History 366 History of Southern Africa

History 366 History of Southern Africa - The Legacy of...

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The Legacy of Apartheid In 1846, migrant workers in Natal experienced the implementation of the first institution of structured racial segregation in South Africa. The Shepstone System, which provided separate administrative and legal systems for blacks and whites, was put in place primarily to protect the Cape Colony from African economic competition. Decades later, African natives in South Africa were imprisoned in mining compounds in Kimberley. Historians have alluded to D.F. Malan's "frontier mentality", and his Sauer Report which both draw a distinct line through the history of South Africa from colonization to apartheid of White Europeans' discrimination and deprivation of African Natives in order to secure labor. Apartheid, which marked the official era of the South African police state, was a natural extension of this history of exploitation of Africans for capitalist gain. However, although the government-regulated African poverty which preceded the 1948 election of Malan and his National Party bears a striking resemblance to the status of Africans under apartheid, the two are not the same. In order to understand whether or not pre- and post- apartheid in South Africa differ, the legacy of colonial rule needs to be distinguished from the implementation of apartheid’s racial separation on the grounds of white supremacy. Furthermore, just as colonial rule bled into apartheid, so to did apartheid bleed into present day South Africa. I argue that while the system of apartheid has ended in South Africa, the effects of the white supremacist, racialized institution may never be erased: on May 10, 1994 South Africans woke up to the same country but a different flag. Perhaps the most influential factor in the argument for a definitive end to apartheid is the understanding of land dynamics in the history of South Africa. This issue of land 1
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has probably been the most contentious for the white and black races in South Africa, as it has been overwhelmingly associated with wealth and power while remaining tied up in the need to secure cheap labor. The Dutch East India Company’s establishment of rule over the Cape as well as the Trekkboers take-over of Khoikhoi land established South African land dynamics. In the period of time that preceded apartheid, the colonial drive to secure labor motivated the South African Party and Botha to impose the Natives Land Act of 1913 which regulated the ownership and acquisition of land by blacks in order to allow poor, white, farmers a monopoly. Despite the similarities to apartheid legislation, the necessary distinction between the Natives Land Act and subsequent land regulation is the recognition that while the Natives Land Act was an effort to ensure white economic dominance, it did not have the same white supremacist undertones as laws passed under apartheid.
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