As Apartheid disenfranchised the non-white population of South Africa, squatter camps like this one sprang up in Soweto.

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In the aftermath of World War II, as much of the developed world was embarking on an era of increasing liberalism, South Africa was in the process of turning its policies of racial segregation into a more rigid system of oppression called Apartheid [source: MSU].

It means "apartness" in Afrikaans, the Dutch-derived hybrid language that developed in the course of European conquest in southern Africa. Apartheid was an era of extreme, legalized racism that systematically subjugated the region's black majority to white rule. Under this system, black Africans -- along with the smaller populations of Indians and people of mixed-race -- were fired from their jobs, forced onto reservations, removed from the political process, stripped of their citizenship, denied freedom of movement and speech and education and routinely humiliated by white "masters."

The Apartheid era officially began in 1948, but it was the culmination of centuries of racial discrimination. How Apartheid came about, and how it managed to survive into the 1990s, despite both internal and external pressure, hinges on a complex set of social, political and economic circumstances, but at least one aspect of the path to white dominion in South Africa is clear: It begins in 1652,the year the Dutch East India Company arrived to set up a rest station along the route from Europe to India [source: MSU].

The destruction of entire indigenous societies starts there, near the Cape of Good Hope.