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The Struggle for Equality: Apartheid in South Africa

Author: Eilis Hood


Edward Heston School

Year: 2013

Seminar: From Slavery to Civil Rights

Grade Level: 7

Keywords: Apartheid, History, Middle School, Nelson Mandela, social studies, South Africa

School Subject(s): Social Studies

This curriculum unit has been designed for use in a seventh grade Social Studies classroom.  While our middle school students usually have an understanding of the issue of civil rights in this country, it is important that they understand that racial struggles have affected other countries as well.  Because seventh grade students study Africa in Social Studies class, it is an appropriate time to introduce South Africa’s policy of apartheid as something that is similar to, but perhaps much more complex than the civil rights movement here in the United States.  Apartheid was government-sanctioned racism that encouraged, and often times put into law, the complete separation of the races.  Every aspect of a person’s life was determined by skin color.

This unit will start by briefly comparing and contrasting apartheid to civil rights.  It will then go on to cover the causes of apartheid and what life was like for those living in South Africa.  Students will look at video footage from South Africa during apartheid, including two demonstrations that took place to protest the policies of apartheid.  They will then determine events that led to the dismantling of apartheid.  Students will also spend time looking into the life of Nelson Mandela who became the worldwide face of the anti-apartheid movement during his 27 years in prison and his eventual election as the first black president of South Africa.

Download Unit: 13.01.05-unit.pdf

Did you try this unit in your classroom? Give us your feedback here.

Full Unit Text

Once slavery was outlawed in the United States, blacks gained citizenship and the right to vote, but they still had to fight long and hard to be treated the same as their white counterparts.  When the fight for equal rights reached it peak in the 1950s and 60s, people from all walks of life came together to demand change.  We saw people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks who had the courage to stand up for what they believed in.  The federal government finally took up the issue and passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, which guaranteed basic civil rights to all Americans.  This is a subject fairly familiar to our middle school students.  But what many of them don’t know is that similar struggles of racial repression and inequality have taken place in other parts of the world.  They should understand that as recently as 1994, it was South Africa’s policy to keep the races totally separated and not even afford people of color basic rights of citizenship and voting.

Seventh grade students in the School District of Philadelphia study world cultures and geography, specifically the Eastern Hemisphere.  The continent of Africa is studied as well as the country of South Africa.  The history of apartheid is important to the study of South Africa and this unit is intended to enhance student understanding of the issue.  While we won’t go in depth to specifically lay out similarities between apartheid and civil rights in the United States, students will be able to see the parallels between South Africa and the United States in so far as their similar struggles with race and equality.  In addition, students should understand the importance of Nelson Mandela, who in spite of facing almost unbeatable odds, was able to help defeat apartheid and become the first black president of South Africa.  It is important for students to see that people who work hard can triumph despite facing discrimination and other seemingly insurmountable odds.


When the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the United States Constitution were passed to end slavery, grant citizenship, and extend voting rights to men regardless of color, it seemed that the federal government had perhaps done its job to end hundreds of years of black oppression.  What lurked in America for decades afterwards, however, was a sinister approach to undermine those amendments in the form of Jim Crow laws.  Hidden under the guise of “separate but equal” was the reality of segregation and racism that made blacks use different bathrooms and drinking fountains, go to different schools, and ride in the back of the bus.  When Congress finally passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the federal government said that no one could be denied basic rights on the basis of color.

All that time however, blacks were considered citizens of the United States.  They were allowed to vote.  And while the Jim Crow South made life miserable for many, the official position of the government was made clear in those 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution.  Now imagine a country where the government’s official policy was one that refused to recognize the citizenship of any person deemed to be black or colored based on an arbitrary test of race.  Imagine a government that enacted a policy of total separation of the races that decided where people could live, work, and who they could marry.  In 1962 L.E. Neame wrote that “in other parts of the world the question of discrimination on the ground of the colour of the skin is being gradually, and in the main peacefully, resolved…They hold that every race is entitled to govern the land in which it lives, or at least share in its administration…The Republic of South Africa refuses to fall into line.  Its White rulers are not prepared to share authority with Non-Whites.  They insist upon the political, social, industrial, and residential separation of Europeans and Non-Europeans (9).”  This was apartheid.  And it lasted until 1994.

While there does not seem to be a consensus on who first used the term, the word apartheid was intended to be taken literally and was a fitting name for the policy that began in 1948.  Apartheid, or when translated, “apart-hood”,  “controlled every aspect of black people’s lives in South Africa.  Strictly enforced legislation prescribed who could live in which parts of the country and the type of work they might do.”  This led to a “radically uneven and unjust distribution of space, resources and opportunity according to a hierarchical and arbitrary system of racial groupings (Kellet, Mothwa, and Napier 35).”  Apartheid ensured the superiority of the whites over the blacks by relegating them to work in select low-paying jobs, live in certain areas, and remain separate from the whites living in South Africa.

Although South Africa’s official policy of racial segregation began in the early-20th century, the country had experienced countless years of racial discrimination before that.  In the 1600‘s, colonialism brought Dutch and British settlers to South Africa, and despite being widely outnumbered by black South Africans, the whites soon displaced local tribes.  When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1909 under the British Empire, most political rights were taken away from black South Africans.  Although at that time there was no strict policy governing where Africans could live, reserves called “homelands” were created for that purpose.  Blacks lost the right to strike as well as the certifications necessary for working in the mines.  As mining was a main source of income for South Africa’ s economy, many blacks were forced out of the only job they had ever worked.  Then in 1948, with the narrow victory of the National Party, came the adoption of the apartheid laws, mainly the Population Registration Act, the Mixed Marriage Act, and the Group Areas Act.  These three laws sought to control and oppress the black population of the country.  Soon after that South Africans were forced to live in communities according to their color.  Blacks who made up 80% of the population were forced to move onto only 10% of the country’s land—those so-called “homelands” that had been set up years before.  This kind of treatment went on for decades despite being fought by South Africans and others from all over the world.  Not until the early 1990s was apartheid repealed for good and blacks given the right to vote in their first democratic election.

The desire for white dominance began all the way back in the mid-1600s when the Dutch needed a pit stop along their long trade routes to the East.  They needed a place to restock water, meat, and vegetables and the southern tip of Africa was just the place.  This soon became the first white colony in South Africa.  The Boers or Afrikaners, as these Dutch settlers were known, spoke a language called Afrikaans.  In the early 1800s, the British took over this Dutch colony and South Africa became a part of the British Empire. (BBC, “Problems in South Africa”)  Not long after this came the discovery of gold and the floodgates opened once the black South Africans, Dutch, and British all realized the wealth that would come of it.  White settlers fought blacks for land rights.  The Boers fought the British and demanded their own country.  Eventually, there had to be a decision: should the “white ‘nation’, made up of Boer and Brit, consist of ‘one stream’ or ‘two streams’?” (Welsh 3).  After many years of back and forth, the Brits and Boers were able to streamline their ideas just enough to ensure a surprise National Party win in the 1948 elections.  This is when African oppression ceased to just be the method that whites used to protect their individual interests.  It became the law of the land.  The government had no shame in making apartheid official.

Even before 1948 there were policies in place that aimed at limiting the rights of Africans.  In 1936 about 14% of land in South Africa was set aside for blacks.  This restricted their ability to purchase land elsewhere and ensured the territorial separation of “Native and non-Native” (Welsh).   There were labor concerns, too.  Whites wanted to restrict Africans’ access to the best labor markets so they enacted pass laws that limited their right to move from place to place to look for better jobs.  Even though the government ensured these pass laws were meant to prevent vagabondage and crime, in reality they restricted Africans’ access to urban areas where industry and commerce jobs were more lucrative and relegated them to the lower paying jobs of agriculture and mining in more rural areas.  This led to anger and irritation among blacks, and it only got worse after 1948.

Blacks who moved to towns and cities looking for better jobs were considered “temporary” and were not considered legitimate landowners.  Because most had no right to vote as the requirements for voting were obscure and difficult to meet, nor did they have representation in Parliament, townships in urban areas with high concentrations of blacks were ignored.  Malnutrition, illness, and maladjustment “due to broken families” ran rampant in these parts of town (Welsh).  The idea was to make life in the cities as bad as possible for blacks so they would move out to their “homelands.”  The government phased out hospitals, subsidized housing, and old age homes among other services. The bad situation only got worse when poor whites who also faced bad conditions, but who could vote, voted for politicians who advanced their cause at the expense of the Africans.

The Population Registration Act of 1950 aimed to classify every South African according to race.  Every person was to be identified as belonging to one of four racial classifications—White or European, Colored, Indian (or Asian), and African—and judgments were to be based upon “appearance, general acceptance, and repute” (Welsh 54).  The system was also meant to be inflexible, a principle that would create difficulty for those who might pass as white or who may look different than others in their self-described racial category.  When introducing this new law, a government official offered the rationale that “the determination of a person’s race is of the greatest importance in the enforcement of any existing or future laws in connection with separate residential areas” (54).

The Group Areas Act of 1950 involved the total residential and business segregation of different color groups in every town.  The government claimed that these measures were designed to “eliminate friction between the races…because we believe that all points of contact between the races must be avoided…Contact brings about friction, friction brings about heat, and may cause a conflagration” (55).  Now the impact of racism, that perhaps had for long only really been felt by black Africans, was also felt by those in the Indian and colored sub-groups.  Some believed that this act was a reaction to the success of Indians in South Africa and the desire to acquire their properties and wealth.  The act was highly discriminatory, and although black Africans had been required to live separately from others since the 1920s, Indians and colored people were now also able to live only in certain areas.  Between 1950 and 1984, over 83,000 colored people and 40,000 Indians were moved.

As time went on “separateness” extended to every aspect of daily life for South Africa.  In 1956, the Separate Representation of Voters Act abolished any voting rights for any person of color.  There were separate restaurants, beaches, and public facilities.  Groups used different modes of transportation.  Whites and blacks could not marry.  Mixed race sports were prohibited.  Even cemeteries and blood donations were kept racially separated. ‘Whites Only’ signs were everywhere and they “reminded blacks of their subordinate status and reinforced the humiliation that was an intrinsic part of it” (Welsh and Spence 13).  In 1959 universities were no longer able to admit colored students.  The pass system required Africans to carry reference books at all times for what was called “influx control” by the government. All black men and women were required to carry these reference books, which included personal information like name and employer.  This was a particularly contentious policy because it allowed for the harassment of Africans by police and other officials who claimed they were confirming that blacks were lawfully in a particular area.  Pass book violations were prosecuted on a large scale and by some reports led to millions of convictions.

In 1912, the African National Congress (ANC) was founded.  The group, who was first known as the South African Native National Congress, was originally founded to meet a couple of times a year to discuss the situation of Africans in South Africa.  The group began to fight for the rights of black South Africans when apartheid was established and the continued rule by the white minority and repression of blacks succeeded in further galvanizing the party.  They strived to for several goals: to be a watchdog for African interests, to educate white representatives about the interests of Africans, to remove the color bar, and to push for the equal representation of Africans in parliament.  After World War II there was a big change in how the group voiced their demands.  Where they once took a more submissive role in voicing their demands, they became much more assertive.  Their demands moved towards African nationalism and African interests and away from black and white cooperation and identical interests.  The ANC, and the Pan-African Congress (PAC) which later broke away from the ANC, would prove to be key players in the fight for the end of apartheid.

As time went on, more and more individuals and groups gathered to protest the atrocities of the apartheid policies.  Things came to a head on March 21, 1960 at the Sharpeville police station.  A crowd of 5,000 to 7,000 people had gathered to protest pass book laws which they felt were solely designed to restrict the movement of blacks in white areas.  The law said that anyone found without their required book could be arrested and detained for up to thirty days (Sharpeville Shootout).  The plan was to have black people show up at the police station without their reference books for a non-violent protest they hoped would help force change in the law.  The aim was for so many blacks to be arrested for not carrying their books that the prisons would be overcrowded, there wouldn’t be enough workers, and that without those workers the economy would grind to a halt.  A few hours into the demonstration, for reasons that remain unclear, the police opened fire on the crowd.  69 blacks were killed and over 180 wounded.  It is said that many were shot in the back while fleeing (Welsh and Spence 27).  The massacre resulted in a shockwave of other protests across the country where as many as 80 others were killed.

While the massacre at Sharpeville did serve to heighten international condemnation of the apartheid policies in South Africa, it also resulted in a swift and severe crackdown by the government.  They declared a state of emergency to ensure that the government’s grip on the situation did not loosen whatsoever.  Police forces detained 11,500 people and the ANC and PAC were banned.  The security branch of the police was increased and they were trained to use new weapons including machine guns in order to curb any potential gatherings by protesters.  No longer were any rights to be afforded to anyone in police custody—police could use torture, solitary confinement, and prolonged detention without trial at will.  Deaths in detention became commonplace (Welsh 73).  By 1967, the period that suspects could be detained without trial was indefinite, up from 12 days in 1961, 90 days in 1963, and 180 days in 1965 (Welsh and Spence 30).  The Terrorism Act, which made indefinite detention a legal practice, also entitled police to act as if in a state of war. Because of these extreme measures, by 1990, 73 detainees had died in custody at the hands of interrogators.

In June of 1976 in Soweto, another large gathering turned deadly, this time a march of some 6,000 Africans protesting new education policy.  The new policy mandated schools to teach in Afrikaans instead of English, which was the main language spoken by blacks.  Any deviation from this directive needed to be approved by government officials.  This outraged Africans and tensions began to rise.  When the small police force tried, and failed, to use teargas to disperse the crowd, they turned to violence.  Two protesters were shot and killed by police, and by the end of the day 15 had been fatally wounded.  The repercussions of this deadly protest were felt all around as “sympathy demonstrations” took place across the country.  Between June and February of 1977, police reported 575 deaths throughout the country as a result of these demonstrations.  Some feel that this was a deliberate undercount and that the numbers were really closer to twice that number (Welsh and Spence 41).

Although the ANC started as a watchdog group for the rights of Africans, it became increasingly clear that passive negotiations would not make much of a difference.  In response to the recent political crackdown on protests by blacks, ANC officials decided a more radical approach was necessary to advance their goals and a military wing called Spear of the Nation was established in 1961.  Nelson Mandela was a co-founder.

Nelson Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela in South Africa in 1918 and was later given the name “Nelson” by a teacher at school.  In 1942 he became a lawyer.  Frustrated by the treatment of blacks in South Africa, Mandela joined the ANC in 1944.  Mandela, along with his friend Oliver Tambo, opened South Africa’s first black law firm and worked to protect poor black people from the oppressive apartheid policies.  In this way, he led many young people towards the ANC.  He was arrested and charged with treason along with 155 others in 1956 but was acquitted in 1961.  Around this time and in the wake of the Sharpeville massacre, many members of the ANC, including Mandela, realized that their style of peaceful negotiating was not going to accomplish anything.  A militarized faction called the “Spear of the Nation” was formed.  Of this change he said, “It would be wrong and unrealistic for African leaders to continue preaching peace and nonviolence at a time when the government met our peaceful demands with force. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle” (Nelson Mandela, History).

In 1962, Mandela was arrested again, this time accused with plotting sabotage against South Africa.  He was charged along with several others, found guilty, and given a life sentence.  Even behind bars, Mandela remained the face of the anti-apartheid movement which had spread to countries around the world.  Foreign governments imposed embargoes, South African athletes were not permitted to enter the Olympics from 1964-1992, and South African soccer was banned from FIFA play.  The cracks in the apartheid system started to show in the late 1980s.  In 1989, F.W. de Klerk was elected president and declared that South Africa should be a non-racist country.  He lifted the ban on the ANC.  In February 1990 de Klerk ordered that Mandela be released from prison after spending 27 years behind bars.

Over the next couple of years, the National Party and the ANC negotiated about how apartheid could best be dismantled.  De Klerk and Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and the following year South Africa held its first free elections in which people of all colors could vote.  Nelson Mandela was elected the nation’s first black president.  Apartheid had officially ended.  He is credited with improving race relations and establishing programs to improve the lives of poor Africans.  While it can be argued that conditions are still not equal in South Africa between blacks and whites, it cannot be doubted that lives are better without the government sanctioned racism that lasted for almost 50 years.


The objective for this unit is for students to gain an understanding of the racial struggles that took place in South Africa during apartheid and how apartheid affected the lives of everyone in South Africa.  Students will learn what caused apartheid laws to be established in South Africa and how they affected the lives of people who lived there, specifically non-whites.  Students will determine the events that finally led to the dismantling of the policy.  In addition, students will learn about the life of Nelson Mandela, from his early years as the head of the African National Congress working for equality, to his 27 years spent in jail, to his eventually becoming president of South Africa.


This unit will include a variety of strategies for students to learn about apartheid as well as demonstrate their understanding of the topic.  The unit will start with video clips that discuss similarities and differences between apartheid and the civil rights movement to help put apartheid into context for the students.  They will then view another video clip to get a introductory look at apartheid practices in South Africa.  They will also identify key vocabulary for the unit.  Students will later read an article and use graphic organizers to identify causes and effects of the apartheid policies as well as causes of the downfall of apartheid.  They will view video clips about two protests that turned violent, the Sharpeville massacre and the Soweto uprising.  The last two days of the unit will be spent doing research on Nelson Mandela to create a mock Facebook page for him.  The unit will conclude with an assessment and the completion of their Nelson Mandela Facebook project using the online tool “Fakebook”.

Classroom Activities

These activities are designed to take place in a 60-minute social studies class period.  Although they have been designed to be used in a 7th grade classroom, they can be adapted for use in other grades.  Teachers can also feel free to differentiate for their students where necessary.  Furthermore, these lessons were designed with the technology available to my class in mind, specifically the use of a Promethean board and laptops.  These lessons can be adapted if these materials are not available to you.

Lesson One

Students will identify one similarity and one difference between apartheid in South Africa and the Civil Rights movement in the United States.  They will define key terms that are important for the understanding of apartheid.  Students will also watch various video clips that will give them a glimpse into what life was like for blacks during apartheid.

Do Now:

Display on the board: What do you know about the civil rights movement?  List what you know about the struggle that blacks in this country went through to gain real equality.


Share out do now responses.  Explain to students that racial inequality is a problem that has been felt around the world for centuries, and in some cases still exists today.  We know a lot about what blacks went through in this country, but it is important to know what they went through in other parts of the world.  One country that has had an ugly past regarding race relations is South Africa.  The government there started a policy that wanted to kept blacks and whites completely separated.

  1. Hand out video worksheet (found in the appendix). Play video clips called “Apartheid and Civil Rights” and “The Enforcement of Apartheid” from Project Explorer ( As students watch they should pay special attention when the man explains the difference between the civil rights movement and apartheid and the conditions in which blacks and other colored people lived in.  They will need to record this information on the t-chart at the top of the paper.  After the videos, discuss what students wrote on their chart. They will then use their t-chart to determine one similarity and one difference between the civil rights movement and apartheid and record their findings at the bottom of the worksheet.
  2. Introduce the following terms to students that will help them in their understanding of apartheid: apartheid, Afrikaners, colonialism, African National Congress, segregation, National Party, Nelson Mandela, and F.W. de Klerk. Present the definitions of the words in a manner you see fit for your class (i.e. PowerPoint, overhead, etc.) Students will complete the chart on the back of worksheet #1 with the definitions of these key terms.
apartheid The system of legalized segregation that was officially put into place by the government of South Africa in 1948
Afrikaners A South African of Dutch descent
colonialism The practice by which countries explored, conquered, and settled areas of land.  The Dutch and British both colonized South Africa
African National Congress A group formed in 1912 to represent the interests of blacks in South Africa in the struggle for political, social, and economic equality
segregation The separation of people on the basis of race
National Party The ruling party in South African government from 1948 to 1994 who instituted the apartheid policy
Nelson Mandela A leader of the African National Congress who spent 27 years in prison and then went on to be the first black president of South Africa
F.W. de Klerk President of South Africa from 1989-1994 who brought apartheid to an end


  1. Show a segment from “Witness: South Africa and Apartheid 1948-1994” ( from 1:30-7:30. Students should pay attention to how non-whites are being described and how they are treated and record what they see during the video on the worksheet.

Ask students to share what they saw in the video.  Discuss what they think it would be like to live in South Africa during apartheid.

Lesson Two

Students will read about the history of South Africa and apartheid.  They will determine at least three causes of apartheid and describe effects of the policy on the people of South Africa.  Students will record causes and effects of apartheid on a graphic organizer.


Briefly review what the class learned in day one.  Explain that apartheid is the term for the policies in South Africa that required blacks and whites to live in different places, have different jobs, and also established a sense of white superiority in South Africa.

  1. Provide students with the cause and effect graphic organizer (found in the appendix) and the Scholastic article “Apartheid in South Africa” about apartheid in South Africa found at under the assets tab. Direct students to write the word ‘apartheid’ on the arrow in the middle of the graphic organizer.  In pairs, students will read pages 1-2 of the article. They will determine three causes of apartheid and record them on the left side of the graphic organizer.  They will then record three effects of apartheid on the people of South Africa.  Causes might include: Dutch and British settlers colonized South Africa; when South Africa became independent, most of the leaders were white; whites wanted control of the land and minerals found in South Africa.  Effects may include: all people had to be identified as white, Asian, colored, or black; forced to live in areas according to race; blacks were prevented from working in certain jobs and attending certain schools; people were forced to carry passes that contained their personal information; etc.
  2. Go over chart together as a class. Display the cause and effect chart on Promethean board and invite students to the board to fill in both causes and effects.

Choose one of the effects of apartheid from the chart.  Imagine how this would affect your own life and discuss in a short paragraph.

Lesson Three

Students will read a passage and then identify events that took place that led to the end of apartheid.  They will describe the demonstrations at Sharpeville and Soweto and the international pressure put on South Africa to change their policies.


Explain to students that after a while Africans began to protest the laws of apartheid.  During many of these demonstrations that were usually peaceful, police responded with violence, killing many innocent people.  This got the attention of governments from around the world that said that it was time South Africa ended apartheid.  Finally, apartheid was ended in 1991.

  1. Show two video clips. First a clip about the Sharpeville massacre from “Witness (South Africa and Apartheid 1948-1994)” found at Watch from 17:30-25:23.  Then show a short video about the Soweto uprising from PBS found at
  2. Hand out cause and effect chart (found in appendix). Students will write “apartheid ends” in the effect box.  Students will then read pages 3-5 of the article they started yesterday.  They will look for four events that led to the end of apartheid.  They will describe these events on the graphic organizer.  Events may include Sharpeville massacre, Soweto march, international pressure and embargoes, election of F.W. de Klerk who repealed some of apartheid’s harshest laws, and the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994 that officially ended apartheid.
Lesson Four

Conduct research on Nelson Mandela.  Complete the “Facebook” project template with information about Mandela’s life.  Write two “status updates” from the point of view of Nelson Mandela and one “wall post” from another person.


Introduce Nelson Mandela as perhaps the most famous face of the anti-apartheid movement.  Show the video “Nelson Mandela’s Life Story” (

  1. Students can work individually or in pairs to conduct research on Nelson Mandela. They will access the following website, <>, and read through each of the six tabs on the left side of the screen. As they read, they will fill in the information on the front side of the “Facebook” project template (in appendix).
  2. When finished the front side of the worksheet, students will complete the back side of the worksheet individually. “Status updates” need to be written in the first person point of view from the perspective of Nelson Mandela.

Discuss why Nelson Mandela is known as a hero worldwide.

Lesson Five

Students will complete a unit assessment on apartheid.  Students will create a “facebook” page for Nelson Mandela.

  1. Complete the assessment (found in appendix).
  2. Share the “Facebook” Project requirements and instructions with students (found in appendix). Students will use Fakebook ( to create a page for Nelson Mandela using the information they gathered the previous day.  They will need to follow the step by step directions.  When they finish they must make sure they save their page according to directions.  They need to make sure the web address is written exactly how it appears in the address bar so it can be accessed later.

Collect project sheets from students for future access to their facebook page.  Pages can be graded directly from the internet or printed and displayed.

Annotated Bibliography

PBS Masterpiece. “Apartheid Timeline.”

This website has an extensive, interactive timeline of important events before, during, and after apartheid.  It begins with early history of South Africa which does a lot to show the beginnings of racial struggle.

Kellett, Peter, Mary Mothwa, and Mark Napier. “No Place Like Home: Recording the Struggle for Housing and Work Under Apartheid.” Oral History 30.2 (2002): 35-48. JSTOR. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.

Provides a particularly clear and concise description of what apartheid is and how it discriminates in the first paragraph of the article.

Giliomee, Hermann. “The Making of the Apartheid Plan, 1929-1948.” Journal of Southern African Studies 29.2 (2003): 373-92. Print.

This article about the beginnings of apartheid in South Africa explains the word origins for ‘apartheid’ and suggests some of the first uses of the term.

“A Tribute to Madiba – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.” Web. 01 Apr. 2013. < Nelson Mandela – Madiba.htm>.

While this website includes a biography of Nelson Mandela from birth to today, I am more interested in the photographs.  Of particular interest to me are the photographs taken of Mandela throughout his life, especially during his trial, imprisonment, and release.  There is also a link to a PDF document of the statement Mandela made during his trial in 1964 in which he explains his struggles working for equality with different organizations and how that work was misconstrued as terrorism.  His statements on pages 2 and 3 are the most interesting and useful for this unit.

“BBC 2 Programme Called “Witness (South Africa and Apartheid 1948 – 1994)” (Entire Programme).” YouTube. YouTube, 29 July 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2013

Great video showing footage from South Africa during the apartheid era.  Will be useful in introducing the topic to students and giving them an idea of how blacks and other people deemed “colored” or “Indian” lived.

Neame, Lawrence Elwin. The History of Apartheid. London: Pall Mall Pr. [usw., 1962. Print.

Neame gives a great description of how South Africa was completely behind the ball with respect to race relations.

Welsh, David. The Rise and Fall of Apartheid. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 2009. Print.

This book serves to educate its reader about the events that led to the adoption of apartheid in South Africa, the three main phases of the policy, and the events that eventually led to its downfall.  Welsh does a great job at looking at apartheid from all angles and giving different perspectives.

“African National Congress (ANC).” South African History Online. Web. 1 June 2013.

Website that is particularly helpful in understanding the history of the African National Congress.

Welsh, David, and J. E. Spence. Ending Apartheid. Harlow, England: Longman/Pearson, 2011. Print.

This book focuses more on the process by which apartheid came to an end rather than the conditions that it caused in South Africa.

“1960: Scores Die in Sharpeville Shoot-out.” BBC News. BBC, 21 Mar. 1960. Web. 11 June 2013.

Part of the BBC’s “On This Day” series, this is presented as a newspaper article that succinctly outlines the massacre at Sharpeville on March 21, 1960.  This will also be a useful website for students.

“Nelson Mandela.” A&E Television Networks. Web. 11 June 2013. <>.

A brief outline of Nelson Mandela’s life.  I used the quote where he explains why he started the “Spear of the Nation.”

Reading List for Students

BBC News. Primary History—Famous People.  “Nelson Mandela.”   <>.

This website provides a timeline of events in Nelson Mandela’s life from his early years to adulthood, as well as descriptions of what was happening in South Africa during the apartheid years.

Annotated List of Materials

“Resources.” Apartheid in South Africa. Web. 27 May 2013. <>.

A PDF file can be downloaded from under the “assets” tab on this website to be used in day two of the unit.  This PDF is a great essay about apartheid broken down into sections that discuss the history of South Africa leading up to apartheid, conditions in South Africa under apartheid, and the dismantling of the system.  It is labeled as a resource for grades 9-12, but with direction it can be used in the middle school classroom.

“Video: The World Witnesses the Soweto Uprising | Watch Independent Lens Online | PBS Video.”  Web. 1 June 2013. <>.

This is a short video about the Soweto uprising that does a great job illustrating how quickly the student march went from a peaceful protest of new education policies to a violent riot when police started shooting.

“The History of Apartheid.” Yebo, South Africa! Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

A website that has great descriptions of some of the important ideas in the study of apartheid.  The website also has two videos—“Apartheid and Civil Rights” and “The Enforcement of Apartheid”–that will be used to introduce the topic of apartheid to the class.   The first video does a good job explaining how the civil rights movement in the US and apartheid in South Africa, while both concerning racial equality, are actually quite different.

BBC News. Primary History—Famous People.  “Nelson Mandela.”   <>.

This website provides a timeline of events in Nelson Mandela’s life from his early years to adulthood, as well as descriptions of what was happening in South Africa during the apartheid years.  It is interactive and the website has several pictures, videos, and links that serve to enhance the students’ understanding of Nelson Mandela.


Name _____________________________________________________                                   Civil Rights vs. Apartheid

Date ___________________________ Room ___________________

Video Worksheet

As you watch the video clips called “Apartheid and Civil Rights” and “The Enforcement of Apartheid” write down details about the civil rights movement and apartheid in the chart below.

Civil Rights Movement Apartheid


Describe one way the civil rights movement and apartheid were similar.





Describe one way the civil rights movement and apartheid were different.






The following terms will be helpful in our study of apartheid.  Complete the chart with definitions of the key terms.

African National Congress
National Party
Nelson Mandela
F.W. de Klerk


As you watch the clip of “Witness: South Africa and Apartheid 1948-1994” record what you see.  How do the whites describe the Africans and other colored people in South Africa?  How do you see Africans being treated?


Facebook Project Template: Nelson Mandela

Name _____________________________________



Date of Birth  














Interests/ Beliefs




Relationship Status/ Children




Time in Prison When he was arrested:



Convicted of what crime:


What was his sentence:


How long he served:


When he was released:


After Prison What office he was elected to:



When he was elected:



Write two “status updates” from the point of view of Nelson Mandela.  Each must be from a significant day in his life (ex. sent to prison for life sentence; released from jail; elected as first black president of South Africa) Be sure to include the correct date of each event and use details from what you learned.

1. Date ______________________________________








2. Date ______________________________________









Write at least one “wall post” from a significant person in Nelson Mandela’s life or from yourself.  It should have to do with the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa.

1. From _______________________________________








2. From _______________________________________








Nelson Mandela “Facebook” Project

This “facebook” activity will be the culminating project in our study of apartheid.  You will be creating a facebook page for Nelson Mandela using the research you conducted. 

The facebook page will include biographical information about Nelson Mandela (that is, information about his life), two “status updates” and a “wall post”. 

After completing the fact sheet, you will then use the Fakebook feature on to create your page. 

  1. 1. Start with the name of Nelson Mandela. Select a profile picture for them.  One will automatically come up when you type in his name, but you can search for a different picture if you wish.
  2. Add at least four “friends” of Nelson Mandela. These can include family members, friends, coworkers, or groups he was involved in.
  3. Click on “Click here to Edit Profile.” Enter information about Mandela’s life.  You must include all starred information (his name, birth name, date of birth, hometown, education, occupations (before and after prison), interests/beliefs, relationship status, children) **When you write in the information box, you must put the category (ex. relationship status), an equals sign, a space, and then the detail.  Example: relationship status= married to…
  4. Write two “status updates” and one “wall post”. These must be in chronological order and must meet the requirements on the facebook template.  All posts must be in complete sentences.
  5. When finished, click the save button on the right side of the page. It will ask you to put in a password (use your first name) and then it will save your page as a real website!  Record the address to your new website exactly how it is written here:


All spelling and grammar must be correct in order for this to be accepted.

All information and status updates need to be written from the first person point of view since technically Nelson Mandela would be making this Facebook page himself.

Once the Facebook page is created, we will save and print out your creation.  This is designed to be a fun project, so be creative, but also remember that this is a grade!

Name ___________________________________________________                                                     Quiz: Apartheid

Date _________________________ Room ___________________


  1. What was apartheid? Where did this take place?




  1. List at least three effects apartheid had on peoples’ lives.





  1. What were people protesting when they went to the Sharpeville police station in 1961? What was the result of this protest?




  1. Who is Nelson Mandela? What was his role in ending apartheid?





  1. How did apartheid officially come to an end? Explain.





This unit meets Pennsylvania Common Core standards for History and Social Studies.  The unit will also satisfy two objectives from the School District of Philadelphia’s planning and scheduling timeline: trace the history of colonization and settlement in South Africa and describe the impact of apartheid on the country.

Standards addressed in this unit:

CC.8.5.6-8.A: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

CC.8.5.6-8.D: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

CC.8.5.6-8.G: Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

CC.8.5.6-8.F: Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).

CC.8.6.6-8.B: Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.

CC.8.6.6-8.G: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.