonstrations against apartheid happened in Sharpeville on March 21, 1960. The police opened fire on a group of unarmed blacks and killed about 69 Black Africans and wounded many more.
Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement to end South African apartheid. In 1944, Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) and became a leader of Johannesburg’s youth wing of the ANC. In 1961, he was arrested for treason, and although acquitted he was arrested again in 1962. In June 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison. F.W. de Klerk freed Nelson Mandela on February 11, 1990. A few years later, Mandela was elected South Africa’s president.
The United Nations General Assembly had denounced apartheid in 1973. In 1985, the United Kingdom and United States imposed economic sanctions on the country. De Klerk’s government repealed the Population Registration Act and the other legislation that formed the legal basis for apartheid.
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