Core Curriculum

World History - South Africa Lessons


The World in Mid 15th Century
Shift of European Dominance
Slavery and the Pursuit of Liberty
Slavery and the Industrial Revolution...The British became dependent upon many items produced by slaves, such as sugar, cocoa, tobacco and coffee. Slaves worked to produce those things that supported the world economy in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries and many scholars believe that there is a link–whether direct or indirect–between slavery and industrialisation. The Atlantic slave trade also had a large detrimental impact on African economic development. These effects are still felt today with most Africans countries being labelled ‘third world’ or ‘undeveloped’. Another legacy of the slave trade is racism. Although Thomas Jefferson, the main author of the Declaration of Independence, originally included a clause abolishing slavery, other states did not accept this and so omitted if from the declaration. Thus, America began as a country at least partially condoning slavery. A dominant view was that slaves were like grown-up children and should be treated as such. Unfortunately, most times slaves were only viewed as chattel that did not deserve to be treated any better. In latter years, the horrors of slavery have become more publicised and, in 1998, UNESCO decided that 23 August would be the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. In 2006 and 2007, then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, made apologies for Britain’s role in this trade in human cargo, where conservative estimates state that about two million African slaves died in transit. Sadly, in spite of efforts to curb it, racism remains an issue in twenty first century society.
Transformation in Southern Africa between 1750 and 1850
History and Heritage
The World Transforms
The Age of Imperialism
Response to Colonialism and Challenges to Capitalism
Response to Colonialism in Africa and Asia...In 1910, South Africa united for the first time into a single nation, the Union of South Africa. The South Africa Act of 1909 paved the way for a single nation by officially joining the Cape, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State colonies under one flag. Racial segregation became official policy throughout the Union and laid the foundation for apartheid. Louis Botha became the first Prime Minister and under his leadership, he enacted a series of discriminatory laws. Most critical was the Natives Land Act of 1913, which separated South Africa into areas in which blacks and whites could legally own land. Blacks, which constituted the vast majority of the population, received less than 10% of the land to live on. Whites controlled and could own over 90% of the land. Blacks were discriminated in the workplace. A series of laws controlled the labor force: the Native Laws Amendment Act (1937) banned blacks from the town unless they had jobs; the Mines and Works Act (1911) restricted the skilled work and better paying jobs to whites only; the Industrial Conciliation Act (1924) allowed for labor unions but blacks could not join them; the Mines and Works Amendment Act (1926) continued to restrict skilled work opportunities for black, but allowed opportunities to coloureds. Throughout this time period men of the South African National Native Congress, women of the Bantu Women’s League, and Indians from the Natal Indian Congress protested against the injustices of the new South African government. It would take over ninety years for the oppressive laws that led to apartheid to end in South Africa.
Nationalism and Identities in Africa
Nationalism and Identities in South Africa
The Impact of World War II on Pan-Africanism...World War II was a turning point for Pan-Africanism. Before then, it had essentially been a cultural movement, dominated by leaders from, and the concerns of, the African Diaspora. After the war, the focus of the movement turned to Africa, and leaders from Africa emerged to lead the movement. The agenda was now a political one: decolonization and independence. In this way, the goals of Pan-Africanism and African nationalism merged. The war was also a turning point for Africa. The war emphasized the economic and strategic importance of Africa to the Allied powers. In addition, the experiences of African soldiers provided a major boost to African nationalism, when they returned home after the war unwilling to submit to the continuation of colonial rule. The war also changed the mind-set of the colonial powers. They were no longer equipped, financially or psychologically, to play the role of imperial masters. Other factors also boosted African nationalism. The Atlantic Charter provided hope that the right of Africans to govern themselves would become a reality after the war. The Manchester Conference sent a clear message that Africans were prepared to fight for this right. They knew, too, that they would have the support of the newly formed United Nations. In 1957, Ghana led the way by becoming the first former colony in sub-Saharan Africa to become independent. Within a few years most of the rest of Africa was independent too. Many saw the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963 as a triumph for the ideals of Pan-Africanism.
The Rise of Apartheid
The Cold War and its Impact on the World
The Resistance Movement and Anti-Apartheid around the World
Black Consciousness in the 1970s...In his short political career, Steve Biko made a significant impact on South African history. His ideas of Black Consciousness ignited a new spirit of defiance among the youth, especially in Soweto. This defiance, coupled with their anger over the injustice of Bantu Education, led to the student protests in June 1976. With existing tensions over conditions in the townships and government repression, the protests over education issues became a general uprising against the whole system of apartheid. Although the government suppressed the uprising, the events had far-reaching consequences. Thousands of students left the country to join the ANC and PAC in exile and receive military training. These new recruits helped to increase the number of sabotage missions into the country by the armed wings of the liberation movement. The uprising and the harsh methods used to suppress it had a negative impact on South Africa’s image overseas. The international Anti-Apartheid movement stepped up its efforts to isolate South Africa. During 1977, the state banned all organizations with links to the Black Consciousness Movement. This suggests that the government had no doubt that the ideology posed a threat to white domination and was behind the 1976 uprising. The Soweto uprising was a turning point. It was the biggest challenge that the National Party had faced since coming to power in 1948. Apartheid was beginning to fail, although it was not until the 1980s that this became a reality.
The Changes in Our World Since 1960
South Africa Emerges a Democracy
The Crisis of Apartheid in the 1980s...In the early 1980s, the apartheid government introduced a policy of ‘Total Onslaught – Total Strategy’ to meet a perceived communist threat against South Africa. However, mounting opposition, both internally and internationally, forced the government to abandon apartheid. Inside South Africa, mass protests continued throughout the decade, in spite of harsh repression. The economy declined when it became clear that the government was determined to uphold white minority rule. The ANC in exile and its armed wing, MK, intensified the armed struggle, which South Africa’s response – cross border raids and the assassination of opposition leaders – failed to contain. Efforts by the Commonwealth to encourage the government to negotiate failed. The international Anti-Apartheid movement put pressure on Western governments to apply economic sanctions, and applied a cultural and sporting boycott. In South Africa, business, political and academic leaders defied government pressures and arranged meetings with ANC leaders in exile. The defeat of South African forces in Angola by the Cubans forced the government to reassess its military capabilities. The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union meant that the idea of a communist ‘Total Onslaught’ against South Africa was no longer valid. Even members of the government itself saw the urgent need for a change of policy. When F.W. de Klerk became president in 1989, the stage was set for major change in South Africa.