South Africans fought alongside the Allies in both world wars, but Afrikaner opposition to British support continued throughout. The opponents of involvement were very much in the minority and whites from both language groups volunteered in large numbers, as did those of mixed descent. South Africans fought in German South West Africa (now Namibia) during the First World War. Other areas of operation were East Africa and western Europe where, at Delville Wood, 3152 South Africans held their positions against massive bombardment and counter attack. 755 survived unwounded. During the Second World War, South Africans again fought against the Nazis in East Africa, in the Western Desert and in Europe, forging a path up the spine of Italy in one of the toughest campaigns of the war.

The years between the forming of the Union in 1910 and the historical parliamentary election of 1948 witnessed the growth of South Africa into a powerful industrial nation. The National Party won its first election under the leadership of D. F. Malan in 1948. Its rise to power marked the beginnings of the apartheid era. For the first time Afrikaners were in the driving seat and legal segregation on racial lines became the main thrust of policy.

Apartheid stunted the economic growth of the country. The world shunned it and sanctions brought South Africa to its knees. Cape Town suffered enormously as ships no longer docked at the port, and instead, by-passed the Cape. Many Capetonians emigrated to other parts of the world, taking with them the expertise so desperately needed in a growing economy.

During the last decade, violence and bloodshed have brought a nation to the turning-point of reconciliation. The 1994 election saw the inauguration of the first black State President, Nelson Mandela, who headed a government of national unity.

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