This section deals with the creation of Apartheid in South Africa and its ultimate, inevitable end - relying as it did upon Black labor over which a White minority tried to enforce social segregation.
THE 1913 Land Act DIVIDES THE LAND BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE
In 1910, the Union of South Africa was created under British rule, out of the two former Boer Republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, together with the already established British colonies of Natal and the Cape.
The new Parliament, created as a result of the Union, was dominated by a party led by former Boer war generals. In 1913, they turned their attention to the issue of the reserved Black areas, and, following the American example with the Amerinds, formally enshrined the right of Blacks in these tribal areas. This was the Land Act of 1913, which also had one rider: they prohibited Blacks from owning any land outside of these now formalized homelands.
The ruling party also had as its theme reconciliation between Boer and Brit. This attempt to create unity on racial grounds, trying to bridge the cultural/ethnic differences, led to the creation of a new generic term for all Whites living in the Union of South Africa: South Africans. The terminology Boer and Brit was dispensed with. The Dutch language had in the interim started to develop a form of its own, and became known as Afrikaans: and those who spoke it were called Afrikaners, no matter if they were originally Boers or Dutch speakers who lived in the British ruled Cape and Natal before the Anglo-Boer War.
National Party Founded in 1914
The attempt to create White unity was however rejected by a significant number of English and Afrikaans speakers. One Boer general, James Hertzog, founded a new party in 1914, the National Party (NP) which was to play a leading role in South African history for the next 80 years. Hertzog demanded that the Afrikaans language - which was still not recognized, with English being the official language of the country, be granted equal status with English, and that the country have its own flag, and not the British flag. These aims were only to be achieved in the middle 1920's.
World War One and the Boer Rebellion of 1914
The outbreak of the First World War split the Whites even further: fueled not so much by a pro-German sentiment, but rather by an anti-British sentiment, many Afrikaans speakers refused to support the South African government's decision to declare war on Germany.
A number of Boer leaders started a rebellion in the year that the war broke out, demanding the restoration of the Boer Republics, obviously hoping to capitalize upon the British being distracted by having to meet the demands of a war in Europe.
The South African government - still in the hands of the pro-reconciliation Afrikaans speakers - suppressed the rebellion, which saw the deaths of a number of its ringleaders. Despite the violence, the NP still polled well in the 1915 election, although not enough to dislodge the pro-reconciliation grouping which had drawn more English speaking support after entering the war on the side of Britain.
The first engagement of the war from the South African side was the occupation of German South West Africa, a territory which would be mandated to South Africa by the League of Nations after the First World War. This territory would later become known as South West Africa, and be the scene of a major race war between White South Africa and Black insurgents. (Still later the territory would become the country of Namibia). The South African army - which was recruited on a volunteer basis - then went on to participate in the occupation of the German East Africa - today Tanzania.
South African troops also fought in large numbers on the Western Front in France, fighting in the Battles of Delville Wood, Paschendale and many other famous and bloody clashes.
The Racist Communists and the White Revolt of 1921
The whole country was therefore split three ways: between English speakers, Afrikaans speakers and Blacks, with neither of the two White groupings wanting to integrate with the Black group. So it was that even the South African Communist Party, started largely by South African Jews based in Cape Town, initially directed itself openly only to White workers.
In 1921, leaders of the country's gold-mining industry decided to replace White labor with Black and Chinese laborers in an effort to cut costs. This move led to a major uprising in March 1921 called the Rand Revolt, led initially by the Communist Party with the official slogan of "White Workers Unite for a White South Africa" - the sight of this slogan along with the hammer and sickle flag was for long afterwards a great source of embarrassment for the Communist Party, which soon thereafter devoted itself to attacking the White power structure and started enrolling Blacks as members. (A photograph exists of this famous slogan being prominently displayed on a banner during a main Communist march during the Rand revolt.)
Above: Racist Communists organize the 1922 Rand Strike, under the banner (seen in the crowd bottom left, and a close-up view alongside) "Workers Unite for a White South Africa." The strike was organized against the capitalist mine owner's plan to bring in cheap non-White labor to replace more expensive Whites on the gold mines, and erupted into a full scale rebellion. Shortly afterwards, the Communist International instructed the SA Communist party to drop its racist line and become focused on helping the Black cause in South Africa, a task it dutifully fulfilled. Needless to say, the overtly racist approach of the early SA Communist Party is ignored by that party in present times.
The revolt was suppressed at a cost of 200 dead, with the fledgling South African air force (the second oldest such force in the world, being started shortly after the British Royal Air Force) bombing rebel strongholds in Johannesburg.
National Party in Power
Although the revolt was crushed, three years later, during the 1924 election, the National Party came to power for the first time, mainly on election undertakings to protect White workers from non-White laborers taking their jobs. Race had become an important electoral issue for the first time.
Shortly after taking power, the NP government duly introduced the first color bar legislation, which prevented Blacks from being employed in certain categories of jobs, these being reserved for Whites only.
The Great Depression and World War Two
The NP remained in power alone till 1933, when the effects of the Great Depression forced a coalition government with the pro-reconciliation faction under the former Boer War general Jan Smuts. This coalition ruled till the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
When the Second World War broke out, certain small factions of Afrikaners were decidedly pro-Hitler and had even formed tiny Nazi parties, none of whom received any significant electoral support. A bare majority of the South African Parliament voted in favor of entering the war on Britain's side: as a result the coalition government broke down and the NP went into opposition, having voted against going to war for Britain.
Outside of Parliament, militant Afrikaners organized themselves into a movement known as the "Flaming Ox Wagon Sentinel" and through this organization engaged in numerous acts of sabotage and violence in an attempt to keep the country's volunteer army deployed internally, rather than being used against the Germans and for the British.
South African troops fought against the Italians in Abyssinia, and in North Africa as part of the British Eighth Army, taking part in numerous famous battles such as El Alamein. They then went to take part in the invasion of Italy in 1943, fighting at Monte Casino, being part of the occupation troops in Rome and ending the war in northern Italy. The South African prime minister, Jan Smuts, was instrumental in founding the United Nations and helped to draft its founding charter.
The Election of 1948
In 1948, an election alliance between the NP and a number of smaller factions succeeded in ousting the Smuts government, despite the former winning a minority of votes (the skewed first past the post Westminster electoral system allowed Smuts to gain the larger number of votes but the fewer seats).
Above: DF Malan, the National Party leader who barely won the 1948 general election in South Africa, on a pledge to the all-White voters to enforce the policy of Apartheid, or strict social segregation.
It is from the election of 1948, that Apartheid, or the policy of racial segregation, is deemed to have become official policy in South Africa. The reality is however that segregation and the recognition and creation of Black tribal homelands had preceded 1948 by centuries.
The very first segregation had in fact occurred soon after the first Dutch settlement at the Cape in 1652: in 1653, the Dutch had planted a particularly large hedge to mark the border between their territory and Hottentot/Bushman territory (parts of this massive hedge can still be seen in Cape Town) and the formal recognition of the Black tribal homelands by the British authorities has already been discussed. In fact, all the National Party did in 1948, was make statutory a de facto situation, and very little else.
At the time this was perfectly in line with developments elsewhere in the world, especially in America where legislation also governed the access of Blacks to certain public places, schools and the like. The first "Whites Only" signs only appeared in South Africa long after they had first appeared in America.
The NP set about further imitating many American states by outlawing racially-mixed marriages, instituting a system of racial classification and finally, by legislation, defined residential and business areas for the different races.