History of South Africa
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The history of South Africa is characterised by racial violence, territorial conflict, wars of conquest, and inter-ethnic rivalry. The aboriginal San have lived in the region for millennia. Most of the rest of the population, however, trace their history to immigration since then. Indigenous Africans in South Africa are descendants of Bantu immigrants from further north in Africa, who first entered what are now the confines of the country roughly 2000 years ago. White South Africans are descendants of later European settlers, mainly from the Netherlands, Germany, France and Britain. The so-called Coloureds, as they were officially classified, are descended at least in part from all of these groups, as well as from slaves from Madagascar, East Africa and the then East Indies. There are many South Africans of Indian and Chinese origin, descendants of labourers who arrived in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
South Africa was under an official system of racial segregation and white minority rule from 1948 known as Apartheid, until its first egalitarian elections on 27 April 1994, when the African National Congress came to power and dominated the politics of the country.
- 1 Prehistoric South Africa
- 2 European exploration of South Africa
- 3 Early Settlers in South Africa
- 4 History of the Boer people and nations
- 5 Arrival of the Indian South Africans
- 6 Colonisation
- 7 Frontier wars
- 8 The First Anglo-Boer War
- 9 The Second Anglo-Boer War
- 10 Unification of South Africa
- 11 First World War
- 12 Second World War
- 13 The Apartheid era
- 14 Resistance to apartheid
- 15 Dismantling apartheid
- 16 See also
- 17 References
- 18 Further reading
- 19 External links
Prehistoric South Africa
Since Raymond Dart discovered the skull of the 2.5 million year old Taung Child in 1924, the first example of Australopithecus africanus ever found, South Africa has been considered one of the most important centres of early hominid evolution, alongside Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Following in Dart's footsteps Robert Broom discovered a new much more robust hominid in 1938 Paranthropus robustus at Kromdraai, and in 1947 uncovered several more examples of Australipitecus africanus in Sterkfontein. Many more species of early hominid have come to light in recent decades. The oldest is Little Foot, a collection of footbones of an unknown hominid between 2.2 to 3.3 million years old, discovered at Sterkfontein by Ronald J. Clarke in 1994. An important recent find was that of 1.9 million year old Australopithecus sediba discovered by paleoanthropologist Lee R. Berger's nine-year-old son Matthew in 2008.
South Africa was also occupied by early Homo sapiens, as shown by the discoveries at Klasies River Caves which revealed fossils and tools from 125,000-75,000 years ago in the middle stone-age. In 2002 in Blombos cave, stones were discovered engraved with grid or cross-hatch patterns, dated to some 70,000 years ago. This has been interpreted as the earliest example of abstract art or symbolic art created by Homo sapiens ever discovered.
European exploration of South Africa
The Portuguese mariner Bartolomeu Dias was the first European to explore the coastline of South Africa in 1488, when he discovered a trade route to the Far East via the southernmost cape of South Africa, which he named Cabo das Tormentas, meaning Cape of Storms.
Colonel Robert Jacob Gordon of the Dutch East India Company was the first European to explore parts of the interior while commanding the Dutch garrison at the renamed Cape of Good Hope, from 1780 to 1795. The four expeditions Gordon undertook between 1777 and 1786 are recorded in his journals, which were only discovered in 1964. 
Early Settlers in South Africa
San and Khoikhoi
The first people to settle communities in South Africa were the aboriginal San and Khoikhoi tribes. Scholars believe the San and Khoikhoi are essentially the same people, distinguished only by their respective occupations. Whereas the San were hunter-gathers, the Khoikhoi were pastoral herders. 
Archaeological discoveries of livestock bones at the southernmost part of South Africa, today known as the Cape Peninsula, indicate that the Khoikhoi began to settle there about 2000 years ago. In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Portuguese mariners, who were the first Europeans at the Cape, encountered pastoral Khoikhoi with livestock. Later, English and Dutch seafarers in the late 16th and 17th centuries exchanged metals for cattle and sheep with the Khoikhoi. The conventional view is that availability of livestock was one reason why, in the mid-17th century, the Dutch East Indies Company established a staging post where the port city of Cape Town is today situated. The initial origin of the Khoikhoi remains uncertain.]
The establishment of the staging post by the Dutch East India Company at the Cape in 1652 soon brought the Khoikhoi into conflict with Dutch settlers over land ownership. Cattle rustling and livestock theft ensued, with the Khoikhoi being ultimately expelled from the peninsula by force, after a succession of wars. The first Khoikhoi-Dutch War broke out in 1659, the second in 1673, and the third 1674 - 1677.  By the time of their defeat and expulsion from the Cape Peninsula and surrounding districts, the Khoikhoi population was decimated by a smallpox epidemic, against which the Khoikhoi had no natural resistance or indigenous medicines. The disease had been brought to the Cape by Dutch sailors. 
The Griqua people
By the late 1700s, the Cape Colony population had grown to include a large number of mixed-race so-called "coloureds" who were the offspring of extensive miscegenation between white, male Dutch settlers, Khoikhoi females, and female slaves imported from Dutch colonies in the East.  Members of this mixed-race community formed the core of what was to become the Griqua people. Under the leadership of a former slave named Adam Kok, these "coloureds" or Basters (meaning Bastards) as they were named by the Dutch, started trekking northward into the interior, through what is today named Northern Cape Province. The trek of the Griquas has been described as "one of the great epics of the 19th century." They were joined on their long journey by a number of San and Khoikhoi aboriginals, local African tribesmen, and also some white renegades. Around 1800, they started crossing the northern frontier formed by the Orange River, arriving ultimately in an uninhabited area, which they named Griqualand.
In 1825, a faction of the Griqua people was induced by Dr John Philip, superintendent of the London Missionary Society in Southern Africa, to relocate to a place called Philippolis, a mission station for the San, several hundred miles southeast of Griqualand. Philip's intention was for the Griquas to protect the missionary station there against banditti in the region, and as a bulwark against the northward movement of white settlers from the Cape Colony. Friction between the Griquas and the settlers over land rights resulted in British troops being sent to the region in 1845. It marked the beginning of nine years of British intervention in the affairs of the region, which the British named Transorange.
In 1861, to avoid the imminent prospect of either being colonised by the Cape Colony or coming into conflict with the expanding Boer Republic of Orange Free State, most of the Philippolis Griquas embarked on a further trek. They moved about 500 miles eastward, over the Quathlamba (today known as the Drakensberg mountain range), settling ultimately in an area officially designated as "Nomansland", which the Griquas renamed Griqualand East.  East Griqualand was subsequently annexed by Britain in 1874 and incorporated into the Cape Colony in 1879. 
The original Griqualand, north of the Orange River, was annexed by Britain's Cape Colony and renamed Griqualand West after discovery of the world's richest deposit of diamonds in 1871 at Kimberley, so named after the British Colonial Secretary, Earl Kimberley.
Although no formally surveyed boundaries existed, Griqua leader Nicolaas Waterboer claimed the diamond fields were situated on land belonging to the Griquas.  The Boer republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State also vied for ownership of the land, but Britain, being the preeminent force in the region, won control over the disputed territory. In 1878, Waterboer led an unsuccessful rebellion against the colonial authorities, for which he was arrested and briefly exiled. 
The Bantu tribes
Archaeological evidence shows that Bantu-speaking communities had settled along the borders of present-day South Africa circa 500 CE. Their advanced Iron Age culture brought with it sophisticated agriculture and animal husbandry and allowed them to easily displace the original Khoe-San inhabitants. Through interactions and trade with Muslim traders plying the Indian ocean as far south as present day Mozambique, the region emerged as a trade centre producing gold and ivory and trading for glass beads and porcelain from as far away as China.
The vast territory of the highveld and of Natal was occupied by Bantu tribes that had pushed southwards from the Congo rain forests, mingling their genes on the way with Hamitic people and Bushmen. They were a pastoral, war-like people, for ever quarrelling among themselves over grazing rights. 
The advanced Iron Age culture of the Bantu-speakers allowed them to easily decimate, displace and assimilate the more primitive San people.The Bantu people kept domestic animals and also farmed sorghum and other crops. They lived in small settled villages. The Bantu-speakers arrived in South Africa in small waves rather than in one cohesive migration. Some groups, the ancestors of today's Nguni peoples (the Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, and Ndebele), preferred to live near the coast. Others, now known as the Sotho–Tswana peoples (Tswana, Pedi, and Basotho), settled in the Highveld, while today's Venda, Lemba, and Shangaan-Tsonga peoples made their homes in the north-eastern areas of South Africa.
Through interactions and trade with Muslim traders plying the Indian ocean as far south as present day Mozambique – the region emerged as a trade centre producing gold and ivory and trading for glass beads and porcelain from as far away as China.
Specifics of the contact between Bantu-speakers and Khoisan races remains unknown, although linguistic proof of assimilation survives, as several Southern Bantu languages (notably Xhosa and Zulu) incorporated many click consonants of earlier Khoisan languages. The assimilation is not dissimilar to that of the European settlers, who assimilated the Dutch, Belgium, German and other languages into the Dutch patois of Afrikaans.
From around 1200 AD a trade network began to emerge just to the North as is evidenced at such sites as Mapungubwe. Additionally, the idea of sacred leadership emerged – a concept that transcends English terms such as "Kings" or "Queens". Sacred leaders were elite members of the community, types of prophets, people with supernatural powers and the ability to predict the future. Similar to the Afrikaner prophet Siener van Rensburg, the influence of these seers was powerful enough to cause tribal wars or peace.
Zulu militarism and expansionism
The Zulu people are part of the Nguni tribe and were originally a minor clan in what is today northern KwaZulu-Natal, founded ca. 1709 by Zulu kaNtombela. The Zulu formed a powerful state in 1818 under the leader Shaka. Shaka, as the Zulu King, gained a large amount of power over the tribe. As commander in the army of the powerful Mthethwa Empire, he became leader of his mentor Dingiswayo's paramouncy and united what was once a confederation of tribes into an imposing empire under Zulu hegemony.
The early 19th century saw a time of immense upheaval relating to the military expansion of the Zulu Kingdom. Sotho-speakers know this period as the difaqane ("forced migration"); while Zulu-speakers call it the mfecane ("crushing").
The full causes of the difaqane remain in dispute, although certain factors stand out. The rise of a unified Zulu kingdom had particular significance. In the early 19th century, Nguni tribes in KwaZulu-Natal began to shift from a loosely organised collection of kingdoms into a centralised, militaristic state. Shaka Zulu, son of the chief of the small Zulu clan, became the driving force behind this shift. At first something of an outcast, Shaka proved himself in battle and gradually succeeded in consolidating power in his own hands. He built large armies, breaking from clan tradition by placing the armies under the control of his own officers rather than of the hereditary chiefs. Shaka then set out on a massive programme of expansion, killing or enslaving those who resisted in the territories he conquered. His impis (warrior regiments) were rigorously disciplined: failure in battle meant death.
Peoples in the path of Shaka's armies moved out of his way, becoming in their turn aggressors against their neighbours.This wave of displacement spread throughout southern Africa and beyond. It also accelerated the formation of several states, notably those of the Sotho (present-day Lesotho) and of the Swazi (now Swaziland).
During the ten years following 1818, Natal south of the Tugela and most of the great plateau had been emptied of people by the mfecane. 
In 1828 Shaka was killed by his half-brothers Dingaan and Umhlangana. The weaker and less-skilled Dingaan became king, relaxing military discipline while continuing the despotism. Dingaan also attempted to establish relations with the British traders on the Natal coast, but events had started to unfold that would see the demise of Zulu independence.
History of the Boer people and nations
After 1806 a number of Dutch-speaking inhabitants of the Cape Colony trekked inland, first in smaller numbers, then in groups as large as almost a hundred people, after 1834 even in groups of hundreds, in a migration known as the Great Trek. There were many reasons why the Boers left the Cape colony, among the initial reasons were the English language laws. Religion was a very important aspect of the settlers culture and the bible and church services were in Dutch. Similarly, schools, justice and trade up to the arrival of the British, were all managed in the Dutch language. The language law caused a lot of friction, distrust and dissatisfaction grew as time passed.
Another reason for Dutch-speaking white farmers trekking away from the Cape was the abolition of slavery by the British government in 1834. The farmers complained they could not replace the labour of their slaves without losing an excessive amount of money.  Britain had allocated the sum of 1 200 000 British Pounds as compensation to the Dutch settlers, on condition the Dutch farmers had to lodge their claims in Britain as well as the fact that the value of the slaves was many times the allocated amount. This caused further dissatisfaction among the Dutch settlers:199 the settlers, incorrectly, believed that the Cape Colony administration had taken the money due to them as payment for freeing their slaves. Those settlers who were allocated money could only claim it in Britain in person or through an agent. The commission charged by agents was the same as the payment for one slave, thus those settlers only claiming for one slave would receive nothing.
South African Republic
In 1835, one of the larger groups of Boers arrived at the Vet river. Louis Trichardt and Jan van Rensburg split of from Potgieters group, and continued on to eventually establish Zoutpansberg. Potgieters group remained at the Vet river and founded a town called Winburg:222
The precursors to the establishment of the South African Republic happened in 1837 after the commandos of Potgieter and Piet Uys successfully defeated a Matabele raiding party of Moselekatse and drove them back over the Limpopo river. Potgieter declared the lands north and south of the Vaal river as Boer lands.:224 Boers started settling on both sides of the Vaal river and in March 1838, Potgieter, Uys and the men of their commando provided relief to Maritz and early in April 1838, both Uys and his son were killed. During April 1838 Potgieter returned to the area north of the Vaal river and founded the town of Potchefstroom.:225 At this time, this new country included the area north (Potchefstroom) and south (Winburg) of the Vaal river.
In 1848 the British Governor of the Cape, Sir Harry Smith, issued a proclamation declaring British sovereignty over all the lands to the north and to the south of the Vaal river.:230 Commandant-General Andries Pretorius led the commandos against the British forces later that year, at the battle of Boomplaats, near Smithfield. The Boer commandos were defeated and General Andries Pretorius with the remainder of his men, fled north across the Vaal river. The Volksraad from Winburg was transferred to Potchefstroom and the South African Republic was established as the name of the new country.:231
The people north of the Vaal River in the South African Republic were officially recognized as an independent country by Great Britain with the signing of the Sand River Convention on 17 January 1852.
Free State Republic
The independent Boer republic of Orange Free State evolved from colonial Britain's Orange River Sovereignty, enforced by the presence of British troops, which lasted from 1848 to 1854 in the territory between the Orange and Vaal rivers, named Transorange. Britain, due to the military burden imposed on it by the Crimean War in Europe, then withdrew its troops from the territory in 1854, when the territory along with other areas in the region was claimed by the Boers as an independent Boer republic, which they named the Orange Free State. In March 1858, after land disputes, cattle rustling and a series of raids and counter-raids, the Orange Free State declared war on the Basotho kingdom, which it failed to defeat. A succession of wars were conducted between the Boers and the Basotho for the next 10 years. The name Orange Free State was again changed to the Orange River Colony, created by Britain after the latter occupied it in 1900 and then annexed it in 1902 during the Second Boer War. The colony, with an estimated population of less than 400,000 in 1904 ceased to exist in 1910, when it was absorbed into the Union of South Africa as the Orange Free State Province.
Afrikaner Pro-German and pro-Nazi sympathies
After the suppression of the abortive, pro-German Maritz Rebellion during the South African World War I campaign against German South West Africa in 1914, the South African rebel General Manie Maritz escaped to Portugal. He returned in 1923 and continued working in the Union of South Africa as a German Spy for the Third Reich. The early 1940s saw the pro-Nazi Ossewa Brandwag (OB) movement become half-a-million strong, including future prime minister John Vorster and Hendrik van den Bergh, the future head of police intelligence  The anti-semitic Boerenasie (Boer Nation) and other similar groups soon joined them. When the war ended, the OB was one of the anti-parliamentary groups absorbed into the National Party. The South African Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging or AWB (meaning Afrikaner Resistance Movement), a militant neo-Nazi, white supremacist movement that arose in the 1970s and was active until the mid-1990s, openly used a flag closely resembling the Nazi flag. In the early to mid-1990s the AWB attempted unsuccessfully through various acts of public violence and intimidation, which included the planting of bombs, to derail the country's transition to democracy. A majority of politically moderate Afrikaners, however, were pragmatic and did not support the AWB's extremism.
Arrival of the Indian South Africans
Indian slaves from the Dutch colonies were introduced into the Cape area of South Africa by the Dutch settlers in 1654.  By 1860, British colonisers turned to India to resolve a labour shortage, as the men of the Zulu warrior nation refused to adopt the servile position of labourers. In that year, the SS Truro arrived in Durban harbour with over 300 Indians on board. Over the next 50 years, 150,000 more indentured Indian servants and labourers arrived, as well as numerous free "passenger Indians", building the base for what would become the largest Indian community outside India. By 1893, when Mahatma Gandhi arrived in Durban, Indians outnumbered whites in Natal. Until the advent of democracy in 1994, Indians in South Africa were subject to most of the discriminatory laws that applied to all non-white inhabitants of the country.
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Dutch at the Cape
The Dutch East India Company (in the Dutch of the day: Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) decided to establish a permanent settlement at the Cape. The VOC, one of the major European trading houses sailing the spice route to the East, had no intention of colonising the area, instead wanting only to establish a secure base camp where passing ships could shelter, and where hungry sailors could stock up on fresh supplies of meat, fruit, and vegetables. To this end, a small VOC expedition under the command of Jan van Riebeeck reached Table Bay on 6 April 1652.
The VOC had settled at the Cape in order to supply their trading ships. As the Khoikhoi were not agricultural farmers, there was no food to trade for at the Cape and the VOC had to import Dutch farmers to establish farms to supply the passing ships as well as to supply the growing VOC settlement. The small initial group of free burghers, as these farmers were known, steadily increased in number and began to expand their farms further north and east. The free burghers were ex-VOC soldiers and gardeners, who were unable to return to Holland when their contracts were completed with the VOC. 
The majority of burghers had Dutch ancestry and belonged to the Calvinist Reformed Church of the Netherlands, but there were also numerous Germans as well as some Scandinavians. In 1688 the Dutch and the Germans were joined by French Huguenots, also Calvinists, who were fleeing religious persecution in France under King Louis XIV.
As there were very few native people in the Cape, van Riebeeck and the VOC also began to import large numbers of slaves, primarily from Madagascar and Indonesia. These slaves often married Dutch settlers, and their descendants became known as the Cape Coloureds and the Cape Malays. A significant number of the offspring from the White and slave unions were absorbed into the local proto-Afrikaans speaking White population. With this additional slave labour, the areas occupied by the VOC expanded further to the north and east.
British at the Cape
As the 18th century drew to a close, Dutch mercantile power began to fade and the British moved in to fill the vacuum. They seized the Cape in 1795 to prevent it from falling into French hands, then relinquished it back to the Dutch in 1803. In 1806, during the Napoleonic Wars, the British seized the Cape from the French controlled Kingdom of Holland. Most importantly the Cape Articles of Capitulation of 1806 allowed the colony to retain ‘all their rights and privileges which they have enjoyed hitherto’ and this launched South Africa on a divergent course from the rest of the British Empire, allowing the continuance of Roman-Dutch law. British sovereignty of the area was recognised at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Dutch accepting a payment of 6 million pounds for the colony.
At the tip of the continent the British found an established colony with roughly 25,000 slaves, 20,000 white colonists, 15,000 Khoisan, and 1,000 freed black slaves. Power resided solely with a white élite in Cape Town, and differentiation on the basis of race was deeply entrenched. Outside Cape Town and the immediate hinterland, isolated black and white pastoralists populated the country.
Like the Dutch before them, the British initially had little interest in the Cape Colony, other than as a strategically located port. As one of their first tasks they outlawed the use of the Dutch language in 1806 with the view of converting the European settlers to the British language and culture. This had the effect of forcing more of the Dutch colonists to move (or trek) away from British administrative reach. Much later, in 1820 the British authorities persuaded about 5,000 middle-class British immigrants (most of them "in trade") to leave Great Britain. Many of the 1820 Settlers eventually settled in Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth.
The Cape Colony
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Starting from the mid-1800s, the largest state in southern Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, began a slow move towards greater independence from Britain. In 1854, it was granted its first locally elected legislature, the Cape Parliament. In 1872, after a long political struggle, it attained responsible government with a locally accountable executive and Prime Minister. The Cape nonetheless remained nominally part of the British Empire, even though it was self-governing in practice. The Cape Colony was unusual in southern Africa in that its laws prohibited any discrimination on the basis of race and, unlike the Boer republics, elections were held according to the non-racial Cape Qualified Franchise system, whereby suffrage qualifications applied universally, regardless of race.
Initially, a period of strong economic growth and social development ensued. However, an ill-informed British attempt to force the states of southern Africa into a British federation led to inter-ethnic tensions and the First Boer War. Meanwhile, the discovery of diamonds around Kimberley and gold in the Transvaal led to a later return to instability, particularly because they fueled the rise to power of the ambitious colonialist Cecil Rhodes. As Cape Prime Minister, Rhodes curtailed the multi-racial franchise, and his expansionist policies set the stage for the Second Boer War.
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In early South Africa, European notions of national boundaries and land ownership had no counterparts in African political culture. To the local African chieftains, customary tribute in the form of horses and cattle represented acceptance by the reigning chief of land use under his authority. To both the Boer and the British settlers, the same form of tribute was believed to constitute purchase and permanent ownership of the land under independent authority.  As British and Boer settlers started establishing permanent farms after trekking across the country in search of prime agricultural land, they encountered resistance from the local Bantu people who had originally migrated southwards from central Africa hundreds of years earlier. The consequent frontier wars were officially referred to by the British colonial authorities as the "Kafir" wars.
Wars against the Xhosa
In the southeastern part of the country, the Boers and the Xhosa clashed along the Great Fish River, and in 1779 the first of nine frontier wars erupted. For nearly 100 years subsequently, the Xhosa fought the settlers sporadically, first the Boers or Afrikaners and later the British. In the Fourth Frontier War, which lasted from 1811 to 1812, the British forced the Xhosa back across the Great Fish River and established forts along this boundary.
In 1818 differences between two Xhosa leaders, Ndlambe and Ngqika, ended in Ngqika’s defeat, but the British continued to recognize Ngqika as the paramount chief. He appealed to the British for help against Ndlambe, who retaliated in 1819 during the Fifth Frontier War by attacking the British colonial town of Grahamstown. The Xhosa prophet Nxele emerged at this time and led the Xhosa armies in several attacks. He was subsequently captured and imprisoned on Robben Island. After this war the British attempted unsuccessfully to declare the area between the Great Fish and the Keiskamma rivers neutral territory. More fighting took place, until eventually all Xhosa territories were incorporated into the Cape Colony. 
Wars against the Zulu
In the eastern part of what is today South Africa, in the region named Natalia by the Boer trekkers, the latter negotiated an agreement with Zulu King Dingane kaSenzangakhona allowing the Boers to settle in part of the then Zulu kingdom. Cattle rustling ensued and a party of Boers under the leadership of Piet Retief was massacred. The Boers retaliated at the Ncome River on 16 December 1838, when they killed about three thousand Zulu warriors in a clash known historically as the Battle of Blood River. 
In the later annexation of the Zulu kingdom by imperial Britain, an Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879. This followed Lord Carnarvon's successful introduction of federation in Canada, it was thought that similar political effort, coupled with military campaigns, might succeed with the African kingdoms, tribal areas and Boer republics in South Africa. In 1874, Sir Henry Bartle Frere was sent to South Africa as High Commissioner for the British Empire to bring such plans into being. Among the obstacles were the presence of the independent states of the South African Republic and the Kingdom of Zululand and its army. Frere, on his own initiative, without the approval of the British government and with the intent of instigating a war with the Zulu, had presented an ultimatum on 11 December 1878, to the Zulu king Cetshwayo with which the Zulu king could not comply. Bartle Frere then sent Lord Chelmsford to invade Zululand. The war is notable for several particularly bloody battles, including an overwhelming victory by the Zulu at the Battle of Isandlwana, as well as for being a landmark in the timeline of imperialism in the region. The war eventually resulted in a British victory and the end of the Zulu nation's independence. The British then set about establishing large sugar plantations in the area today named KwaZulu-Natal Province.
Wars with the Basotho
From the 1830s onwards, numbers of white settlers from the Cape Colony crossed the Orange River and started arriving in the fertile southern part of territory known as the Lower Caledon Valley, which was occupied by Xhosa herders under the authority of the Basotho king Moshoesoe. In 1845, a treaty was signed between the British colonialists and Moeshoe, which recognised white settlement in the area. No firm boundaries were drawn between the area of white settlement and Moshoeshoe's kingdom, which led to border clashes. Moshoeshoe understood he was loaning grazing land to the settlers on a temporary basis, while the settlers believed they had been given permanent land rights. The British, who at that time controlled the area between the Orange and Vaal Rivers called the Orange River Sovereignty, decided a discernible boundary was necessary and proclaimed a line named the Warden Line, dividing the area between British and Basotho territories. This led to conflict between the Basotho and the British, who were defeated by Moshoeshoe's warriors at the battle of Viervoet in 1851.
As punishment to the Basotho, the governor and commander-in-chief of the Cape Colony, Sir George Cathcart, deployed troops to the Mohokare River; Moshoeshoe was ordered to pay a fine. When he did not pay the fine in full, a battle broke out on the Berea Plateau in 1852, where the British suffered heavy losses. In 1854, the British handed over the territory to the Boers through the signing of the Sand River Convention. This territory and others in the region then became the Republic of the Orange Free State. 
A succession of wars followed from 1858 to 1868 between the Basotho kingdom and the Boer republic of Orange Free State. In the battles that followed, the Orange Free State tried unsuccessfully to capture Moshoeshoe's mountain stronghold at Thaba Bosiu, while the Sotho conducted raids in Free State territories. Both sides adopted scorched-earth tactics, with large swathes of pasturage and cropland being destroyed. Faced with starvation, Moshoeshoe signed a peace treaty on October 15, 1858, though crucial boundary issues remained unresolved. War broke out again in 1865. After an unsuccessful appeal for aid from the British Empire, Moshoeshoe signed the 1866 treaty of Thaba Bosiu, with the Basotho ceding substantial territory to the Orange Free State. On 12 March 1868, the British parliament declared the Basotho Kingdom a British protectorate and part of the British Empire. Open hostilities ceased between the Orange Free State and the Basotho. The country was subsequently named Basutoland and is presently named Lesotho.
The First Anglo-Boer War
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The Transvaal Boer republic was forcefully annexed by Britain in 1877, during its attempt to consolidate the states of southern Africa under British rule. Long-standing Boer resentment turned into full-blown rebellion in the Transvaal and the first Anglo-Boer War, known to Afrikaners as the "War of Independence", broke out in 1880. The conflict ended almost as soon as it began with a crushing Boer victory at Battle of Majuba Hill (27 February 1881). The republic regained its independence as the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek ("South African Republic"), or ZAR. Paul Kruger, one of the leaders of the uprising, became President of the ZAR in 1883. Meanwhile, the British, who viewed their defeat at Majuba as an aberration, forged ahead with their desire to federate the Southern African colonies and republics. They saw this as the best way to come to terms with the fact of a white Afrikaner majority, as well as to promote their larger strategic interests in the area.
The enormous wealth of the mines, largely controlled by European "Randlords" soon became irresistible for the British. In 1895, a group of renegades led by Captain Leander Starr Jameson entered the ZAR with the intention of sparking an uprising on the Witwatersrand and installing a British administration. This incursion became known as the Jameson Raid. The scheme ended in fiasco, but it seemed obvious to Kruger that it had at least the tacit approval of the Cape Colony government, and that his republic faced danger. He reacted by forming an alliance with Orange Free State.
The Second Anglo-Boer War
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Renewed tensions between Britain and the Boers peaked in 1899 when the British demanded voting rights for the 60,000 foreign whites on the Witwatersrand. Until that point, President Paul Kruger's government had excluded all foreigners from the franchise. Kruger rejected the British demand and called for the withdrawal of British troops from the ZAR's borders. When the British refused, Kruger declared war. This Second Anglo-Boer War lasted longer than the first, and the British preparedness surpassed that of Majuba Hill. By June 1900, Pretoria, the last of the major Boer towns, had surrendered. Yet resistance by Boer bittereinders continued for two more years with guerrilla-style battles, which the British met in turn with scorched earth tactics.The boers kept on fighting, proving a mighty resistance. By 1902 26,000 Boer women and children had died of disease and neglect in British concentration camps and this led to the boer to surrender to save what was left of their wives and children. On 31 May 1902 a superficial peace came with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging. Under its terms, the Boer republics acknowledged British sovereignty, while the British in turn committed themselves to reconstruction of the areas under their control. The South African Republic became the Transvaal Colony and by March 1903 the British had spent over nineteen million pounds on the reconstruction and development of the Transvaal Colony.
Unification of South Africa
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During the years immediately following the Anglo-Boer wars, Britain set about unifiying the four colonies into one country, the Union of South Africa. By 1907 the gold mines of the Witwatersrand produced almost one-third of the world's annual gold production. But the peace remained fragile and challenged on all sides. The Afrikaners found themselves in the ignominious position of poor farmers in a country where big mining ventures and foreign capital rendered them irrelevant. Britain's unsuccessful attempts to Anglicise them, and to impose English as the official language in schools and the workplace particularly incensed them. Partly as a backlash to this, the Afrikaners came to see Afrikaans as the volkstaal ("people's language") and as a symbol of Afrikaner nationhood.
Blacks and Coloureds had always been and still were marginalised members of society. The authorities imposed harsh taxes and reduced wages, while the British caretaker administrators encouraged the immigration of thousands of Chinese to undercut any resistance. Resentment exploded in the Bambatha Rebellion of 1906, in which 4,000 Zulus lost their lives after rebelling against to onerous tax legislation.
The British meanwhile moved ahead with their plans for unification. After several years of negotiations, the South Africa Act 1909 brought the colonies – Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State – together as the Union of South Africa. Under the provisions of the act, the Union became an independent Dominion of the British Crown. The British High Commission territories of Basutoland (now Lesotho), Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Swaziland and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) continued under direct rule from Britain.
English and Dutch became the official languages and commonly right up to 1925 there were four main European languages, High Dutch, Low or South African Dutch (Afrikaans), High Afrikaans and English. Afrikaans and English became the official languages in 1925. Despite a major campaign by Blacks and Coloureds, the voter franchise remained as in the pre-Union republics and colonies, and only whites could gain election to parliament
The Natives' Land Act of 1913 was the first major piece of segregation legislation passed by the Union Parliament, and remained a cornerstone of Apartheid until the 1990s when it was replaced by the current policy of land restitution. Under the act, blacks were relatively restricted from the legal ownership of land, at that stage to 7% of the country. This percentage later increased to 13%, at about 158, 734 km2 a 1/6 bigger than Greece, resulting in an estimated population density of 30/km2, the same as modern USA. The Act created a system of land tenure that deprived the majority of South Africa's inhabitants of the right to own land outside of reserves which had major socio-economic repercussions, because the owners did not develop and leverage the land into a successful commercial resource.
In September 1914, impoverished boers, anti-British Boers and bitter-enders came into a rebellion against the British colony of the Union of South Africa. The rebellion was squashed and at least one officer was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad. Many other boers died in the failed rebellion that came to be known as the Maritz Rebellion
Segregationist legislation also included the General Pass Regulations Bill (1905), which denied blacks the vote altogether, limited them to fixed areas and inaugurated the infamous Pass System; the Asiatic Registration Act (1906) requiring all Indians to register and carry passes; the South Africa Act (1910) that enfranchised whites, giving them complete political control over all other race groups; the above-mentioned Native Land Act (1913) which prevented all blacks from buying land outside 'reserves'. The reserves were the "original homes" or countries of the black tribes of South Africa. The reserves later became known as bantustans of which the failed objective was to make self-governing, quasi-independent ethnically homogeneous states. At this time the state effectively reserved 87% of the land which whites exclusively could purchase; the Natives in Urban Areas Bill (1918) designed to move blacks living in "white" South Africa into specific 'locations' as a precautionary security measure; the Urban Areas Act (1923) which introduced residential segregation in South Africa and provided cheap unskilled labour for the white mining and farming industry; the Colour Bar Act (1926), preventing blacks from practising skilled trades; the Native Administration Act (1927) that made the British Crown, rather than paramount chiefs, the supreme head over all African affairs; the Native Land and Trust Act (1936) that complemented the 1913 Native Land Act and, in the same year, the Representation of Natives Act, which removed blacks from the Cape voters' roll. The final 'apartheid' legislation passed by the South African parliament before the beginning of the 'Apartheid' era was the Asiatic Land Tenure Bill (1946), which banned any further land sales to Indians.
First World War
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At the outbreak of World War I, South Africa joined Great Britain and the Allies against the German Empire. Both Prime Minister Louis Botha and Defence Minister Jan Smuts, were former Second Boer War generals who had fought against the British then, but they now became active and respected members of the Imperial War Cabinet. Elements of the South African army refused to fight against the Germans and along with other opponents of the government they rose in an open revolt known as the Maritz Rebellion. The government declared martial law on 14 October 1914, and forces loyal to the government under the command of General Louis Botha and Jan Smuts proceeded to destroy the rebellion. The leading Boer activists were convicted and given terms of imprisonment of six and seven years and heavy fines.
Nearly a quarter million South Africans served in South African military units in supporting the Allies during World War I. This included 43,000 in German South-West Africa and 30,000 on the Western Front. An estimated 3,000 South Africans also joined the Royal Flying Corps. The total South African casualties during the war was about 18,600. South Africa assisted the Allied war effort by capturing the two German colonies of German West Africa and German East Africa, as well as participating in battles in Western Europe and the Middle East.
Public opinion in South Africa split along racial and ethnic lines. The British elements strongly supported the war, and formed by far the largest military component. Likewise the Indian element (led by Mahatma Gandhi) generally supported the war effort. Afrikaners were split, with some like Botha and Smuts taking a prominent leadership role in the British war effort. This position was rejected by many rural Afrikaners who supported the Maritz Rebellion. The trade union movement was divided. Many urban blacks supported the war expecting it would raise their status in society. Others said it was not relevant to the struggle for their rights. The Coloured element was generally supportive and many served in a Coloured Corps in East Africa and France, also hoping to better their lot after the war. Those blacks and Coloureds who supported the war were embittered when postwar South Africa saw no easing of white domination and restrictive conditions.
South Africa's main economic role was in the supply of two-thirds of the gold production in the British Empire (most of the remainder came from Australia). When the war began Bank of England officials worked with the government of South Africa to block any gold shipments to Germany, and force the mine owners to sell only to the Treasury, at prices set by the Treasury. This facilitated purchases of munitions and food in the U.S, and other neutrals. By 1919 London lost control to the mining companies (which were now backed by the South African government). They wanted the higher prices and sales to New York that a free market would provide.
Second World War
During World War II, South Africa's ports and harbours, such as at Cape Town, Durban, and Simon's Town, were important strategic assets to the British Royal Navy. About 334,000 South Africans volunteered for full-time military service in support of the Allies abroad. Nearly 9,000 were killed in action and many others were captured by the Axis and held as prisoners of war. Prime Minister Jan Smuts was the only important non-British general whose advice was constantly sought by Britain's war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Smuts was invited to the Imperial War Cabinet in 1939 as the most senior South African in favour of war. On 28 May 1941, Smuts was appointed a Field Marshal of the British Army, becoming the first South African to hold that rank. When the war ended, Smuts represented South Africa in San Francisco at the drafting of the United Nations Charter in May 1945. Just as he had done in 1919, Smuts urged the delegates to create a powerful international body to preserve peace; he was determined that, unlike the League of Nations, the UN would have teeth. Smuts also signed the Paris Peace Treaty, resolving the peace in Europe, thus becoming the only signatory of both the treaty ending the First World War, and that which ended the Second.
In October, 1945, following the end of World War II, both the Labour party, and the Dominion Party withdrew from the coalition government, leaving Jan Smuts and the United Party in complete control. Smuts later paid a heavy political price for his closeness to the British establishment, which had made him unpopular among the majority of conservative nationalist Afrikaners, leading ultimately to his political downfall in the 1948 general election. Most English-speaking whites and a minority of liberal Afrikaners in South Africa remained loyal to him.
The Apartheid era
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From 1910 until 1948 the franchise to vote in the British colony of the Union of South Africa was gradually evolved from allowing "qualified" male population (with non-whites enfranchised in the Cape Province and Natal) to gradual disenfranchisement of all South African Blacks, who were moved to a separate voters' roll in 1936. All whites over the age of 21, including women were given the right to vote in 1930. After the ascent of the National Party to power in 1948, the Black voters' roll was abolished. Cape Coloureds were moved to a separate voters' role, and subsequently disenfranchised altogether in 1970. Only whites were permitted to vote in general elections from 1958 until 1994 when the vote was granted to all South Africans over age 18. The 1994 general election was the first post-apartheid vote based on universal suffrage.
General Louis Botha headed the first government of the new Union, with General Jan Smuts as his deputy. Their South African National Party, later known as the South African Party or SAP, followed a generally pro-British, white-unity line. The more radical Boers split away under the leadership of General Barry Hertzog, forming the National Party (NP) in 1914. The NP championed Afrikaner interests, advocating separate development for the two white groups and independence from Britain.
The Act of Union and the laws that followed continued to deny Black people, women and many other people of any voting-rights. Some black people saw the failure to grant the franchise, coming on the heels of British wartime propaganda promoting freedom from "Boer slavery", as a betrayal. As the British had successfully defeated the Boers and had obtained control of their country and had incorporated the Boer countries into the new Union of South Africa
Before long the Union passed a barrage of oppressive legislation, making it illegal for black workers to strike, reserving skilled jobs for whites, barring blacks from military service, and instituting restrictive pass laws. In 1913 parliament enacted the Natives' Land Act, setting aside eight percent of South Africa's land for black occupancy. Whites, who made up only 20 percent of the population, held 90 percent of the land. Black Africans could not buy or rent land or even work as share-croppers outside their designated area. The authorities evicted thousands of squatters, share croppers (bywoners) from farms and forced them to remain in increasingly overcrowded and impoverished ghettos.
Black and Coloured opposition began to coalesce, and leading figures such as John Jabavu, Walter Rubusana and Abdullah Abdurahman laid the foundations for new non-tribal black political groups. Most significantly, a Columbia University-educated attorney, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, called together representatives of the various African tribes to form a unified, national organisation to represent the interests of blacks, and to ensure that they had an effective voice in the new Union. Thus there originated the South African Native National Congress, known from 1923 as the African National Congress (ANC). Parallel to this, Mahatma Gandhi worked with the Indian populations of Natal and the Transvaal to fight against the ever-increasing encroachment on their rights.
The international recession which followed World War I put pressures on mine-owners, and they sought to reduce costs by recruiting lower-paid, black, semi-skilled workers. White mine-workers saw this as a threat and in 1922 rose in the armed Rand Rebellion under the slogan "Workers of the World, unite and fight for a white South Africa." Smuts suppressed the rising violently, but the failure led to a convergence of views between Afrikaner nationalists and white English-speaking trade-unionists. The new Communist Party of South Africa supported the rebellion while opposing its racial slogans. Later, it came to see the hostility between white and black workers as the main reason for its defeat, and re-oriented recruitment efforts towards black workers.
In 1924 the NP, under Hertzog, came to power in a coalition government with the Labour Party, and Afrikaner nationalism gained greater hold. Afrikaans, previously regarded only as a low-class dialect of Dutch, replaced Dutch as an official language of the Union, and the so-called swart gevaar (black peril) became the dominant issue of the 1929 election. In the mid-1930s, Hertzog joined the NP with the more moderate SAP of Jan Smuts to form the United Party; this coalition fell apart at the start World War II when Smuts took the reins and, amid much controversy, led South Africa into war on the side of the Allies. However, any hopes of turning the tide of Afrikaner nationalism faded when Daniel François Malan led a radical break-away movement, the Purified National Party, to the central position in Afrikaner political life. The Afrikaner Broederbond, a secret Afrikaner brotherhood formed in 1918 to protect Afrikaner culture, soon became an extraordinarily influential force behind both the NP and other organisations designed to promote the volk ("people", the Afrikaners).
Due to the booming wartime economy, black labour became increasingly important to the mining and manufacturing industries, and the black urban population nearly doubled. Enormous squatter camps grew up on the outskirts of Johannesburg and (though to a lesser extent) outside the other major cities. Despite the appalling conditions in the townships, not only blacks knew poverty: wartime surveys found that 40 percent of white schoolchildren suffered from malnutrition.
From 1948 successive National Party administrations formalised and extended the existing system of racial discrimination and denial of human rights into the legal system of apartheid, which lasted until 1991. Although many important events occurred during this period, apartheid remained the central system around which most of the historical issues of this period revolved, including violent conflict and the militarisation of South African society.
Government legislation forcing African students to accept Afrikaans as the official medium for tuition precipitated a mass uprising by students at Soweto on 16 June 1976, with support from the wider Black Consciousness Movement. The uprising spread thoughout the country. By the time it was finally quelled, hundreds of protesters had been shot dead with many more wounded or arrested by police.
In the aftermath of the Soweto uprising and the security clampdown that accompanied it, Joint Management Centres (JMCs) operating in at least 34 State-designated "high-risk" areas became the key element in a National Security Management System. The police and military who controlled the JMCs by the mid-1980s were endowed with influence in decision-making at every level, from the Cabinet down to local government.
In the mid-1980s, police and army death squads conducted covert, State-sponsored assassinations of dissidents and activists. By mid-1987 the Human Rights Commission knew of at least 140 political assassinations in the country, while about 200 people died at the hands of South African agents in neighbouring states. The exact numbers of all the victims may never be known. Strict censorship disallowed journalists from reporting, filming or photographing such incidents, while the government ran its own covert disinformation programme that provided distorted accounts of the extrajudicial killings. At the same time, State-sponsored vigilante groups carried out violent attacks on communities and community leaders associated with resistance to apartheid. The attacks were then falsely attributed by the government to "black-on-black" or factional violence within the communities.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) would later establish that a covert, informal network of former or still serving army and police operatives, frequently acting in conjunction with extreme right-wing elements, was involved in actions that could be construed as fomenting violence and which resulted in gross human rights violations, including random and targeted killings.  Between 1960 and 1994, according to statistics from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Inkatha Freedom Party was responsible for 4,500 deaths, South African Police 2,700, and the ANC about 1,300.
In early 2002 a planned military coup by a white supremacist movement known as the Boeremag (Boer Force) was foiled by the South African police. Two dozen conspirators including senior South African Army officers were arrested on charges of treason and murder, after a bomb explosion in Soweto. The effectiveness of the police in foiling the planned coup strengthened public perceptions that the democratic order was irreversible.
The TRC, at the conclusion of its mandate in 2004, handed over a list of 300 names of alleged perpetrators to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for investigation and prosecution by the NPA's Priority Crimes Litigation Unit. Less than a handful of prosecutions were ever pursued.  
Military operations in Frontline States
South African security forces during the latter part of the apartheid era had a policy of attacking anti-apartheid guerrilla bases and places of refuge for exiles in neighbouring southern African states. These states were known collectively as the Frontline States: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and, from 1980, Zimbabwe. 
Angola bore the brunt of these attacks when the country was invaded by 40,000 South African troops on August 23, 1981 with collaboration and encouragement provided by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  The Angolan army, in resisting the South African invasion, was supported by a combination of Cuban forces and South African and South West African guerrillas, all armed with weapons supplied by the Soviet Union. After decisive battles at Cuito Cuanavale, which have been described as "the fiercest in Africa since World War
II", the South Africans withdrew from the country in June 1988. South African involvement in Angola ended formally after the signing of a United Nations-brokered agreement known as the New York Accords between the governments of Angola, Cuba and South Africa, resulting in the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Angola and South West Africa (now Namibia). 
South Africa in the 1980s also provided logistical and other covert support to RENAMO rebels in neighbouring Mozambique during the Mozambique Civil War, and it launched cross-border raids into Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana, killing or capturing South Africans in exile there.
Resistance to apartheid
From the 1940s to the 1960s, anti-apartheid resistance within the country took the form mainly of passive resistance, influenced in part by the pacifist ideology of Mahatma Gandhi. After the March 1960 massacre of 69 peaceful demonstrators at Sharpeville, and the subsequent declaration of a State of Emergency, and the banning of anti-apartheid parties including the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), and the Communist Party of South Africa, the focus of national resistance turned to armed struggle and underground activity.  The armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto weSizwe (abbreviation MK, meaning Spear of the Nation) claimed moral legitimacy for the resort to violence on the grounds of necessary defence and just war.  From the 1960s to 1989, MK carried out numerous acts of sabotage and attacks on military and police personnel. 
The national liberation movement was divided in the early 1960s when an "Africanist" faction within the ANC objected to an alliance between the ANC and the Communist Party of South Africa. Leaders of the Communist Party of South Africa were mostly white.  The Africanists broke away from the ANC to form the Pan-Africanist Congress and its military wing named Poqo, which became active mainly in the Cape provinces. During the early 1990s, Poqo was renamed Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA). Its underground cells conducted armed robberies to raise funds and obtain weapons and vehicles. Civilians were killed or injured in many of these robberies. In 1993, attacks on white civilian targets in public places increased. APLA denied the attacks were racist in character, claiming that the attacks were directed against the apartheid government as all whites, according to the PAC, were complicit in the policy of apartheid. One 1993 attack on a Christian church in Cape Town left 11 people dead and 58 injured.
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In June 1991, apartheid laws were finally rescinded, opening the way for the country's first democratic elections three years later. It was the culmination of mounting local and international opposition to apartheid in the 1980s, including the armed struggle, widespread civil unrest, economic and cultural sanctions by the international community, and pressure from the anti-apartheid movement around the world, State President FW de Klerk announced the unbanning of the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress and the South African Communist Party, as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison on 2 February 1990. In a referendum held on 17 March 1992 a white electorate voted 68% in favour of dismantling apartheid through negotiations.
After years of negotiations under the auspices of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), a draft constitution appeared on 26 July 1993, containing concessions towards all sides: a federal system of regional legislatures, equal voting-rights regardless of race, and a bicameral legislature.
From 26 to 29 April 1994 the South African population voted in the first universal suffrage general elections. The African National Congress won election to govern for the very first time, leaving the National Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party behind it and parties such as the Democratic Party and Pan Africanist Congress took up their seats as part of the parliamentary opposition in the first genuine multiracial parliament. Nelson Mandela was elected as President on 9 May 1994 and formed – according to the interim constitution of 1993 – a government of national unity, consisting of the ANC, the NP and the Inkatha. On 10 May Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's new President in Pretoria and Thabo Mbeki and FW De Klerk as his vice-presidents.
- History of Africa
- History of Cape Colony
- History of Johannesburg
- History of the Northern Cape
- History of South African wine
- List of Presidents of South Africa
- List of Prime Ministers of South Africa
- List of South Africa-related topics
- Military history of South Africa
- Politics of South Africa
- Timeline of liberal parties in South Africa
- Years in South Africa
- Timeline of Cape Town
- Timeline of Johannesburg
- Timeline of Pretoria, Tshwane
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