Why Did the Apartheid Begin?

Apartheid began in 1948 when the National Party in South Africa began enacting a series of laws that systematically separated the races. A steady stream of apartheid regulations were passed through 1970. Apartheid ended in 1990 when FW de Klerk became president and stated his intention to dismantle the apartheid system.

Apartheid means “separation” in the Afrikaans language of South Africa. Although South Africa had a history of racism going back to colonial rule in the early 1800s, it was not until Daniel François Malan of the National Party became prime minister that the systematic and total separation of the races began. Government leaders stated that the apartheid system was for the benefit of all South Africans.

The National Party leaders categorized people into four racial groups: white, black, colored and Indian. The racial groups were further split into nations. For example, the white group included the English and Afrikaans nations. Every citizen was required to carry an identification card specifying his race, and family members were sometimes separated after receiving different racial labels. Laws required people to marry in their own groups and live in areas designated for others of their race.

Apartheid started to fall apart in the face of internal rebellion and international sanctions. The African National Congress led internal rebellion and was responsible for creating a multi-racial government and reducing racial inequalities after apartheid ended.