About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Homelands (Bantustans)

The 'homelands' policy was designed to maintain white supremacy and strengthen the government's apartheid policy. By definition a 'Bantustan' was an area set aside for African self-government and eventual independence. Later the word Bantustan was replaced by the less offensive but inaccurate term 'homeland'. Many people had over the years abandoned their ethnic regions and made their homes elsewhere in South Africa – a factor which the government refused to take into consideration. In 1951 the first stage of the policy was implemented. Black Local Authorities* were set up in designated areas, but these soon met with bitter opposition from the local people because the chiefs and headmen that had been selected had very little real autonomy; furthermore they were promptly deposed and replaced if they did not cooperate with government officials. Resistance to the system was particularly vociferous in Pondoland, the Transkei and Sekhukhuneland. In 1959 the second step was taken with the passing of the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act. Eight ethnically defined areas were thereby designated to be given the machinery for self-government. Once this status had been attained it was envisaged that full independence (see under Independent States*) would subsequently be granted. In 1963 the Transkei became the first homeland to achieve self-government.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.