|South African Independence
Dutch settlers first formed a colony at Cape Town in the
1700s. The British took control of South Africa from the
Dutch in 1814. In 1948, the white leaders created a system
of laws called apartheid. This means "apartness."
Apartheid took away the rights and freedoms of blacks in
South Africa. They were forced to live in townships.
Townships are crowded areas for blacks in or near cities.
The End of Apartheid
Nelson Mandela was a black lawyer who became leader
in the fight against apartheid. The government put him in
prison to stop his protests. Frederik Willem de Klerk
became president of South Africa in 1989. He released
Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990. Mandela had been
imprisoned for 27 years. Mandela, de Klerk, and other
leaders called for national elections to be held in 1994. It was the first time all South Africans had the right to vote. Nelson Mandela was elected president. A Constitution for South Africa was signed into law on December 10, 1996.
Like the United States Constitution, the South African
Constitution also has a Bill of Rights that protects the rights of all people in the country.