Ethnic Relations Affected by Apartheid’s Laws in South Africa Over the years immigrants have migrated from their native lands to different countries with the hopes and dreams of benefiting from the valued resources other developed countries have to offer. Migration occurs mainly for the purpose to gain better opportunities and life chances.

In most cases, depending on an immigrant’s personal characteristics and physical traits being similar to that of the dominant groups the process of assimilating into society is less difficult; however, for those that are not close in physical traits to the dominant group have a much harder time being accepted or ability to receive resources willingly and tend to become more pluralistic as a result. Pluralistic is defined when an individual does not make any effort to conform to the dominant ethnic group’s values, norms or beliefs.

Those that practice pluralistic continue to believe in their cultural values, norms and beliefs; however, this practice normally ends in resentment as these individuals are in most cases at the bottom of the ethnic stratification class. Research has showed that the dominant group is usually referred to the ethnic group that holds political control and economic resources shared among that particular group as they are numerically the majority and most immigrants are few in numbers are considered the minority.

Currently in the United States and around the world in most countries societies are blended and residing in a multiethnic society as immigrants travel across the world and merge living together. However, in South Africa there is tension among ethnic groups as they have yet to equally coexist together as a result of apartheid which caused a delay in the developing of their multiethnic society. The research conducted for this final paper was on South Africa and the effects of apartheid caused by discriminating laws developed by the dominant ethnic group of immigrants to receive more benefits and advantages of the country’s resources.

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Laws were created to prevent any threat in which the majority group may have attempted to cause in the effort to regain control of their native land and government. The purpose of this research is to examine how immigrants in South Africa which were white Europeans able to migrate to a country where numerically they were considered the minority ethnic group and resume control of the dominant group which was the South Africans in which they were considered numerically the majority group.

An additional purpose for this research was to examine what caused South Africa’s delay in becoming a multicultural developing society compared to other countries in which equality has been shared among all ethnic groups and ethnic relations have improved over the years. Why is it that South Africa has not reached the level of equality for all citizens to reap the rewards their country has to offer and not based according to ethnic classification?

Overall, the main goal is to investigate how racial and ethnic relations in South Africa has been affected by apartheid’s separation among all ethnic groups and how does discrimination and prejudice enforce the segregation. The hypothesis for this investigation is that apartheid caused by racial ideology and discriminating government laws caused a development and institutionalized delay in the process of creating a multicultural society where ethnic equality was offered to all citizens regardless of difference in nationality compared to that of other countries.

Most multiethnic societies after World War II adopted policies that would strengthen and bridge the ethnic gap in a way to unify ethnic groups; however, South Africa choose to do the opposite by creating a division among the country’s ethnic population, (Marger, 2009). Research shows that British settlers conquered South Africa taking control of the colonial government but was later overthrown by Dutch descendants known as Afrikaners.

The Afrikaners created the National Party and this ethnic group of dominantly white politicians became fearful of the South Africans as numerically they were out- numbered. In order to remain the dominant group and continue to hold political power, the Dutch Afrikaners created 317 government laws which were related to ethnic segregation and restrictions based upon race. The purpose for creating the discriminating laws were to maintain the white domination of the society and laws were designed to acknowledge the rights of the white people but at the same time deny the rights of those who were non-white.

The first order of business for the Nationalist Party was to separate the population of South Africa according to race, geographic locations, social and political separation. According to the Library of Congress, apartheid’s legislation states that the Population Registration Act of 1950 in which the organization in charge of the racial classification was conducted by the Department of Home Affairs, designed to divide the country’s population according to race.

The Department of Home Affairs was responsible for recording people by their racial group and as a result of the group members were treated differently. This law formed the basis of apartheid and under the legislation terms of the population registration act, “all residents of South Africa were to be classified as white, colored, or native (later called Bantu) people. Indians, whom the HNP in 1948 had refused to recognize as permanent inhabitants of South Africa, were included under the category Asian in 1959.

The act required that people be classified primarily on the basis of their community acceptability; later amendments placed greater stress on appearance in order to deal with the practice of light-colored blacks passing as whites. The act also provided for the compilation of a population register for the whole country and for the issuing of identity cards” (Byrnes, 1996). What begin as an identification process soon shifted to action of separating races geographically.

In regards to property segregation, the Group Areas Act of 1950 was the beginning of physical separation in which lands were divided in residential zones for white and non-whites to reside separately. Typically, relocation interfered with where the residents could be employed as this may have taken then further away from their employer’s location and made it impossible for job opportunities. in addition, this act established the areas in which member of could live, work and farm if necessary. The white ethnic groups were provided with the best areas for industrial and agricultural needs.

The Group Area Act enforced separate living quarters and also made it impossible for non-whites to rent or buy property in these restricted areas. This behavior displayed a result of discrimination of resources which was based on ethnic stratification. This racial government made-laws gave officials the ability to forcibly remove individuals according to their race which was not designated for their racial groups. According to the Tomlinson Commission in 1954 which officially concluded, “the areas set aside for

Africans would support no more than two-thirds of the African population even under the best of conditions, but the government ignored its recommendation that more land be allocated to the reserves and began removing Africans from white areas” (Byrnes, 1996). In the textbook, Race and Ethnic Relations the ethnic population of South Africa in 1951 estimated that of black population to be 67 percent and white population was estimated to be only 21 percent. By 1991 the black population increased to 75 percent and the white population decreased to 12 percent (Marger, 2009, p377).

Naturally as Africans were forced to move to other locations according to their race these locations did not have enough land to hold the amount of blacks and non-whites residing in the area. The purpose of the Group Area Act was developed by the government because a growing number of blacks occupied the urban areas and could pose a threat to the government because obviously at the urban areas blacks gained a higher standard of living and higher education than they were subjected to in the African reserves, thus they would have high expectations and would revolt if the expectations were not met.

The Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 was designed to move blacks to what the national government considered a homeland that would act and function as an independent state; however, what this meant was that blacks were sent to reside in what the government considered their record of origin, but in most cases the records were inaccurate. This act also prevented blacks from owning personal business enterprises in the white-zoned areas.

As a result of the homeland relocation, blacks and non-whites had to submit passports in order to enter back in South Africa which was their country of citizenship prior to the move and as the outcome over nine million South Africans were moved to new homelands based on their record of origin, had their political rights restricted and in so many words freedom was taken away. Another government law that was discriminating to non-whites and valued in the country was the restriction of education.

The Bantu Education Act of 1953 was created as an ideology to make black students believe that their future goals and expectations should be different from European students. Even in the education system the black South Africans were faced with basis laws and received the low quality of schools materials and settings than that of the white students. The learning facilities were different and the expectation for Africans were lowered such as equipping them for practical work rather than preparing them for professional jobs such as the European students were being taught.

As the South Africans are suffering discrimination in their own native country and attempting to remain a pluralistic society due to resentment from prejudice government laws it seems to be unfair that suffer torture and unfairness could exist for so many years. South Africa has 11 languages recognized as official and of mother-tongue; however, in such a pluralistic society all students are required to speak English during class sessions.

In the Pretoria news article, Let’s Speak in One Language it content explains how South Africans are still being punished after apartheid has ended and being required to assimilate by speaking English in the classroom as this is the dominant ethnic group’s language. There is currently a case being investigated at Roosevelt High where a student was accused of speaking in their native language to a classmate outside of class.

The case is under investigation as the students are required to conform and speak the dominant culture’s language of English in a learning environment; however it appears class was not in session at the time of the allegations (Pretoria News, 2010). As a conclusion it appears students are encouraged to assimilate and conform to the dominant group’s language rather than practice their traditional and birth way of communicating in order to avoid discrimination or consequences.

After apartheid ended, South Africa continues to face issues of segregation and inequality in their most valued resources. In South Africa, the minorities which consist of white ethnicity are considered to be the dominant group although they make up less of the population. Non-European groups are denied basic rights and there is currently unfairness in the level of education provided to those of black ethnicity compared to the suburban schools which teach all white students. According to studies,”the achievement gap between black and white students in South Africa is enormous.

In the province of Western Cape, only 2 out of 1,000 sixth-graders in predominantly black schools performed at grade level on a math test in 2005, compared with 2 out of 3 children in schools once reserved for whites that are now integrated, but generally in more affluent neighborhoods” (Dugger,2010 para. 17). As a result of this inequality in the school system, the students are unable to receive adequate skills to prepare them for completion of high school and advance to college.

As a isadvantage many students are left without an education, resulting in inability to qualify for jobs causing them to be unemployed and unable to provide financially for themselves or their families. To conclude, due to the segregation and inequality in the school system many are not able to receive quality education which leaves them living below poverty level. Compared to the United States as in the past schools were segregated which were based on racial and ethnic groups such as that of South Africa.

In addition, civil rights movements and Jim Crow laws played important roles in the improvement of desegregation in the educational system just as South Africa during post-apartheid. As research displays in overcoming apartheid legacy, “administrative boundaries and school allocation policies create geographies that intersect with those of race and residence, and it is here that international comparisons may be helpful. South Africa does not suffer from the constraints of highly localized control of education that characterize the United States and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom ”(Lemon ; Battersby-Lennard, 2009).

Although the process of desegregating school has been underway, the cost to repair the schools in black neighborhoods continues to raise an issue and some concerns. Compared the United States, where students are bused and transportation is provided for those to receive a better education in better suburb neighborhoods are still something to consider in South Africa. As there are many areas to recovery and repair from the apartheid experience it will not take the healing of the country who endure such pain to blend and coexist happily residing and living together as one.

This will take time to adjust to the changes and beliefs. The African National Congress states, “while it was a liberation movement fighting for majority rule and an end to oppressive policies of segregation, advocated a radical redistribution of wealth within a mixed-economy framework in which the state would play the largest role in economic planning. But once it came to power, the accepted norms of global capitalism and contented itself with changing the social rules so that a minority of Africans could be counted among the country’s rich and its middle class.

But, for the majority of the population, the distribution of wealth has become even less egalitarian than under apartheid” (Labour, 2009, para1). Now there is an socioeconomic gap in South Africa that needs to be repaired as the ethnic discrimination still exist in this country however with the disbursement of funds and some not all of South Africans being conisdered middle –class this to will cause a clash in difference as to how valued resources are being issued.

According to studies in South Africa since the end of apartheid, “the country has largely achieved racial peace, but not social harmony. During an opinion poll volunteers offered feedback in regards to post-apartheid resulting in 63 percent positively agreeing, “it will take a long time, but we will eventually become a united nation. Only 44 percent provided negative feedback in which they strongly agreed blacks and whites will never trust one another” (Marger, 2009, p396).

As a conclusion research and studies show that as a result of fear and threat for one’s valued resources discrimination and prejudice played a major role in developing laws that would restrict those of the minority group from succeeding and depriving them from their freedom rights caused the country of South Africa to delay the process of living in a peaceful multicultural society while other nations around the world were moving forward in ethnic equality for all races however South Africa was moving in the wrong direction.


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