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date: 03 March 2024


A Dictionary of African Politics

Nic Cheeseman,

Eloïse Bertrand,

Sa’eed Husaini


The system of racial segregation and white minority rule enforced by the National Party in South Africa between 1948 and 1994. Apartheid was characterized by a particularly harsh form of economic, political, and cultural discrimination codified through legislation such as the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, the Immorality Amendment Act, and the Pass Laws, which sought to tightly regulate the movement and activities of non-white communities. Apartheid was opposed domestically by a range of black African and multiracial political organizations, such as the African National Congress, and internationally through campaigns to boycott South African goods and exclude the country from major cultural and sporting events. Following continued civil disobedience and growing economic difficulties, the National Party government of F. W. de Klerk moved to unban the ANC and free its leader, Nelson Mandela, in 1990. After a period of protracted negotiations through the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), apartheid was finally brought to an end by the introduction of majority rule in 1994.