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date: 10 December 2022

Youth in South Africa’s Bantustanslocked

Youth in South Africa’s Bantustanslocked

  • Anne HeffernanAnne HeffernanDepartment of History, Durham University


During the second half of the 20th century, South Africa was both literally and figuratively divided by the apartheid state’s “homeland” policy, which created ten ethnic reserves scattered across the country. These reserves, termed “homelands” by the state but renamed “Bantustans” by those critical of the racial balkanization of South Africa, were designed to segregate the country’s black population in rural areas. Reserves were founded on the basis of ethnonationalist ideals and in some cases were granted a form of quasi-independence, as a way to displace black South Africans’ claims to citizenship of the Republic of South Africa onto the Bantustans. Between the 1960s and 1990s these spaces played an integral role in South Africa’s own history; they were particularly influential for young people who came of age and were educated in Bantustan institutions. Circulation between cities and the Bantustans was a common feature of life in late-20th-century South Africa, and it was a key component of political mobilization. After the end of political apartheid and into the 21st century, Bantustans have continued to shape the lives of some young South Africans, even though they no longer formally exist.


  • Southern Africa

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