How Did Pressure From Other Nations Cause South Africa to End it's Policy of Apartheid?

How Did Pressure From Other Nations Cause South Africa to End its Policy of Apartheid?


Apartheid in South Africa began through the election of 1948, in which the Nationalist party, alongside with the Afrikaner party, won over the United party. The Nationalist party focused their campaign on the policy of apartheid. Apartheid was a segregation policy that was instilled to protect the white minority South Africans from the black majority of South Africans; it was instilled for “total separation”. The Apartheid policy impacted all areas of life in South Africa from education to political rights to the economic workplace and other public services. During the time period of 1948 to 1994, the nation of South Africa was under the system of Apartheid. Apartheid was a policy of racial segregation that impacted all areas of life within the nation of South Africa. Nations, such as Cuba and Iraq, and organizations, such as the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity, united to eliminate racial tensions from South Africa. The method that proved most effective was international boycotts. As a result South Africa began a gradual process that led to the abandonment of the segregation policy of Apartheid.

The word “Apartheid” comes from the Afrikaner word for “separate”. The Apartheid policy was an official policy for segregation within South Africa. The Apartheid policy was centered on two incorporated goals, which were to stress and enforce “racial inequality” and to limit the “urbanization” of the black South African population (Middleton and Miller 88-91). The Nationalist party ran their platform on these goals for the policy of Apartheid. The Nationalist party campaigned with the slogan” Keep South Africa White” (Moore 117-120); which effectively culminated the Apartheid policy. During the time period from 1948- 1994 the Nationalist party was in control of the central government, and during this time period they enacted specific laws and provisions to segregate South Africa. The laws were centered on the race of an individual with primary concerns going towards the dominant Whites, followed by the segregated Coloreds, then came the Indians, and finally the Africans.

Apartheid was verified officially with the passage of laws that made segregation completely legal. These laws were similar to the Jim Crow laws of the United States; they created separate accommodations by the race of an individual. The separation of race became official with the Population Registration Act of 1950, which officially formalized racial classification and required persons over the age of 18 to carry an identification card that displayed their racial group. This act was considered the first grand apartheid law that was passed by the Nationalist party. This act classified the population of South Africa by the racial groups of White, Black, Colored, and Indian. Another act that further advanced the Apartheid policy was the Group Areas Act and the Immorality Act. The Group Area Act of 1950 separated the residentially quarters of the South African population ( Moore 117-120). The end result of this act was that it created ghettoes and slums for the discriminated racial groups of South African. Another act that further advanced the Nationalist party’s goals was The Immorality act which advanced Apartheid policy with prohibited physical contacts across racial lines; The Immorality Act was, if violated, a punishable offense (Moore 117-120). These acts and laws that were passed in the early part of Apartheid set the stage for the following decades .These laws divided the country, which was the ultimate goal of the Nationalist Party.

Due to the passage of these laws the South African society was divided in all aspects and areas of life. The culture of South Africa was segregated because of the impact the laws passed by the National Party. One area that was impacted by the Apartheid policy was South African Sports and sporting events. Since the country was segregated by race, the sporting community was also divided by race. This included all sports, for example the sport of football (soccer) and rugby. The South African government did not allow sports teams to be racially integrated; therefore separate groups arose for their own racial leagues of competition. South Africa came to international spotlight attention because of the racial sporting practices. South Africa’s sports apartheid policy outlined the entire segregation system that was placed on South Africans. The sporting policy held that all official South African sports teams are white-only and any other teams that they were to play against were to consist of only white members (Asokan 46). In the area of football for example, there were 5 distinct different groups based on race: there was the White South African Football Association, then the South African Indian Football Association, the South African African Football Association, the South African Bantu Football Association, and finally the South African Colored Football Association. The creation of these various racially sporting groups accurately depicts the divisions within the South African sporting community.

“The Sharpeville Massacre of 1960” brought global attention to the government of Apartheid in South Africa (Keech 74). The Sharpeville Massacre brought international attention to the racial tensions that were present in South Africa as a result of its policy of Apartheid. As a result of the international attention it received about this event the international community grew aware of the culture of South Africa that was being impacted by the policy of Apartheid. Different countries were shocked and dismayed about the system of racial segregation. These countries took interest in South Africa because during that time period various other countries were going through their own civil rights eras, for example the United States was going through its own civil rights movement where the discriminated African Americans were fighting for equality. Other countries were focused on the racial segregation policy because it was morally unjust. Because sports attracted international attention, this was a window through which the whole system of Apartheid received heavy criticism and boycotts from the international community, which led to the suspension of Apartheid in February of 1990.

The Commencement of International Pressure

The commencement of international pressure on South Africa’s sporting activities and teams began with the sport of football. Due to the mild climate many people participate in outdoor sports in the county, “Association football is the country’s most popular sport” (Saunders 613). The sport of football was greatly impacted by the government policy of apartheid. The apartheid sport’s policy made the sport teams involved divided and segregated by race. Different sports teams arose based on their racial profiles. There were 5 distinct football leagues that arose based on race as a result from the apartheid sports policy: there was the White South African Football Association, then the South African Indian Football Association, the South African African Football Association, the South African Bantu Football Association, and finally the South African Colored Football Association. In the creation of these various teams that were influenced by the policy of apartheid the international community became aware of the segregation policy of apartheid. The first major indictment on the policy of apartheid came from the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) who took their stand against the country of South Africa and its apartheid sports policy.

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) began the commencement of meetings to determine how they would stand in the special case of South Africa. The sport of football was extremely popular among the entire population of South Africa. No one racial group participated in the sport alone, everyone enjoyed this sport of leisure. The declaration to expel South Africa from “international football” came from FIFA on “September 28/29 1961” (Asokan 46). FIFA which was organized by members of various nations refused to acknowledge the racial system of apartheid, which was why the organization felt compelled to disband South Africa from the organization. FIFA held no sympathy for the racial segregation of the sport in which it came to exist. The FIFA executive stated that they would “expel any member whom continued to practice racial discrimination within twelve months” (Keech 81). This choice to dispel South Africa from the international sporting community became the leading example that was followed by other countries that chose to boycott South African sports. The ban to dispel South Africa from the International Federation of Association Football lasted approximately until the early 1990’s, during which the apartheid system was being dismantled.
Following FIFA’s decision to expel South Africa from the international sporting community, the next governing body in the sporting community came from the International Olympic Community (IOC), who further led the path to total isolation from South African sports by the agreement to disband South Africa from the 1964 Olympic Games.

1964 Summer Olympics

The Olympic Games are seen as a worldwide uniting sports event, in celebration of the talented athletes from various nations in a variety of sporting events, such as swimming, track and field, and gymnastics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) over sees the countries admitted to participate in the Olympics, while also governing the rules and conditions that are to take place during the Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee consists of different nations and is considered among the highest ranked sports governing bodies. The IOC, during the organization of the Olympic Games of the summer of 1964, proceeded with special care in the case of athletics in South Africa, because of the country’s policy of racial segregation in its society, specifically sports.

The International Olympic Committee on June 22, 1988 announced a statement “denouncing apartheid and urging all international sports organizations to cut off contact with South Africa” (Janofsky). This was a significant step to the boycott of South African sports because when this declaration came from the Olympic Committee, it was a statement not just from one country, but from a variety of different countries. This declaration advanced the isolation from South Africa because it clearly demonstrated the stance of the world on the subject of racial injustice and apartheid. In a news conference the IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, stated “Apartheid must be canceled in sports and in normal life” (Janofsky). This statement directly correlates with the stance that the IOC and the world would not continue to support the South Africa while it was under the government of Apartheid. This officially banned South Africa from the 1964 Summer Olympic Games that were to take place in Tokyo, Japan.

The expulsion from the Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee was a devastating event in the South African sporting community and the society as a whole. With this declaration South Africa was virtually isolated from other nations because of its government policy of apartheid. South Africa began a process of trying to appeal the IOC for re-admission. The IOC then sent a delegation to review the proposed changes that South Africa had made. The delegation ruled that South Africa must comply with five criteria in order to be considered for re-admission. In order to be considered South Africa needed one: abolish the system of apartheid, two: comply with the “Olympic Charter”, three: “encourage normal relationships” with counterpart committees, four: have a “pursuit of unification” of sport activities on a “nonracial” basis”, and finally South Africa must be in good relations with sport organizations within Africa (Wren). These criteria set the stage for the path that was necessary in order for South Africa to become accepted out of isolation from the global community. From a perspective it can be noted that by allowing South Africa to have an agenda of goals to complete in order to be accepted that other nations were giving the country a chance to reconcile and repent form the negative aspects and events that the country suffered throughout the decades of apartheid.


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