Today, our 'potentially final' installment in explaining the issues surrounding the land issue in South Africa. We say 'potentially final' because whilst today we'll go from 1900 - the present day, there is so much being said on this issue at the moment that we may have to return to the issue in later posts.
For various reasons, many historians attribute the contemporary myre to the 1913 Native Land Act which effectively made it impossible for blacks to own land or property and illegal for whites to sell land to blacks. From one day to the next, black farmers went from being farm owners and employers (some even employed whites) into tenants subsistence farmers on their own land.
Contrary to popular belief, however,blacks were not deprived of owning any land: they were just deprived of owning landing in the most arable areas. In practice, the actual parts of the country that they could own was so small (less than 20% of the land) and so relatively unfertile that there was no way it would ever have been able to sustain even the black population at the time, let alone by the end of the 20th century.
It was however the first time in South Africa's history that land and access to it was segregated and most historians agree that the Native Land Act paved the way for what later became apartheid and the Bantustans.
Imagine the result in any country where 80% of the population is prohibited from owning any land or property. As any economist will tell you, land and property are ultimately the bed rock of prosperity and intergenerational wealth: as such, it's a miracle that most South Africans have remained so patient for so long.