Apartheid, which was tirelessly fought against Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the conscience of South Africa, who died Sunday at the age of 90, was a segregationist political regime that lasted for nearly half a century and took over officially ended in 1991.

Ignoring the black majority, contemporary South Africa was born “between whites” in 1910, from the union of British colonists and Afrikaners (or Boers), of Dutch origin.

Apartheid, or “separation” in Afrikaans, systematized from 1948 the segregation practiced since the 17th century by the first Dutch settlers.

The system, instituted by the National Party (PN) which dominated the political life of the country from 1948 to 1994, was based on three pillars: the law on the classification of the population, the law on separate housing and the law on Earth.

The inhabitants were classified from their birth into four categories: White, Black, Métis (“Colored”) or Indians.

In everyday life, signs reserved for white people buses, restaurants, ticket offices and even beaches. Mixed marriages and interracial sex were prohibited. Blacks had access to lower quality education or health care.

Most of the territory (87%) was reserved for whites. Some 3.5 million people were forcibly evicted and blacks relegated to “townships” (sleeping quarters) and “bantustans” (ethnic reservations). The issue of land redistribution remains burning today.

Until 1986, blacks had to travel with a “pass”, an identity document specifying where they were allowed to go, otherwise risking jail or fines.

The establishment of apartheid immediately generates resistance. The African National Congress (ANC) initially adopts non-violent methods, advocating strikes, boycotts and campaigns of civil disobedience.

In 1960, police opened fire on demonstrators in Sharpeville, killing 69 blacks.

In 1964, its leader Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for “sabotage”.

In 1976, thousands of students took to the streets of Soweto to denounce taxation in the teaching of Afrikaans.

In 1977, Steve Biko, founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, died in prison after being beaten by the police.

International sanctions against South Africa are piling up: exclusion from the Olympic Games, expulsion from UN bodies, arms embargo … Stars engage against the regime during a giant concert at Wembley ( Great Britain) in 1990.

In February 1990, President Frederik de Klerk, in power for five months, stunned the country by legalizing the black opposition.

A year and a half later, on June 30, 1991, the system of racial segregation was officially abolished.

The democratic transition is laborious. Among the brakes, resistance to change within the white security services, as well as a bloody rivalry between activists of the ANC and the Zulu Inkhata Party (IFP).

The pressure also comes from white extremists (notably the Afrikaner Resistance Movement – AWB) and black (Africanists of the Azan People’s Liberation Army – APLA) who organize attacks.

In April 1993, the country almost fell into civil war when a supporter of the white extreme right assassinated Chris Hani, the charismatic secretary general of the Communist Party, an ally of the ANC.

In April 1994, South Africa had its first multiracial elections, turning the page on apartheid. “Free at last”, exclaims Nelson Mandela, elected president.

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Ref: https://www.rtl.be