What is it actually like to live your life according to how someone else dictates it for you? You go to bed and wake up at the time given to you. You cannot leave your house at anytime before 7:00 in the morning or only when the sun has risen. And if you are somewhere, no matter where, and the sun sets, you stop moving, you make your bed right where you are at that very moment, and sleep there until the sun rises in the morning. You are only allowed to move around and go to certain areas, even if you are in your own country, in which you were born and raised. If you decide that you will take a chance and try to get moving after 7:00 p.m. or after the sun set, then they shoot you to death and ask questions later.
If you are a man, age 15 years or older, then you are required to carry a State Identification Card (Kop Kard) at all times, and if you happen to not have it on you upon demand at any time, then you are subjected to harsh police brutal beating, atrocious harassment, arrested and prosecuted, and if you resist in any way, you may never return home again, and your family may never get to see you ever, again, because if they kill you due to their brutality, they simply throw your body away, and the dogs and wild beast may feed upon your flesh. Your family and relatives have no right to question them where they have taken you or what they did with you. And, if you get to come back home with all the parts of your body intact, then you are simply lucky. Because, they could have cut your ears off or your nipples, breasts (if you’re a woman), or even cut your penis off, and no one has the right to question them.
Someone can simply break down your house door and enter your house at any time without knocking or you letting him in. He can simply come in at any time of the day or night, search around your house, harass you with questions, asking you where they are and where did you hide them. He can throw away your belongings, break down any of your things, and you are not allowed to ask any questions of what he wants or looking for or why he is in your house without your permission. And if you persist to ask what he wants, then he can even beat you down to the floor, cut your ears off with his knife, or even shoot you to death and he won’t even be held responsible by any court of law. And if you survive this horrendous ordeal of what you may refer to as a house invasion, you cannot call the police. What police, he is the policeman, he is the military man, and he is the law. He can take anything he wants out of your house, whether it is your food, belonging, or whatever else he wants, and you are not allowed to ask any question of any kind. He can even take his powerful and scary Kaspir (military truck), and drive it through your house, leaving you homeless.
You have no right whatsoever, you have no one to call and no law enforcement to report this to, you simply get yourself together. If he had beaten you up or physically hurt you, but still able to get up, you simply get yourself up, have your family home-care for you. They cannot take you to the hospital, because he is the hospital, he has the right to refuse to medically treat you. You simply stay at home, let your wounds eventually heal and hope that you will eventually recover soon, or someday.
This was the State of South Africa’s Apartheid, the mother root of all evil. Several authors and different writers around the world have written everything about the apartheid system in South Africa. Some of the authors might or may not have lived it, to personally witness it, feel it, taste it, drink it, and experience it. Some might have simply read about it from other discourses and or oral stories from those who have witnessed and lived it. Yes, some have said that slavery in America South was the worst, horrendously inhumane, the worst brutality inflicted upon any human being, the worst of any kind any where. We may agree to that effect or agree to say that apartheid was the worst of the worst. In the former South Africa’s white minority regime, apartheid was the harshest, brutal, atrocious, and inhumane, than any form of political or ideological governing.
What is actually apartheid? How did it come to exist, not anywhere else but only in South Africa and its former mandate province, Namibia? Why didn’t apartheid exist anywhere else? Who caused it and why South Africa? There are several questions we may ask ourselves, which some of them we may have answers or may never be able to find relevant explanations to reason with them.
Obviously, South Africa is a country located on the tip end of southern Africa. Its earliest inhabitants were the Sans and Khoi (Khoisans), who were traditionally hunters and gathers, lived off of game and fruits of the Savannas. Later, the Bantu speakers arrived in from the north. The Zulus, Khosas, Sothos, Tswanas, and Ngunis lived alongside the Khoisans in South Africa, prior to the arrival of the Portuguese at the Cape in 1488, followed by Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company, who eventually transformed Table Bay (today Cape Town) into an enterprise, a resting place for ships and explores from Europe en route to South East Asia (India). The company intended the settlement simply as a staging post for India-bound ships, but Jan van Riebeeck needed cattle to supply the ships with meat, and this brought the Dutch into inevitable conflict with the San and with Khoi, who possessed large herds of cattle and resisted Dutch intrusion in their lands. More and more Boers (Dutch word for Farmers) arrived and settled at Table Bay, turning it into a Dutch colony.
The Huguenots from France and other explorers from Europe also arrived at the Cape and joined the Boers, hence the diversity at the Cape. All settlers took up Dutch language, culture and religion. Agriculture and farming became their main mode of food production. In doing so, they had to initially quell off the Khoisan, who resisted their occupation. However as the Boers subdued the Khoisans through murder and displacement, they finally agreed to trade and exchange with them. The Boers started to acquire more lands and livestock from the Khoisans, but when the Khoisans disagreed, the Boers simply killed them and stole their livestock.
As France extended its colonial Empire in Africa, so did the British. With the discovery of gold and diamond at Kimberly, the British annexed the Cape Colony in 1806, and introduced sheep production, development of trade with the Africans and the Dutch. As the British moved into the Cape, the Boers started moving away from the Cape into the interior of the country, forming new and independent free states such as Free Orange State and Transvaal.
About 4,000 Boers, accompanied by about the same number of ‘servants’ entered Natal through the Drakensberg Mountains. Some others went north, but at this state the greatest part of the Voortrekkers (a group of Boers who first left Cape Colony) went into Natal. According to Collins and Burns, after 1910, as Settlers have completely occupied the Southern Africa area, they divided up the communities, differentiated them by culture, ethnicity, and race. The prosperous privileged white minority dominated the area.
In 1910, the Union Constitution and the origins of Development of Racial inequality emerged after the Anglo-Boer War, between the British and the Boers. The South African Native National Congress, modern day ANC, was formed in 1912 to help repel the Boers’ racial segregation. However, it failed to achieve its goal because its objectives were simply to enforce equal rights for all civilized men, blacks or whites, but not to overthrow white rule.
By 1919, there was a massive protest, The Rand Strike, an armed uprising of Afrikaans and English-speaking white miners in Witwatersrand. This uprising was caused by economic challenges of post World War I, due to the declining of wages, and poor working condition. This resulted in mine owners (whites) enforcing and strengthened segregation in mining.
Minority whites felt threatened and did not want to compete with the British and their influence, thus they started to create their own society. As a result, Broederbond, a secret society to protect their interests was formed. By 1934, Daniel Malan created the National Party, a white-only political party poised to govern South Africa, which sympathized with Hitler’s Nazi Germany. By 1948, the National Party won the national election, amid that no blacks were allowed to vote. The National Party instituted the Apartheid platform as the governing law. They segregated rural and urban areas, education, land, and public serves. All non-whites were required to carry personal identification cards and were only allowed to work, live, and move about according to how the Boers wanted them. And for the next decades, blacks in South Africa and Namibia lived under the hot rod of the cruel South African apartheid.
Those who opposed it were subjected to arrests and or murders. Some powerful politicians and activities emerged, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Desmund Tutu, Sam Nuyoma, and others alike. Some were imprisoned, and many went into exile, took up arms and fought for freedom, freedom for the people of Namibia and South Africa.
By 1989, under pressure, South Africa agreed to sign the United Nations Resolution 435 which led to Namibia gaining independence from South Africa in March 1990 with Sam Nuyoma democratically elected as the first black president of Namibia, while South Africa gained independence in 1994, with Nelson Mandela democratically elected as the first black president of South Africa.
How is the history of South Africa’s Apartheid going to be written in the next hundred years? Who is forever going to wipe away the tears of pain and sorrow from the cheeks of those who lived under the apartheid?
Both Namibia and South Africa have included in their Constitutions the Policy of National Reconciliation. That means, whatever had happened to anyone during the apartheid era, you just have to forgive, no matter who did what to whom, just forgive and forget, or may be never forget, but just forgive.
The next chapter is for the equality of socioeconomic development for all the people of Namibia and South Africa, so that the next generation can happily live their lives, to the fullest, without being judged and or subjected to the ideology of separation because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, and national origin, color of skin, creed, ethnicity or religion.
Racism and Apartheid in Southern Africa, South Africa and Namibia. Paris: The Unesco Press, 1974
Robert Collins and James Burns. A History of Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007