South Africa Brief History

By | November 2, 2021

According to cheeroutdoor, South Africa is a very beautiful, interesting and exciting country to visit. Here is a rich wildlife, fantastic nature, many friendly people and fascinating cultures. I immediately took the country to my heart and made a very nice four week long tour through the country.

My trip through South Africa, about 5,250 kilometers, gave me the opportunity to visit two of the country’s capitals, stay with a family in Soweto and with a xhosa family in the village of Caquba, safaris in Imfolozi Park, visit the strongly Indian Durban, hike in Drakensberg and the Cederberg Mountains, watching whales in Hermanus and penguins in Boulders, visiting one of the world’s most beautiful cities – Cape Town, visiting the prison island Robben Island, visiting Cape Aghulas which is Africa’s southernmost cape and the Good Hope Cape and much more and yet there was much left to experience I thought when I flew home!

The Foreign Ministry’s assessment of South Africa before my trip:

“General security mode”

Despite the very high crime rate and the large number of traffic accidents, the vast majority of visits to the country take place without any more serious incidents. However, you should be careful, especially in traffic, after dark and when handling money or valuables.

South Africa was a very positive experience despite the country’s high and often brutal crime, which you as a tourist do not often encounter if you apply common sense during the trip.

If you dare to be one of the more than 8 million tourists who come here every year, you have many great experiences ahead of you!

South African history in brief

The history of South Africa begins long before the arrival of the whites. Unfortunately, there is little documented about the earliest history, that of the indigenous people.

South Africa history, older

About 40,000 BC The San people (Bushmen) establish themselves in South Africa

About 300 AD The Bantu people establish themselves in the KwaZulu region

1487 Bartolomeu Dias sails around the Cape Peninsula, which is named the Cape of Good Hope

1652 The first Dutch settle in Taffelviken, which becomes Cape Town

1688 French Huguenots arrive in the Cape area

1690 Boer seeks inland

1780 Fighting between the Dutch and the Xhosa people on the Great Fish River

1795 The British conquer Cape Town

1809 The first passport laws for blacks are introduced, the so-called “Hottentott Code”


King Shaka brings the Zulu people to power, which results in the introduction of difaqane, forced relocation

1820 The first British emigrants arrive in the Gulf of Algoa

1828 The Passport Act “Hottentott Code” is repealed


The Boers, the so-called “Voortrekker” (Predecessors) move north in the so-called “Great Trek” (The Great Exodus) and found the Orange Free State

1838 The Boers defeat the Zulus at the Battle of the Blood River

1852 The Boer Republic of the Transvaal is founded

1858 The British defeat the Xhosa

1860 The first Indians arrive in Durban, Natal as contract workers

1869 Diamonds are found near Kimberly

1871 Gold is discovered in the then Eastern Transvaal

1877 The British annex the Transvaal peasant republic

1881 The Boers defeat the British and the Transvaal becomes the Republic of South Africa


Gold found in Witwatersrand
The Indian population is almost 30,000 people in Natal

1893 Mohandas Gandhi arrives in Durban

History of South Africa 1900 – 1999


The Boers revolt against the British which results in the Boer War. This leads to the merging of the Orange Free State, the Transvaal, the Cape Province and Natal.


The South African Union is formed and South Africa becomes part of the British Commonwealth. Lesotho and Swaziland become British protectorates


The South African Native National Council is formed, which later becomes the ANC


Introduces a law restricting Indians’ freedom of movement to reside, trade and buy property


The National Party enters government and retains it until


After the election victory, the African party began to implement apartheid where the basic idea was that the blacks would live in special “home countries”. Such were established for each African ethnic group on land allotted to the blacks by the Land Act of 1913

In the “white” areas, the freedom of movement of blacks was restricted and they had to carry special passports. The government banned cross-border marriage. Blacks and whites were kept separate in public places such as restaurants, hospitals, trains, post offices, public toilets, etc., even park benches were provided with signs for whites or for non-whites. Violations were severely punished

The ANC tried unsuccessfully to address the injustices with non-violent protests


ANC adopts “Freedom Charter” which demands equal rights for all races at a rally in Kliptown, Soweto


The so-called Sharpeville massacre is taking place. On March 21, 69 women and children were shot dead by the police and wounded 400 people who demonstrated against the passport laws
ANC and PAC (Pan African Congress) are banned and its leaders imprisoned. This event created great sympathy for the black population around the world


South Africa leaves British Commonwealth due to criticism of its apartheid policy and becomes the South African Republic

ANC leader Albert Luthuli receives the Nobel Peace Prize for sticking to the non-violence line


Nelson Mandela, leader of the ANC’s Armed Forces Nation’s Spear (Umkhonto we Sizwe)


Nelson Mandela and seven other leading ANC members were sentenced to life in prison on charges of high treason. They were sent to the prison island Robben Island outside Cape Town


Prime Minister HF Verwoerd is assassinated


South Africa invades Angola


The uprising in Soweto is taking place. On June 12, police opened fire on a student march, which resulted in the demonstrations spreading and more than 1,000 people being killed. The first to be killed was the 13-year-old schoolboy Hector Peterson, who becomes an icon.


Steve Biko is murdered in September


Under Prime Minister PW Botha, new professions for blacks were allowed and the ban on interracial marriage was lifted


Introduces three-chamber parliament; one for whites, one for coloreds and one for Asians. PW Botha is elected president


A state of emergency is introduced which came into force for five years. The black resistance is hardening. The mass media was subjected to strict censorship and by 1988, 30,000 people had been imprisoned without trial. The government introduced a state of emergency in Natal, which was introduced throughout the country for a period

In the Cape Province, 20 people were shot dead by police on March 21


PW Botha resigned as leader of the Nationalist Party. He succeeded Frederik Willem de Klerk.


FW de Klerk announces that the ban on ANC and PAC will be lifted. Nelson Mandela is released after 26 years in prison and democracy talks begin


De Klerk repealed parts of the apartheid laws. Nelson Mandela was elected ANC leader. A multi-party conference began work on a new constitution, political prisoners were released and ANC members in exile were able to return. The ANC also interrupted the armed struggle


The ANC is allowed as a party


Apartheid ends. A transitional council is set up to govern the country until general elections are held.
Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk receive the Nobel Peace Prize


General, democratic elections will be held in April. The ANC wins big and Nelson Mandela is elected president


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission begins its work to put the abuses under apartheid behind it


The new constitution was adopted. The Nationalist Party leaves the coalition government
in 1997 Prison island Robben Island opens as a museum

A non-racist constitution enters into force

Nelson Mandela resigns as leader of the ANC. He will be succeeded by Thabo Mbeki
FW de Klerk, leaving the post as party leader


The ANC wins a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections. They received two-thirds of the votes and 266 out of 400 seats in the National Assembly

ANC leader Thabo Mbeki was appointed by the newly elected parliament as president after Nelson Mandela

South Africa Brief History