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The South African Homeland System History Essay

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Racial discrimination happens everywhere, people are judged on their skin tone or where they came from, especially people from Africa. But they do not just get discriminated against in other continents; some even get decimated against in their native lands. Apartheid, a form of racial segregation in South Africa, divided the native blacks from the more prestigious European whites. This led to an idea, called the Homeland System. This system, developed under Apartheid, influenced and affected South Africa (especially the native people) by developing separate regions for the natives to live and forcibly placing them there.

South Africa was colonized by the Dutch in 1652, beginning a struggle centuries long for the natives. Later, in 1779 the settlers, called Boers, discovered the presence of the Bantu, the native people of South Africa. England captured the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch government in 1806 and the official British ownership of the colony was recognized in 1814. The British and the Boers were not very friendly to each other and disagreed on most things. The Boers were afraid that the British were going to take away the language and culture that they had established (3). But the British and Boers did agree on one thing, that the Bantus needed to be kept separated from the Europeans. They banded together and in 1948 the Nationalist party took hold of most of the seats in parliament. They were afraid that the native blacks would band together and form into a unit more powerful than all the whites. This fear is called, swartgevaar, which means "the black peril". The blacks greatly outnumbered the white at 3 blacks for every white person at the time and that number was increasing. This party began passing laws that limited blacks' rights to "keep them in their place" (1). According to these new laws blacks weren't allowed to participate in government, denying them any say in the new laws that were being created. They could not live in the same neighborhoods or marry people of a different race. Blacks were also segregated from the whites, not allowing them to use the same facilities, such as buses, theaters and drinking fountains as the whites (3). This segregation led to the thought that blacks and whites should be completely separated; the whites wanted a country all to themselves, without any blacks. This began the process of creating separate regions for the blacks to live in that were supposed to later be turned into separate countries. This was known as the Homeland System.

The blacks were given 13% of the country, split into 10 different regions, to live in (3). These regions were scattered throughout South Africa and most of the blacks had never even seen them. Based on what "tribe", or ethnic group, they were from determined which of the 10 homelands they were relocated to. To do this, specific race guidelines were needed. In 1950 the Population Registration Act set down these guidelines. These guidelines could separate families with some members being classified as white and others as black based on the guidelines. Some of the people were relocated to regions with people who didn't even speak the language as them. Most of these homelands were placed in regions lacking valuable natural resources, such as fertile land and mineral deposits. The whites kept the large cities and resources within their boundaries and gave the blacks unproductive, dry and empty lands. This lack of natural resources caused blacks to have to travel out of their homelands to work because of lack of work available within them. But once the blacks arrived at the homelands they were no longer considered citizens of South Africa, they were citizens of the homelands (3).

Many of the blacks did not want to go to these new homelands; some had been separated from their families because of the shade of their skin color had categorized them into separate homelands or some were considered white, while others black (3). This led to a forceful removal of the blacks to the homelands. As they were removed their houses were destroyed or renovated for the whites. Certain areas were declared strictly white and even if blacks lived or owned businesses there they would be sent to live somewhere else and give up their property (1). Blacks could, however, work outside of the homelands. To do so required an identification booklet, like a passport, for travel between the borders of the homelands and South Africa. Some lucky blacks could even gain "semi-citizenship" in South Africa, allowing them some citizenship in South Africa and their homeland (3).

South Africa was feeling the effects of the homelands, the country was being divided based on race and a greater social division was forming. The homelands had their own governments within them which used a sort of tribal structure, with tribal leaders and power pyramids. These pyramids were directly connected South Africa's central government so that strict control could be maintained over the homelands (2). Between 1976 and 1981 four out of the ten homelands were granted freedom from South Africa, but this wasn't widely accepted by other nations. Other countries thought that South Africa was just trying to get rid of their blacks by giving them freedom and making them independent nations so that they would not be part of South Africa anymore. The blacks in these homelands did not want to become separate countries, they wanted to say in South Africa and fight for their rights and citizenship. The only places that considered these homelands as independent nations were South Africa and the other homelands. The rest of the countries, including the United Nations, refused to accept these homelands as separate nations. And although South Africa regarded these homelands as fully functioning nations with their leaders, the homelands were still very independent on South African money for their economy (3).

In the 1980's Apartheid began to dissolve and some of the restrictions against blacks were lifted. In 1986 the people living in the homelands were officially granted South African citizenship once again. This was the end of the homelands as well as thoughts of separate development within South Africa. The Homeland system does still influence South Africa though. Some of the governance system used in the Homelands and ideas of government influence some of South Africa's government. There is now a greater social division within rural communities and the locations of the old homelands. And although the tribal feelings that the homelands presented through its use of tribal leader and power pyramids is gone they're presence will not be forgotten (2). But that doesn't mean that the blacks have stopped struggling, many of them are still living in poverty in shanty towns with houses made out of metal and wood. They have little food and violence is everywhere. Murders and robberies happen every day. Many families struggle to get by, and children struggle to get a good education. Blacks and whites are still divided, even if not by law.

The Homeland System shaped South Africa in many ways; it placed the blacks in their own regions destined to become their own nations. A greater social division was created under this, and the blacks struggled in the homelands that lacked valuable resources. Their citizenship of South Africa was taken away and they had to have identification booklets to travel to and from their homeland for work. But when Apartheid began falling in the 1980s so did the Homeland System, and in 1986 the blacks were granted citizenship in South Africa once again. But not everything is back to how it was before, blacks still struggle to earn money and get equal education as whites. The fight for equality between the blacks and whites is not over yet.


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