-A Brief History of South Africa -
The Republic of South Africa is the southernmost country on the continent of Africa. The country is multiethnic with the most spoken languages being Zulu (indigenous Africans), English (British colonials), and Afrikaans (derived from Dutch). South Africa recognizes eleven different languages as official languages and holds the second largest economy in Africa. South Africa also contains some of the oldest sites of human fossils in the world.
The Cape of Good Hope, presently Cape Town, was a significant colony that served as a port for the Dutch East India Company. During the 18th and 19th centuries the Dutch fought both indigenous Africans and British colonists for control of the region.
South Africa is most well known today for its practice of Apartheid (separation) for the majority of the 20th century. As coloured individuals were increasingly denied rights, the ANC and other anti-apartheid groups began to campaign for equality. 1990 saw the dismantling of the apartheid system, as Nelson Mandela was released from prison and the country destroyed its nuclear weapons. Nelson Mandela would be later elected into office in 1994 as the presidential candidate of the ANC, who have been in power since.
South Africa is commonly referred to as the “Rainbow Nation,” since their adoption of a new colourful flag in 1994, which was implemented to represent democracy.
-Slavery Under Dutch Rule-
The very first slave arrived in South Africa in 1653. For the next 180 years slavery had a significant impact on society in the cape colony. The last slaves were imported illegally in 1822 and 1834 slavery was completely abolished.
Other significant dates: 1722 - Slaving post established at Maputo by Dutch. 1767 - Abolition of importation of male slaves from Asia. 1795-1806 - Britain and Holland battle over control of colony with Britain emerging victorious. 1807 - Britain passes Abolition of Slave Trade Act.
- The Natalia Republic and Zulu Conflict -
The Natalia Republic was formed by Boers (Afrikaans word for farmer) in 1839. The initial expedition to claim land for a capital of the future state was led by Piet Retief. He asked Dingane, King of the Zulus, for a cession of territory for the Dutch farmers. An agreement was struck on the basis that Retief and his men retrieve stolen cattle. However, Dingane killed all of Retief's men just two days later. The Boers reassembled behind Andries Pretorius and fought the Zulus in the Battle of the Blood River. The Dutch were able to fight off the Zulus and establish the short-lived Natalia Republic which would be annexed by the British just 4 years later.
-Notable Struggles and Achievements for Women in the Early 20th Century-
1905 - Charlotte Maxeke becomes the first black woman in South Africa to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. 1913 - Charlotte Maxeke heads protests against the government who were attempting to impose pass laws on women (pass laws were an internal passport system implemented to segregate people based on race and gender). 1921 - Mary Fitzegerald becomes the first female City Councillor in Johannesburg. 1933 - Women's votes are counted.
- Gandhi's Time in South Africa -
Gandhi arrived in South Africa in 1893 to take a position as a lawyer. He would stay for 21 years and his time in South Africa would influence his life greatly. It was during his stay in South Africa that he would develop the peaceful protest strategy of satyagraha (truth-force). Gandhi experienced much of the racism towards colored people in South Africa. He was thrown off a train for refusing to leave first class, and after protest was allowed on first class the next day. This event along with others awakened him to social injustice and began to sculpt his desire to participate in social activism. Gandhi would later be declared a national hero in South Africa after blacks gained the right to vote in 1994. Statues and other numerous monuments now represent his impact on the country.
- Formation of Apartheid -
Segregational struggles had been a focal point in the history of South Africa, even prior to the turn of the 20th century. However, the Land Act which was passed in 1913 forced black Africans to live in reserves. It was largely in response to this that the South African National Native Congress was formed, which would later come to be known as the ANC. The economic turmoil brought on by the second World War and the Depression sparked racist leaders to decide that further racial segregation was required. The Afrikaner National Party won the 1948 election "under the slogan 'apartheid.'" Within a decade, the country had become completely segregated, with multiple laws preventing blacks from advancing in society.
- Comparing Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. -
Both Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. fought similar non-violent wars against prejudice in their respective nations. Both prominent figures were inspired by Gandhi's values. Nelson Mandela himself travelled to New York to speak about the connections between black South Africans and African-Americans. Although Martin Luther King Jr. was invited to speak to "university students and religious groups" however, the apartheid government denied him entry. Dr. King condemned the system of apartheid in South Africa, stating that "all opposition to white supremacy is condemned as communism." Nelson Mandela has quoted from Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech on multiple occasions, including in addresses to the United States Congress.
- Effects of Apartheid on the LGBT Community in South Africa -
When most people think about apartheid, it is the discrimination against black people that comes to mind. However, approximately twenty years after apartheid was initially implemented, its policy makers briefly shifted their focus. The 1957 Immorality Acts were reformed in 1968 to include outlawing the act of homosexuality, however, only if it occurred in public. Despite this, it was the 1966 Forest Town Raid that initially exposed the "homosexual subculture." Police officers arrested nine men who were dressed as women for "participating in indecent activity." The Immorality Act would be further reformed in 1988 in order to implement harsher penalties on the "sexual crimes" committed by the LGBT community. Eighteen year later, in 2006, the Union Bill was passed, legalizing gay marriage and providing a victory to the LGBT community on the road to universal acceptance.
- A Brief Background on the Indigenous Peoples of South Africa -
Khoe-San is the name that encompasses all the First Nations groups within South Africa. The name is derived from the San people and the Khoekhoe people, both indigenous groups from within South Africa that themselves encompass many other indigenous microcosms. With a population of approximately 50 million, South Africa is comprised of "just over 1%" of First Nations peoples. South Africa has "voted in favour of adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples but has yet to ratify ILO Convention 169."
- Earthlife Africa -
Environmental awareness has been present in South Africa since the 19th century, however, the founding of the Wildlife Society of South Africa in 1926 marked the beginning of organized environmental movements. In 1988, Earthlife Africa was formed as a spinoff of Greenpeace, and they immediately distinguished themselves as not only and environmentalist group, but also a radical anti-apartheid group. In fact, since their formation there has been much criticism about the radical nature of the group. The group is very opposed to the presence of nuclear energy in South Africa. Along with this, some of their projects include preventing acid mine drainage, reducing waste, and furthering the industry of renewable energy.
- Transition From Apartheid to Democracy -
Upon winning the 1994 election, Nelson Mandela invited two of the leaders of opposing parties (National Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party) to join with the ANC and form the Government of National Unity. The RDP (Reconstruction and Development Program) began to face the enormous social and economic issues present in the country including; lack of housing, lack of education, poor health care, and a failing economy. The transition to democracy has been far from an easy one for South Africa. Despite a growing economy, poverty, unemployment, life expectancy, and educational achievement have all seen substantial decreases since the end of Apartheid and the election of the ANC.
First Social Movements: http://links.org.au/node/37
This article discussed the social movements in South Africa and how political and socioeconomic realities were ignored. The article went on to further discussion the working class and how they are labeled as "the poor's" instead of facing the reality that there are South Africans who are opposed to this, and realize that the version of capitalism is beyond blatantly followed. South Africa has their first democratic elections in April 1994 and the social movement that followed it was created from politics the politics of South African transitions being made from challenging the prevailing political economy.
Workers, Slaves, Women Unite!: http://www.sahistory.org.za/topic/slavery-south-africa The influence of slavery lasted long after the abolition of Slavery in 1838 and affected more than just the economy but also peoples lives and well beings. During this time South Africa was ruled under Dutch settlement where shortages of labor were experienced especially in industries that were vital to their economy (wheat and whine farms). Where slavery begun was the VOC not wanting to use money on paying wages that European laborers demanded as well as them not being able to use the Khoi people as slaves. During these hard times there was nearly 35,000 slaves that were imported into South Africa from India, Malaysia and these people were now free when the The Abolition of Slavery Act ended officially in 1834. Slaves during this time were forced to work in harsh conditions for very long hours of the day and not even given adequate food to survive. These people had no freedom at all and very little education, with the passing of the Slavery Act these people were officially freed, but just because that happened does not mean these people did not have to live with those horrible thoughts and memories for the rest of their lives.
Working Class Heroes?: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21564829-it-has-made-progress-becoming-full-democracy-1994-failure-leadership-means On June 26th, 1955 South Africans gathered in Kliptown where members of the African National Congress congregated along with their anti-apartheid colleagues to state the new vision for the future. This was seen as a very historical time in South Africa as Nelson Mandela disguised himself as a milkman to escape. “The people shall govern” was announced by the Freedom of Charter and South Africa would now belong to all of its people and there would be work, security and education for all, which became very surprising as a promise was made for a better future to all. During this, the racist legislation of apartheid was also abolished which made the new constitution liberal and inspiring. Meanwhile the apartheid coming to an end created a small elite group acquiring great fortunes through all of this which only widened the wealth gap, and after 18 years of full democracy South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world.
Satyagraha, Revolution and the Indian Independence Movement(s) http://gandhi.southafrica.net Ghandi arrived in South Africa in 1893 at the age of 24 as he recently became a lawyer on his temporary assignment to act on behalf of a local Indian trader. When Ghandi left South Africa in 1914 for the last time he already was granted “appellation Mahatma” which is the “great soul” for the work he did for the local Indian populations in South Africa. Ghandi is very well-known for his peace marches and the way in which he presents himself which is greatly recognized in many of the great political tools of the 20th century.
Freedom Struggles in South Africa: http://www.southafrica.net/za/en/articles/entry/article-southafrica.net-south-africas-freedom-struggle There are many freedom struggles that South Africa has faced but one of the most important was when KhoiKhoi resisted the establishment of a refreshment station at Table Bay in 1652. Many years later in 1912, the forerunner to the ANC was established the battle amongst growing oppression was localized, even when this occurred it was still not fully addressed until the apartheid in 1948. Nelson Mandela played a large role in this freedom struggle where the ANC then began to adjust its direction with the intent on liberation form apartheid. With the ANC in internal underground structures the ability to bring force to the apartheid government during the freedom struggle of South Africa unbanned all liberation movements in 1990 which resulted in the freedom of imprisoned leaders as well as entered negotiations which concluded in the first demographic elections in 1994.
Civil Rights Movement: http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/civil-rights-movement Nearly 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans were still experiencing inequality, segregation and various forms of oppression. During the year of 1954, U.S. Supreme Court removed the “separate but equal” policy that was the basis for discrimination and this really got African Americans’ a reason to fight back. This sparked many nonviolent protests and civil disobedience with the goal in mind of change. When referring back to previous readings in the course there are familiar names that came about during this Civil Right Movement, and some of those included, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. These people went above and beyond to start the initiatives such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Sexual Revolutions: http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/history-lgbt-legislation During the time where it was considered a politically- sanctioned racial segregation, many movements and changes were being made. This switched a lot of interests of people and the 1957 Immortality Act was created. It was in 1968 where it was incorporated to prohibit the act of homosexuality. Before this, in 1966 the Forest Town raid was where the first “gay person subculture” was seen and this was not okay with people. Police were arresting men during this time for dressing as women and that were “taking an interest in profane action”. This snowballed into further transforming the Immortality Act and was deeply transformed in 1988 with the basis of stricter punishments on “sexual violations” that were submitted by the LGBT. A huge era was overcome in 2006 when the Union Bill was just recently passed authorizing gay marriage.
Modern Environmentalisms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_movement_in_South_Africa Environmental movements in South Africa date long before many other movements but early conservationists had few expectations connected to the apartheid system. Groups such as Earthlife Africa were consciously aware of the role they played in both freedom and human rights as well as the rights of the earth and environment. There was a large struggle that these groups faced due to the apartheid political parties that were banned and these environmental groups served as an outlet for activism and political expression.
Democracy Redux: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_South_Africa The republic of South Africa is representative democratic republic and the “president” of South Africa serves as both the head of state and the head of government. Since the end of the apartheid in the 1990s the African National Congress dominated all South African Politics and the ANC is now the ruling party of the National legislature.