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South Africa - HISTORY




South Africa - History

South Africa

The Earliest South Africans

The oldest evidence in the world documenting the emergence of humankind has been found in South Africa; fossils of the earliest hominids (Australopithecus africanus ) date back at least 2.5 million years, and remains linked to modern Homo sapiens date back more than 50,000 years. Roughly 20,000 years ago, South Africa, still in the grip of the world's last Ice Age, was occupied by people now known as San. Remnants of San communities still survive today as so-called Bushmen (now considered a pejorative term) in the Kalahari Desert. The San, who developed their society over thousands of years in isolation, speak a language that includes unique "click" consonants, are smaller statured, and have lighter skin pigmentation than the Bantu (see Glossary) speakers who later moved into southern Africa. However, older notions that such differences indicate that San are a distinct "race" of people have now been discredited and replaced by arguments that all the black inhabitants of South Africa are closely related, sharing a common gene pool, and that any physical differences among them can be attributed to geographical distribution and extent of contact rather than to race.

San obtained a livelihood from often difficult environments by gathering edible plants, berries, and shellfish; by hunting game; and by fishing. Gathering was primarily the task of women, who provided approximately 80 percent of the foodstuffs consumed by the hunter-gatherer communities. Men hunted, made tools and weapons from wood and stone, produced clothing from animal hides, and fashioned a remarkable array of musical instruments. San also created vast numbers of rock paintings--South Africa contains the bulk of the world's prehistoric art still extant--which express an extraordinary esthetic sensibility and document San hunting techniques and religious beliefs. The rock paintings also demonstrate that considerable interaction took place among hunter-gatherer communities throughout southern Africa.

The primary social unit among the San was the nuclear family. Families joined together to form hunter-gatherer bands of about twenty to fifty people. Men and women had equal status in these groups and there was no development of a hereditary chiefship, although the male head of the main family usually took a leading role in decision making. Such bands moved about the countryside seeking foodstuffs, sometimes remaining for long periods in particularly productive environments, sometimes splitting apart and joining other groups when food was scarce. Because they made such limited demands on their environment, San managed to provide a living for themselves for thousands of years. Population numbers did remain small, however, and settlement was generally sparse.

Approximately 2,500 years ago, some San in the northern parts of present-day Botswana acquired fat-tailed sheep and long-horned cattle, perhaps through trade with people from the north and the east, and became pastoralists. Their descendants, called "Hottentots" by early Dutch settlers, are now more accurately termed Khoikhoi, "men of men," or Khoi, in their own language. Although Europeans often considered San and Khoikhoi distinct races culturally and physically, scholars now think they are essentially the same people, distinguished only by their occupations. Differences in size--Khoikhoi are generally taller than San--are now attributed to the greater protein intake of pastoralists. Moreover, occupational status could often change in an individual's lifetime: San hunter-gatherers who found a particularly well-watered and fertile area might well acquire livestock through trade, settle down, and become relatively sedentary Khoikhoi pastoralists; pastoralists in times of drought or other ecological disaster might turn to hunting and gathering to survive.

Because the southern Cape is fertile and well-watered, many Khoikhoi settled along the coast between the Orange River and the Great Fish River. With the greater and more regular supplies of food that they derived from their herds, Khoikhoi lived in larger settlements than those of the San, often numbering several hundred people in a single community. Still, as pastoralists, Khoikhoi moved with the seasons among coasts, valleys, and mountains in search of pastureland. Such movement contributed to the fissiparous nature of Khoikhoi society, in which groups of people, usually in patrilineally related clans, periodically broke away and formed their own communities. The larger size of Khoikhoi communities as compared with those of the San did, however, lead to the development of more hierarchical political structures. A Khoikhoi group was generally presided over by a khoeque (rich man). The khoeque was not an autocrat, but rather could only exercise power in consultation with other male elders.

The Khoikhoi engaged in extensive trade with other peoples in southern Africa. In exchange for their sheep and cattle, they acquired copper from the north and iron from Bantu-speaking Africans in the east and fashioned these metals into tools, weapons, and ornaments. They also acquired dagga (cannabis) from the coast of what is modern-day Mozambique, cultivated it themselves, and traded it for other goods. With San, too, they bartered sheep and cattle products for game and hides.

By 1600 most of the Khoikhoi, numbering perhaps 50,000 people, lived along the southwest coast of the Cape. Most San, their numbers practically impossible to determine, lived in drier areas west of the 400-millimeter rainfall line (the limit for cultivation), including present-day Northern Cape province, Botswana, Namibia, and southern Angola (see fig. 2).

South Africa

South Africa - The Arrival of Bantu-Speaking Africans

South Africa

Bantu-speaking Africans, whose descendants make up the overwhelming majority of the present-day inhabitants of South Africa, had moved south of the Limpopo River by about 1,500 years ago. Farmers who combined knowledge of cattle-keeping and slash-and-burn (swidden) cultivation with expertise in metal-working, the Bantu speakers came from West Central Africa north of the Congo River near present-day Cameroon. Historians and archaeologists now argue that this movement took place not in any single great migration but rather in a slow southward shift of people throughout sub-Saharan Africa that resulted from the gradual drying up of the Sahara beginning about 8,000 years ago. The southward movement involved not the conquering hordes previously imagined but rather a moving frontier of farmers seeking new fields and pastures who interacted with pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, sometimes trading, sometimes incorporating people in client relationships, sometimes fighting for access to the same crucial resources. The farmers settled throughout southern Africa east of the 400-millimeter rainfall line and as far as the southwestern limits of cropping along the Great Kei River.

The Bantu-speaking farmers chose to minimize risks rather than to maximize production in their use of the environment. They kept large herds of cattle and invested these animals with great material and symbolic value. Cattle provided a means to acquire and to display considerable wealth, and they were used for significant social and political transactions, such as bridewealth compensation (lobola ) and tribute demands. Cattle were also valued for their milk and for their hides, but they were seldom killed for their meat except on ceremonial occasions. Hunting of game continued to provide a major source of protein, while additional supplies came from domesticated goats and sheep. Bantu speakers also cultivated a range of indigenous crops, including millet, sorghum, beans, and melons along with other grains and vegetables. Those close to the sea collected shellfish and fished. By utilizing such a great range of food sources, the farmers spread their risks in a difficult ecological system constantly subject to drought, disease, and crop failure.

Still, the accumulation of large herds and the cultivation of extensive fields produced greater concentrations of population and considerably more stratification among Bantu speakers than among their San and Khoikhoi neighbors. Archaeologists have found evidence of settlements established more than 1,400 years ago comprising several thousand people each. Toutswe, in eastern Botswana, consisted of a series of communities built on large flat-topped hills with fields cultivated below and cattle pastured locally. The residents smelted iron and engaged in extensive trade with people as far east as the Indian Ocean. Similar large communities emerged at least 1,000 years ago just south of the Limpopo River where Bambandyanalo and then Mapungubwe arose as significant early states (both situated at the intersection of the present-day borders of Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa). Cultivating extensive fields and holding large numbers of cattle, the residents of these states also produced finely worked gold and copper ornaments, hunted for ivory, and engaged in extensive long-distance trade. They were generally presided over by chiefs who held considerable--although never total--power; elders always had to be consulted about major decisions. Compared with the smaller-scale communities of San and Khoikhoi, the Bantu-speaking societies were marked by greater degrees of stratification: of old over young, men over women, rich over poor, and chiefs over commoners.

There were, however, significant differences between the settlement patterns and the degree of political centralization established by Bantu speakers who settled inland and by those who lived closer to the coast. The inland Bantu speakers, termed Sotho-Tswana on the basis of their dialects, concentrated in greater numbers around water sources and trading towns. By the late sixteenth century, a series of powerful hereditary chiefs ruled over the society known as the Rolong, whose capital was Taung. The capital and several other towns, centers of cultivation and livestock raising as well as major trading communities, had populations of 15,000 to 20,000. By contrast, the Bantu-speakers termed Nguni, who settled on the coastal plains between the Highveld (see Glossary) and the Indian Ocean, lived in much smaller communities and had less hierarchical political structures. Moving their cattle often in search of fresh pastureland, they lived in small communities scattered across the countryside. In many cases, a community identified itself on the basis of descent from some ancestral founder, as did the Zulu and the Xhosa. Such communities could sometimes grow to a few thousand people, as did the Xhosa, the Mpondo, the Mthethwa, and others, but they were usually far smaller.

By 1600 all of what is now South Africa had been settled: by Khoisan peoples in the west and the southwest, by Sotho-Tswana in the Highveld, and by Nguni along the coastal plains. Portuguese travelers and sailors shipwrecked along the coast in the seventeenth century reported seeing great concentrations of people living in apparent prosperity.

South Africa

South Africa - Origins of Settlement

South Africa

Portuguese mariners explored the west coast of Africa throughout the latter half of the fifteenth century. Two ships under Bartholomeu Dias eventually rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 and traveled more than 600 kilometers along the southwestern coast. In 1497 an expedition under Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape, sailed up the east African coast to the Arab port of Malindi (in present-day Kenya), and then crossed the Indian Ocean to India, thereby opening up a way for Europeans to gain direct access to the spices of the East without having to go through Arab middlemen. The Portuguese dominated this trade route throughout the sixteenth century. They built forts and supply stations along the west and east African coasts, but they did not build south of present-day Angola and Mozambique because of the treacherous currents along the southern coast. At the end of the sixteenth century and in the early seventeenth century, English and Dutch merchants challenged the Portuguese monopoly in West Africa and Asia and saw the Cape peninsula as a source of fresh water, meat, and timber for masts, all of which they could obtain through trade with the local Khoikhoi. The English government refused its mariners' requests that it annex land there and establish a base, but in 1652 the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie--VOC) established a supply station in Table Bay on the Cape peninsula, instructing its station commander, Jan van Riebeeck, and his eighty company employees to build a fort and to obtain supplies of foodstuffs for the Dutch fleets.

South Africa

South Africa - Establishing a Slave Economy

South Africa

The VOC's directors intended that the settlement at Table Bay should amount to no more than a small supply station able largely to pay for itself. European settlement was to be limited to VOC employees only, and their numbers were to be kept as small as possible. Company ships could stop to take on water, to get supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables grown by VOC employees, and to trade for fresh meat and milk from the local Khoikhoi. The Khoikhoi were also expected to supply the labor needs of the settlement--building wharves and warehouses, putting up offices, and laying out roads. Within its first half decade, however, the Cape Colony was growing in ways unforeseen at its establishment. Most Khoikhoi chose not to labor for the Dutch because of low wages and harsh conditions; and, although ready initially to trade with the Dutch, they became increasingly unwilling to sell their farm products at the prices offered by the VOC. As a result, three processes were set in motion in the 1650s that were to produce a rapidly expanding, racially stratified society. First, the VOC decided to import slaves to meet local labor needs, and it maintained that policy for more than 100 years. Second, the VOC decided to free some of its employees from their contracts and to allow them to establish farms of their own to supply the Dutch fleets, thereby giving rise to a local settler population. Third, to supply the needs of the fleets as well as of the growing local population, the Dutch expanded ever farther into the lands of the Khoikhoi, engaging in a series of wars that, together with the effects of imported diseases, decimated the indigenous population.

Van Riebeeck had concluded within two months of the establishment of the Cape settlement that slave labor would be needed for the hardest and dirtiest work. Some thought was given to enslaving Khoikhoi men, but the idea was rejected on the grounds that such a policy would be both costly and dangerous. With a European population that did not exceed 200 during the settlement's first five years, war against neighbors numbering more than 20,000 would have been foolhardy. Moreover, the Dutch feared that Khoikhoi people, if enslaved, could always escape into the local community, whereas foreigners would find it much more difficult to elude their "masters."

Between 1652 and 1657, a number of unsuccessful attempts were made to obtain men from the Dutch East Indies and from Mauritius. In 1658, however, the VOC landed two shiploads of slaves at the Cape, one containing more than 200 people brought from Dahomey (later Benin), the second with almost 200 people, most of them children, captured from a Portuguese slaver off the coast of Angola. Except for a few individuals, these were to be the only slaves ever brought to the Cape from West Africa. Thereafter, all the slaves imported into the Cape until the British stopped the trade in 1807 were from East Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, and South and Southeast Asia. Large numbers were brought from India, Ceylon, and the Indonesian archipelago. Prisoners from other countries in the VOC's empire were also enslaved. The slave population, which exceeded that of the European settlers until the first quarter of the nineteenth century, was overwhelmingly male and was thus dependent on constant imports of new slaves to maintain and to augment its size.

South Africa

South Africa - Emergence of a Settler Society

South Africa

In 1657 nine European men were released from the VOC's service, given the status of "free burghers," and granted blocks of land. They were exempted from taxation for twelve years, but the VOC held a mortgage on their lands. They were free to trade with Khoikhoi for sheep and cattle, but they were prohibited from paying higher prices for the stock than did the VOC, and they were told not to enslave the local pastoralists. They were encouraged to grow crops, especially grains, for sale to the VOC, but they were not allowed to produce anything already grown in the company's own gardens. By such measures, the VOC hoped not only to increase local production and thereby to pay the costs of the settlement, but also to prevent any private producers from undercutting the VOC's control over prices.

Conflict between Dutch farmers and Khoikhoi broke out once it became clear to the latter that the Dutch were there to stay and that they intended to encroach on the lands of the pastoralists. In 1659 Doman, a Khoikhoi who had worked as a translator for the Dutch and had even traveled to Java, led an armed attempt to expel the Dutch from the Cape peninsula. The attempt was a failure, although warfare dragged on until an inconclusive peace was established a year later. During the following decade, pressure on the Khoikhoi grew as more of the Dutch became free burghers, expanded their landholdings, and sought pastureland for their growing herds. War broke out again in 1673 and continued until 1677, when Khoikhoi resistance was destroyed by a combination of superior European weapons and Dutch manipulation of divisions among the local people. Thereafter, Khoikhoi society in the western Cape disintegrated. Some people found jobs as shepherds on European farms; others rejected foreign rule and moved away from the Cape. The final blow for most came in 1713 when a Dutch ship brought smallpox to the Cape. Hitherto unknown locally, the disease ravaged the remaining Khoikhoi, killing 90 percent of the population.

The community at Table Bay grew larger and more diverse throughout the late 1600s, particularly after the VOC decided in 1679 that European settlement should be boosted in order to expand agricultural production. German and Dutch settlers were offered free farms if they would come to the Cape. In 1688 several hundred Huguenots fleeing persecution by the French were offered free passage to the Cape and grants of land. These settlers, all of whom soon assimilated Dutch culture and language, grew large crops of wheat as well as other grains for sale to the VOC, although they found such crops barely profitable. They also planted grapevines, so that they could make wine and brandy--products much in demand for Dutch sailors and capable of being exported to Europe, unlike other, perishable items. The mainstay of most settlers, however, was livestock farming, which required large areas of pastureland because the soil was generally poor. By the end of the century, pressures for land in and around the Cape peninsula had become intense. There were approximately 1,500 Europeans in the Cape settlement and a slightly larger number of slaves, and the area of settlement had extended well beyond the original base at Table Bay to include freehold farms reaching sixty kilometers inland.

The rise of an expanding settler society fueled tensions between free burghers and the VOC. Free burghers criticized the autocratic powers of the local VOC administration, in which the governor had full control and the settlers had no rights of representation. They denounced the economic policies of the VOC that fixed the prices at which settlers could sell their agricultural products. They called attention to the corrupt practices of VOC officers, who granted themselves prime land and then sold their own crops at higher prices to the company. Above all, they complained about the VOC's failure--at least in their eyes--to police the frontier boundaries and to protect the settlers' crops and herds from Khoikhoi and San raiders.

Trekboers (semi-migrant farmers of primarily Dutch, German, and French ancestry; more commonly known as Boers--see Glossary) played a key role in the eighteenth century in the expansion of the settlement and in the growth of frontier conflict. With much of the better land close to the Cape in the hands of VOC officials and rich burghers, poorer whites sought to make a living beyond the boundaries of the settlement. Traveling by wagon inland and along the southwestern coast, individual farmers, along with their immediate families (if any), a few slaves, several Khoikhoi herdsmen, and small numbers of livestock, set out to establish farms on large tracts of land (averaging 2,500 hectares) granted on loan by the VOC (see fig. 3). Because much of this land was already occupied by Khoikhoi pastoralists near the coast and by San hunter-gatherers in the interior, considerable warfare resulted. Trekboers raided the herds of the Khoikhoi and seized control of the springs on which pastoralists and hunter-gatherers alike depended for water, while Khoikhoi and San counterraided the herds of the Trekboers.

In the face of burgher agitation, growing frontier conflict, and increasing overproduction of agricultural goods for the local market, the VOC in 1717 attempted to limit the growth of European settlement. It stopped all assisted immigration of Europeans and decided that thereafter only slaves should be used in the future development of the settlement. Moreover, it ended the granting of freehold title to land, although it did continue to make farms available on loan.

Such measures had only a limited impact on the growth of the settlement. Throughout the eighteenth century, the settlement continued to expand through internal growth of the European population and the continued importation of slaves. The approximately 3,000 Europeans and slaves at the Cape in 1700 had increased by the end of the century to nearly 20,000 Europeans, almost 25,000 slaves, and another 15,000 Khoikhoi and mixed-race people living within the boundaries of the settlement.

In the west, the economy was dominated by the bustling port at Table Bay and the wheat farms and vineyards of Stellenbosch and Swellendam, which depended almost totally on slave labor. Politically, the VOC governor continued to be in firm control, although a number of wealthy burghers exercised considerable informal influence. Socially, the community was marked by considerable stratification and diversity. Most wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few company officials and a minority of burghers. The majority of Europeans earned a living as artisans, traders, and innkeepers, although almost all whites owned at least one or two slaves. A small community of mixed-race people had also emerged, the offspring of relationships among whites, Khoikhoi, Asians, and African slaves.

In the eastern areas of the Cape, beyond the Cape Colony itself, Trekboers predominated with their extensive pastoral economy. Most owned some slaves, but they depended more on Khoikhoi and San to meet their labor needs. Although nominally under the jurisdiction of the VOC, the Trekboers largely ruled themselves. They did not believe that Khoikhoi and San should be treated equally with Europeans in the courts, and they established harsh labor regimes on their farms. To deal with frontier problems, they periodically raised armed bands of men to protect their herds and to carry out punitive expeditions against Khoikhoi and San. They developed a consciousness of themselves as a distinct community settled permanently in South Africa and, unlike the employees of the VOC, they did not plan to return to Europe.

By the last quarter of the eighteenth century, both western and eastern areas of the Cape were undergoing a period of stress. Continued overproduction for the local market in the west and resulting economic hardship led burghers to identify the VOC as the source of all their problems. The discontents of the Trekboers were even greater. Their continuing expansion was blocked by a number of barriers: by aridity 500 kilometers north of the Cape peninsula, by hunter-gatherer raiders in the northeast, and, most important, by large numbers of Bantu-speaking farmers (Xhosa) settled roughly 700 kilometers to the east of Cape Town and just south of the Great Fish River. Throughout much of the eighteenth century, Xhosa and Trekboers had peacefully traded with one another, with the Dutch exchanging glass beads, nails, and other manufactured items for African cattle and ivory. By the late 1770s, however, tensions rose as Xhosa farmers were expanding west of the Great Fish River at the same time that the Trekboers were moving eastward.

Demand for the same resources--land and water--brought Trekboers and Xhosa into conflict, and a series of frontier wars erupted in 1779 to 1781, and in 1793. In the second war, the Xhosa avenged their defeat in the first. Their capture of thousands of head of Boer cattle and their occupation of large areas of land previously claimed by the Dutch were officially recognized and accepted by a local representative of the VOC. Enraged by what they considered the treachery of the company, Trekboers in Graaff-Reinet rebelled in 1795, expelling the VOC magistrate and proclaiming an independent republic. This attempt at autonomy ended, however, with the British takeover of the Cape settlement in 1795.

Fearing that the strategic port at Table Bay might fall into the hands of Napoleon, the British seized the Cape to defend their sea route to India. They sent troops to the eastern Cape to prevent Boer insurrection and to establish order on the frontier, but they made no attempt to extend the boundaries of the settlement. Like the VOC before them, the British intended that the Cape settlement should remain as small as possible. Its value lay in its strategic position, not in its production. Moreover, the British had no wish to become embroiled in costly local struggles between European settlers and African farmers in the interior.

In 1802 the Treaty of Amiens, which ended a decade of upheaval in Europe, called for the return of the Cape Colony to Dutch control. This was accomplished in 1803, but the Dutch Batavian Republic in Europe had done little to implement this claim when the treaty began to break down in 1805. Britain again seized control of the Cape in 1806 and defied Dutch claims by occupying and expanding its presence in the Cape region. Finally, in 1814 the former Batavian Republic--the Kingdom of Holland--agreed to abandon its claim to the Cape in return for a grant of roughly 2 million British pounds.

South Africa

South Africa - The Rise of African States

South Africa

By the eighteenth century, several groups of immigrants from the north, known for their skill in smelting iron and in metalworking, had occupied the mountains along the Limpopo River (see fig. 4). This heterogeneous population had coalesced into a number of chiefdoms, known as the Venda, or VaVenda. In the southern Highveld, the powerful Tswana-speaking kingdom known as the Rolong had split, giving rise to the Tlhaping (BaTlhaping) and the Taung. The Taung were named for a legendary military leader (Tau) among the Rolong.

One of several Khoisan-European populations in the interior in the eighteenth century was that of the Griqua, most of whom spoke Dutch as their first language and had adopted Christianity. A unique Griqua culture emerged, based on hunting, herding, and trade with both Africans and Europeans along the Orange River.

The Xhosa and related groups were the westernmost of the Nguni-speaking societies between the southern Highveld and the coast. Rivalries among Xhosa chiefs were common, however, and their society was weakened by repeated clashes with Europeans, especially over land between the Sundays River and the Great Fish River. By the late eighteenth century, the Ndwandwe, Mthethwa, and Ngwane were emerging as powerful kingdoms south of the Highveld. The Zulu were still a small group among the Mthethwa and had not yet begun the conquest and assimilation of neighboring groups that would characterize much of the early nineteenth century.

South Africa

South Africa - Background to the Mfecane

South Africa

A combination of local factors--population growth, the depletion of natural resources, and devastating drought and famine--led to revolutionary changes in the political, economic, and social structure of Bantu-speaking communities in southern Africa in the first half of the nineteenth century. Thousands of people died because of ecological catastrophe and warfare; thousands more were displaced. Large centralized states of tens of thousands of people with standing armies of up to 40,000 men and autocratic leaders emerged where before there had been only small-scale political entities and no chief had had total power. This period of revolutionary change--known as the mfecane (or crushing--see Glossary) by the Zulu and the difaqane (see Glossary) by the Sotho--is also often referred to as "the time of troubles" (see fig. 5).

The causes of the mfecane were emerging by the end of the eighteenth century, when population levels increased rapidly, and ecological resources were sometimes scarce. Communities that previously had often spread across the countryside or had repeatedly divided and moved along the frontier became more settled and more concentrated. The introduction of corn from the Americas through the Portuguese in Mozambique was one major reason for this trend. Corn produced more food than indigenous grasses on the same land, and thus could sustain a larger population. Trade in ivory with the Portuguese in Delagoa Bay was another factor that induced people to settle just south of Mozambique. Moreover, possibilities for population movement had become much more limited by the end of the eighteenth century because land was in short supply. Bantu-speaking farmers had reached the margins of arable land on the edge of the Kalahari Desert in the northwest and in the mountains on the southern border of the Highveld, and people settling in the area found their access to water more and more limited.

Declining rainfall in the last decades of the eighteenth century, followed by a calamitous ten-year drought that began about 1800, caused massive disruption and suffering. The adoption of corn as a major staple gave this drought an even greater impact than those of the past because corn needed much more water than local grains in order to produce. When the rains failed, therefore, the effect was devastating. People fought one another for meager supplies of grain and cattle, hunted down whatever game they could find, and sought out any remaining water supplies in a desperate attempt to survive. Warfare erupted, and two kingdoms--the Ndwandwe under the leadership of Zwide, and the Mthethwa under Dingiswayo--battled for control of resources. Both kingdoms became more centralized and militarized, their young men banded together in age regiments that became the basis for standing armies, and their kings became more autocratic as they fought for survival. The Ndwandwe appeared victorious in 1818 when Dingiswayo was killed and his forces scattered, but they were soon overcome by Shaka, founder of the Zulu state.

South Africa

South Africa - Shaka and the Rise of the Zulu State

South Africa

Shaka Zulu was born in 1787, the illegitimate son of Senzangakona, chief of the Zulu clan. An outcast as a child, Shaka was brought up among a number of neighboring groups, finally ending with the Mthethwa where he distinguished himself as a skilled warrior in Dingiswayo's army. Dingiswayo was so impressed by Shaka that in 1816 he helped him become chief of the Zulu upon the death of Senzangakona. Among the Zulu, Shaka consolidated a number of military innovations--some developed by Dingiswayo, some dating back to the eighteenth century--to produce a powerful military machine. All young men were incorporated into age regiments and given military training. A short stabbing spear was introduced in addition to the traditional long throwing spears, giving Shaka's army an advantage in close combat. Military strategies, such as the "horn" formation by which Zulu regiments encircled their enemies, were perfected. When Dingiswayo was killed, Shaka with his military machine avenged his mentor's death, destroying the Ndwandwe in battle (two of Zwide's generals, Shoshangane and Zwangendaba, fled north and established kingdoms in present-day Mozambique and southern Tanzania, respectively). Shaka then incorporated the Mthethwa under his rule, and established the Zulu state as the dominant power among the northern Nguni.

By the mid-1820s, Shaka ruled a kingdom of more than 100,000 people with a standing army of 40,000 men. He centralized power in the person of the king and his court, collected tribute from regional chiefs, and placed regiments throughout his state to ensure compliance with his orders. These regiments also looked after the royal herds and carried out public works. Women, too, were incorporated into their own age regiments, which were paired with male regiments to provide food and other services for the soldiers. Shaka forbade members of these regiments to marry, however, until they had completed their military service. For men this meant their late thirties, and for women their late twenties. Only after marriage could men and women leave their regiments and set up their own homesteads.

Shaka fostered a new national identity by stressing the Zuluness of the state. All subjects of the state became Zulu and owed the king their personal allegiance. Zulu traditions of origin became the national traditions of the state. Customary Nguni festivals, such as planting and harvest celebrations, became occasions on which Shaka gathered vast numbers of his people and extolled the virtues of the state. Through such means, Shaka developed a Zulu consciousness that transcended the original identities and lineages of the various peoples who were his subjects.

During most of the 1820s, Shaka consolidated his power through a series of wars against neighboring peoples. His armies raided for cattle and food; they attacked any who challenged the authority of the Zulu monarch; and they extended the limits of Shaka's realm north to the borders of present-day Mozambique, west across the Drakensberg Mountains, and south to the margins of the area that would later become the Transkei homeland. He also welcomed British traders to his kingdom and sent diplomatic emissaries to the British king.

Shaka was assassinated at the height of his powers in 1828 and was succeeded by Dingane, his half-brother and one of the assassins. Dingane was a much less accomplished ruler than the founder of the Zulu state. His weak claim to the throne and his constant fear of assassination made him a despotic ruler. Dingane maintained the centralized and militarized organization of the Zulu state and sent his armies out on raiding missions. Victories, however, were few because of the growing strength of neighboring African kingdoms, and by the end of the 1830s Dingane's hold on power was being challenged by internal discontent and external threats.

South Africa

South Africa - Swazi, Sotho, and Ndebele States

South Africa

Indeed, as a result of the mfecane , a series of states formed throughout southern Africa as people banded together to secure access to foodstuffs and to protect themselves from Zulu marauders. Sobhuza, leader of the Ngwane people to the north of the Zulu, built a defensive state that eventually took the name of his son and heir Mswati to form the basis of the modern Swazi nation, Swaziland. Sobhuza secured the boundaries of his state through a combination of diplomacy and force. He negotiated marriage alliances with Ndwandwe and later Zulu chiefs and cemented similar arrangements with his own chiefs. He paid tribute to the Zulu kings when he thought it necessary, but he also built a powerful army with which the Swazi were able to repel Dingane's incursions in the 1830s.

Moshoeshoe, another contemporary (b. 1786) of Shaka, forged a strong Sotho kingdom on the southern Highveld in the 1820s and 1830s. This kingdom became the foundation for the modern state of Lesotho. Moshoeshoe, seeking in the 1820s to protect his people from the worst ravages of the difaqane , fortified a large mesa, Thaba Bosiu, that proved impregnable to attack for decades thereafter. With this natural fortress as his base, he built a large kingdom, welcomed in particular refugees from famine and wars elsewhere, and provided them with food and shelter. These refugees, once incorporated into the state, were considered Sotho like their hosts; thus, as with the Zulu, ever larger numbers were integrated into a group with a consolidated ethnic identity, a practice that furthered the process of nation building. Moshoeshoe also sought to strengthen his kingdom militarily, especially by acquiring guns and horses from the Cape. A superb diplomat, he sought to maintain cordial relations with all his neighbors, even paying tribute on occasion to Shaka and seeking always to avoid war. Believing that they could act as emissaries on his behalf to the intruding European powers while also teaching his children to read and write, he welcomed French Protestant missionaries. By the mid-1830s, Moshoeshoe's kingdom comprised about 30,000 people and was the largest state on the southern Highveld.

A fourth major African state formed in South Africa during the 1820s and 1830s was the Ndebele state ruled by Mzilikazi. Mzilikazi had been a subject chief of Shaka, but in 1821 he had sought to demonstrate his independence by refusing to send tribute cattle to the king. Fleeing from a punitive force sent by Shaka, Mzilikazi and a few hundred followers crossed the Drakensberg Mountains and established a series of armed settlements on the Highveld. Raiding for cattle and grain and forcibly incorporating Sotho-Tswana people into his forces, Mzilikazi built a powerful kingdom in the 1830s near present-day Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Although the mfecane in many ways promoted the political development of southern Africa, it also caused great suffering. Thousands died because of famine and warfare, and thousands more were uprooted from their homes and were forced to travel great distances, many to become refugee laborers in the Cape who sought work at any wage. Perhaps the most significant result in terms of the future was that large areas of South Africa were temporarily depopulated, making it seem to Europeans that there were unclaimed lands in the interior into which they could expand.

South Africa

South Africa - British Colonialism

South Africa

The British adopted contradictory policies in ruling their newly acquired Cape Colony in the first three decades of the nineteenth century. Having seized the Cape from the VOC in 1795, the British returned the colony to the Dutch government in 1803 when peace had been concluded with the French. In 1806, however, with the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars, the British again took the Cape in order to protect the sea route to their Asian empire. Like the VOC before them, the British tried to keep the costs low and the settlement small. Local officials continued the policy of relying on imported slave labor rather than encouraging European immigration with the latter's implication of permanent and expanding settlement. They also introduced racially discriminatory legislation to force Khoikhoi and other so-called "free" blacks to work for as little as possible. The Hottentot Code of 1809 required that all Khoikhoi and other free blacks carry passes stating where they lived and who their employers were. Persons without such passes could be forced into employment by white masters.

The British attempted to alleviate the land problems of Boers in the eastern Cape by sending imperial armies against the Xhosa of the Zuurveld (literally, "sour grassland," the southernmost area of Bantu-speaking settlement, located between the Sundays River and the Great Fish River). They attacked the Xhosa from 1799 to 1803, from 1811 to 1812, and again from 1818 to 1819, when at last, through ruthless warfare, they succeeded in expelling the Africans into the area north of the Great Fish River. Thereafter, the British sought to create a fixed frontier by settling 5,000 British-assisted immigrants on smallholder farms created out of land seized from the Xhosa south of the Great Fish River and by clearing all lands between the Great Fish River and the Keiskama River of all forms of African settlement.

But other policies and developments worked against these measures. In 1807 Parliament in London ordered an end to British participation in the slave trade everywhere in the world. This decision threatened the basis of the Cape's labor supply, for farmers in the eastern areas as well as in the west.

British missionaries, who were active in South Africa for the first time in the 1810s and who had a sympathetic audience in Britain, condemned the cruel labor practices often adopted by Trekboers against their slave and Khoikhoi workers and decried the discriminatory provisions of the Hottentot Code. Although British officials did not rescind the legislation, they did respond to this criticism by establishing a circuit court to monitor conditions in the western Cape. This court offended many Boer sensibilities by giving equal weight to the evidence of "servants" and "masters," black and white alike. The British also raised a force of colonial police, including Khoikhoi regulars, to enforce the court's authority. In 1815 a Dutch-speaking Afrikaner farmer who refused to answer a court summons for mistreating a Khoikhoi employee was shot dead while resisting arrest. Relatives and neighbors rose in what became known as the Slachter's Nek Rebellion, but their resistance was soon crushed, and the British hanged five of the rebels.

British policies on the eastern frontier also engendered growing Boer hostility. The attempt to close the frontier in 1819-20 following the defeat of the Xhosa and the importation of British immigrants only exacerbated land shortages. British settlers found that they could not make a living from small farms, and they competed with the Dutch pastoralists for the limited arable land available, thereby intensifying Boer-British tensions.

The British government, acting largely at the behest of the missionaries and their supporters in Britain in the 1820s, abolished the Hottentot Code. Ordinance 50 of 1828 stated that no Khoikhoi or free black had to carry a pass or could be forced to enter a labor contract. Five years later, the British Parliament decreed that slavery would no longer be permitted in any part of the empire. After a four-year period of "apprenticeship," all slaves would become free persons, able, because of Ordinance 50, to sell their labor for whatever the market would bear. Moreover, slaveowners were to receive no more than one-third of the value of their slaves in official compensation for the loss of this property. The Boers felt further threatened when, in 1834 and 1835, British forces, attempting to put a final stop to Boer-Xhosa frontier conflict, swept across the Keiskama River into Xhosa territory and annexed all the land up to the Keiskama River for white settlement. In 1836, however, the British government, partly in response to missionary criticism of the invasion, returned the newly annexed lands to the Xhosa and sought a peace treaty with their chiefs.

South Africa

South Africa - The Great Trek

South Africa

Dutch speakers denounced these actions as striking at the heart of their labor and land needs. Those living in the eastern Cape, most of them among the poorer segment of the Dutch-speaking population, were particularly impassioned in their criticisms, and many decided to abandon their farms and to seek new lands beyond the reach of British rule.

Beginning in 1836, Boer families, together with large numbers of Khoikhoi and black servants, gathered up their belongings and traveled by ox-wagon up into the Highveld interior to the north of the eastern Cape frontier. (Travel farther east was blocked by the Xhosa.) All told, some 6,000 Boer men, women, and children, along with an equal number of blacks, participated in this movement in the late 1830s. Fewer Boer families migrated from the western Cape, where they were more prosperous on their grain and wine farms and therefore less concerned about land shortages and frontier pressures. The exodus from the Cape was not organized in a single movement at the time, but it was later termed the Great Trek by nationalist historians, and its participants were called Voortrekkers (pioneers).

The first groups of Voortrekkers moved into the southern Highveld, skirted the powerful Lesotho kingdom of Moshoeshoe to the east, and pastured their herds on lands between the Orange River and the Vaal River. A large group moved farther north to the grasslands beyond the Vaal River into territory where Mzilikazi had recently established a powerful Ndebele state. Competing for the same resources--pasturelands, water, and game--the Voortrekkers and the Ndebele soon came into conflict. In 1836 the Voortrekkers fought off an Ndebele attempt to expel them from the Highveld. In the following year, the northern Voortrekkers allied with the Rolong and the Griqua, who were known for their fighting skills. This time the northern Voortrekkers succeeded in defeating Mzilikazi and forcing him and most of his followers to flee north into present-day Zimbabwe, where he conquered the Shona and established a new state.

The majority of Voortrekkers, however, neither settled between the Orange and the Vaal nor trekked to the north, but moved northeastward around Lesotho and traveled down toward the sea into Zulu-ruled areas of southeastern Africa. The leader of this group, Piet Retief, attempted to negotiate with Dingane for permission to settle in relatively sparsely populated areas south of the Tugela River. Dingane was at first receptive to Retief's entreaties, but then, apparently fearing that the introduction of European settlers would undermine his authority, he had Retief and seventy of his followers killed while they were at his capital in February 1838. Dingane then sent out Zulu regiments to eliminate all Voortrekkers in the area; they killed several hundred men, women, and children and captured more than 35,000 head of cattle and sheep.

Not all of the settlers were killed, however, and in December the survivors, reinforced by men from the Cape Colony, marched 500 strong to avenge the deaths of Retief and his followers. Commanded by Andries Pretorius, the Voortrekkers pledged that they would commemorate a victory as a sign of divine protection. They then met and defeated Dingane's army at the Battle of Blood River. Their victory is celebrated each year on December 16, the Day of the Vow.

The Zulu kingdom split into warring factions after this defeat. One group under Mpande, a half-brother of Shaka and Dingane, allied with Pretorius and the Voortrekkers, and together they succeeded in destroying Dingane's troops and in forcing him to flee to the lands of the Swazi, where he was killed. The Voortrekkers recognized Mpande as king of the Zulu north of the Tugela River, while he in turn acknowledged their suzerainty over both his kingdom and the state that they established south of the Tugela. The Voortrekker Republic of Natalia (the basis of later Natal Province) was established in 1839, and by 1842 there were approximately 6,000 people occupying vast areas of pastureland and living under a political system in which only white males had the right to vote.

The British, however, feeling that their security and authority were threatened, annexed the republic as Natal. They did not want the Dutch speakers to have independent access to the sea and thereby be able to negotiate political and economic agreements with other European powers. They also feared that harsh treatment meted out to Africans--such as Voortrekker attempts to clear the land by removing Africans from the Republic of Natalia--would eventually increase population pressures on the eastern Cape frontier. Although acquiescing in the annexation, the great majority of the Voortrekkers effectively abandoned Natal to the British and moved back to the Highveld in 1843. The British, having taken Natal for strategic purposes, then had to find a way to make the colony pay for its administration. After experimenting with several crops, they found that sugar grew well and could be exported without deteriorating. Attempts to force Africans to endure the onerous labor in the sugar fields failed, however, and in 1860 the British began importing indentured laborers from India to provide the basic work force. Between 1860 and 1866, 6,000 Indians (one-quarter of them women) were brought to the colony on five-year contracts.

South Africa

South Africa - The Voortrekker Republics and British Policies

South Africa

The Voortrekkers established two states in the 1840s and the 1850s: the Orange Free State between the Orange and the Vaal rivers and the South African Republic (Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek, a union of four Boer republics founded by the Voortrekkers) to the north of the Vaal River in the area later constituting the Transvaal. Like the Africans among whom they settled, the Voortrekkers in both states made their living from a combination of extensive pastoralism and hunting. Ivory was the most important product at first, and the search for it engendered great competition between African and European hunters. In the 1860s, ostrich feathers also became an important export. All processed foods and manufactured goods were acquired by trading ivory, skins, and feathers to British merchants at the Cape.

Politically, the two states were republics, with constitutions modeled in part on that of the United States, each with a president, an elected legislature, and a franchise restricted to white males. Africans could not vote, or own land, or carry guns because the laws of both republics, unlike those of the British colonies, did not recognize racial equality before the law. By the end of the 1860s, there were approximately 50,000 whites settled in the two republics, practically all of them living in rural areas, although small capitals had been established at Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State and at Pretoria in the South African Republic.

Initially, the British attempted to strengthen their own position by extending colonial control beyond the Cape Colony's boundaries. In 1848, after the northern frontier was threatened by fighting between Voortrekkers and Griqua on the Orange River and by continued competition for resources among settlers and Africans, the governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Harry Smith, annexed all the land between the Orange and the Vaal rivers. This area, which the British called the Orange River Sovereignty, comprised large numbers of Voortrekker communities and practically all of the Sotho state, Lesotho. Smith, urged on by land-hungry white settlers, also annexed the Xhosa lands between the Keiskama and the Great Kei rivers that the British had first taken and then returned in 1835 and 1836. Moreover, he sought to win a decisive military victory over the Xhosa and to break forever the power of their chiefs by pursuing a ruthless war against them from 1850 to 1852.

The British had mixed success. Their attempts to tax the Orange River Voortrekkers produced almost no revenue. Claims to Sotho lands were met with opposition from Moshoeshoe, who in 1851 and 1852 successfully defeated British attempts to extend their authority into his lands. As a result of the Sotho resistance, the British decided to withdraw from the Highveld, but in so doing they recognized the primacy of European rather than African claims to the land. The Sand River Convention of 1852 and the Bloemfontein Convention of 1854 recognized the independence of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, respectively, as Voortrekker republics so long as their residents agreed to acknowledge the ultimate sovereignty of the British government, agreed not to allow slavery in their territories, and agreed not to sell ammunition to Africans. It was not until 1868 that the British again attempted to extend their power onto the Highveld, and that was only when Lesotho's defeat by the Orange Free State was so complete that the total destruction of the Sotho people seemed likely.

On the eastern Cape frontier, however, British policies brought about enormous destruction for the Xhosa. Smith was recalled by the British government in 1852 for instigating conflict with the Xhosa, but the Colonial Office decided to pursue the war to victory nonetheless in 1853. Large areas of Xhosa land were annexed, and thousands of head of cattle were confiscated. Drought and disease further reduced the Xhosa's remaining herds. Defeated in war, their lands greatly reduced and food supplies in decline, the Xhosa turned for salvation to a young girl, Nongqawuse, who prophesied that if the people purified themselves through sacrifice--by destroying their cattle and their grain, and by not planting new crops--then their ancestors would return to aid them, the herds would reappear, and all the whites would be driven into the sea. Although not all Xhosa believed the prophecies, by 1857 more than 400,000 head of cattle had been killed and vast quantities of grain had been destroyed. As a result, 40,000 Xhosa died from starvation, and an equal number sought refuge in the Cape Colony, where most became impoverished farm laborers.

By the end of the 1860s, white settlement in South Africa was much more extensive than it had been at the beginning of the century. There were now two British colonies on the coast (Cape Colony and Natal) instead of one, and two Voortrekker republics on the southern and the northern Highveld (the Orange Free State and the South African Republic) (see fig. 6). The white population had also increased considerably, from the 20,000 or so Europeans resident in the Cape Colony in 1800 to 180,000 reported in the 1865 census. There were another 18,000 whites living in Natal and perhaps 50,000 more whites in the Voortrekker states.

Yet there were evident constraints to growth. Economically, South Africa was little different from what it had been when the British first arrived. The Cape produced wine, wheat, and wool, none of them particularly profitable items on the world market in the 1860s, especially because of competition from American, Argentine, and Australian farmers. Natal's sugar kept the colony going, but it was not an expanding industry. In the interior, the Voortrekkers engaged in the same economic activities as their African neighbors--pastoralism, limited cultivation of grain crops, and hunting--and whereas these provided a living for the people involved, they were not the basis on which an expanding economy could be built. Perhaps the best indicator of the limited attractions of South Africa's economy was the fact that fewer Europeans emigrated there than to the United States, Canada, Australia, or even New Zealand.

Moreover, areas of white and black settlement and political control were largely separate. In 1865 the Cape contained 200,000 Khoikhoi and people of mixed ancestry (the basis of today's coloured population), as well as 100,000 Bantu speakers. Several hundred thousand blacks lived in Natal and in the Voortrekker republics. The vast majority of South Africa's black inhabitants, however, continued to live in independent African states ruled by their own kings and chiefs. In the 1860s, Mpande's Zululand was a still powerful state in which most Zulus lived. Moshoeshoe's Lesotho, although it had been attacked by the Orange Free State and its borders contracted, contained most of the Sotho people. To the northeast of the South African Republic, the Pedi under their king Sekhukhune had a well-armed state, and the Swazi kingdom continued to be a powerful entity. Any observer traveling in South Africa in the late 1860s would have had little reason to assume that this balance of power between blacks and whites would change dramatically during the remainder of the nineteenth century.

South Africa

South Africa - The Mineral Revolution

South Africa

Mineral discoveries in the 1860s, the 1870s, and the 1880s had an enormous impact on southern Africa. Diamonds were initially identified in 1867 in an area adjoining the confluence of the Vaal and the Orange rivers, just north of the Cape Colony, although it was not until 1869 to 1870 that finds were sufficient to attract a "rush" of several thousand fortune hunters. The British government, attracted by the prospect of mineral wealth, quickly annexed the diamond fields, repudiating the claims of the Voortrekker republics to the area. Four mines were developed, and the town of Kimberley was established. The town grew quickly and became the largest urban society in the interior of southern Africa in the 1870s and the 1880s. Although the mines were worked initially by small-scale claims-holders, the economics of diamond production and marketing soon led to consolidation. Within two decades of the first diamond find, the industry was essentially controlled by one monopolistic company--Cecil Rhodes's De Beers Consolidated Mines.

The diamond industry became the key to the economic fortunes of the Cape Colony by providing the single largest source of export earnings, as well as by fueling development throughout the colony. Whereas the Cape's exports in 1870 had been worth little more than £2,000,000, with wool providing the bulk of earnings, by the end of the century the value of exports had risen to more than £15,000,000, with diamonds alone accounting for £4,000,000. There was also substantial growth in population, much of it from immigration. As a result, there were close to 400,000 resident Europeans in the Cape Colony by 1900, twice the number who had lived there in 1865.

Gold soon eclipsed diamonds in importance. Africans had mined gold for centuries at Mapungubwe (in South Africa, on the border with Zimbabwe) and later at the successor state of Great Zimbabwe, and they had traded with Arabs and Portuguese on the east coast of Africa. In the 1860s and the 1870s, Europeans made a number of small finds of their own, but the major development took place in 1886 when potentially enormous deposits of gold were found on the Witwatersrand (literally, "Ridge of White Waters" in Afrikaans, commonly shortened to Rand--see Glossary) near present-day Johannesburg. English-speaking businessmen who had made their fortunes in the diamond industry quickly bought up all the auriferous claims and established a series of large gold-mining companies that were to dominate the industry well into the twentieth century.

Rhodes, who had succeeded in monopolizing the diamond industry, was much less successful on the Rand, where his companies proved to be poorer producers than those of his competitors. In the 1890s, he sought to compensate for his lackluster performance by carving out a personal empire in present-day Zimbabwe, original site of the fifteenth-century gold industry of Great Zimbabwe. There he ruled the Ndebele and the Shona people through his British South Africa Company.

Although beset by a number of technological problems in its early days, gold mining on the Rand grew rapidly, with output increasing from £80,000 in 1887 to nearly £8,000,000, or one-fifth of the world's gold production, in 1895. By the end of the century, more than £60,000,000 of capital had been invested in the gold industry, most of it by European investors, who thereby continued the pattern developed at Kimberley that southern Africa received more foreign investment than the rest of Africa combined. The gold mines employed 100,000 African laborers, five times as many as did the diamond mines, and drew these men from throughout southern Africa, although most came from Portuguese-ruled areas of Mozambique. Johannesburg, the newly established hub of this industry, had a population of 75,000 Europeans by the end of the century, which made it the largest city in southern Africa.

South Africa

South Africa - Africans and Industrialization

South Africa

African Enterprise

Africans participated actively in the new industrial economy. Thousands came to Kimberley in the early 1870s, some to obtain diamond claims, the majority to seek jobs in the mines and thereby to acquire the cash that would enable them to rebuild cattle herds depleted by drought, disease, and Boer raids. In the early 1870s, an average of 50,000 men a year migrated to work in the mines, usually for two to three months, returning home with guns purchased in Kimberley, as well as cattle and cash. Many who lived in the area of the diamond finds chose to sell agricultural surpluses, rather than their labor, and to invest their considerable profits in increasing production for the growing urban market. African farmers in British Basutoland (the British protectorate established in Lesotho), the Cape, and Natal also greatly expanded their production of foodstuffs to meet rising demand throughout southern Africa, and out of this development emerged a relatively prosperous peasantry supplying the new towns of the interior as well as the coastal ports. The growth of Kimberley and other towns also provided new economic opportunities for coloureds, many of whom were skilled tradesmen, and for Indians, who, once they had completed their contracts on the sugar plantations, established shops selling goods to African customers.

Extending European Control

Mineowners struggling to make a profit in the early days of the diamond industry sought, however, to undercut the bargaining strength of the Africans on whom they depended for labor. In 1872 Kimberley's white claimsholders persuaded the British colonial administration to introduce a pass law. This law, the foundation of the twentieth-century South African pass laws, required that all "servants" be in possession of passes that stated whether the holders were legally entitled to work in the city, whether or not they had completed their contractual obligations, and whether they could leave the city. The aim of this law, written in "color-blind" language but enforced against blacks only, was to limit the mobility of migrant workers, who frequently changed employers or left the diamond fields in a constant (and usually successful) attempt to bargain wages upward.

Other restrictions followed the pass law. These included the establishment of special courts to process pass law offenders as rapidly as possible (the basis of segregated courts in the twentieth century), the laying out of special "locations" or ghettos in Kimberley where urban blacks had to live (the basis of municipal segregation practices), and, finally, in 1886 the formation of "closed compounds," fenced and guarded institutions in which all black diamond mine workers had to live for the duration of their labor contracts.

The institutionalization of such discriminatory practices produced in Kimberley the highest rate of incarceration and the lowest living standards for urban blacks in the Cape Colony. It also marked a major turnabout in the British administration of law. The previous official policy that all people irrespective of color be treated equally, while still accepted in legal theory, was now largely ignored in judicial practice. South Africa's first industrial city thus developed into a community in which discrimination became entrenched in the economic and social order, not because of racial antipathies formed on the frontier, but because of the desire for cheap labor.

Because blacks would not put up with such conditions if they could maintain an autonomous existence on their own lands, the British embarked on a large-scale program of conquest in the 1870s and the 1880s. Mine owners argued that if they did not get cheap labor their industries would become unprofitable. White farmers, English- and Dutch-speaking alike, interested in expanding their own production for new urban markets, could not compete with the wages paid at the mines and demanded that blacks be forced to work for them. They argued that if blacks had to pay taxes in cash and that if most of their lands were confiscated, then they would have to seek work on the terms that white employers chose to offer. As a result of such pressures, the British fought wars against the Zulu, the Griqua, the Tswana, the Xhosa, the Pedi, and the Sotho, conquering all but the last. By the middle of the 1880s, the majority of the black African population of South Africa that had still been independent in 1870 had been defeated, the bulk of their lands had been confiscated and given to white settlers, and taxes had been imposed on the people, who were now forced to live on rural "locations." In order to acquire food to survive and to earn cash to pay taxes, blacks now had to migrate to work on the farms, in the mines, and in the towns of newly industrialized South Africa.

African Initiatives

The final quarter of the nineteenth century was marked also by the rise of new forms of political and religious organization as blacks struggled to attain some degree of autonomy in a world that was rapidly becoming colonized. Because the right to vote was based on ownership of property rather than on race in the Cape, blacks could participate in electoral politics, and this they did in increasing numbers in the 1870s and the 1880s, especially in the towns. In 1879 Africans in the eastern Cape formed the Native Educational Association (NEA), the purpose of which was to promote "the improvement and elevation of the native races." This was followed by the establishment of the more overtly political Imbumba Yama Nyama (literally, "hard, solid sinew"), formed in 1882 in Port Elizabeth, which sought to fight for "national rights" for Africans.

In 1884 John Tengo Jabavu, a mission-educated teacher and vice president of the NEA, founded his own newspaper, Imvo Zabantsundu (Native Opinion). Jabavu used the newspaper as a forum through which to express African grievances about the pass laws; "location" regulations; the unequal administration of justice; and what were considered "anti-native" laws, such as the one passed in 1887 by the Cape Parliament at Rhodes's behest that raised the property qualification for voters and struck 20,000 Africans off the rolls. Through these organizations and newspapers, and others like them established in the late nineteenth century, Africans protested their unequal treatment, pointing out in particular contradictions between the theory and practice of British colonialism. They called for the eradication of discrimination and for the incorporation of Africans into colonial society on an equal basis with Europeans. By the end of the nineteenth century, after property qualifications had again been raised in 1892, there were only about 8,000 Africans on the Cape's voting roll.

Africans sought to bypass what they considered the discriminatory practices of the established Christian churches (which often preached to segregated audiences and seldom promoted Africans within their ranks) by founding separate organizations of their own. Starting in 1884 with Nehemiah Tile, a Thembu (Tembu) Methodist preacher from the eastern Cape who left the Methodists and established the Tembu National Church, Africans built their own churches throughout South Africa. Many of these churches were termed "Ethiopian" by their founders, on the basis of the biblical prophecy "that Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to God," and because for centuries an African-run independent Christian church had existed in Ethiopia. A strong influence on these churches in the 1890s and the early 1900s was the United States-based African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), which sent missionaries to South Africa and trained many blacks from South Africa at its own institutions in the United States. Members of these independent churches called not so much for the elimination of racial discrimination and inequality as for an "Africa for the Africans," that is, a country ruled by blacks.

South Africa

South Africa - British Imperialism and the Afrikaners

South Africa

Minerals and the Growth of Boer-British Antipathy

British pressures on the Dutch-speaking population of the South African Republic became intense in the aftermath of industrialization. In seizing the diamond fields in 1870, the British had swept aside many Boer land claims. In 1877, fearing a collapse of the South African Republic in the face of defeat by a Pedi army, the British had formally annexed the Boer state, as the Transvaal. They then set about destroying the Pedi to obtain laborers for the Kimberley mines, and they completed the task in 1879. In 1880, however, the Transvaalers rose, and at the Battle of Majuba Hill in 1881, they defeated a British army. The British then withdrew, leaving the Boers victorious in what they would later call their First War of Independence.

The discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand greatly increased Boer-British tensions. Here was vast mineral wealth beyond British control. Moreover, the president of the South African Republic, Paul Kruger, attempted to lessen his state's long-term dependence on Cape merchants by developing a rail link to Portuguese East Africa. Such a link threatened British commercial interests and revived old fears of the Boers' gaining direct access to the sea and thus to other European powers. At the same time, the mine owners were, without exception, English speakers who exhibited no loyalty to the South African Republic and who did not seek to reinvest their gold profits in the local community. Indeed, they complained bitterly about all attempts to tax the gold industry.

These economic tensions lay at the base of a political issue: the right of English speakers to have the vote. With the rise of the gold industry and the growth of Johannesburg, the South African Republic had been inundated by so many English-speaking immigrants (called uitlanders by the Boers), most of them skilled mine workers, that by the 1890s they constituted a majority of the white male population. The state's constitution limited the vote to males who had lived in the South African Republic for at least seven years, and Kruger feared that expanding the franchise would only enable mine owners to manipulate their workers and to thereby win political power. British mine owners and officials constantly decried Kruger's refusal to extend the franchise. In December 1895, Cecil Rhodes took matters a step further by sending 500 armed men, employees of his British South Africa Company, into the South African Republic under the leadership of Dr. Leander Starr Jameson. Rhodes hoped that the uitlanders would rise and join the invaders to help overthrow Kruger's government. The invasion, however, was a fiasco: Boer commandos disarmed Jameson and his men with little resistance, and the uitlanders took no action. Rhodes resigned the premiership of the Cape Colony in disgrace. The British government denied having advance knowledge of the invasion and claimed that it had no expansionist plans of its own.

Distrusting the mine owners and the British government, Kruger sought to build his country's strength. He engaged in diplomatic relations with Germany, imported arms from Europe, and continued to deny the vote to uitlanders . He also cemented relations with the Orange Free State and sought support from Dutch speakers in the Cape. In these endeavors, he was assisted by a growing sense of Afrikaner identity that had developed in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This nationalistic identity had emerged clearly in the early 1880s, after the victory of Majuba Hill, when S.J. du Toit, a Dutch Reformed minister in the Cape, had published a newspaper, Die Afrikaanse Patriot (The Afrikaner Patriot), and a book, Die Geskiedenis van ons Land in die Taal van ons Volk (The History of our Land in the Language of our People), which argued that Afrikaners were a distinct people with their own fatherland in South Africa and that they were fulfilling a special mission determined expressly by God. Du Toit had gone on to found a political party in the Cape, the Afrikanerbond, to represent the interests of Dutch speakers. The Jameson Raid and anti-Boer sentiments expressed by gold magnates and British officials further cemented an Afrikaner sense of distinctiveness, which in the 1890s reached across political boundaries to include Dutch speakers in the Cape and the citizens of the Orange Free State as well as the Transvaalers.

Rhodes, together with his fellow gold mining magnates and the British government (in the persons of Joseph Chamberlain, secretary of state for the colonies, and Alfred Milner, high commissioner in South Africa), continued to denounce Kruger and his government. Rhodes and his peers called attention to what they considered rampant official corruption while also complaining that taxes were too high and that black labor was too expensive (because of perceived favoritism by the government regarding the labor needs of Afrikaner farmers). Chamberlain had concluded by the second half of the 1890s that the British needed to take direct action to contain Afrikaner power, and he had at first used diplomatic channels to pressure Kruger, although with little success. Milner pointed out what he considered the appalling condition of British subjects in the South African Republic, where, without the vote, they were, he argued, "kept permanently in the position of helots." In 1899 Milner advised Chamberlain that he considered the case for British intervention "overwhelming." Ignoring attempts by Kruger to reach a compromise, Chamberlain in September 1899 issued an ultimatum requiring that Kruger enfranchise British residents of the South African Republic. At the same time, Chamberlain sent troop reinforcements from Britain to the Cape. Kruger, certain that the British were bent on war, took the initiative and, allied with the Orange Free State, declared war on the British in October 1899.

The South African War

The South African War (1899-1902), fought by the British to establish their hegemony in South Africa and by the Afrikaners to defend their autonomy, lasted three years and caused enormous suffering. Ninety thousand Afrikaners fought against a British army that eventually approached 500,000 men, most from Britain but including large numbers of volunteers also from Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Approximately 30,000 Africans were also employed as soldiers by the British, while thousands more labored as transport workers. Kruger's forces, taking advantage of initial superiority in numbers (before the British regulars arrived) and of surprise, won a number of victories at the beginning of the war. In 1900, however, British forces overwhelmed the Boers, took Bloemfontein (capital of the Orange Free State), Johannesburg, and Pretoria (capital of the South African Republic), and forced Kruger into exile. Resistance continued, however, in the countryside, where the Boers fought a ferocious guerrilla war. The British ultimately succeeded in breaking this resistance, but only by adopting a scorched-earth policy. In 1901 and 1902, the British torched more than 30,000 farms in the South African Republic and the Orange Free State and placed all the Afrikaner women and children in concentration camps, where, because of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, more than 25,000 perished.

Peace was finally concluded at the town of Vereeniging on May 21, 1902. Milner, who drew up the terms, intended that Afrikaner power should be broken forever. He required that the Boers hand over all their arms and agree to the incorporation of their territories into the British empire as the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal. However, he made one significant concession to Boer sentiments by agreeing that the franchise would not be extended to Africans throughout South Africa (they had no vote in the Boer republics) until the local white population could decide that issue themselves. Since Milner himself believed that "political equality" of blacks and whites was "impossible" and that South Africa was really a white man's country in which the role of blacks should essentially be limited to that of "well-treated" labor, the concession was not a large one for him to make.

Milner's Peace

Milner sought to consolidate the military victory by adopting three policies. He planned to encourage large numbers to emigrate from Britain so that English speakers would attain a numerical majority among South Africa's white population. He wanted to institute policies of denationalization and of anglicization so that Afrikaners would lose their sense of a separate identity and would assimilate into British culture. To ensure the successful implementation of both policies, he intended to rule South Africa directly without local representation.

Milner also believed that the successful development of a loyal colonial society rested above all on ensuring the profitability of the gold industry even if that meant great strains for the African population. To that end, he sought to address the postwar labor needs of the gold mines by strictly enforcing pass laws in the cities and by collecting taxes from Africans in the countryside.

Relations between Africans and Europeans were increasingly strained as Milner's policies were implemented. Pressures in Natal were particularly severe. Most of Zululand had been annexed to Natal in 1897, a decade after approximately one-third of Zululand had been incorporated into the South African Republic. These strains erupted into violence in 1905, when a Zulu chief, Bambatha, invoking the memory of King Shaka, led an armed uprising. British firepower was too great, however, and in 1906 Bambatha and several thousand of his followers were killed in central Natal. His was the last armed struggle against colonial rule.

Despite opposition from local whites, who feared the addition of yet another racial group to their community, Milner also supported the gold magnates' plans to import large numbers of indentured Chinese laborers to work in the mines. The first men arrived in 1904, and by 1906 there were 50,000 Chinese at work, comprising one-third of the gold mines' labor force.

Milner's belief expressed before the war that blacks and whites could never be recognized as equal in South Africa received official sanction in 1905 with the final report of the South African Native Affairs Commission (SANAC). The British had gone to war in 1899 stating their abhorrence of the racially discriminatory policies adopted in the Afrikaner republics and because of such sentiments had received the active support of thousands of Africans. Between 1903 and 1905, the SANAC commissioners looked into the question of developing a common "native policy" for all of South Africa. Despite the testimony of numerous members of the educated African elite decrying discriminatory policies, the commissioners concluded that there should be no political equality between blacks and whites, that separate voters' rolls should be established, and that territorial separation was advisable for the races.

Yet none of Milner's policies met with real success. The gold industry, burdened with the costs of rebuilding after the devastation of the war, produced only limited profits, and South Africa continued to be economically depressed for much of the first decade of the twentieth century. Few immigrants were attracted by such poor prospects, and fewer than 1,200 British settler families came, less than one-eighth of the number Milner had hoped for. His denationalization policy was a complete failure. Indeed, Afrikaners, already imbued with a sense of collective suffering by their nineteenth-century experiences at the hands of British imperialists, were even more united after the South African War (which they termed the Second War of Independence). They celebrated their language, Afrikaans, and demonstrated its beauty in an outpouring of poetry. They set up their own schools, insisting that their children should be taught in Afrikaans and not be limited to the English-only instruction of government schools. In addition, they established new political parties to push for self-government: Oranje Unie (Orange Union) formed by Abraham Fischer and General James "Barry" Munnik (J.B.M.) Hertzog in the Orange River Colony and Het Volk (The People) founded by General Louis Botha and Jan C. Smuts in the Transvaal. The greatest blow to Milner's plans, however, came in 1905 with the victory of the Liberal Party in the British general election and the formation of a government led by men who had opposed the scorched-earth policy in the South African War as no more than "methods of barbarism."

South Africa

South Africa - Formation of the Union of South Africa, 1910

South Africa

Accepting the fact that English speakers would never constitute a majority in white South Africa, the Liberal government sought to come to terms with the Afrikaner majority. In 1907 the British granted limited self-government to both the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, and in subsequent elections, Het Volk and the Oranje Unie swept to victory. In the following year, the South African Party (SAP), led by an English-speaking critic of British imperialism and dependent on the support of the Afrikaner Bond, came to power in the Cape Colony. Reassured by the readiness of Het Volk's leaders, Botha and Smuts, to assist the gold-mining industry in obtaining larger supplies of cheap black labor (although without the Chinese workers who were repatriated in 1908) and in repressing militant white miners (who protested conditions of labor and job competition from blacks), the British government encouraged negotiations in South Africa among white representatives of the four self-governing colonies with the aim of establishing a single state.

Negotiations held in 1908 and in 1909 produced a constitution that embodied three fundamental principles: South Africa would adopt the Westminster style of government and would become a unitary state in which political power would be won by a simple majority and in which parliament would be sovereign; the question of voting rights for blacks would be left up to each of the four self-governing colonies to decide for itself (the Cape and Natal based their franchise on a property qualification; the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal denied all blacks the vote); and both English and Dutch would be official languages. The constitution also provided for future incorporation of the British-governed territories of Southern Rhodesia, Bechuanaland (present-day Botswana), Basutoland (present-day Lesotho), and Swaziland into the union.

In May 1910, Louis Botha became the first prime minister of the newly established Union of South Africa, a dominion of the British Empire, and Jan Smuts became his deputy. Just eight years earlier, both men had been generals in Kruger's army; now, through the SAP, they governed a country of 4 million Africans, 500,000 coloureds, 150,000 Indians, and 1,275,000 whites.

South Africa

South Africa - Building the Legal Structure of Racial Discrimination

South Africa

Several pieces of legislation marked the establishment of the Union of South Africa as a state in which racial discrimination received official sanction. The Native Labour Regulation Act (No. 15) of 1911 made it a criminal offense for Africans, but not for whites, to break a labor contract. The Dutch Reformed Church Act of 1911 prohibited Africans from becoming full members of the church. The Mines and Works Act (No. 12) of 1911 legitimized the long-term mining practice by which whites monopolized skilled jobs by effectively restricting Africans to semi-skilled and unskilled labor in the mines. Most important, the Natives Land Act (No. 27) of 1913 separated South Africa into areas in which either blacks or whites could own freehold land: blacks, constituting two-thirds of the population, were restricted to 7.5 percent of the land; whites, making up one-fifth of the population, were given 92.5 percent. The act also stated that Africans could live outside their own lands only if employed as laborers by whites. In particular, it made illegal the common practice of having Africans work as sharecroppers on farms in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

South Africa

South Africa - Formation of the African National Congress, 1912

South Africa

Milner's pro-white policies followed by the discriminatory legislation enacted by the Union of South Africa engendered considerable resistance from blacks and led to the formation and growth of new political bodies. In 1902 coloureds in Cape Town had formed the African Political Organisation to represent the interests of "educated . . . Coloured people." Abdullah Abdurahman, a Scottish-trained doctor, became president of the organization in 1904, and, by stressing the political discrimination to which coloureds were subjected, he had built it into a vital body with 20,000 members by 1910. Mohandas Gandhi began a passive resistance campaign against the pass laws in 1906, leading Indians in Natal and the Transvaal (they were legally prohibited from living in or entering the Orange Free State) in demonstrations and organizing stop-work protests that won the support of thousands of people. Numerous meetings were held by Africans, coloureds, and Indians to protest the whites-only nature of the constitutional discussions that took place in 1908 to 1909. These activities culminated in March 1909 in a South African Native Convention, which called for a constitution giving "full and equal rights" for all blacks, coloureds, and Indians.

But it was opposition to the Natives Land Act, preliminary drafts of which were debated in 1911, that led to the formation in 1912 of the most significant organization, the South African Native National Congress (renamed the African National Congress [ANC] in 1923). Several hundred members of South Africa's educated African elite met at Bloemfontein on January 8, 1912, and established a national organization to protest racial discrimination and to appeal for equal treatment before the law. The founding president was John L. Dube, a minister and schoolteacher who had studied in the United States and who had been strongly influenced by Booker T. Washington. Pixley Ka Isaka Seme, a lawyer with degrees from Columbia University and Oxford University and a prime mover in organizing the meeting to establish the congress, was appointed treasurer. Solomon T. Plaatje, a court translator, author, and newspaper editor who had worked in Kimberley and Johannesburg, became secretary general. The meeting opened and closed with the singing of the hymn "Nkosi sikelel'i Afrika" ("God Bless Africa"), which had been composed at the end of the nineteenth century by a Xhosa poet.

The congress was moderate in composition, tone, and practice. Its founders were men who felt that British rule had brought considerable benefits, especially Christianity, education, and the rule of law, but who also considered that their careers as teachers, lawyers, and court translators were hindered by the racial discrimination so endemic in South Africa. They called not for an end to British rule but for respect for the concept of equality for all, irrespective of color. They respected "traditional" authorities in African societies and made chiefs and kings office-holders as of right within the congress. They believed that they could best achieve their aims by dialogue with the British. As John Dube said, the congress pursued a policy of "hopeful reliance on the sense of common justice and love of freedom so innate in the British character." Such reliance, however, proved unfounded. When the congress sent a deputation to London in 1914 to protest the Natives Land Act, the colonial secretary informed them that there was nothing that he could do. Members of another deputation that went to London in 1919 were received sympathetically by Prime Minister Lloyd George, but they were also told that their problems would have to be resolved in South Africa by the South African government.

South Africa

South Africa - World War I and Afrikaner Nationalism

South Africa

In August 1914, Louis Botha and Jan Smuts, amid much controversy, took South Africa into World War I on the side of the British. Botha and Smuts considered that South Africa, as a British dominion, had no choice in the matter, and they sent troops to conquer the German protectorate of South-West Africa (present-day Namibia, mandated by the League of Nations to South Africa following World War I). More soldiers, including a corps of coloured volunteers, were later sent to fight in German East Africa and in France. Many Afrikaners felt no loyalty to Britain and opposed going to war with Germany, which had aided them during the South African War. An attempted coup against Botha's government in September was aborted when one of the leaders, an Afrikaner hero from the South African War, was killed by police. An armed uprising of nearly 10,000 men in the Orange Free State and the Transvaal later in the year, led by another war hero, was crushed by Botha's forces.

The political opposition to Botha's entry into the war was led by J.B.M. Hertzog and his newly formed National Party of South Africa (NP). Hertzog was a former close ally of Botha who had split with the SAP over three issues: he felt that the SAP worked too closely with English mine owners (whom he considered "fortune-hunters"); he thought that only lip-service was being given to the policy of making Dutch equal with English as an official language; and he wanted more done to separate blacks and whites. The National Party was established in January 1914 to take up these issues. Support for the party grew, especially with South African entry into the war, and by 1915 there were branches in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State led by Hertzog and by Tielman Roos, respectively, and in the Cape, where Daniel F. (D.F.) Malan edited the party's newspaper, Die Burger (The Citizen ).

Hertzog and his allies took various steps to strengthen the basis of Afrikaner nationalism. They stressed the richness and importance of Afrikaans rather than Dutch, and supported publication of books and magazines in the former language. They also sought to alleviate the poverty that had become endemic among Afrikaners, many of whom had been driven off the land into the cities in the last decades of the nineteenth century and during the South African War. Because almost all commercial enterprises and banks were run by English speakers, these people had little success in obtaining jobs or loans from such institutions. Many found work as unskilled laborers in the mines, where their color alone assured that they got higher pay than blacks.

Using the concept of helpmekaar (mutual aid), initially adopted to assist the unsuccessful rebels of 1914 and their families, relatively wealthy Afrikaner wine farmers in the western Cape pooled their resources and in 1918 established the South African National Trust Company (Santam) and the South African National Life Assurance Company (Sanlam). These new companies, a credit institution and a life insurance business, respectively, acquired their capital from Afrikaners and invested their funds only with Afrikaners. Also in 1918, another exclusively Afrikaner organization was formed, the Afrikaner Broederbond (later the Broederbond, or Brotherhood--although this literal translation has never been used as a term of reference). This organization, which in 1921 became a secret society, was established by young professionals--teachers, clerks, and ministers in the Dutch Reformed Church--who believed that they, too, needed to act to protect and to celebrate Afrikaner culture.

South Africa

South Africa - Conflict in the 1920s

South Africa

In 1922 the interaction of economic and ethnic factors produced armed conflict among whites. Strikes had been organized by white miners in 1907, 1913, and 1914 over the conditions of labor and the threat of black competition, with the result that mine owners had agreed to reserve some semi-skilled work for whites. In addition, white miners split politically; many of the English-speaking mine workers joined the Labour Party (formed in 1909), while the Afrikaners supported the National Party. Some of the more radical workers left the Labour Party in 1915 to form the International Socialist League of South Africa, which in turn became the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) in 1921.

In the context of postwar depression, the mine owners proposed in 1922 that wages be reduced, that several thousand white semi-skilled and unskilled workers be dismissed, and that the statutory "colour bar" be lifted, thereby enabling the employers to increase the ratio of black workers to white. The white workers, supported by the Labour and National parties, went on strike. With militant Afrikaner nationalists taking a leading role and organizing commandos, the strikers marched through Johannesburg behind banners proclaiming "Workers of the World Unite, and Fight for a White South Africa," occupied fortified positions in the mines, and announced the establishment of a White Workers' Republic. Smuts, prime minister since Botha's death in 1919, struck back with 20,000 troops and with artillery, tanks, and bomber aircraft. In the ensuing conflict, seventy-six strikers were killed, 4,748 were arrested, and eighteen were sentenced to death, of whom only four were hanged.

Smuts won only a temporary victory because in the 1924 general election he was swept out of office by an alliance of the National and Labour parties and was replaced as prime minister by J.B.M. Hertzog. The new government took immediate steps to protect the privileged position of white labor by enacting the Industrial Conciliation Act of 1924 and the Wage Act of 1925. The former law gave legal recognition to white trade unions but not to black; the latter enabled the minister of labor to force employers to give preference to the hiring of white workers. In addition, the Mines and Works Amendment Act of 1926 reinforced the color bar in the mining industry. Together, these laws became the cornerstone of what Hertzog termed his "civilised labour" policy. Hertzog also introduced measures to provide whites with greater job opportunities by instituting higher protective tariffs to encourage local manufacturing; by opening up new overseas trade relations, especially with Germany; and by establishing the state-owned South African Iron and Steel Corporation (Iscor). He proposed as well a number of "native bills" to restrict the voting rights of Africans, removed the property qualification for all white voters, and enfranchised white women, thereby more than doubling the number of eligible white voters while reducing black voters to a negligible number. He also introduced legislation replacing Dutch with Afrikaans as an official language.

Black opposition to these measures took a variety of forms, the most important of which was the growth of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU). The ICU had been established in 1919 as a trade union for coloured dockworkers in Cape Town by Clements Kadalie, a mission-educated African from Nyasaland (present-day Malawi). Kadalie's organization grew enormously in the 1920s, in rural as well as in urban areas, as it tapped the great discontent that blacks already felt for the segregationist policies of Botha and Smuts and their increased disturbance over Hertzog's "civilised labour" legislation. ICU organizers, often men with links to the independent African churches who had little time for the overly "moderate" policies of the ANC and who were strongly influenced by the back-to-Africa movement of Marcus Garvey, galvanized mass support with calls for an immediate end to discrimination and to colonial rule. By 1928 the ICU's claimed membership, predominantly rural-based, had grown to between 150,000 and 200,000 Africans, 15,000 coloureds, and 250 whites, making it a far larger political body than the ANC. Yet the organization soon collapsed, brought down by the contradiction between the near-millennial expectations of its followers and the refusal of Hertzog's government to offer any concessions, and by the inability of blacks to force the government to change any of its policies. By the end of the 1920s, only a few regional branches of the ICU remained, and Kadalie was no longer at the head of the organization.

South Africa

South Africa - The Great Depression and the 1930s

South Africa

The onset of the Great Depression brought about considerable political change. Hertzog, whose National Party had won the 1929 election alone, after splitting with the Labour Party, received much of the blame for the devastating economic impact of the depression. Fearing electoral defeat in the next election (1934), he sought a partnership with his former opponent, Jan Smuts, and the latter's South African Party. In 1933 Hertzog and Smuts made an alliance, and in the following year they merged their two parties to form the United South African National Party, also known as the United Party (UP). Hertzog and Smuts then won the general election; Hertzog continued as prime minister and Smuts became his deputy. Many Afrikaners criticized Hertzog's move, especially because they considered Smuts to be an opponent of Afrikaner nationalism who was too closely allied with the English mine owners; under the leadership of D.F. Malan and the Broederbond, they split away to form their own political party, the Purified National Party.

Malan built his political appeal by stressing the particular sufferings of the Afrikaner people. Their economic problems had become especially evident during the depression, when the Carnegie Commission on Poor Whites had concluded in 1931 that nearly one-third of Afrikaners lived as paupers, whereas few English-speaking whites lived below the poverty line. To deal with this problem, Malan and his allies in the Broederbond encouraged the development of an Afrikaner economic movement. The Volkskas (People's Bank) was founded in 1934; and exclusively Afrikaner trade unions, which espoused a Christian-National ethic combining devout Calvinism with ethnic nationalism, were established at the same time. In subsequent years, the Broederbond worked closely with Sanlam/Santam to pool whatever wealth was available and to invest it in new economic opportunities for the volk (people). Malan and his allies also drew attention to the past sufferings of the Afrikaner people by organizing a commemorative reenactment in 1938 of the Great Trek. Ox-wagon parades through the country culminated in a festival held in Pretoria on December 16, the exact day on which, 100 years earlier, the Zulu had been defeated at the Battle of Blood River. A massive Voortrekker Monument, replete with friezes depicting the heroism of the Voortrekkers and the treachery of the Africans, was officially opened while Malan made a speech in which he said that it was the duty of Afrikaners "to make South Africa a white man's land."

Hertzog and Smuts, while rejecting the ethnic nationalism of Malan, hardly differed with him in their policies toward blacks. In the mid-1930s, the United Party government introduced legislation to remove Africans from the common voters' roll in the Cape, to limit them to electing white representatives to Parliament, and to create a Natives Representative Council that had advisory powers only (Representation of Natives Act [No. 12] of 1936). The government increased the amount of land set aside for blacks from 7.5 percent to 13 percent of South Africa, but confirmed the policy that the country should always be segregated unequally by race (the Native Trust and Land Act [No. 18] of 1936) and enforced even stricter regulation of the pass laws (the Native Laws Amendment Act of 1937). In response to growing anti-Semitic sentiments among Afrikaners--usually directed at the mine owners, many of whom were Jewish--the government introduced legislation to prevent the immigration of Jews into South Africa (the Aliens Act [No. 1] of 1937). The same law also prohibited the entry of any immigrant who could not quickly assimilate into the white population.

Organized black responses to these measures were muted. The ANC, under the conservative leadership of Pixley Seme since 1930, concentrated on advising Africans to try to better themselves and to respect their chiefs rather than engaging in an active condemnation of Hertzog's policies. Membership in the congress fell to a few thousand. In December 1935, some ANC members, dissatisfied with this approach, together with representatives of Indian and coloured political organizations, met in Bloemfontein and formed the All-African Convention (AAC) to protest the proposed new laws as well as segregation in general. But even this organization, composed largely of members of the black professional class along with church leaders and students, avoided the confrontational approach of the ICU. The AAC leaders stressed their loyalty to South Africa and to Britain and called yet again for the British Parliament to intervene to ameliorate the condition of blacks.

South Africa

South Africa - The Impact of World War II

South Africa

The outbreak of World War II in 1939 proved a divisive factor in the white community. Smuts favored entry into the war on the side of the British. Hertzog supported neutrality. Many of Malan's supporters wanted to enter the war on Germany's side. German National Socialism, with its emphasis on the racial superiority of Germanic peoples, its anti-Semitism, and its use of state socialism to benefit the "master race," had garnered many Afrikaner admirers in the 1930s. A neo-Nazi Greyshirt organization had been formed in 1933 that drew increasing support, especially among rural Afrikaners, in the late 1930s. In 1938 Afrikaners participating in the commemoration of the Great Trek had established the Ossewabrandwag (Oxwagon Sentinel) as a paramilitary organization aimed at inculcating a "love for fatherland" and at instituting, by armed force if necessary, an Afrikaner-controlled republic in South Africa. By the end of the decade, the Ossewabrandwag claimed a membership of 250,000 out of a total Afrikaner population of a little more than 1 million. Oswald Pirow, Hertzog's minister of defense until the end of 1939, formed a movement within the National Party called the New Order, a fascist program for remaking South African society along Nazi lines. Smuts prevailed, however, winning the support of a majority of the cabinet and becoming prime minister. Hertzog resigned and joined with Malan in forming the Herenigde (Reunited) National Party (HNP). South Africa sent troops to fight on the British side in North Africa and in Europe. In South Africa, several thousand members of the Ossewabrandwag, including a future prime minister, John Vorster, were interned for antiwar activities.

Economically and socially, the war had a profound effect. While gold continued to be the most important industry, providing two-thirds of South Africa's revenues and three-quarters of its export earnings, manufacturing grew enormously to meet wartime demands. Between 1939 and 1945, the number of people employed in manufacturing, many of them African women, rose 60 percent. Urbanization increased rapidly: the number of African town dwellers almost doubled. By 1946 there were more Africans in South Africa's towns and cities than there were whites. Many of these blacks lived in squatter communities established on the outskirts of major cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg. Such developments, although necessary for war production, contradicted the segregationist ideology that blacks should live in their rural locations and not become permanent urban residents.

More unsettling still to the segregationists was the development of new black organizations that demanded official recognition of their existence and better treatment of their members. In Johannesburg, for example, James Mpanza proclaimed himself king of his Orlando squatter encampment, set up his own system of local government and taxation, and established the Sofasonke ("We shall all die together") Party. Urban black workers, demanding higher wages and better working conditions, also formed their own trade unions and engaged in a rash of strikes throughout the early 1940s. By 1946 the Council of Non-European Trade Unions (CNETU), formed in 1941, claimed 158,000 members organized in 119 unions. The most important of these new trade unions was the African Mineworkers Union (AMWU), which by 1944 claimed a membership of 25,000. In 1946 the AMWU struck for higher wages in the gold mines and succeeded in getting 60,000 men to stop work. The strike was crushed by police actions that left twelve dead, but it demonstrated the potential strength of organized black workers in challenging the cheap labor system.

South Africa

South Africa - The 1948 Election

South Africa

Smuts's governing United Party and Malan's HNP went into the 1948 general election campaign on opposing platforms. The United Party based its platform on the report of the Native Laws Commission chaired by Judge Henry Fagan. The Fagan commission argued that because of the influx of Africans into the cities and because of the impoverishment of the African reserves, total segregation was impossible. Although it did not recommend social or political integration, the commission suggested that African labor should be stabilized in the cities, where the needs of industrial and commercial operations were greatest. The HNP's platform, based on a report by Paul Sauer, argued to the contrary, that only total separation of the races would prevent a move toward equality and the eventual overwhelming of white society by black.

The HNP stated that Africans should be viewed as only temporary dwellers in the cities and should be forced periodically to return to the countryside to meet the labor needs of farmers (primarily Afrikaners). In addition, the HNP platform declared that Africans should develop political bodies in "their true fatherland," the African reserves, and should have no form of parliamentary representation in South Africa.

Malan also called for the prohibition of mixed marriages, for the banning of black trade unions, and for stricter enforcement of job reservation. Running on this platform of apartheid, as it was termed for the first time, Malan and the HNP, benefiting from the weight given to rural electorates, defeated Smuts and the United Party. The HNP won a majority of the seats contested but only a minority of the votes cast. The HNP became the government and, renamed the National Party (NP), ruled South Africa until 1994.

South Africa

South Africa - Legislative Implementation of Apartheid

South Africa

Malan and the National Party, fearing that they might lose office in the next election, immediately set about introducing laws to give apartheid a legislative reality that could not easily be overturned. Such laws aimed at separating whites and blacks, at instituting as a legal principle the theory that whites should be treated more favorably than blacks and that separate facilities need not be equal, and at providing the state with the powers deemed necessary to deal with any opposition.

Separating Black from White

The Population Registration Act (No. 30) of 1950 provided the basis for separating the population of South Africa into different races. Under the terms of this act, all residents of South Africa were to be classified as white, coloured, or native (later called Bantu) people. Indians, whom the HNP in 1948 had refused to recognize as permanent inhabitants of South Africa, were included under the category "Asian" in 1959. The act required that people be classified primarily on the basis of their "community acceptability"; later amendments placed greater stress on "appearance" in order to deal with the practice of light-colored blacks "passing" as whites. The act also provided for the compilation of a population register for the whole country and for the issuing of identity cards.

Other laws provided for geographic, social, and political separation. The Group Areas Act (No. 41) of 1950 extended the provisions of the Natives Land Act (No. 27) of 1913, and later laws divided South Africa into separate areas for whites and blacks (including coloureds), and gave the government the power to forcibly remove people from areas not designated for their particular racial group. The Tomlinson Commission in 1954 officially concluded that the areas set aside for Africans would support no more than two-thirds of the African population even under the best of conditions, but the government ignored its recommendation that more land be allocated to the reserves and began removing Africans from white areas.

The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (No. 55) of 1949 made marriages between whites and members of other racial groups illegal. The Immorality Act (No. 21) of 1950 extended an earlier ban on sexual relations between whites and blacks (the Immorality Act [No. 5] of 1927) to a ban on sexual relations between whites and any non-whites. The Bantu Authorities Act (No. 68) of 1951 established Bantu tribal, regional, and territorial authorities in the regions set out for Africans under the Group Areas Act, and it abolished the Natives Representative Council. The Bantu authorities were to be dominated by chiefs and headmen appointed by the government. The government also sought in 1951 to remove coloured voters in the Cape from the common roll onto a separate roll and to require that they elect white representatives only (Separate Representation of Voters Act [No. 46] of 1951). The Supreme Court immediately declared the act invalid on constitutional grounds, but after a long struggle it was successfully reenacted (the Separate Representation of Voters Amendment Act [No. 30] of 1956).

Separate and Unequal

The concept of unequal allocation of resources was built into legislation on general facilities, education, and jobs. The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act (No. 49) of 1953 stated that all races should have separate amenities--such as toilets, parks, and beaches--and that these need not be of an equivalent quality. Under the provisions of this act, apartheid signs were erected throughout South Africa.

The Bantu Education Act (No. 47) of 1953 decreed that blacks should be provided with separate educational facilities under the control of the Ministry of Native Affairs, rather than the Ministry of Education. The pupils in these schools would be taught their Bantu cultural heritage and, in the words of Hendrik F. Verwoerd, minister of native affairs, would be trained "in accordance with their opportunities in life," which he considered did not reach "above the level of certain forms of labour." The act also removed state subsidies from denominational schools with the result that most of the mission-run African institutions (with the exception of some schools run by the Roman Catholic Church and the Seventh Day Adventists) were sold to the government or closed. The Extension of University Education Act (No. 45) of 1959 prohibited blacks from attending white institutions, with few exceptions, and established separate universities and colleges for Africans, coloureds, and Indians.

The Industrial Conciliation Act (No. 28) of 1956 enabled the minister of labour to reserve categories of work for members of specified racial groups. In effect, if the minister felt that white workers were being pressured by "unfair competition" from blacks, he could recategorize jobs for whites only and increase their rates of pay. Under the terms of the Native Laws Amendment Act (No. 54) of 1952, African women as well as men were made subject to influx control and the pass laws and, under Section 10 of the act, neither men nor women could remain in an urban area for longer than seventy-two hours without a special permit stating that they were legally employed. The Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents Act (No. 67) of 1952, which was designed to make the policy of pass restrictions easier, abolished the pass, replacing it with a document known as a "reference book." The act stated that all Africans had to carry a reference book containing their photograph, address, marital status, employment record, list of taxes paid, influx control endorsements, and rural district where officially resident; not having the reference book on one's person was a criminal offense punishable by a prison sentence.

Security Legislation

Whereas the above laws built largely on existing legislation, police powers underwent a much greater expansion. The Suppression of Communism Act (No. 44) of 1950 had declared the Communist Party and its ideology illegal. Among other features, the act defined communism as any scheme that aimed "at bringing about any political, industrial, social, or economic change within the Union by the promotion of disturbance or disorder" or that encouraged "feelings of hostility between the European and the non-European races of the Union the consequences of which are calculated to further . . ." disorder. The act allowed the minister of justice to list members of such organizations and to ban them, usually for five-year periods, from public office, from attending public meetings, or from being in any specified area of South Africa. The Public Safety Act (No. 3) of 1953 gave the British governor general power to suspend all laws and to proclaim a state of emergency. The Criminal Law Amendment Act (No. 8) of 1953 stated that anyone accompanying a person found guilty of offenses committed while "protest[ing], or in support of any campaign for the repeal or modification of any law," would also be presumed guilty and would have the burden of proving his or her innocence. The Native Administration Act (No. 42) of 1956 permitted the government to "banish" Africans, essentially exiling them to remote rural areas far from their homes. The Customs and Excise Act of 1955 and the Official Secrets Act (No. 16) of 1956 gave the government power to establish a Board of Censors to censor books, films, and other materials imported into or produced in South Africa. During the 1950s, enforcement of these various laws resulted in approximately 500,000 pass-law arrests annually, in the listing of more than 600 inhabitants as communists, in the banning of nearly 350 inhabitants, and in the banishment of more than 150 other inhabitants.

White Politics

The National Party's legislative program received increasing support from the white electorate. The NP won re-election in 1953 and in 1958, each time with increased majorities. Malan retired in 1955 and was replaced as prime minister by J.G. Strydom, leader of the Transvaal branch of the party. After Strydom's death in 1958, Hendrik F. Verwoerd, the Dutch-born minister of native affairs as well as a former professor of applied psychology and the preeminent proponent of apartheid, became prime minister. The United Party (UP) competed aggressively for white votes by adopting a pro-white platform, by rejecting government expenditures on acquiring more land for African reserves, and by supporting the removal of coloured voters from the common roll. In 1959 the more liberal members of the UP broke away to form the Progressive Federal Party (PFP) but with little impact. Practically all Afrikaners and increasing numbers of English-speaking whites voted for the National Party. In 1960 a majority of white voters, irritated by growing world condemnation of apartheid, especially by the newly independent Asian and African members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, supported Verwoerd's proposal to make South Africa a republic, whereupon it left the Commonwealth. In the 1961 general election, the NP won 105 seats, the UP forty-five, and the PFP only one.

South Africa

South Africa - Black Resistance in the 1950s

South Africa

The Congress Youth League and the Programme of Action

In 1943, during World War II, young members of the ANC, critical of what they considered its passivity, formed their own organization, the Congress Youth League (CYL). Anton Lembede, president of the CYL from 1944 until his death in 1947, stressed that South Africa was "a black man's country," in which the concerns of Africans should take precedence. He argued that African society was socialistic, but, because he considered the conflict in South Africa to be primarily a racial rather than a class struggle, he repudiated any alliance with the Communist Party in bringing about "national liberation." After the war and Lembede's death, and faced by the implementation of apartheid, the CYL's leaders, Peter Mda, Jordan Ngubane, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, and Walter Sisulu, strove to take charge of the ANC. They called on the organization to adopt the use of strikes, boycotts, stay-at-homes, and various forms of civil disobedience and non-cooperation to make the apartheid system unworkable. Overcoming the opposition of ANC president Alfred Xuma, the CYL succeeded in 1949 in electing James Moroka to the presidency, in seating three CYL members (Sisulu, Tambo, and Mandela) on the party's national executive body, and in persuading the congress formally to adopt the program of action.

The ANC's new leaders formed a Joint Planning Council with leaders of the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) (unlike Lembede, the Mandela, Sisulu, and Tambo team believed strongly in working with other groups) and in February 1952 called on the government to repeal all unjust laws or face a Defiance Campaign starting on April 6, the tercentenary of Jan van Riebeeck's arrival at the Cape. Malan rejected the ultimatum. The ANC and the SAIC, led by Yusuf Dadoo, then organized mass rallies and stay-at-homes for April 6 and June 26. These actions drew the support of thousands of men and women. The government reacted by banning leaders and newspapers under the Suppression of Communism Act and by arresting participants in the demonstrations. By December 1952, approximately 8,500 people had been arrested, most of them in the Cape, and the Defiance Campaign had largely come to an end without bringing about any change in the laws. The ANC had grown enormously, however: its paid membership had increased from fewer than 7,000 at the beginning of 1952 to more than 100,000 by the end of the year. Its leadership had also changed: James Moroka had been dismissed in disgrace for having pleaded guilty to charges placed under the Suppression of Communism Act, and Albert Luthuli had been made president.

The Congress of the People and the Freedom Charter

House arrests, bannings, and other forms of government restriction limited the ability of ANC and SAIC leaders to organize publicly in 1953 and 1954, but in 1955, approximately 3,000 delegates met on June 25 and June 26 near Soweto in a Congress of the People. They represented black (the ANC), white (the Congress of Democrats), Indian (the SAIC), and coloured (the Coloured People's Congress) political organizations and the multiracial South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU). The congress was held to develop a new vision for a future South Africa, one that reached beyond protest politics. The prime document discussed was the Freedom Charter, which had been drafted several weeks before the congress met. The charter emphasized that South Africa should be a nonracial society with no particular group assumed to have special rights or privileges. The charter stated that all people should be treated equally before the law, that land should be "shared among those who work it," and that the people should "share in the country's wealth," a statement that has sometimes been interpreted to mean a call for nationalization. The congress delegates had ratified almost all the sections of the charter when the police surrounded the meeting, announced that they suspected treason was being committed, and recorded the names and addresses of all those in attendance.

The Pan-Africanist Congress and Sharpeville

Struggles over apartheid legislation continued through the remainder of the 1950s. In 1956 the police arrested 156 leaders, including Luthuli, Mandela, Tambo, Sisulu, and others, and put them on trial for treason in a court case that dragged on for five years. Mass resistance, however, continued in a variety of forms. Thousands of people participated in bus boycotts on the Rand, preferring to walk to work rather than to pay high fares to travel on substandard vehicles. Thousands of African women, organized by the newly formed Federation of South African Women (FSAW), protested the extension of the pass laws. In 1956, 20,000 of them marched on the Parliament buildings in Pretoria and presented a petition with the signatures of tens of thousands of people opposed to the pass laws. Yet these efforts had little effect on the Nationalist government, which was determined to implement apartheid.

The failure to achieve any real success caused a major split in black resistance in 1959. Critics within the ANC argued that its alliance with other political groups, particularly the white Congress of Democrats, caused their organization to make too many compromises and to fail to represent African interests. Influenced by the writings of Lembede, the Africanists, led by Robert Sobukwe, called on the ANC to look to African interests first and to take more action to challenge the government. They were, however, forced out of the ANC, and they formed their own organization, the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC). In March 1960, the PAC began a national campaign against the pass laws and called on Africans to assemble outside police stations without their passes and to challenge the police to arrest them. One such demonstration outside the police station at Sharpeville, a "native" township in the industrial area of Vereeniging to the south of Johannesburg, ended in violence when the police fired on the demonstrators, killing at least sixty-seven of them and wounding 186. Most of the dead and wounded were shot in the back. Stoppages and demonstrations continued, including a peaceful march of 30,000 Africans on the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town. Verwoerd's government reacted by declaring a state of emergency, by arresting approximately 18,000 demonstrators, including the leaders of the ANC and the PAC, and by outlawing both organizations.

South Africa

South Africa - The ANC and the PAC Turn to Violence

South Africa

Prohibited from operating peacefully or even having a legal existence in South Africa, both the ANC and the PAC established underground organizations in 1961 to carry out their struggle against the government. The militant wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK--Spear of the Nation, also known as Umkhonto), targeted strategic places such as police stations and power plants but carefully avoided taking any human lives. Poqo (Blacks Only), the militant wing of the PAC, engaged in a campaign of terror, targeting in particular African chiefs and headmen believed to be collaborators with the government and killing them. Some young white students and professionals established their own organization, the antiapartheid African Resistance Movement, and carried out bomb attacks on strategic targets, including one at the <"http://worldfacts.us/South-Africa-Johannesburg.htm"> Johannesburg railway station that killed at least one person.

By 1964 the police had succeeded in crushing all of these movements. Seventeen Umkhonto leaders, including Walter Sisulu, had been arrested at a farmhouse at Rivonia near Johannesburg in July 1963 and, along with Nelson Mandela--who had already been imprisoned on other charges--were tried for treason. Eight of them, including Mandela, were sent to prison for life. Albert Luthuli had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960, but the government confined him to his rural home in Zululand until his death in 1967. Tambo escaped from South Africa and became president of the ANC in exile. Robert Sobukwe of Poqo was jailed on Robben Island until 1969 and then placed under a banning order and house arrest in Kimberley until his death in 1978. The Johannesburg railway station bomber, John Harris, was hanged. He marched to the gallows singing "We shall overcome."

The government campaign to crush internal resistance was orchestrated by John Vorster, then minister of justice, and by General Hendrik J. (H.J.) van den Bergh, head of the Bureau of State Security (BOSS). Both were former members of the Ossewabrandwag who had been interned for pro-Nazi activities during World War II. Vorster and van den Bergh used new security legislation to put down the resistance. In particular, the General Law Amendment Act of 1963 allowed the police to detain people for ninety days without charging them and without allowing them access to a lawyer. At the end of that period, the police could re-arrest and re-detain them for a further ninety days. During the period of detention, no court could order a person's release; only the minister of justice had that authority. Because of his success in defeating the ANC and the PAC, John Vorster became prime minister of South Africa in 1966 when Verwoerd was assassinated by a coloured parliamentary messenger.

South Africa

South Africa - Consolidating Apartheid

South Africa

The government took several measures in the 1960s to make the theory of apartheid work in practice. The Nationalists wanted particularly to establish alternative political structures for Africans in the homelands or reserves (see Glossary), and to eliminate the squatter camps that had grown up around the major cities in the 1930s and the 1940s. In 1963 the Transkei homeland, poverty-stricken and overpopulated, was made self-governing, and in 1976 it was declared "independent," although no country except South Africa recognized the new state. Other homelands were even less economically viable. Bophuthatswana consisted of nineteen separate pieces of land spread hundreds of kilometers apart, and KwaZulu (formed out of Zululand and other parts of Natal in 1972) was divided into at least eleven fragments interspersed with white farms and coastal lands allocated to whites. The South African government, nonetheless, moved ahead with preparing them for independence.

Under the provisions of the Group Areas Act, urban and rural areas in South Africa were divided into zones in which members of only one racial group could live; all others had to move. In practice, it was blacks who had to move, often under the threat or use of force. Between 1963 and 1985, approximately 3.5 million blacks were removed from areas designated for whites and were sent to the homelands, where they added to the already critical problem of overpopulation. Still, even though the homeland population rose by 69 percent between 1970 and 1980, the numbers of blacks in the cities continued to rise through natural growth and evasion of influx control, so that by 1980, after twenty years of removals, there were twice as many blacks in South Africa's towns as there were whites.

South Africa enjoyed an economic boom in the 1960s. Foreign investors had withdrawn their funds and white immigration had come to a halt in the immediate aftermath of Sharpeville, but Vorster's harsh measures rebuilt confidence in the security of investments and the stability of the state, and money and people returned. Foreign investment in South Africa, attracted by rates of return on capital often running as high as 15 to 20 percent, more than doubled between 1963 and 1972, while high immigration levels helped the white population to increase by 50 percent during the same period. Investment and immigration fueled an impressive economic boom.

South Africa

South Africa - Steve Biko and SASO

South Africa

With the ANC and the PAC banned and African political activity officially limited to government-appointed bodies in the homelands, young people sought alternative means to express their political aspirations. In the early 1960s, African university students looked to the multiracial National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) to represent their concerns, but, as this organization adopted an increasingly conservative stance after Vorster's crackdown, they decided to form their own movement. Led by Steve Biko, an African medical student at the University of Natal, a group of black students established the South African Students' Organisation (SASO) in 1969 with Biko as president. Biko, strongly influenced by the writings of Lembede and by the Black Power movement in the United States, argued that Africans had to run their own organizations; they could not rely on white liberals because such people would always ally in the last resort with other whites rather than with blacks. He argued that blacks often oppressed themselves by accepting the second-class status accorded them by the apartheid system, and he stressed that they had to liberate themselves mentally as well as physically. He rejected, however, the use of violence adopted by the ANC and the PAC in the early 1960s and emphasized that only nonviolent methods should be used in the struggle against apartheid.

Biko's message had an immediate appeal; SASO expanded enormously, and its members established black self-help projects, including workshops and medical clinics, in many parts of South Africa. In 1972 the Black Peoples' Convention (BPC) was set up to act as a political umbrella organization for the adherents of black consciousness. Although the government had at first welcomed the development of black consciousness because the philosophy fit in with the racial separation inherent in apartheid, it sought to restrict the activities of Biko and his organizations when these took a more overtly political turn. In 1972, SASO organized strikes on university campuses resulting in the arrest of more than 600 students. Rallies held by SASO and the BPC in 1974 to celebrate the overthrow of Portuguese colonialism in Angola and Mozambique resulted in the banning of Biko and other black consciousness leaders and their arraignment on charges of fomenting terrorism.

South Africa

South Africa - Soweto, 1976

South Africa

In 1974 the newly appointed minister of Bantu education, Michael C. Botha, and his deputy, Andries Treurnicht, decided to enforce a previously ignored provision of the Bantu Education Act that required Afrikaans to be used on an equal basis with English as a medium of instruction. A shortage of Afrikaans teachers and a lack of suitable textbooks had resulted in English and African languages being used as the languages of instruction. Because Afrikaans was identified by Africans, especially by the young and by those sympathetic to black consciousness, as the language of the oppressor, opposition to this new policy grew throughout 1975 and into 1976. Some African school boards refused to enforce the policy and saw their members dismissed by the government. Students began to boycott classes.

On June 16, 1976, hundreds of high-school students in Soweto, the African township southwest of Johannesburg, marched in protest against having to use Afrikaans. The police responded with tear gas and then with gunfire that left at least three dead and a dozen injured. The demonstrators, joined by angry crowds of Soweto residents, reacted by attacking and burning down government buildings, including administrative offices and beer halls. The government sent in more police and troops and quelled the violence within a few days but at the cost of several hundred African lives.

Similar outbreaks occurred elsewhere in South Africa, and violence continued throughout the rest of 1976 and into 1977. By February 1977, official figures counted 494 Africans, seventy-five coloureds, one Indian, and five whites killed. In August of that year, Steve Biko, who had been held in indefinite detention, died from massive head injuries sustained during police interrogation. By that time, SASO and the BPC had been banned and open black resistance had been brought to a halt.

South Africa

South Africa - The Contradictions of Apartheid

South Africa

By the middle of the 1970s, apartheid was clearly under strain. The popularity of black consciousness and the massive levels of participation in the Soweto demonstrations illustrated profound discontent among the black population, particularly the young, and an increasing readiness to challenge the system physically. Indeed, hundreds of young Africans slipped across South Africa's northern borders in the aftermath of Soweto and volunteered to fight as guerrilla soldiers for the ANC and the PAC. In the late 1970s, some of these people began to reenter South Africa secretly and to carry out sabotage attacks on various targets that were seen as symbols of apartheid.

Labor discontent had also grown. The combination of discriminatory legislation and employer reliance on the use of inexpensive labor meant that African workers were poorly paid and were subjected to an enormous number of restrictions (see Legal Restrictions, ch. 3). Economic recession in the early 1970s, followed by inflation and a contraction in the job market, resulted in a dramatic upsurge in labor unrest. In the first three months of 1973, some 160 strikes involving more than 60,000 workers took place in Durban; in the early 1970s, no more than 5,000 African workers had struck annually, and in the 1960s the average had been closer to 2,000. Labor unrest spread to East London and the Rand and continued. In addition to the high level of participation they engendered, the strikes were also noteworthy for other features. Fearing that the police would arrest any person who organized a strike, the workers chose not to form representative bodies or to elect a leadership. Rather than entering protracted negotiations, they also engaged in sudden "wildcat" strikes, thereby limiting the ability of employers and police to take preventive measures. Over time, an African union movement developed out of these strikes, but it did so on a factory-by-factory basis rather than through the establishment of a mass-based industrial movement as had been the case in the 1940s.

Urban-based African strikes drew attention to the fact that, despite the segregationist ambitions of apartheid, the South African economy depended on blacks living and working in supposedly white areas. Nearly three-quarters of South Africa's urban population in 1980 was black. Only half of the African population lived in the homelands, and even then the rural land available was so inadequate that population densities were far greater than they were in the rest of the country. At least four-fifths of the homeland dwellers lived in poverty.

Yet the South African government persisted in arguing that Africans were really rural dwellers and that they should exercise political rights only in the homelands. In 1976 the government proclaimed the Transkei an independent nation-state and followed this move by granting independence to Bophuthatswana in 1977, to Venda in 1979, and to Ciskei in 1981. Citizens of these states, including the half who lived outside their borders, were then deemed aliens in South Africa. Another six ethnically based homelands were granted limited self-government in preparation for eventual independence: they were KwaZulu, Lebowa, Gazankulu, QwaQwa, KaNgwane, and KwaNdebele (see System of Government, ch. 4). None of these states received international recognition.

Within South Africa, there was great opposition. Blacks viewed the homelands as a way for whites to perpetuate a form of "divide and rule." Mangosuthu (Gatsha) Buthelezi, the government-appointed head of the KwaZulu homeland, while building up an ethnically oriented power base with his Inkatha Freedom Party, argued that independence should not be accepted on the government's terms because that would mean Africans would be giving up claims to the bulk of South Africa forever. He proposed instead the development of a unified multiracial South African state (see The Interim Constitution, ch. 4).

South Africa's international borders also became much less secure. Until 1974 South Africa had been part of a largely white-ruled subcontinent, with the Portuguese still governing their empire in Angola and Mozambique, and Ian Smith and his white-settler regime controlling Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). Botswana had achieved independence soon after Lesotho in 1966 and Swaziland in 1968; however, they were surrounded by white-ruled areas, and their economies depended on that of South Africa.

The 1974 overthrow of the government of Premier Marcello Caetano in Portugal dramatically changed matters. Portugal withdrew from Angola and Mozambique in 1975, and both countries gained independence with governments that were avowedly Marxist and that strongly denounced apartheid. These events directly threatened South African control of South-West Africa (called Namibia by the United Nations [UN], which in 1969 had terminated South Africa's trusteeship over the territory and had demanded its return to the international organization). South African forces invaded Angola in 1975 but were forced to pull back by the arrival of Cuban troops. Seeking both to destabilize the Angolan government and to prevent infiltration of guerrilla fighters into Namibia where the South-West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) was fighting actively against South African forces, South Africa maintained a military force in southern Angola.

In Rhodesia, Africans fighting against Ian Smith's government began to turn the tide, and by 1979 Smith was forced to the negotiating table. In 1980 Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party won a landslide election victory and formed a government that, like those in Angola and Mozambique, was Marxist and antiapartheid. The South African government thereafter pursued a policy of occasional armed intervention in Zimbabwe and other frontline states and sent in strike teams periodically to destroy what it considered to be bases for guerrillas planning to infiltrate South Africa. South Africa also expanded military support for the Mozambican National Resistance movement (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana--MNR or Renamo), an organization originally formed by Ian Smith's security forces to destabilize the Mozambique government (see Relations with African States, ch. 4; Regional Issues, ch. 5).

Crackdowns on opposition groups in South Africa and the country's readiness to invade neighboring states led to increasing international condemnation of the apartheid regime. The administrations of United States presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, including United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger, had favored working with the National Party government. They saw South Africa as a key strategic ally in the Cold War and had both encouraged the invasion of Angola and promised United States military support. President Jimmy Carter, however, considered South Africa a liability for the West. His vice president, Walter Mondale, told John Vorster that the United States wanted South Africa to adopt a policy of one person, one vote, a principle that the ANC upheld but that no white group in South Africa, not even those opposed to apartheid, supported. Antiapartheid sentiments also grew in Britain and in Europe, while the UN, composed of a majority of Third World states, had in 1973 declared apartheid "a crime against humanity" and in 1977 had declared mandatory the existing embargo on the sale of arms to South Africa.

Such criticism had a considerable material impact. South Africa had to invest large sums in the development of its own armaments industry (see Arms Trade and the Defense Industry, ch. 5). Because of an embargo by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), it also had to pay more for oil and purchased most of its supplies from the shah of Iran until his overthrow in 1979. Foreign investment in South Africa, on which the country depended for much of its economic growth, also became increasingly expensive and uncertain in the second half of the 1970s. A growing sluggishness in the South African economy, coupled with concerns about the country's political stability in light of the Soweto demonstrations, caused most investors to seek out more attractive ventures for their capital in other countries. Foreign capital still flowed into South Africa, but it was primarily in the form of short-term loans rather than investments. In 1976, for example, two-thirds of the foreign funds entering South Africa were in short-term loans, usually of twelve months' duration (see External Debt, ch. 3).

South Africa

South Africa - Divisions in the White Community

South Africa

Increasing economic and political pressures caused splits in the white political parties. In 1968 Vorster had dismissed three conservatives from his cabinet. One of these, Albert Hertzog, a son of J.B.M. Hertzog, founded the Reconstituted National Party (Herstigte Nasionale Party--HNP). Hertzog and the HNP argued that no concessions should be made in pursuing the full implementation of apartheid, whereas Vorster and his allies argued that compromise was necessary. The split was commonly labeled a division between the verligtes (the enlightened) and the verkramptes (the narrow-minded), although the differences often seemed to be primarily tactical rather than ideological. The HNP contested elections in 1970 and in 1974 but without winning a single seat from Vorster. In 1978, however, the unfolding of a major national scandal brought about Vorster's downfall. An official investigation determined that Vorster, together with a small group of supporters including the head of the Security Police, General H.J. van den Bergh, had secretly and illegally used government funds to manipulate the news media in South Africa and to try to purchase newspapers overseas, including the Washington Star . Vorster resigned his position as prime minister for the largely ceremonial post of president; his preferred successor, Connie Mulder, was purged from the National Party, and P.W. Botha, minister of defence since 1966, became prime minister.

Botha, strongly supported by Afrikaner businessmen and by the armed forces leaders, initiated a self-styled program of reform. He tried to do away with aspects of "petty" apartheid that many had come to regard as unnecessarily offensive to blacks and to world opinion, such as the allocation of separate public facilities and the use of racially discriminatory signs to designate who could use the facilities. Hoping to develop a black middle class that would be impervious to the socialist message of the ANC, Botha also accepted in large part the recommendations of two government commissions appointed to investigate the way labor and pass laws were applied to Africans.

The Commission of Inquiry into Labour Legislation (Wiehahn Commission), established in the aftermath of the strike wave of the early 1970s, argued that blacks should be allowed to register trade unions and to have them recognized as part of the official conciliation process. The commission also recommended the elimination of statutory job reservation. Legislation incorporating these recommendations was passed in 1979 and resulted in a huge growth in African trade unionism in the early 1980s.

The Commission of Inquiry into Legislation Affecting the Utilisation of Manpower (Riekert Commission), accepting the fact that poverty in the homelands would continue to push tens of thousands of Africans into the cities, recommended in 1979 that instead of using the pass laws to punish Africans who were illegally entering urban areas, the government should prosecute employers and landlords if they gave jobs or housing to blacks who lacked documentary proof of their right to live in the cities. Botha accepted this recommendation, although it was not until eight years and more than 1 million arrests later that he introduced legislation abolishing the pass laws.

At the same time, Botha pursued harsh measures against those he deemed his enemies in order to ensure the maintenance of white power. The late 1970s and early 1980s were marked by numerous military interventions in the states bordering South Africa and by an extensive military and political campaign to eliminate SWAPO in Namibia. Within South Africa, vigorous police action and strict enforcement of security legislation resulted in hundreds of arrests and bannings and an effective end to the ANC's stepped-up campaign of sabotage in the 1970s. Botha also continued to support the homeland policy, arguing as his predecessors had done that Africans should exercise political rights only within what were deemed to be their own communities, which in the 1980s continued to be as small and fragmented as they had been in the 1950s.

Yet one issue loomed ever larger in the eyes of apartheid's architects, and that was the matter of demographics. Whereas whites had accounted for 21 percent of South Africa's population in 1936, by 1980 they constituted only 16 percent. Future projections estimated that by 2010 the white proportion would be less than 10 percent and falling, while the African population would make up 83 percent of the total and would be increasing. In light of these projections, Botha's government proposed in 1983 that political power in South Africa be shared among whites, coloureds, and Indians, with separate houses of parliament to be established for each racial group. This proposal caused angry opposition among a number of National Party members, sixteen of whom, including Andries Treurnicht, were expelled when they refused to sign a motion of confidence in Botha's leadership.

Treurnicht formed the Conservative Party of South Africa (CP), bringing together old enemies of Botha such as Connie Mulder and supporters of the verkrampte faction of the NP. Botha proceeded with his plans, calling for a referendum in which only white voters would be asked whether or not they approved of the prime minister's plans for constitutional change. Some liberal opponents of the government, such as Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, leader of the Progressive Federal Party (PFP), and Harry Oppenheimer, head of the Anglo American Corporation, denounced Botha's plans because they would permanently exclude Africans from having any political role in South Africa. Many other politicians and businessmen, English- and Afrikaans-speaking alike, argued that any change in apartheid would be an improvement. Most white voters agreed, and two-thirds of those who participated in the referendum voted "yes."

South Africa

South Africa - Limited Reforms

South Africa

The new constitution came into force in 1984. In place of the single House of Parliament, there were three constituent bodies: a 178-member (all-white) House of Assembly, an eighty-five-member (coloured) House of Representatives, and a forty-five-member (Indian) House of Delegates. Whites thus retained a majority in any joint session. Presiding over the three houses was the state president, a new office quite unlike the ceremonial position that it replaced. The state president was chosen by an eighty-eight-member electoral college that preserved the 4:2:1 ratio of whites:coloureds:Indians. The president could dissolve Parliament at any time and was authorized to allocate issues to each of the three houses (see System of Government, ch. 4). P.W. Botha became the first state president, occupying the position from the beginning of 1984 until late 1989.

Most blacks strongly condemned the new constitution. Rather than viewing it as a major step toward reform, they saw it as one more effort to bolster apartheid. It reinforced the apartheid notion that Africans were not, and could never be considered as, citizens of South Africa, despite the fact that they constituted 75 percent of the country's population and the vast bulk of its labor force. The constitution's negative impact was compounded by the fact that Africans could not buy land outside the homelands and that government services for blacks, especially in education, were deliberately inferior (see Education under Apartheid, ch. 2).

Indians and coloureds argued that the continued existence of a white majority in Parliament and effective white monopolization of the state presidency made their incorporation into the political process little more than window-dressing. Although the (coloured) Labour Party of Allan Hendrickse and the (Indian) National Peoples' Party of Amichand Rajbansi participated in elections in 1984 for the House of Representatives and the House of Delegates, only 30 percent of registered coloured voters and only 20 percent of registered Indian voters cast ballots.

Opposition to the government's plans consolidated. The United Democratic Front (UDF), which was formed in late 1983 as 1,000 delegates representing 575 organizations--ranging from trade unions to sporting bodies--aimed to use nonviolent means to persuade the government to withdraw its constitutional proposals, to do away with apartheid, and to create a new South Africa incorporating the homelands. In early 1984, the UDF claimed a membership of more than 600 organizations and 3 million individuals; and two respected religious leaders, Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Reverend Allan Boesak, emerged as its prime spokesmen.

Black trade unions, many formed after the Wiehahn Commission, took an increasingly prominent role in economic and political protests in the mid-1980s. They organized strikes in East London and on the Rand protesting economic conditions as well as the constitutional proposals. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), newly formed under the leadership of Cyril Ramaphosa, successfully enlisted the support of almost all African miners in bringing work to a stop in a dispute over wage increases. NUM also joined with thirty other nonracial unions in December 1985 to form the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), an umbrella organization that represented more than 500,000 trade union members and won new members almost every month. By the end of 1985, there had been more than 390 strikes involving 240,000 workers, and industrial unrest was increasing.

Conflict was even more intense in the townships, where residents attacked and burned government buildings and sought to destroy all elements of the apartheid administration. Numerous attacks were made on the homes of black policemen and town councillors, whose participation was necessary to the government's operation of township administration. Violence broke out in some of the homelands, particularly in Lebowa, KwaNdebele, and Bophuthatswana, involving struggles between supporters and opponents of homeland "independence." Sabotage also increased, including bombings of police stations, power installations, and--in one particularly dramatic instance in May 1983--the headquarters of the South African Air Force in Pretoria. Deaths from violence increased, many of them at the hands of the police. Whereas in 1984 there had been 174 fatalities linked to political unrest, in 1985 the number increased to 879, and it continued to rise after that.

International pressures on the South African government also intensified in the mid-1980s. Antiapartheid sentiment in the United States, fueled in large part by television coverage of the ongoing violence in South Africa, heightened demands for the removal of United States investments and for the imposition of official sanctions. In 1984 forty United States companies pulled out of South Africa, with another fifty following suit in 1985. In July 1985, Chase Manhattan Bank caused a major financial crisis in South Africa by refusing to roll over its short-term loans, a lead that was soon followed by most other international banks, fueling inflation and eroding South African living standards (see Historical Development, ch. 3). In October 1986, the United States Congress, overriding a presidential veto, passed legislation implementing mandatory sanctions against South Africa; these included the banning of all new investments and bank loans, the ending of air links between the United States and South Africa, and the banning of many South African imports.

President Botha activated security legislation to deal with these crises. In mid-1985 he imposed the first in a series of states of emergency in various troubled parts of South Africa; this was the first time such laws had been used since the Sharpeville violence in 1960. The state of emergency was extended throughout the nation the following year. The emergency regulations gave the police powers to arrest without warrants and to detain people indefinitely without charging them or even allowing lawyers or next of kin to be notified. It also gave the government even greater authority than the considerable powers it already possessed to censor radio, television, and newspaper coverage of the unrest. Botha deployed police and more than 5,000 troops in African townships to quell the spreading resistance. By February 1987, unofficial estimates claimed that at least 30,000 people had been detained, many for several months at a time.

South Africa's complex and fragmented society became increasingly polarized around antiapartheid groups, who expressed a growing sense of urgency in their demands for an end to the failed system of racial separation, and white conservative defenders of apartheid, who intensified their resistance to change. Facing mounting international disapproval and economic stagnation, the government tentatively began to signal its awareness that its plan for separate development by race would have to be substantially altered or abandoned.

In January 1986, President Botha shocked conservatives in the all-white House of Assembly with the statement that South Africa had "outgrown the outdated concept of apartheid." The government undertook tentative, incremental change, at a carefully controlled pace, and, as it began to yield to demands for racial equality, it severely limited the activities of antiapartheid agitators. The government tightened press restrictions, effectively banned the UDF and other activist organizations, and renewed a series of states of emergency throughout the rest of the 1980s.

As the inevitability of political change became apparent, conservative whites expressed new fears for the future. The CP swamped the PFP in parliamentary by-elections in May 1987, making the CP the official parliamentary opposition. Liberal whites and other opponents of apartheid reorganized to broaden their popular appeal, first as the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and later as a new United Party. This coalition tried unsuccessfully to win support from the progressive wing of the NP. Within the NP, progressives were outmaneuvered by conservatives, who bolted from the party to join the CP in an attempt to prolong apartheid. In early 1988, the government, seeking to stem the erosion of its NP support, tightened press restrictions and further restricted political activity by antiapartheid organizations. Still excluded from national politics, blacks sought new avenues for pressing their demands, and their demonstrations often erupted in violence. Supporters of the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the banned ANC clashed in an upsurge of "black-on-black" violence that would cause as many as 10,000 deaths by 1994.

President Botha suffered a stroke in January 1989. Choosing his successor almost split the NP, but when Botha resigned as party leader a month later, NP moderates managed to elect Minister of Education Frederik W. (F.W.) de Klerk to succeed him. A few weeks later, the NP elected de Klerk state president, too, but Botha stubbornly refused to step down for several months. Soon after he resigned under pressure on August 14, 1989, the electoral college named de Klerk to succeed him in a five-year term as president.

South Africa

South Africa - Dismantling Apartheid, 1990-94

South Africa

President de Klerk recognized the urgent need to bring the black majority of South Africans into the political process, and most NP moderates agreed with him in principle. He had held secret talks with the imprisoned ANC leader Mandela to begin preparations for this major policy shift. De Klerk nonetheless surprised some supporters and critics alike when he announced on February 2, 1990, not only the impending release of Mandela, but also the unbanning of the ANC, the PAC, and the SACP, and the removal of restrictions on the UDF and other legal political organizations. De Klerk also lifted the four-year-old media restrictions, and he invited former liberation fighters to join the government at the negotiating table to prepare for a new multiracial constitution. De Klerk pledged that his government would investigate alleged human rights abuses by the security forces. He also sought improved relations with the rest of Africa by proposing joint regional development planning with neighboring states and by inviting other African leaders to increase trade with South Africa.

Widely hailed as historic, de Klerk's speech was nonetheless attacked by antiapartheid critics for what it lacked--it did not mention the two most despised legislative pillars of apartheid, the Population Registration Act and the Group Areas Act. It did not lift all of the security provisions that had been imposed under states of emergency. At the same time, CP leader Treurnicht, calling for de Klerk's resignation, said de Klerk lacked the authority to carry out such sweeping changes, and he accused de Klerk of helping to destroy the Afrikaner volk .

As Mandela was released on February 11, 1990, at age seventy-one after twenty-seven years in prison, South Africans poured into the streets in celebration. His first words were to assure his supporters in the ANC that his release was not part of a "deal" with the government, and to reassure whites that he intended to work toward reconciliation. He also quoted his well-known statement at the Rivonia trial in 1964, "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

In the flurry of receptions and public statements that followed, Mandela enunciated other objectives that were less welcome in political and business circles. He reaffirmed ANC policies in favor of nationalization of major sectors of the economy. He refused to renounce the armed struggle immediately, refused to call for the lifting of international sanctions against South Africa until further progress was achieved, and refused to accept an interim power-sharing arrangement proposed by the government. ANC officials elected Mandela deputy president in March 1990, giving him effective control over policy decisions in consultation with their ailing president, Oliver Tambo.

Despite the ANC's strong symbolic displays of unity, like other political organizations facing new challenges, it showed widening internal fractures. Blacks who had been unanimous in their demands for Mandela's release from prison, nonetheless differed sharply in the extent of their willingness to reconcile peacefully over past injustices. In addition, militant black consciousness leaders, especially in the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), rejected outright Mandela's proposals for multiracial government and demanded black control over future decision-making institutions. At PAC offices in Zimbabwe, PAC leader Zephania Mothopeng rejected appeals by Mandela and by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe for the PAC leader to join Mandela in discussions in Pretoria.

Some of the ANC's estimated 40,000 exiles began returning to South Africa in the early 1990s, and as organizational leaders debated their future role, many militant former exiles and others rejected Mandela's conciliatory approach and insisted on continuing the armed struggle. Left-wing ANC factions pressed Mandela to demand the immediate nationalization of private-sector conglomerates. The ANC was also accused of abuse and brutality against dissidents during its nearly three decades of operating underground and outside South Africa--accusations Mandela acknowledged were based in fact. Old and young liberation fighters appeared capable of warring even against one another as the end of apartheid approached.

South Africa

South Africa - The Quest for Peace

South Africa

Amid rising tensions and unrest, representatives of the government and the ANC--with strong misgivings--met in Cape Town in May 1990 to begin planning for constitutional negotiations. Even holding "talks about talks" was risky. The government had to grant immunity from prosecution to many formerly banned or exiled ANC members before they could safely appear in public. In a few antiapartheid strongholds, political moderates were attacked for being too conciliatory.

President de Klerk faced an increasingly divided constituency of his own. Conservatives intensified their demands for him to step down, while NP progressives pressured him to move more boldly toward multiracial government. Planning sessions for eventual negotiations were postponed repeatedly as Mandela and de Klerk had to reassure their constituencies of their determination to set aside the past and to work peacefully toward a broadly legitimate government.

De Klerk's credibility was low among his former opponents. The talks snarled over his insistence on defending what he termed the "rights of minorities"--a phrase the ANC viewed simply as a ploy to preserve white control. De Klerk's standing in the negotiations was further weakened in late 1990, when the government-appointed Commission of Inquiry into Certain Alleged Murders (Harms Commission), which he had established earlier that year, found evidence--but not "proof"--that clandestine death squads had operated within the security services. The commission's hearings were often marred by violence and by claims of witness intimidation.

The international response to change in South Africa was cautious. Several African countries, visited by Mandela within weeks of his release from prison, held to their pledge to await his signal of progress toward ending apartheid before they began to lift sanctions against South Africa. Several European countries, visited by de Klerk in May 1990, broke with European Community (EC--see Glossary) sanctions agreements and immediately lifted their bans on investment and travel to South Africa. International athletic teams were drawn into the controversy, as some sports organizations tried to adhere to international boycotts, while in South Africa, sports enthusiasts and athletes demanded readmission to world competitions. In late 1990, both de Klerk and Mandela again went abroad seeking political and financial support. De Klerk traveled to the United States in September 1990 and to Britain and the Netherlands in October; at about the same time, Mandela traveled to India, Japan, and other Asian countries.

Popular pressure for lifting sanctions increased in the United States. The US Comprehensive Antiapartheid Act of 1986 had specified that five conditions would have to be met before sanctions could be lifted. By late 1990, three of them had been accomplished--the government had entered into multiracial negotiations, had removed bans on multiracial political organizations, and had lifted the state of emergency in Natal. The remaining two conditions--freeing political prisoners and repealing the Group Areas Act and the Population Registration Act--were not met until 1991.

The climate of uncertainty spread to the homelands during 1990 and 1991. These arid patches of land were despised by many as symbols of the apartheid system. Several homeland leaders, who depended heavily on Pretoria for their legitimacy--and their budgets--faced growing dissent and demands for reincorporation into South Africa. Zulu residents of the wealthiest and most populous homeland, KwaZulu, increasingly feared that their interests and culture would be submerged in the groundswell of support for Mandela and the ANC, and that their past cooperation with the NP would be forgotten.

ANC and government leaders tried to find common ground for negotiating a new constitution, but they managed only incremental progress while they worked to rein in the extremist fringes of their respective constituencies. In June 1990, de Klerk and Mandela met officially for the first time to set the agenda for further talks. The two sides moved cautiously toward each other. In August Mandela announced the suspension of the ANC's thirty-year armed struggle. The government continued lifting apartheid restrictions, and in October--at de Klerk's prompting--the NP opened its ranks to all races. On October 15, 1990, parliament repealed the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953, which had sanctioned "petty apartheid" in public places such as beaches, libraries, and places of entertainment.

The talks were threatened by escalating violence throughout 1990, and in August Mandela accused the government of doing little to end it. De Klerk and Mandela continued their political tug-of-war. De Klerk sought domestic and international approval for the changes already under way, while Mandela pressed for change at a faster pace. A series of legislative decisions and political breakthroughs in 1990 moved South Africa closer to multiracial democracy, but at the end of the year, it was clear that many obstacles remained.

The ANC gradually accepted the notion of a coalition interim government, but ANC leaders insisted on determining the rules for forming that coalition. In early 1991, debates raged over various formulas for multiracial government, and over the allocation of powers between regional and national authorities, as political leaders on all sides realized that it was easier to define an illegitimate government than to construct a legitimate one. They agreed that an all-party congress would have responsibility for the most onerous organizational tasks: it would draw up broad principles on which a new constitution would rest, would determine the makeup of the constitution-making body, and would establish an interim government to oversee the transition itself.

In January 1991, Mandela met for the first time in nearly thirty years with Zulu leader Buthelezi in an effort to allay Zulu fears of ANC domination. This historic meeting did little to quell escalating ANC-IFP violence, however, and the weak police response only fueled ANC suspicions of covert police support for the IFP. Amid rising unrest, the government implemented a new security crackdown in the townships, dubbed "Operation Iron Fist." Mandela faced new demands from his militant younger generation of followers to abandon the negotiations entirely.

Finally, in February 1991, de Klerk and Mandela reached a compromise over efforts to reduce both violence and the smuggling of arms into South Africa, and to achieve the release of political prisoners. The ANC was anxious to repatriate its remaining exiles, many of whose skills were needed in the negotiations, but the logistical problems of returning refugees from countries that lacked diplomatic ties with South Africa seemed insurmountable until the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was persuaded to intervene on behalf of the ANC.

On June 5, 1991, the government repealed two more legislative pillars of apartheid, the Land Act of 1913 (and 1936) and the Group Areas Act of 1950. The 1991 legislation gave all races equal rights to own property anywhere in the country, enabled some 300,000 black householders to convert ninety-nine-year leases to full ownership, enabled suburban residents of all races to set (racially nondiscriminatory) residency standards for their neighborhoods, authorized the establishment of new townships and the extension of services to their residents, and encouraged the development of farmland and rural communities. This legislation did not authorize compensation for blacks who had been displaced from their land in the preceding thirty years; instead, it left their complaints to be dealt with by a special court or commission to be established for that purpose.

On June 17, 1991, the government repealed the Population Registration Act of 1950, the most infamous pillar of apartheid, which had authorized the registration by race of newborn babies and immigrants. Its repeal was hailed as historic throughout the world, although critics pointed to related laws still on the books that permitted inequitable treatment in voting, in pensions, in social services, and in many other areas of public behavior.

The National Peace Accord of September 1991 was a critical step toward formal negotiations. The thirty-three-page accord, signed by representatives of twenty-seven political organizations and national and homeland governments, set codes of conduct for all parties to the process, including the police. The accord also established a network of "peace committees," to contain the violence that continued to plague the townships. Ironically, the most important results of the National Peace Accord turned out to be the establishment of networks of committed individuals, the opening of communications channels, and the trust that began to be sown through discussion. The accord itself failed to accomplish its immediate goal; the violence continued and increased sporadically throughout 1992.

South Africa

South Africa - Toward Democracy

South Africa

Through dogged perseverance, amid claims and counterclaims of sabotage and brutality, key political leaders began formal constitutional negotiations on December 20, 1991. Calling themselves the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa), delegations from nineteen governmental and political organizations began planning the creation of a transitional government and a representative parliament. They established five working groups, each made up of thirty-eight delegates and thirty-eight advisers, to take the lead in creating a climate for free political activity; in determining basic constitutional principles; in establishing transitional procedures for the nominally independent homelands of Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei, and Venda; in setting and overseeing timetables for the transition; and in dealing with new problems that would arise during the transition itself.

International organizations and other countries were torn between recognizing South Africa's impressive accomplishments and encouraging further progress. Most international sanctions were lifted soon after the Population Registration Act, Group Areas Act, and Land Acts were repealed. In July 1991, the United States Congress lifted remaining sanctions under its Comprehensive Antiapartheid Act, although laws restricting commercial ties with South Africa remained on the books in many states and cities in the United States. The EC lifted most trade and investment bans in January 1992 and remaining restrictions on sporting, scientific, and cultural links three months later. On April 6, 1992, the EC lifted its oil embargo. Other countries gradually lifted a range of boycotts, and many African governments--under pressure from their own business communities--reestablished diplomatic ties with South Africa. The United Nations General Assembly would wait until late 1993 to lift remaining UN sanctions.

Much of de Klerk's effort in 1992 was directed toward appeasing and weakening his right-wing opponents--staunch defenders of apartheid who had broken with the NP during the 1980s. He first tried reassuring them about the future. Then, as conservative resistance hardened, he called for a referendum among white voters to test his mandate for change. The question posed in the March 17, 1992, referendum was carefully worded: "Do you support continuation of the reform process which the State President began on February 2, 1990, and which is aimed at a new constitution through negotiation?" The outcome was a resounding 68.6 percent "yes." Election analysts reported that support among Afrikaners was even slightly higher than among English speakers. Only one region of the country--the northern Transvaal (later Northern Province)--voted "no." A few militant defenders of apartheid boycotted the referendum.

Buoyed by the outcome, de Klerk presented Codesa with proposals for a two-phase transition, the first phase managed by transitional councils appointed by Codesa, and the second phase--the constitution-writing process--managed by an elected transitional government headed by a multiperson presidency and a bicameral legislature. The ANC's counterproposals called for a single-stage transition, a committee elected by proportional representation to draft the constitution, with a two-thirds majority needed to pass constitutional provisions. Negotiations were suspended as both sides sought to refine their proposals and to unify their constituencies.

In mid-1992 escalating violence, allegations of police brutality, and government financial scandals threatened to derail negotiations. After a particularly brutal attack on June 17, 1992, by IFP supporters on ANC sympathizers in Boipatong, a township near Johannesburg, the ANC suspended negotiations and threatened to withdraw entirely unless the government made greater efforts to end the violence and to curtail covert police support for the IFP. Mandela took his complaint to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the UN, where, on July 15, 1992, he accused the government of "a cold-blooded strategy of state terrorism." Finally, in September 1992, de Klerk and Mandela arrived at a Record of Understanding affirming police responsibility for protecting residents in workers' hostels, where support for the ANC was high. ANC fears lingered, however, especially in late 1992, when the Commission of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation (Goldstone Commission) released its findings of a "dirty tricks" campaign against the ANC, apparently sanctioned by senior figures within the South African Defence Forces (SADF).

In protest against the Record of Understanding, Zulu leader Buthelezi established an alternative to Codesa to include the leaders of groups disadvantaged by the ANC's strong lead in the Codesa forum--i.e., white conservatives and black homeland leaders, whose power bases were eroding. The resulting Concerned South Africans Group (Cosag) pressed for a federal constitution to preserve the rights of ethnic minorities, especially the Zulu and whites.

Negotiations resumed on March 5, 1993, but the fragile process was again threatened a month later, when Chris Hani, the popular general secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), was murdered. ANC leaders joined the government in trying to stem outbreaks of retaliatory violence, and several white extremists were arrested within weeks after the murder. With a new sense of urgency, political negotiators tried to speed the process and set the date for nationwide elections no later than April 27, 1994.

The draft constitution published on July 26, 1993, contained concessions to all sides--a federal system of regional legislatures, equal voting rights regardless of race, and a bicameral legislature. Negotiators were undeterred by the storm of protests that followed, and they went on to establish a Transitional Executive Council (TEC), a multiracial body that would share executive responsibilities with President de Klerk during election preparations. Cosag boycotted the TEC and formed the Freedom Alliance to demand equal status with the government and the ANC. Sensing new momentum, however, the government cracked down on right-wing violence and tried to reason with white extremists, without slowing the pace of election preparations.

South Africa

South Africa - Preparing for Elections

South Africa

In November 1993, negotiators endorsed the draft of the interim constitution calling for a five-year transitional government, and the tricameral parliament endorsed the draft in December (see The Interim Constitution, ch. 4). The timetable for elections remained firm after that. Mandela and the ANC, sensing their imminent rise to power and to responsibility for the country's welfare, called for the immediate lifting of remaining international sanctions and sought new donors and investors for South Africa. But the ongoing violence, which was frightening away investors, also threatened to delay the April elections.

In December 1993, the multiracial TEC was installed as part of the executive branch of government--over the objections of the Freedom Alliance and the PAC. The TEC quickly established seven subcouncils with specific responsibilities during the transition. It also approved the formation of an eleven-member Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to organize and to verify the planned elections, and it deployed police and army units to northern Natal to try to end the violence.

Other countries and international organizations began mobilizing support for South Africa's historic vote. The United Nations Observer Mission in South Africa (UNOMSA), which had deployed in small numbers to quell township violence in August 1992, expanded its mission to about 2,000 personnel to coordinate the teams of election observers that were being sent by the OAU, the European Union (EU--see Glossary), the British Commonwealth, and several individual countries.

The antielection Freedom Alliance began to unravel in early 1994. White conservatives stepped up their demands for a separate, whites-only homeland--dispelling any illusions of support for their Freedom Alliance partners. The government of Ciskei, a homeland where the ANC's popularity exceeded that of the appointed president, broke away from its alliance partners and declared its intention to permit homeland residents to vote. The government in Bophuthatswana--another Freedom Alliance partner facing strong popular opposition--sought armed support from the neo-Nazi Afrikaner Resistance Movement (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging--AWB), prompting the SADF to intervene and to remove Bophuthatswana President Lucas Mangope from office. With the Freedom Alliance severely weakened, PAC President Clarence Makwetu--another election holdout--announced that group's suspension of its armed struggle, thus opening the way for election participation by its members.

Violence continued, mostly between supporters of the IFP and the ANC, and the TEC authorized rapid training for a 10,000-member national peacekeeping force--an effort that eventually failed. The force was disbanded as the elections began. The Goldstone Commission found evidence of serious police complicity in the continuing unrest, and the government suspended several officers pending investigations. The country appeared poised to launch into violence-wracked balloting, when de Klerk imposed a state of emergency in Natal and KwaZulu on March 31, 1994, deploying 3,000 SADF troops to allow residents of the area to defy the IFP election boycott and to go to the polls.

On April 12, 1994, a team of international mediators headed by former British foreign secretary Lord Carrington and former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger arrived to attempt to break the logjam that was keeping the IFP out of the elections. After two days of fruitless discussions, their effort was declared a failure, and the mediators left. Only days later, however, on April 19, Buthelezi--under intense pressure from trusted local and international figures--relented and agreed to allow the IFP to be placed on the ballot.

When the elections finally took place on schedule, beginning on April 26, 1994, the government and the ANC had several thousand security forces, with varying degrees of training and authority, in place to prevent serious outbreaks of violence. Remarkably, the violence subsided. A few "exceptional" votes were cast by voters who were disabled or were living outside South Africa on April 26. During the next two days, more than 22 million voters stood in line for hours at some 9,000 polling places to exercise their newly won right to vote. Balloting was extended through April 29. There was no voter registration list, so IEC officials marked voters' fingers with indelible ink to prevent fraud.

For days after the elections, tensions remained high, and some accusations of election fraud surfaced--especially in Natal. As the counting proceeded, the IEC prompted party leaders to negotiate agreements over disputed results that would allow the IEC to certify the elections as "substantially free and fair." The official results, released on May 6, 1994, gave the ANC 62.6 percent of the vote; the NP, 20.4 percent; and the IFP, 10.5 percent. Seven political parties won seats in the National Assembly (see table 17, Appendix). Three parties won the 5 percent of votes necessary to participate in the cabinet of the coalition government.

Mandela was unanimously elected president by the National Assembly on May 9, 1994, in Cape Town. His two deputy presidents, former ANC chairman Thabo Mbeki and former president de Klerk, stood with Mandela when he was inaugurated on May 10 at ceremonies in Pretoria. Representatives of 140 countries were present. Mandela's inaugural address stressed the need for reconciliation, both within South Africa and with other countries, and once again he quoted his own words at the Rivonia trial that had preceded his long imprisonment, and he reaffirmed his determination to forge a peaceful, nonracial society.

South Africa





CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.


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