Literacy capsule 19: The Afrikaans word apartheid [?-pï¿½rt’h?t’] is from the Dutch word apart, “separate.” The suffix –heid is the equivalent of the English suffix –hood.
Apartheid is the state of being apart or separate. Its original meaning is the racial segregation established and enforced by law in the Republic of South Africa. By extension, it is now used as a synonym for any kind of segregation.
Although racial segregation existed in South African from colonial times, apartheid as a legal construction was established in 1948 when all inhabitants were classified into specific racial groups: black, white, colored, and Indian. Residential areas were strictly segregated, sometimes by forced removals of people already living in them. Access to education, medical care, and other public services was limited so as to give the better resources to “whites.”
South African apartheid was abolished between 1990 and 1994 through the efforts of South African president F. W. de Kierk and Nelson Mandela. They shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.