What Does Apartheid Mean?

What Does Apartheid Mean?

What Does Apartheid Mean? What was it in history? Apartheid was the official doctrine of the South African government, and the ruling National Party (NP), between 1948 and 1991. Meaning ‘separateness’, it was in practice nothing more than an excuse for domination by the white minority population of blacks and “coloured” people. The word “coloured” or minorities is used in the South African legal sense as someone who cannot be classified as black, howsoever, is not ‘purely’ white.


Pass laws. In South Africa, pass laws were a form of internal passport system designed to segregrate the population, manage urbanization, and allocate migrant labour.

What Does Apartheid Mean?Apartheid consisted of a set of legal inequalities. Non-whites were restricted in the areas in which they could live, and had to carry ‘passbooks’  or passports to prove they were entitled to enter white areas for purposes of work or whatever; this central element of apartheid was officially removed in 1986, when a uniform identity document for all races was introduced.

Similar to the United States of America, most publicly and privately provided facilities, from schools and transport to bathing beaches and public toilets, were racially segregated. There was, until 1985, a legal ban on marriage, and indeed extra-marital sexual intercourse, between members of different races. Just like in the United States of America, blacks and minorities were not allowed to vote in national elections, so that there was absolutely no peaceful political route through which they could work to end apartheid. This naturally encouraged political activists into illegal channels, particularly the African National Congress (ANC) which was banned in the wake of demonstrations against the ‘pass laws’ in 1960, and remained so until 1990.


a memeber of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces; referring to actions or activities performed in an impromptu way, often without authorization.

In 1961 the ANC established a military wing, the guerrilla movement Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). As was inevitable in such circumstances, a whole set of other inequalities were perpetuated by apartheid even if they were not legally enshrined, so that on all indicators—income, job opportunities, poverty rates, health statistics, educational opportunities and attainment—the black, and to a lesser extent, other minority populations were deeply exploited.

After defying world opinion, and some economic pressure, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the NP government accepted the inevitability of change and began to remove the structures of apartheid. The formal legal expression of apartheid was abolished by 1991, and by 1993 multi-party negotiations on constitutional reform had been completed, with the first non-racial elections following in 1994. The NP participated in coalition governments until 1996, since when government membership has reflected the overwhelming black majority among the electorate. It will be several decades, however, before the accrued effects of inequality and racial discrimination evaporate.

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About Quianna Canada

Quianna Canada is an anti-police brutality activist, author, and opinion writer living in the United States.
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  1. useful than ever before.

  2. Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself spending way to much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

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