In many ways the Republic of South Africa is one of the most modern and developed countries on the A rican continent. It is also one of the most troubled. South Africa's troubles stem mainly from its official system of separating whites from those who are not white though a practice called apartheid. In 1948 the South African government came under control of the Nationalist party.

The Nationalist's goals have been to establish formally the separation of the races through the policy of culture and future. Ideally, each racial group would be separate, but equal to the others. However, apartheid has not reached its ideal. Instead, the law has been used to reinforce whit privilege, status, power, and wealth. Black Africans have had little access to the great riches and economic opportunities of their country.

Most rural whites are Afrikaners (descendants of Dutch settlers) who live in large houses either in farms or in villages. Most rural blacks live in the homelands, territory set aside for blacks by the government, or on farms owned by whites, where the blacks are laborers. The homelands eventually are to receive independence from South Africa. Under apartheid blacks were allowed to live in the rest of South Africa only if they had jobs outside the homelands. In urban areas, blacks live in segregated ghettos outside the city. Theses ghettos are called 'townships.' Blacks who worked in the neighboring cities were required to spend their nonworking time in these townships.

Blacks were required to always carry with them a brown booklet that tells where that person is allowed to live, work, and what kind of work that person can do.