What impact did the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act have on people's lives?

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The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, passed in 1952, gave formal legal protection to the racial segregation of public space that was already widespread throughout South Africa at the time. The dominant Afrikaaner minority of South Africa (decedents of Dutch settlers) were committed to maintaining a white supremacist system that denied the indigenous people of South Africa access to most of their historic land and full rights through the apartheid system. Apartheid (from "apart" + "hood") built on the historic colonial conditions that developed under British colonial rule and intensified them as South Africa shifted from British to Afrikaaner rule.

The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act specifically applied to public vehicles, services, and spaces. Following a court ruling arguing that segregated facilities needed to be equal (similar to the US doctrine of "separate but equal" racial segregation) the government passed the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act to explicitly protect segregation without any facade of equal facilities.

Thus, we can see the act as having a few major effects: first, allowing whites to move through public space without encountering members of South Africa's indigenous population. By decreasing contact, the apartheid regime was able to make it harder to build solidarity across racial lines, allow white residents to more easily ignore the mass poverty apartheid inflicted on South Africa's black residents. Additionally, the policy allow white residents to have less crowded and higher quality public services/spaces, since black residents were denied access. Further, the segregation of public space supported residential segregation and the general apartheid model of seeking to create a white-only society, keeping the indigenous population confined to living in poor, overcrowded conditions in small pieces of land that the ruling white majority was not interested in.

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The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act of 1953 was significant because it formally institutionalized the policy of racial segregation supported by South Africa's white, predominately Afrikaaner rulers. The Afrikaaners are descendants of the Dutch settlers who emigrated to southern Africa during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Afrikaaners consolidated their hold on power following the Boer Wars of the 18th and late 18th to early 19th centuries, during which the Dutch settlers, known as "boers" or "farmers," fought the British Army to a veritable standstill. The result of the Second Boer War was the beginning of the end of Britain's imperial control over large regions of southern Africa.

The Afrikaaner-led government of South Africa was seriously racist in its approach to the region's indigenous black populations. In 1949, the government passed the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, which did precisely what its title suggests: prohibited marriages between white people and black people. The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act represented the Afrikaaners' efforts at further cementing their superiority over the vast region while impoverishing the much larger black majority. As a result of the Act's passage, South Africa's black majority was forcibly confined to select tracts of land and deprived of civil rights on par with those of the white populations (which, in addition to the Dutch, included South African citizens of British heritage and mixed-race people). Until the end of apartheid in the early 1990s and the establishment of a majority black government, the racial segregation institutionalized in the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act was ruthlessly enforced by the white-led government.

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The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act was passed in South Africa in 1953. It had a tremendous impact on the people’s lives. This law was a part of the system of segregation that existed in South Africa. It impacted both whites and non-whites because it allowed a legal basis for separating the races.

This law allowed for segregation in public places. Restaurants, bathrooms, theaters, and hotels were some examples where segregation existed. Segregation was also found in the educational system at all levels, including the university level. Since the segregated facilities and institutions weren’t equal in quality, this law basically implied that the races weren’t equal in South Africa.

Segregation, or the apartheid system, was a part of the way of life in South Africa for many years. It wasn’t until 1990 that the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act was repealed. It took until 1994 for the apartheid system to end in South Africa. There was a great deal of worldwide pressure placed on South Africa to end the apartheid system.

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