SA - The Response to Apartheid c1948-59


What was life like in South Africa in 1948?

Race, Segregation and Discrimination

  • South Africans categorised into 4 racial groups - Whites, Africans (Natives), Coloured, and Indians
  • Racial discrimination existed before 1948
  • Whites had power, although in minority (21% of population) - majority of parliament were white MP's
  • Africans not allowed to vote, forced to live in separate areas (Townships)
  • 1948 election was decided by white population

Urbanisation, Industrialisation and Townships

  • Gold discovered in 1886 - caused people to move to Johannesburg to work (Population increased to 1 million)
  • South African industry expanded due to WW2
  • Africans lived in countryside, Whites lived in cities/towns
  • Even poor whites who lived in the countryside, still had vote and were kept separate from blacks
  • Increased population of migrants = formation of townships (Areas outside cities) - poor healthcare and sanitation
1 of 6

What was life like in South Africa in 1948? Pt2

Rural Society

  • By 1948, land ownership was divided by race and class - whites owned over 80% of land
  • Blacks worked on farms with whites but under strict hierachy - whites didn't do manual labour, blacks did

Arfrikaner Culture and Politics

  • Boer War (1899-1902) - Britain fought against the two Afrikaner republics to cement control of the region
  • Two parties formed - United Party (Smuts) and The National Party (Malan)
  • 1920s to 1930s saw an increased pride in Afrikaner culture - creating new communities in towns

The Influence of Britain

  • In 1948, SA was part of the British Empire
  • Peopleof British descent made up 40% of the white population
  • British investors dominated industries and mines
  • English was joint official language and brought across sports such as: rugby, football, and cricket
2 of 6

Why was the National Party victorious in 1948?

Growth of Afrikaner Nationalism

  • Idea that Afrikaners had a distinct identity spearate from other South Africans - gained significantly popularity
  • Broederbond (Society of Afrikaners) provided ideological direction in favour of a Christian, Nationalist, and Republican outlook - Christian view was that it was God's plan for whites and blacks to live separately
  • Many opposed SA's decision to join WW2, which led to a mass anti-war movement (Ox Wagon Guard) which had 300,000 members. and after the war most supported the National Party

International Context

  • Before WW2, segregation and discrimination were common in other countries - United States 'Jim Crows' laws and still remained racially divided
  • After WW2 there was an increasing desire for human rights - caused problems for SA's policies
3 of 6

why was the National Party victorious in 1948? Pt2

The 1948 Election/Fear of Black Resistance

  • Smuts would make liberal policies if he had too - people accused Smuts of being sympathetic to the blacks
  • Whites feared  the flooding of Africans into cities and taking the jobs of whites as well as sexual relations between races
  • Due to the 'Westminster Constituency System' - Malan won the election with 39% of the votes even though Smuts got 49% due to Malan gaining the support from the rural areas of SA
4 of 6

How was Apartheid codified and implemented?

Strengthening the National Party

  • In 1949, six members of Parliament were added for whites in Namibia where the Nationalists had support - this increased the support for the NP
  • Coloured people became a separate racial group - before they became separate they had the vote, so by removing their ability to do so it meant the NP would have less opposition + less support for United Party
  • NP increased the number of people working for the government from 482k to 799k - this would make it easier for the NP to pass laws

Apartheid Laws

  • Didn't have a blueprint when they came to power - apartheid meant separateness but NP wanted complete hierachy of rights and power
  • 'Separate Development' was long term plan
5 of 6

how was Apartheid codified and implemented? Pt2


  • Minister of Native Affairs (1950-58) and Prime Minister (1958-66)
  • Believed African people saw themselves as tribal people and loyal to their old chiefdom 
  • Passed Bantu Authorities Act (1951) as a result - tribal authorities in 'reserves' who controlled land and ensured development
  • In 1959 passed Bantu Self-Government Act - self governing African units which he hoped would welcome 'separate development'

Race Laws

  • Mixed Marriage Act 1949 and Immorality Act 1950 - banned marriages/sex between races
  • Population Registration Act 1950 - assigned all South Africans into one of four racial categories 
6 of 6


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all South Africa resources »