A bantustan or more commonly black african homeland or simply homeland, was territory set aside for black inhabitants of South Africa and South-West Africa (now Namibia), as part of the policy of apartheid. Ten bantustans were established in South Africa, and ten in neighbouring South-West Africa (then under South African administration), for the purpose of concentrating their members of designated ethnic groups, thus making each of those territories ethnically homogeneous as the basis for creating autonomous nation states for South Africa's different black ethnic groups.

The term was first used in the late 1940s, and was coined from 'Bantu' (meaning 'people' in the Bantu languages) and '-stan' (meaning 'land of' in the Persian, Urdu, Hindi and Armenian languages, equivalent to the Latin ending "-ia" and the Germanic "-land"). It was regarded as a disparaging term by some critics of the apartheid-era government's 'homelands' (from Afrikaans "tuisland"). The word 'bantustan', today, is often used in a pejorative sense when describing a country or region that lacks any real legitimacy or power, consists of several unconnected enclaves, and/or emerges from national or international gerrymandering.

Some of the bantustans received 'independence'. In South Africa, Transkei, Venda, Bophuthatswana, and Ciskei (the so-called TBVC states) were declared independent, while others (like KwaZulu, Lebowa, and QwaQwa), received partial autonomy, but were never granted independence. In South-West Africa, Ovamboland, Kavangoland, and East Caprivi were granted self-determination. The condition of sovereign independent states was not recognised outside of South Africa.


CIA in 1979 with data from the 1970 South African census
Well before the National Party came to power in 1948, South African governments had established "reserves" in 1913 and 1936, with the intention of segregating black South Africans from whites. National Party Minister for Native Affairs (and later Prime Minister) Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd built on this, introducing a series of measures that reshaped South African society such that whites would be the demographic majority. The creation of the homelands or Bantustans was a central element of this strategy because blacks were to be made involuntary citizens of these homelands, losing their original South African citizenship and voting rights. which enabled whites to remain in control of South Africa.

Verwoerd argued that the Bantustans were the "original homes" of the black peoples of South Africa. In 1951, the government of Daniel Francois Malan introduced the Bantu Authorities Act to establish "homelands" allocated to the country's different black ethnic groups. These amounted to 13% of the country's land, the remainder being reserved for the white population. Local tribal leaders were co-opted to run the homelands, and uncooperative chiefs were forcibly deposed. Over time, a ruling black élite emerged with a personal and financial interest in the preservation of the homelands. While this aided the homelands' political stability to an extent, their position was still entirely dependent on South African support.

The role of the homelands was expanded in 1959 with the passage of the Bantu Self-Government Act, which set out a plan called "Separate Development". This enabled the homelands to establish themselves as self-governing, quasi-independent states. This plan was stepped up under Verwoerd's successor as prime minister, John Vorster, as part of his "enlightened" approach to apartheid. However, the true intention of this policy was to make South Africa's blacks nationals of the homelands rather than of South Africa--thus removing the few rights they still had as citizens. The homelands were encouraged to opt for independence, as this would greatly reduce the number of black citizens of South Africa. The process was completed by the Black Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970, which made black South Africans into citizens of the homelands, even if they lived in "white South Africa", and cancelled their South African citizenship.

In parallel with the creation of the homelands, South Africa's population was subjected to a massive programme of forced relocation. It has been estimated that 3.5 million people were forced from their homes from the 1960s through the 1980s, many being resettled in the Bantustans.

The government made clear that its ultimate aim was the total removal of the black population from South Africa. Connie Mulder, the Minister of Plural Relations and Development, told the House of Assembly on 7 February 1978:

:"If our policy is taken to its logical conclusion as far as the black people are concerned, there will be not one black man with South African citizenship ... Every black man in South Africa will eventually be accommodated in some independent new state in this honourable way and there will no longer be an obligation on this Parliament to accommodate these people politically."fact|date=August 2008

But this goal was not achieved. Only about 55% of South Africa's population lived in the Bantustans; the remainder lived in South Africa proper, many in townships, shanty-towns and slums on the outskirts of South African cities. This was, among other reasons, because the economy of white South Africa depended on access to a black labour force.

The Bantustans began to be given independence in 1976, with Transkei the first to obtain this status. But none of them received recognition from the outside world, which regarded them as little more than puppet states of South Africa. Indeed, all of them remained economically dependent on Pretoria. Their territories were broken up into numerous, non-contiguous enclaves, and the boundaries between these were very convoluted. In one instance, the South African embassy to Bophuthatswana had to be moved because it turned out that it had actually been built in South Africa rather than the homeland.fact|date=August 2008 In another instance, Transkei cut diplomatic relations with South Africa between 1978 and 1980 over a territorial dispute.

A similar policy was pursued in South African-occupied South West Africa (present-day Namibia), where ten Bantustans were created. ("See Bantustans in South West Africa for more on this topic.")

Life in the Bantustans

The Bantustans were generally poor, with few local employment opportunities being available.

Their single most important home-grown source of revenue was the provision of casinos and topless revue shows, which the National Party government had prohibited in South Africa proper as being "immoral". This provided a lucrative source of income for the South African elite, who constructed megaresorts such as Sun City in the homeland of Bophuthatswana. In this, and other respects, the South African Bantustans somewhat resembled the Native American reservations in the United States and Canada, although the parallel is not exact.

However, the homelands were only kept afloat by massive subsidies from the South African government; for instance, by 1985 in Transkei, 85% of the homeland's income came from direct transfer payments from Pretoria. The Bantustans' governments were invariably corrupt and little wealth trickled down to the local populations, who were forced to seek employment as "guest workers" in South Africa proper. Millions of people had to work in often appalling conditions, away from their homes for months at a time. – for example, 65% of Bophuthatswana's population worked outside the 'homeland'.

Not surprisingly, the homelands were extremely unpopular among the urban black population, many of whom lived in squalor in slum housing. Their working conditions were often equally poor, as they were denied any significant rights or protections in South Africa proper. The allocation of individuals to specific homelands was often quite arbitrary. Many individuals assigned to homelands did not live in or originate from the homelands to which they were assigned, and the division into designated ethnic groups often took place on an arbitrary basis, particularly in the case of people of mixed ethnic ancestry.


With the demise of the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Bantustans were dismantled and their territory reincorporated into the Republic of South Africa. The drive to achieve this was spearheaded by the African National Congress as a central element of its programme of reform. Reincorporation was mostly achieved peacefully, although there was some resistance from the local elites, who stood to lose out on the opportunities for corruption provided by the homelands. The dismantling of the homelands of Bophuthatswana and Ciskei was particularly difficult. In Ciskei, South African security forces had to intervene in March 1994 to defuse a political crisis.

From 1994, most parts of the country were constitutionally redivided into new provincial governments.

Nevertheless many leaders of former Bantustans or Homelands have had a role in South African politics since their abolition. Mangosuthu Buthelezi was chief minister of his kwa-Zulu homeland from 1976 until 1994. In post-Apartheid South Africa he has served as President of the Inkatha Freedom Party. Bantubonke Holomisa, who was a general in the homeland of Transkei from 1987, has served as the president of the United Democratic Movement since 1997. General Constand Viljoen, an Afrikaner who served as chief of the South African Defence Forces, sent 1500 of his militiamen to protect Lucas Mangope and to contest the termination of Bophuthatswana as a homeland in 1994. He founded the Freedom Front in 1994. Lucas Mangope, former chief of the Motsweda Ba hurutshe-Boo-Manyane tribe of the Tswana and head of Bophuthatswana is President of the United Christian Democratic Party.

List of Bantustans

Bantustans in South Africa

The homelands are listed below with the ethnic group for which each homeland was designated. Four were nominally independent (the so-called TVBC states of the Transkei, Venda, Bophuthatswana and the Ciskei). The other six had limited self-government:

* Transkei (Xhosa) — declared independent on 26 October 1976
* Bophuthatswana (Tswana) — declared independent on 6 December 1977
* Venda (Venda) — declared independent 13 September 1979
* Ciskei (also Xhosa) — declared independent on 4 December 1981
* Gazankulu ( [Shangaan|Tsonga [Shangaan] )
* KaNgwane (Swazi)
* KwaNdebele (Ndebele)
* KwaZulu (Zulu)
* Lebowa (Northern Sotho or Pedi)
* QwaQwa (Southern Sotho)

The first Bantustan was the Transkei, under the leadership of Chief Kaizer Daliwonga Matanzima in the Cape Province for the Xhosa nation. Perhaps the best known one was KwaZulu for the Zulu nation in Natal Province, headed by a member of the Zulu royal family Chief Mangosuthu ("Gatsha") Buthelezi in the name of the Zulu king.

Lesotho and Swaziland were not Bantustans, but independent countries, and are former British Protectorates. These countries are mostly or entirely surrounded by South African territory, and are almost totally dependent on South Africa, but have never had any formal political dependence on South Africa, and were recognised as sovereign states by the international community from the time they were granted their independence by Britain in the 1960s.

Bantustans in South West Africa

Beginning in 1968, and following the 1964 recommendations of the commission headed by Fox Odendaal, homelands (or Bantustans) similar to those in South Africa were established in South West Africa (present-day Namibia). In July 1980 the system was changed to one of separate governments on the basis of ethnicity only, and not geography. These governments were abolished in May 1989 at the start of the transition to independence. Of the ten homelands established in South West Africa, only three were granted self-government.
Namibia as of 1978]

The bantustans were:

*East Caprivi (self rule 1976)
*Hereroland (self-rule 1970)
*Kavangoland (self-rule 1973)

Usage in non-South African contexts

The term "Bantustan" has also been used in a number of non-South African contexts, generally to refer to actual or perceived attempts to create ethnically-based states or regions. Its connection with apartheid has meant that the term is now generally used in a pejorative sense as a form of criticism:

* "The term 'Bantustan' was used by apartheid's apologists in reference to the partition of India in 1947. However, it quickly became pejorative in left and anti-apartheid usage, where it remained, while being abandoned by the National Party in favour of 'homelands'." [Susan Mathieson and David Atwell, "Between Ethnicitiy and Nationhood: Shaka Day and the Struggle over Zuluness in post-Apartheid South Africa" in "Multicultural States: Rethinking Difference and Identity" edited by David Bennett ISBN 0-415-12159-0 (Routledge UK, 1998) p.122]
* In relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, critics of Israeli government policies have claimed that Israel seeks to implement a "bantustan model" for the Palestinian territories [" [,,1203156,00.html Bantustan plan for an apartheid Israel] ", "The Guardian", London. 25 April 2004] [ [ The Myth of the Israeli Bantustan offer at Taba and other myths] (] (See Israel and the apartheid analogy for a fuller discussion of this parallel.)
* In Canada, one "Ottawa Citizen" newspaper editorial criticised the largely Inuit territory of Nunavut as being the country's "first Bantustan, an apartheid-style ethnic homeland." [" [ The Mille Lacs Treaty Case is over, but don't stop fighting for what you believe in] ", "Ottawa Citizen"] .
* The increasing numbers of small states in the Balkans, following the breakup of Yugoslavia, have also been referred to as "bantustans". ["The destabilisation of current "Bantustan" states either has the goal of creating a Balkan federation or the resurrection of Yugoslavia" [ Déjà vu?] , The Center for Peace in the Balkans, August 2001. Accessed June 16, 2006.] ["As a region where, during the last hundred years, all the modern political forms have been tried out, from empire to revolutionary republic, from multi-national federation to nation state to protectorate, a series repeated in the last century's decade as in an abridged, though not more successful edition, skipping revolutionary republic, while adding self-imposed bantustan." Mocnik, Rastko. [ Social change in the Balkans] , "Eurozine", March 20, 2003. Accessed June 16, 2006.]
* The Sinhalese government of Sri Lanka has been accused of turning Tamil areas into "bantustans". ["The Tamil areas were on the one hand colonised, and on the other, by a policy of "benign neglect", turned into a backyard bantustan." Ponnambalam, Satchi. [ Sri Lanka : The National Question and the Tamil Liberation Struggle] , Chapter 8.3, Zed Books Ltd, London, 1983.]
* The term has also been used to refer to Pakistan, ["Our President should make the Americans realise that Pakistan is no Bantustan." Minhas, Moazzam Tahir. [ Prelude to China's containment] , "The Nation", July, 2005.] and to the living conditions of Dalits in India. ["Gaurav Apartments came up 15 years ago as the realisation of the dream of Ram Din Rajvanshi to carve out secure, dignified residential space for dalit families that can afford to buy a two or three-bedroom flat rather than as a "bantustan" for low-caste people." Devraj, Ranjit. [ Dalits create space for themselves] , "Asia Times Online", January 26, 2005. ]
* The term has been used with regard to the sectarian policies adopted by the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland from 1920-1966.


ee also

*History of South Africa in the apartheid era
*Black Homeland Citizenship Act
*Bantustans in South West Africa
*Indian reservation
*Racial segregation
*Internal passport
*Ethnic cleansing

External links

* [ Bantustan policy]
* [ Encyclopaedia Britannica, Bantustan]

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