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African History | African Studies | Leadership Studies | Other Political Science | Personality and Social Contexts | Political Science | Psychology | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


In this article I first offer a brief historical account of European white settlement, and ultimately political dominance, in southern Africa. Next, I outline how whites, and in particular Afrikaner-dominated National Party governments after 1948, achieved almost total subjugation of South Africa’s black majority through oppressive legislation and the calculated use of force. In that regard I enumerate some of the draconian laws enacted in the post-1948 apartheid state — laws that served as an impetus for black nationalism, anger, resistance, protest and, after 1960, armed struggle to achieve liberation from white oppression. Against this background, I examine salient factors accounting for South Africa’s relatively peaceful transition from apartheid state to nonracial democracy, focusing on situational variables as well as the personal characteristics of South African presidents P.W. Botha, F.W. de Klerk, and Nelson Mandela.


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