In 1962 the South African government established the first of the bantustans, the Transkei, as the homeland of the Xhosa people, and granted it limited self-government in 1963, later becoming "independent." Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, and Venda were also granted "independence," but no nation other than South Africa recognized them. Lebowa, Kangwane, Gazankulu, Qwaqwa, KwaZulu, and KwaNdebele were declared "self-governing" in the 1970s.
None of the reserves were viable nations; they were made up of broken tracts of poor-quality land, riddled with erosion and incapable of supporting their large designated populations. With no industry, opportunities for employment were few. Urban wage earners attempted to contribute to the support of their families in the reserves, but the level of black wages was so low that this was barely feasible. In 1994 the bantustans were abolished and the territories were reabsorbed into the nation of South Africa.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.