HUM 211 African Timelines: History, Orature, Literature, and
people migrated into South Africa from the north, displacing or absorbing tribes
of Khoisan hunter-gatherers.
sailors rounded the Cape of Good Hope. The Cape quickly became an important
station for European ships en route to Asia.
founded a colony at Cape Town. The colony soon began expanding north and east.
The Dutch ceded
the Cape Colony to Great Britain toward the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
Boers began leaving the Cape Colony on the Great Trek and settled in the Natal
area. The exodus continued into the early 1840s.
region became independent. The Orange Free State became an independent republic
two years later.
discovered near Kimberley. Mineral deposits transformed South Africa’s economy
in the late 19th century.
defeated the Zulu.
deposits were discovered in the Witwatersrand, near Johannesburg.
annexed the Transvaal region (the South African Republic) and the Orange Free
State after bitter fighting during the Boer War.
The Union of
South Africa was founded.
troops seized a German colony in southwestern Africa during World War I. South
Africa occupied this area, later known as Namibia, under a United Nations
mandate after the war.
gained full independence as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Party instituted a policy of racial segregation called apartheid.
National Congress (ANC) was outlawed.
Sharpeville Massacre, incident in 1960, when South African police opened fire on a crowd of black protesters. The confrontation occurred in the township of Sharpeville, in what is now Gauteng province, in northeastern South Africa.
Following the election of the National Party to office in South Africa in 1948, a policy of racial segregation known as apartheid was introduced. Apartheid was designed to regulate the lives of the black majority and to maintain white minority rule. Legislation was passed governing where blacks could live and work, and massive restrictions were placed on the exercise of civil liberties. During the 1950s black protest against apartheid mounted. This was organized by the African National Congress (ANC, founded in 1912) and by its rival, the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC, founded in 1959). The PAC called for a nationwide demonstration on March 21, 1960, against South Africa's pass laws, which controlled the movement and employment of blacks and forced them to carry "reference books" of identity papers. As part of this mass demonstration, a large crowd gathered outside a police station in Sharpeville, some people burning their reference books. The police, fearing the crowd was becoming hostile, panicked and opened fire. They continued to shoot as the protesters tried to run away, and 69 blacks were killed, including women and children. More than 180 people were injured.
The uproar among South African blacks was immediate, and the following week saw demonstrations, protest marches, strikes, and riots around the country. On March 30, 1960, the government declared a state of emergency, detaining more than 18,000 people. The ANC and the PAC were banned and forced to go underground or into exile. Thereafter, both movements abandoned the traditional strategy of nonviolent protest and turned increasingly to armed struggle. A storm of international protest followed the Sharpeville shootings, including condemnation by the United Nations. Sharpeville marked a turning point in South Africa's history; the country found itself increasingly isolated in the international community for the next 30 years.
"Sharpeville Massacre". Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001
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South Africa became a republic.
apartheid in the black township of Soweto were brutally crushed by the
protests against apartheid began throughout South Africa.
agreed to allow Namibia to become an independent country.
F. W. de Klerk
was freed after 27 years in prison, and the ANC was legalized.
abolished, and South Africa began preparing for multiracial elections.
Mandela and de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their leadership towards a democratic South Africa.
1994 Mandela led the ANC to victory in South Africa's first free elections and became president.
By 1000 AD
Khoikhoi and San peoples were scatttered throughout what is now South Africa,
while some Bantu-speaking peoples occupied the northern region. In 1652 the
first Dutch settlers arrived at an area adjacent to the Cape of Good Hope.
Pressure on the Khoikhoi cattle-herding people and on the San hunter-gatherers
increased as more Dutch and French Huguenots arrived, and by the 18th century
most had lost their lands to these European settlers. Cape Town became a major
port as a way station for East Indies trade. The colonists, mostly farmers and
cattle herders, became known as Boers, or Afrikaners, and soon developed their
own distinctive culture and language (Afrikaans). During the second half of the
17th century, slaves began to be imported from Asia and other parts of Africa.
In the 1770s the European settlers encountered Bantu-speaking peoples, who were
ending 2000 years of migration. Nguni Bantu groups settled in the area between
the Drakensberg Mountains and the sea, while Sotho groups occupied the interior
north of Cape Colony. In the early 19th century competition for land led to a
period of conflict and forced migration among Bantu-speaking peoples, known as
the mfecane. Hundreds of thousands died during the wars, entire
groups disappeared, and centralization resulted in the creation of many Bantu
nations (including Swazi, Zulu, and Sotho).
Early British Settlement
twice occupied the Cape region, in 1795 and 1806; in 1814, toward the end of the
Great Britain purchased the Cape Colony from the Dutch for £6 million. After
1820 thousands of British colonists arrived in South Africa, and they demanded
that English law be imposed. English became the official language in 1822; the
Khoikhoi were given protection; and slavery was abolished in 1833. These
measures were bitterly resented by the Afrikaners, and resulted in the Great Trek,
in which thousands of Afrikaners moved northward, settling across the Orange
River, the Vaal River, and in Natal. They drove the Ndebele tribe across the
Limpopo River and fought the Zulu before establishing a series of settlements in
the area. The British soon occupied the coastal region of Natal and established
a crown colony there in 1843. Most Afrikaners then left Natal and headed west
and north, where they eventually established the Orange Free State, in what is
now central South Africa, and the South African Republic, in what is now
northeastern South Africa. The British along the eastern Cape frontier
encroached on Xhosa lands, causing several bloody wars. The governor of the Cape
Colony, Sir Harry Smith, gained control over the Orange Free State in 1848, and
the territory was renamed the Orange River Sovereignty. Smith's policy of
expansion was repudiated by the British government, however, which recognized
the independence of the Transvaal territories in 1852 and of the Orange Free
State in 1854. By the late 1850s the territories beyond the Vaal had coalesced
into the South African Republic. Although attempts to unite the two Afrikaner
republics were unsuccessful, they maintained a close relationship in succeeding
government was granted to the British colony of Natal in 1856. In 1872 the Cape
Colony received responsible self-government, which meant the government was
independent except in foreign and economic affairs. After the discovery of
diamonds in 1867 in Griqualand West, which was claimed by the South African
Republic, Britain renewed its expansionist policy into Afrikaner territory,
declaring Basutoland (now Lesotho) a protectorate in 1868 and reimposing British
rule over the South African Republic in 1877. Two years later the British won a
final battle with the Zulu in Natal. When Afrikaners successfully took up arms
against British occupation in 1881, the South African Republic was allowed
semi-independence. In 1883 Afrikaner leader Paul Kruger
was elected president of the republic.
The Boer War
Discovery of vast
gold deposits in the southern Transvaal in 1886 coincided with German occupation
of South-West Africa (now Namibia). The mining industry was financed by the
British, and thousands of English miners—called Uitlanders (“foreigners”) by the Afrikaners—entered the
Transvaal. Britain thwarted President Kruger's plans to extend his control to
Bechuanaland (now Botswana), annexed the region, and effectively blocked the
South African Republic from joining with German territory to the west. Kruger
refused to grant civil equality to Uitlanders and taxed foreign companies
heavily. After compromise discussions failed, British financier Cecil Rhodes, prime minister
of the Cape Colony, in 1895 encouraged the Uitlanders to revolt, supported by a
small invasion force under the command of Sir
Leander Starr Jameson. The raid was a
failure, and although Rhodes was absolved of any involvement in it, he was
forced to resign as prime minister.
the Cape Colony and the two Afrikaner republics worsened after British statesman
became Cape governor in 1897. In October 1899 Kruger declared war; the Boer War
pitted the might of the British Empire against the Afrikaners who, after some
initial success, saw British forces occupy all major urban centers by mid-1900.
The Afrikaners, however, continued to wage a costly guerrilla war until May
1902. Under the terms of the Treaty of Vereeniging (May 31, 1902), the Transvaal
territories and the Orange Free State became British crown colonies. In 1906 and
1907 they were given constitutions as self-governing colonies. By the South
Africa Act of 1910 the British Parliament established the dominion of the Union
of South Africa, with the four colonies as its provinces. The South African
Party won the first elections, and the former Afrikaner army commander, Louis Botha,
became prime minister. In reaction to the policies of the Botha government,
especially the appropriation of African land, black African leaders organized in
1912 what eventually became the African National Congress (ANC).
The Two World Wars
At the outset of
World War I in 1914, Botha pledged Britain full support, and in 1915 he crushed
an insurrection by extremist Afrikaner elements. Botha himself led the South
African forces that conquered German South-West Africa. (In 1920 this territory
became a League of Nations mandate under South African supervision.)
Botha died in
1919; he was succeeded as prime minister by another pro-British military leader,
Jan Christiaan Smuts.
The Nationalist Party had been founded in 1914, by J. B. M. Hertzog
to further the cause of Afrikaner nationalism and white supremacy. Hertzog
unseated Smuts in 1924, at a time of rising black militancy. He remained prime
minister until 1939. During the economic depression of the 1930s a coalition was
formed; Hertzog and Smuts became dual leaders of the United Party. Britain's
declaration of war against Germany in 1939 split the coalition. Hertzog, who
tried to keep South Africa neutral, was replaced as prime minister by Smuts, and
the Union declared war on Germany on September 6, 1939. Because of pro-German
sentiment among Afrikaners, however, it was not expedient to pass a draft law.
All members of the Union's armed forces were volunteers, and their only combat
action was in East and North Africa and Italy.
against nonwhites was inherent in South African society from the earliest days.
A clause in the Act of Union of 1910 provided that the native policies of the
provinces would be retained and could be changed only by a two-thirds majority
vote of parliament. In Cape Colony the Coloured and a few black Africans could
vote, a right not available in the other three provinces. The Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi,
in a 21-year period before World War I, led the struggle to assure civil rights
for Indian residents. Despite some government concessions, including abolition
of the poll tax, the Indian population still had second-class status after the
blacks had an even lower status in the white-dominated state. Urban blacks lived
in segregated areas and could not hold office or vote. They had no viable labor
unions, and technical and administrative positions were closed to them. Even so,
the National Party, which had been formed in 1914, accused Prime Minister Smuts
of allowing whites to be swallowed in a black sea. In the 1948 elections the
National Party, led by Daniel F. Malan, won a narrow victory and began to implement its harsh
concept of apartheid, which was designed to separate the races economically,
politically, geographically, and socially. Strikes and protests for economic and
political rights by non-Europeans in the aftermath of World War II—inspired in
part by the anti-colonial movement in Asia and Africa—had emboldened racist
forces to take steps to head off any new militancy. The government's position
was strengthened when the National Party merged with the smaller Afrikaner Party
in 1954. Malan, with growing support in parliament, introduced several laws
designed to relegate all nonwhites to permanent inferior status. A severe
anti-Communist law (equating communism with political, economic, or social
changes brought about by unconventional means) was passed in 1950; marriage
between whites and blacks was made a crime; and education for blacks was defined
differently than for whites. Most drastic was the Group Areas Act of 1950 which,
augmented by later legislation, provided that specific areas be reserved for
each of the four main racial groups, that is, the Europeans (whites), Bantu
(blacks), Coloureds (mixed race), and Asians. Beginning in the 1950s, the
government divided the black population into ethnic groups and assigned each
group to a so-called homeland. Ten of these territories were eventually
established: Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Gazankulu, KaNgwane, KwaNdebele, KwaZulu,
Lebowa, Qwaqwa, Transkei, and Venda. All blacks were considered citizens of the
homelands, which came to be known as bantustans, and they were required to carry
passes when they entered restricted (white) areas. In response to these harsh
policies, the ANC decided to pursue a more militant stance through mass civil
disobedience. Nelson Mandela emerged as an important ANC leader at this time.
In 1951 the
Separate Representation of Voters Act was passed by a simple majority. It
provided for the removal from the white register of the names of Coloured voters
in the Cape of Good Hope Province, reversing a policy that had been in effect
since 1852. The bill was declared unconstitutional by the nation's Supreme Court
in March 1952 because it had been passed by less than the two-thirds majority
required to amend voting laws. Legislation to give Parliament power to overrule
the Supreme Court was passed in May, but it was also declared unconstitutional.
Malan retired in
November 1954 and was succeeded by another National Party leader, Johannes G.
Strijdom, who soon removed legal obstacles to further implementation of
apartheid. To assure support for the program, six more Supreme Court judges were
appointed to hear constitutional questions, a step that received parliamentary
approval in May 1955; Nationalist control of the senate was effected by
increasing membership from 77 to 89 in the November elections. The Separate
Representation of Voters Act was repassed in February 1956 and became law. The
Cape Coloured were disfranchised, and the courts' power in constitutional areas
Struggle with the UN
The Union of
South Africa had rebuffed attempts by the United Nations (UN) to assert its authority in South-West Africa after
World War II. A special UN commission conducting an inquiry into racial
discrimination in South Africa repeatedly requested Premier Malan's permission
to transfer its hearings from Geneva to Union territory and was repeatedly
ignored. As apartheid took hold in South African society more than 2000 of its
citizens from all racial and ethnic backgrounds gathered in 1955 to write the
Freedom Charter. This charter, which offered a vision of a nonracial, unified,
and democratic South Africa, was adopted by the ANC as its basic statement.
The UN General
Assembly adopted a resolution in February 1957 calling for UN trusteeship over
South-West Africa. In October it sanctioned the creation of a “good offices”
committee to negotiate with the Union on the disposition of South-West Africa.
After a visit by UN officials to South-West Africa in May 1962 (the first
permitted by South Africa), the investigating commission called for UN action to
guarantee the political rights of the territory's residents.
In June 1964 the
UN Security Council condemned apartheid and ordered a study to be made of
sanctions against South Africa. The UN General Assembly voted in October 1966 to
terminate South Africa's mandate over South-West Africa, which was renamed
Namibia, and established a council to assume responsibility for the territory.
South Africa rejected all UN actions and proceeded to integrate the territory
into its own economy. In June 1971 the International Court of Justice ruled that
South Africa's presence in Namibia was illegal. The situation became critical
when guerrillas from the South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) began
crossing the border from Angola to attack targets in Namibia. South Africa
responded by building up defenses, attacking Angola, and aiding the rebels who
were fighting the Cuban-supported Angolan government. The war continued into the
1980s, when political and economic pressure forced South Africa to take a more
conciliatory attitude. U.S.-sponsored peace talks in December 1988 eventually
resulted in independence for Namibia in 1990.
On October 5 an
all-white referendum in the Union decided that South Africa should become a
republic. In general elections held on October 18 Verwoerd's National Party
retained power. On May 31, 1961, the country officially became the Republic of
South Africa. It also withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations.
In 1962 the
government, determined to maintain segregation, passed the so-called sabotage
act, which outlawed most forms of political opposition. The ANC and the PAC
decided that change through nonviolent methods was no longer possible, and the
groups began to organize armed resistance to the regime. In 1964 Mandela was
convicted of sabotage and treason and sentenced to life imprisonment. In the
March 1966 elections the National Party increased its majority, but in September
Verwoerd was assassinated. His successor, Balthazar
J. Vorster, continued the policy of apartheid.
As part of its
strategy to divide the majority population, the government took steps in the
1960s to allow the ten bantustans to become nominally self-governing. Although
they were called self-governing, the so-called homelands were in fact entirely
dependent on the national government. Also, only 13 percent of the land was set
aside for the bantustans, which was incapable of sustaining 75 percent of the
country's population. Thus, most blacks continued to live in “white areas.”
The vast majority of those who lived in the bantustans commuted to the white
areas to work. The bantustan policy eventually culminated in the granting of
so-called independence to Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, and Venda between
1976 and 1981. The international community, however, denied recognition to these
nominally independent bantustans. The most populous of the other bantustans was
KwaZulu; its head, Chief Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, opted to work within the
apartheid structure by presiding over a self-governing bantustan. Through his
Inkatha Freedom Party, he promoted Zulu nationalism.
Resistance and Reform
In 1975 the
nearby Portuguese possessions of Angola and Mozambique became independent under
revolutionary leaders, and the United States began to put pressure on South
Africa to change its policies. Vorster agreed to relax his government's support
of the white-minority regime in Rhodesia, but the apartheid policy was not
altered. In June 1976 major clashes with the police occurred when some 10,000
schoolchildren at Soweto, near Johannesburg, protested the enforced use of
Afrikaans, in addition to English, in their schools. Although the requirement
was dropped, the protest had unleashed deeper grievances among the black
population, and Soweto experienced rioting, arson, and killings that later
spread to other areas and to the Coloured population. Continuing in 1977, the
unrest prompted more repressive police measures. In September Stephen Biko,
founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, died after mistreatment while in
Vorster resigned in 1978. His successor, Pieter
Willem Botha, continued the bantustan policy but moved
toward constitutional reforms that strengthened the presidency and, for the
first time, allowed Coloureds and Indians to sit in parliament. The new
constitution, which took effect in 1984, still denied blacks any part in the
political process except through the bantustans. This exclusion led to increased
opposition, urged on by the ANC in alliance with the United Democratic Front, in
the black townships. The government responded by declaring a state of emergency
and imposing press controls in July 1985. Battles between blacks and police in
the ensuing years resulted in hundreds of deaths. Even more died in warfare
between the Inkatha Freedom Party, and adherents of the ANC, especially in
In the mid-1980s
the United States and the European Community (now the European Union)
imposed sanctions against South Africa. Subsequent diplomatic pressure, in part
the result of the international anti-apartheid campaign, forced Botha to begin a
slow dismantling of apartheid. Botha also was influenced by increasing
opposition from within South Africa and by the defeat of South African troops in
Angola in 1988 by Cuban and Angola forces. The decision to bring an end to
apartheid caused many whites to defect to more conservative parties. In failing
health, Botha resigned in 1989. F.
W. de Klerk, his successor, continued the policy of
eliminating apartheid. Calling for a negotiated settlement of South Africa's
racial and political problems, in February 1990 de Klerk ended a 30-year ban on
the ANC and released its leader, Nelson Mandela, from prison. The negotiation
process proved to be long and difficult. De Klerk's Nationalist Party was
unwilling at first to transfer rule completely to the country's black majority,
and tried vigorously to institute minority veto power over majority decisions.
The ANC then staged general strikes and other nonviolent protests to try to
force the Nationalists to change their position on this issue. Eventually, as a
result of compromises on both sides, an agreement was reached on November 13,
1993. This agreement pledged to institute a nonracial, nonsexist, unified, and
democratic South Africa based on the principle of “one person, one vote.”
Multiracial elections were scheduled for April 1994. A Transitional Executive
Council was formed to supervise the elections, which would install new national
and provincial governments.
In March 1994
Lucas Mangope, the leader of the bantustan of Bophuthatswana, protesting the
dissolution of the bantustans under the interim constitution, declared that
Bophuthatswana would not participate in the elections. Bophuthatswana citizens,
eager to vote in the elections, protested, while armed white extremists, opposed
to the changes occurring in the country, came to assist Mangope. Bophuthatswana
civil servants and soldiers then rioted for four days until Mangope agreed to
allow participation in the elections. Meanwhile, the Zulu-dominated Inkatha
Freedom Party refused to participate in the elections until an agreement was
reached regarding the status of the Zulu territory and the Zulu king. Inkatha
did finally participate, with the condition that mediated talks with the
government would take place after the elections. Despite preelection turmoil,
the elections were held at the end of April in relative calm and order. The ANC
scored a clear victory, and Mandela was inaugurated as the country's first black
president on May 10, 1994. In June South Africa rejoined the Commonwealth of
Also that month,
the government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to
investigate human-rights abuses during the apartheid era. The commission decided
that those who admitted to committing political crimes would be pardoned and
those who remained silent could be prosecuted. Although the stated purpose of
the commission was not to punish but to help the country come to terms with its
past, the commission's role was a subject of debate. While some sought
punishment for crimes committed, others feared that the functionaries and not
the commanders would be held responsible for the apartheid crimes. In November
1995 Mandela selected Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu to serve as head of the commission.
In February 1995
representatives of the Inkatha Freedom Party in parliament threatened to abandon
their seats because the mediated talks promised in 1994 had not taken place.
Inkatha advocated more autonomy for the provinces than the interim constitution
provided. Inkatha members did withdraw from parliament in April. A related topic
of disagreement between Inkatha and the government was whether the central
government or provincial governments should pay the salaries of traditional
leaders. The Inkatha-led government of the province of KwaZulu-Natal wanted to
pay Zulu chiefs, who form an important part of Inkatha's power base. In December
1995, however, Mandela signed into law a bill that allows the central government
to pay traditional leaders. Inkatha representatives remained absent from
parliament in May 1996 when the new constitution was ratified.
Mary. A Far Cry: The Making of a South
African. Viking-Penguin, 1990. Personal story of white South African woman.
Steve. I Write What I Like: A Selection of
His Writings. Harper, 1979. Writings, interviews, court testimony, and
Peter. Thinking About South Africa:
Reason, Morality and Politics. St. Martin's, 1989. Although dated, it
provides a solid background to recent events.
Vincent. Waiting: The Whites of South
Africa. Random, 1985. An anthropologist perceives the deception in an
William. Crossing the Line: A Year in the
Land of Apartheid. Harper, 1986. Perennial,
1987. A teacher's experiences at a “colored” school, and the 1980 student
Nadine and Goldblatt, David. Lifetimes
Under Apartheid. Knopf, 1986. Excerpts from Gordimer's writings accompany
photographs of harsh conditions.
Joseph. Beggar Your Neighbours: Apartheid
Power in Southern Africa. Indiana, 1986. Details relations with eight
Richard W. Southern Africa: Civilizations
in Turmoil. NYU, 1981. Relationships between South Africa and its
Howard and Thompson, Leonard, eds. The
Frontier in History: North America and Southern Africa Compared. Yale, 1981.
Essays applying Turner thesis to pioneering experience.
Brian. Apartheid: A History. Braziller,
1987. Economic, social, and political background of 300 years.
Graham. South Africa: No Easy Path to
Peace. Routledge & Kegan, 1986. British journalist's absorbing history
of Boer background to apartheid and rise of black nationalism.
Joseph. Move Your Shadow: South Africa,
Black and White. Times, 1985. Perceptive critique of apartheid from humane
reporter's personal experiences. Pulitzer Prize.
Albert. Let My People Go. McGraw,
1962. Classic voice of black South Africa's protest and plea.
Peter. Soweto. Eerdmans, 1987. Photos
with graphic accounts of the 1976 uprising, and afterward.
Nelson. The Struggle Is My Life.
Pathfinder, rev., 1986. Mandela's writing mostly pre-1964. Includes pieces by
two fellow inmates.
Paul. A History of the African People of
South Africa: From the Early Iron Age to the 1970s. St. Martin's, 1986.
Outline history of the blacks of South Africa.
Donald R. The Washing of the Spears.
Simon & Schuster, 1965, 1986. “A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation
Under Shaka and Its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879” (titlepage).
Jean and Levitas, Ben. South African
Tribal Life Today. College Press (Cape Town), 1984. Topical approach to
South African life; chiefly photographs.
Neil. A New History of Southern Africa.
Holmes & Meier, 1983. Emphasis on 19th and first half of 20th centuries;
Robert. South Africa: The Process of
Political Transformation. Oxford, 1991. Details the complex problems to be
faced in dismantling minority rule.
Anthony. Black and Gold: Tycoons,
Revolutionaries, and Apartheid. Pantheon, 1987. Analyzes the relationship of
multinational corporations to South African society.
Donald. Apartheid: A Graphic Guide.
Holt, 1987. An expelled editor discusses apartheid's origin, development,
Africa, Republic of," Microsoft®
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the Zulu people:
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