What are some similarities and differences between Vietnam's struggle for independence and the campaign against apartheid in South Africa?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both were struggles waged by the native people who already lived in the region before the Europeans arrived.  The Vietnamese removed the French in a war and then fought to remove Americans who were trying to prevent the spread of Communism.  The war was quite bloody, especially when considered from the civilian side.  Vietnam was considered a major flashpoint in the Cold War, and the country received billions of dollars from American, Soviet, and Chinese forces.

Apartheid, on the other hand, had fewer international implications.  No one was worried that the fight to end apartheid in South Africa would spread into a global war.  Supportive nations levied sanctions against the South African government in order to protest apartheid, and people gave speeches to support Nelson Mandela.  Ending apartheid did not end with the ouster of the Europeans; instead it ended with legislation that allowed the two groups to live in peace and cooperation.  

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major similarity would be that both the colonization of Vietnam and the apartheid system in South Africa were imposed on the natives of the area by outsiders.  In that sense, then, the struggles were similar because they were struggles against outside oppression.

But the differences are great.  The most important is that, by the end of their struggle, the Vietnamese had support from other countries (China and the USSR) and were able to wage an actual military struggle against the French.  By contrast, the anti-apartheid struggle was largely a non-violent one (on the part of the anti-apartheid side, at least).  It was supported by outside countries, but only in moral ways like sanctions against South African sports teams, not with weapons.