Blacks shared the pain of Apartheid in one of the darkest periods in history. Blacks were horribly oppressed by tyrants who obliterated their happy, healthy lives for nothing more then their own interests. Many Laws were passed that restricted blacks from the freedoms that all people should rightfully obtain from birth. White South Africans took the black population by the throat, making it hard for blacks to live as happy people. Black South Africans were held in a form of imprisonment and could do little to fight back, causing Apartheid to be one of the darkest periods in black history.
Apartheid was introduced as a part of the National Party’s campaign in the 1948 elections. With the National Party victory, Apartheid became a national political policy in South Africa. In Apartheid people were classified according to three major racial groups: white, Bantu, or black Africans. This new law brought about new ways of life; where people worked, where they could go, and who they interacted with. Eventually, some labeled South Africa as a “police state” (Dowling 17) because of the harsh punishment for those who opposed the law and how blacks were unjustly treated.
From the start, Apartheid looked grim, and hardly influential organizations like the African National Congress were the only defenses blacks had. White dominance was so powerful that, in time, it began to engulf the hopes of the blacks that wished for racial equality. Whites brought harsh justice to those who opposed there plans of superiority in South Africa. The national party brought forth the idea of apartheid as part of their campaign in the 1948 elections, and with the national party’s victory, apartheid became the political policy for South Africa.
In the 1950’s after apartheid became the official policy, the African National Congress declared that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white” (Johnson 544), and worked to abolish apartheid. Black South Africans and others who tried to fight apartheid were stopped quickly and often violently. Thousands were thrown in prison and hundreds were tortured and murdered by the police. White South African leaders looked away, even though these acts were against the law, they wanted white people to stay in power.
These punishments were horrible, leading prisoners to believe suicide was the better way out. Families were separated because of the migrant labor system. Also children were horribly affected because malnutrition stunted there growth and personality development. In the 1950’s some changes occurred. The migrant labor act was abolished because the government did not feel the need to segregate the cities as much as they did in the past. So initially blacks were stuck on rural reserves most of the time and were being treated worse and worse.
This was called the Bantu authorities act, established 1951. On a good note, there were people on the Black African’s side from the beginning. Prime Minister Smuts wrote, “The idea that natives must all be removed and confined in their kraals is in my opinion, the greatest nonsense I have ever heard. ” (Smuts 1) Steven Biko wrote, ” The government of our nation is full of tyranny” (Biko 1) Despite all the fighting back, apartheid was a loosing battle for blacks in South Africa until the late 1900’s.
Apartheid took off in 1948 when the national party won the election. It was all downhill from there for the blacks. In 1950 the population registration act was passed. This act classified people as either white, black, or Bantu. The apartheid fooled other countries into believing it was a lifting in a state of emergency. In 1951 many whites did not like the black people so a commission was formed to set and regulate segregation laws. In 1952, Nelson Mandela and Tambo opened the first black legal firm. This was a small step for the blacks at the time.
In 1953 the public safety act and criminal law amendment were passed which allowed the government to enforce harsh punishment on protesters against the government. In 1954 a law was passed that required blacks to carry pass books with their finger prints, picture, and information in all non-black areas. In 1955 an unfair arrest was carried out by the police in which black leaders were taken prisoner for writing a freedom charter. The reason for this arrest was that it was a “communist document”(Dowling 17) . By 1956 blacks lost the right to vote all together.
Nelson Mandela was seen as a threat to the government so he was charged with high treason and found not guilty. In 1959, the first laws that gave blacks separate homelands were introduced, this was passed by the parliament. By this time, blacks were living in impoverished, crime infested ghettos with no way out. The share of national income was unbalanced, blacks only received 20 percent of it. The population of blacks was 19 million as opposed to 4. 5 million whites. The whites also lived on 87 percent of the land (Dowling 17) .
The blacks were forbidden to practice in the government and were only allowed at certain segregated public areas such as benches, fountains, libraries, etc. In 1960 pressure from other nations caused the South African government to loosen some restrictions. The African national Congress did their best to fight the unfair treatment from the government. One member said, ” South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black or white. ” (Carter 76)
In 1960 protest’s reached there peak, and one protest in the town of Sharpeville down in the history books. people died in a police massacre that was not forgotten. The people of Sharpeville were non’violent protestors who refused to carry their pass books. After this massacre, the government felt the need to abolish the African National Congress, hoping it would settle things down. Also, they tightened punishments for protestors, even non-violent ones. In 1962 Nelson Mandela was again tried for treason, and this time he was imprisoned for life. Nelson Mandela once said, ” I wont stop fighting until we (the Black South Africans) are free” (Mandela 12) .
As the mid- 1960’s wore on, other segregated nations were slowly regaining equality. In 1965 Rhodesia gained it independence. In the late 1960’s, Computerized registration tightened the grip on Black South Africans. These electronic records only gave way for more restrictions on the blacks. This was a bad time for the South African government also. Around the world countries put more pressure on South Africa to lighten apartheid laws. With the coming of the 1970’s resistance of apartheid was becoming even more popular, even among other whites. Churches and schools rallied together to protest the law.
In an effort to stop protesting, blacks were yet again relocated from nicer areas to impoverished Bantustans (homelands). In 1974 the United Nations expelled South Africa from the Olympics (Dowling 19). Throughout the 1870’s the government started creating new reforms that only changed the look of apartheid laws and did nothing to help blacks. In 1977 Steven Biko is arrested and killed in police custody. He was one of the leaders of many protests and considered a threat to the government. After this incident, the United Nations issued a mandatory arms embargo in an effort to prevent any further casualties (Dowling 19).
In the late 1970’s liberations fights rose within black communities and they began gaining a threshold on freedom. The Black South Africans did well to fight the laws that segregated them from white society. They also endured throughout the time the unfair treatment was poured upon them by the White South Africans. They were able to live and fight back in the impoverished conditions they were in, and in the poor state of freedom they were given. Toward the end of apartheid, it was their whole hearted resistance that kept them alive, and out of the darkness.