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South Africa Old History

 

The indigenous peoples khoikhoi and san have lived in South Africa for thousands of years, but today they constitute only a pillar of the Kalahari desert. They were gradually pushed away by diet-speaking people who became ancestors of today's black South Africans.

The Bantu people were farmers and used metal tools. Historians and archaeologists dispute when they began to come to South Africa, during the first century AD or even a thousand years later.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of South Africa, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

In 1488, Portuguese ships circled the Godahoppsudden, and Europe became aware of the existence of South Africa. At the end of the 16th century, Dutch and Englishmen chopped off the South African coast, but only with Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck's ascent of 1652 in Table Bay, where Cape Town is today, the white colonization began.

Riebeeck's intention was not to establish a colony. On behalf of the Dutch East India Company, he would set up a trading station where vessels on their way to India could supply with meat, vegetables and dairy products, among others. But the local residents did not want to let go of their animals because a khoikhoi's status was based on livestock ownership. Therefore, the Dutch who were employed by the company had to become farmers in South Africa to supply food to the vessels.

Because of khoikhoi's resistance to working on the white settlers' farms, slaves were imported, many of whom were Malays. However, more and more livestockless khoikhoi were sought for the farms. Mixed marriage between slaves and khoikhoi gave rise to the people group in today's South Africa called colored. Gradually, sexual relations were prohibited across racial boundaries.

Old History of South Africa

In 1795, the Cape Colony was taken by Britain, which, however, was forced to return the area to the Netherlands under the Treaty of Amiens in 1803. Three years later the British regained control. The colony expanded along the East Coast during constant battles with the Xhosa and Zulu people. However, the descendants of Dutch immigrants, the Boers or the Africans, tired of the British empire. Some left the Cape Province and headed north-east. Those who gave up considered themselves to be a select people with a mission to civilize black Africa. They fought many battles with the Zulus, while at the same time marking their independence in relation to the English. The hike to the north is called “Groot Trek” and has been given a legendary role in Africans history writing.

At the beginning of the 1850s, the Boers established two republics, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, in central South Africa. This happened with the British's consent, but when diamonds and gold were found in the African territories a few decades later, the British wanted to control the whole of South Africa.

The conflict between British and Africans triggered the so-called Boer War of 1899, which severely affected civilians. British soldiers burned down 30000 of the Boer farms. Women and children gathered in concentration camps, where over 25,000 boers died in diseases. Eventually, a peace agreement was signed in the city of Vereeniging in 1902 and the two republics of the Boers lost their independence.

British and Boers jointly designed a constitution for the South African Union. It came into force in 1910. The Union included the Boer republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, as well as the British colonies of the Cape Province and Natal.

The loss of war caused deep and long-lasting bitterness on the part of the Boers, and the social and economic development gradually widened the gap between the two peoples. From the beginning, however, there was a common interest among the farmers and the British mining roads to exploit the cheap black labor force and gain ground. In 1913, a land law was passed that gave 87 percent of South Africa to the whites and 13 percent to the blacks, who were in the overwhelming majority.

The Constitution of the Union did not give the blacks any civil and political rights. The only exception was in the Cape Province, where black and colored, according to practice, were given the right to vote for the national parliament. But only white candidates could be selected.

The discrimination aroused strong reactions among black leaders. In 1912, they formed an organization, later named the African National Congress (ANC), which came to fight for the black political rights.

The industrialization of South Africa was financed with income from the British-owned mines and the British came to dominate business. At the same time, the agriculture of the whites was rationalized and many poor white farmers abandoned the cultivation and applied themselves to the cities and mines. This resulted in a white working class of Africans. Unlike the black workers, the white mining and industrial workers had the right to organize themselves. The union made sure that whites benefited in the labor market.

During the 1920s, industrialization gained momentum and the need for labor increased. The whites, however, were not enough to fill all the gaps, and the business community wanted to recruit blacks even to more qualified jobs. This led to protests from the white workers.

The Africans were a church people and when the Dutch Reformed Church developed a racial separation theology, it had far-reaching consequences in society. The Nationalist Party, the Party of Africans, won in the 1948 elections, demanding a consistently applied racial distinction - apartheid.

 
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