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The second reading examines the fall of apartheid in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the transition to multiracial democracy, and the opening of Nelson Mandela's presidency—particularly his establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Following the readings, this lesson includes an extended research and critical thinking activity.Students are invited to do independent or group research on the Jim Crow system of segregation that long prevailed in the American South and to compare and contrast it with South African apartheid.The new leadership of the ANC steered the organization towards a strategy of nonviolent direct action—including strikes, boycotts, and other acts of civil disobedience.
Non-whites were not allowed to vote in national election.
Moreover, apartheid saw the institution of the "homeland system," in which the government sought to establish separate states for members of each of the country's many black ethnic groups.
The first reading provides an historical overview of the apartheid system, the origins of the African National Congress, and the freedom struggle against apartheid.
This reading describes Mandela's role as an anti-apartheid activist.
While non-whites were confined to squalid ghettoes with few decent educational and employment opportunities, whites were afforded the basic privileges of life in a democracy.
In a 1955 article, Nelson Mandela—then a leading activist in the growing fight against apartheid—described the horrors of the system and the brutal means by which it was enforced: The breaking up of African homes and families and the forcible separation of children from mothers, the harsh treatment meted out to African prisoners, and the forcible detention of Africans in farm colonies for spurious statutory offenses are a few examples of the actual workings of the hideous and pernicious doctrines of racial inequality.In 1943, Nelson Mandela—then a law student—joined the ANC and co-founded its youth division, the ANCYL.Mandela and other young activists had begun to advocate for a mass campaign of agitation against apartheid.This often involved the forced removal of families from their original homes to the newly-created "bantustans" (or ethnic states).In other cases, it meant breaking up interracial and inter-ethnic families.In addition to being an icon of resistance and perseverance, Mandela was also a symbol of peace, having presided over the transition from apartheid to multiracial democracy and having pursued a plan of national reconciliation.This exercise invites students to think about the history of apartheid in South Africa, the long struggle against it, and Nelson Mandela's legacy as a leader in that struggle.Although Europeans first colonized what is now the country of South Africa in the middle of the 17th century, it was not until the 1948 election of the Afrikaner-led National Party that the system of apartheid—with which the nation of South Africa came to be so closely associated for the second half of the 20th century—was formally instated.While this strict system of racial classification and segregation drew on a variety of existing measures that had limited the rights of non-whites, the 1950s saw a dramatic expansion of discriminatory laws.To these can be added scores of thousands of foul misdeeds committed against the people by the government: the denial to the non-European people of the elementary rights of free citizenship; the expropriation of the people from their lands and homes to assuage the insatiable appetites of European land barons and industrialists; the flogging and calculated murder of African laborers by European farmers in the countryside for being "cheeky to the baas"; the vicious manner in which African workers are beaten up by the police and flung into jails when they down tools to win their demands; the fostering of contempt and hatred for non-Europeans; the fanning of racial prejudice between whites and non-whites, between the various non-white groups; the splitting of Africans into small hostile tribal units; the instigation of one group or tribe against another; the banning of active workers from the people`s organizations, and their confinement into certain areas.Because of the injustices it perpetuated, the apartheid system gave rise to a broad resistance movement.