White Africans of European ancestry
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(figures do not include immigrants living abroad nor those in remaining European dependencies such as the Canary Islands, Ceuta, Melilla, Madeira, Réunion, Mayotte, Saint Helena)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Afrikaans, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish|
|Predominantly Christianity (Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism), Jewish|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other White diasporas|
White Africans (or less commonly European Africans or Euro Africans in a similar style to terms such as African American or French Canadian) are people of European descent residing in, or hailing from, Africa who identify themselves as white.
In 1989, there were an estimated 4.6 million Africans of European ancestry on the continent. Most are of Dutch, British, Portuguese, German, French, and to a lesser extent, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Ashkenazi Jewish, or Irish descent. The majority once lived along the Mediterranean coast, in South Africa, or in Zimbabwe.
The earliest permanent European communities in Africa were formed at the Cape of Good Hope; Luanda, in Angola; São Tomé Island; and Santiago, Cape Verde through the introduction of Portuguese and Dutch traders or military personnel. Other groups of settlers appeared when France and Great Britain colonized Africa. Before regional decolonization, white Africans may have numbered up to 6 million persons and were represented in every part of the continent, particularly South Africa, South-West Africa, Algeria, Angola, Kenya, and Southern Rhodesia.
A voluntary exodus of colonials accompanied independence in most African nations. Portuguese Mozambicans, who numbered about 200,000 in 1975, departed en masse because of economic policies directed against their wealth; they now number fewer than 50,000. In Zimbabwe, white flight was spurred by an aggressive land reform programme introduced by President Robert Mugabe and the resulting economic misfortune. On the other hand, some, including the Belgian community in Burundi, were blatantly expelled by post-colonial governments.
The African country with the largest white population of European descent both numerically and proportionally is South Africa, at approximately 4.5 million (8.4% of the population). Although white African minorities no longer hold exclusive political power, some continue to retain key positions in industry and commercial agriculture.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Afrikaners and Dutch in Africa
- 3 British diaspora in Africa
- 4 French in Africa
- 5 Portuguese in Africa
- 6 Italians in Africa
- 7 Greeks in Africa
- 8 Germans in Africa
- 9 Spanish in Africa
- 10 Belgians in Africa
- 11 Norwegians in Africa
- 12 Other European diaspora in Africa
- 13 Languages
- 14 Sports
- 15 See also
- 16 References
European settlement patterns in Africa generally favoured territories with a substantial amount of land at least 3,000 feet (914 metres) above sea level, an annual rainfall of over twenty inches (51 cm) but not exceeding forty inches (102 cm), and relative freedom from the tsete fly. In contrast to western and central Africa, the milder, drier climates of northern, eastern, and southern Africa thus attracted substantial numbers of permanent European immigrants. A modest annual rainfall of under forty inches was considered especially suitable for the temperate farming activities to which many were accustomed.
Most European settlers granted land in African colonies cultivated cereal crops or raised cattle, which were far more popular among the immigrants rather than managing the tropical plantations aimed at producing export-oriented crops such as rubber and palm oil. A direct consequence of this preference was that the territories with a rainfall exceeding forty inches developed strong plantation-based economies but produced almost no food beyond what was cultivated by small-scale indigenous producers; drier territories with large white farming communities became more self-sufficient in food production. The latter often resulted in sharp friction between European settlers and black African tribes as they competed for land. By 1960, at least seven British, French, and Belgian colonies—in addition to the Union of South Africa—had passed legislation reserving a fixed percentage of land for white ownership. This allowed unscrupulous settlers to legitimise their land seizures and began a process that had the ultimate consequence of commodifying land in colonial Africa.
Prior to 1914, colonial governments encouraged European settlement on a grand scale, based on the assumption that this was a prerequisite to long-term development and economic growth. The concept lost popularity when it became clear that multinational corporations financed by overseas capital, coupled with cheap African labour, were far more productive and efficient at building export-oriented economies for the benefit of the metropolitan powers. During the Great Depression, locally owned, small scale businesses managed by individual whites suffered immense losses attempting to compete with large commercial enterprises and the lower costs of black peasant production (South Africa being the sole exception to the rule, as its white businesses and labour were heavily subsidised by the state).
Unlike other former settler colonies such as those in the Americas and Australia, Europeans and their descendants on the African continent never outnumbered the indigenous demographic; nevertheless, they found ways to consolidate power and exert a disproportionate influence on the administrative policies of their respective metropolitan countries. Some lost their sense of identification with Europe and created their own nationalist movements, namely in South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Permanent white settlers were regarded as an increasing liability by colonial administrations as they sought to dominate their adopted African homelands. They were also likely to involve the government in conflict with Africans, which required expensive military campaigns and inextricably damaged relations between the latter and the metropolitan powers. This was a common trend throughout African colonies from the late eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. In the Dutch Cape Colony for instance, governor Joachim van Plettenberg demarcated the territory's boundaries around 1778 with approval from the Xhosa chiefdoms; the following year Dutch colonists violated the border and attacked the Xhosa, sparking the bloody Xhosa Wars. Heated disputes between German settlers and the Matumbi and Ngoni peoples contributed significantly to the Maji Maji Rebellion of 1905–07. During the same period, British Kenya's European residents were largely responsible for provoking a military pacification campaign against the Masai.
The advent of global decolonisation ushered in a radical change of perspectives towards European settlement in Africa. Metropolitan governments began to place more emphasis on their relations with the indigenous peoples rather than the progressively independent settler populations. In direct opposition to the growing tide of African nationalism, whites of European descent in colonies such as Algeria began to forge new, nationalist identities of their own. On some occasions the granting of independence to African states under majority rule was influenced by the desire to preempt unilateral declarations of independence or secession attempts by white nationalists. Nevertheless, Rhodesia's white minority did succeed in issuing its own declaration of independence in 1965 and later retain power up until 1980. Less successful was an attempted coup d'etat by white Mozambicans in 1974, which was forcibly crushed by Portuguese troops. White rule in South Africa only ended with the country's first multiracial elections in 1994.
A white flight phenomenon accompanied regional decolonisation and to a lesser extent, the termination of white minority rule in Rhodesia and South Africa. Thousands of former colonials returned to their metropolitan countries in Western Europe; because they had controlled key sectors of many fledgling African economies prior to independence, their exodus often resulted in devastating economic repercussions. Consequently, some African states have made a concerted attempt to retain sizable white communities in the interests of preserving their capital and much-needed technical skills.
A few colonies had no permanent white populations at all, and in such cases the European powers preferred to construct forts rather than large settlements accordingly. Expatriate administrators and soldiers were posted there initially as deterrents to rival governments attempting to effectuate treaties concerning land and other resources with local African populations.
- European percentage peaks from total population during the colonial era:
- South Africa: 21%
- South-West Africa (Namibia): 14%
- Algeria: 15%
- Libya: 13%
- Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe): 7%
- Spanish Morocco: 5–10%
- Tunisia: 10%
- Angola: 4%
- French Morocco: 1–5%
- Swaziland: 1–5%
- Spanish Sahara (current Western Sahara): 1–5%
- Northern Rhodesia (current Zambia): 2%
- Rest of Africa: <1%
- In most of Africa, Europeans accounted for under 1% of the population, except for the colonies in Northern and Southern Africa (except for Egypt, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, and Nyasaland), which had the highest proportion of European settlers.
The white population of Zimbabwe was much higher in the 1960s and 1970s (when the country was known as Rhodesia); about 296,000 in 1975. This peak of around 4.3% of the population in 1975 dropped to possibly 120,000 in 1999, and was estimated to be no more than 50,000 in 2002, and possibly much less.
White African population by country (Estimates from CIA, Joshua Project)
- South Africa
- 4,602,000 (Afrikaans, English according to 2013 estimates)
- 200,000 (Portuguese citizens of any ethnicity according to 2012 estimates)
- 154,000 (Afrikaans, German, English according to 2013 estimates)
- 120,000 (French)
- 203,000 (French and Italian)
- 100,000 (French and Spanish)
- 64,000 (English, Afrikaans)
- 50,000 (French)
- Ivory Coast
- 50,000 (French)
- 45,000 (Portuguese according to 2013 estimates)
- 40,000 (English, some Afrikaans)
- 32,000 (English according to 2011 Census)
- 30,000 (English according to 2010 estimates)
- 21,000 (English, French)
- 10,000–12,000 (French)
- 6,000 (French, Flemish)
- Other African nations
Afrikaners and Dutch in Africa
Dutch settlement, under the United East India Company, began in the Cape of Good Hope (present-day Cape Town) in 1652, making it the oldest Western-based culture in Sub-Saharan Africa. The first Hollanders to set foot on this shoreline had neither the initial desire nor the intention to subjugate the native inhabitants, preferring instead to focus on establishing a refreshment station for ships carrying goods from the Orient to Europe's busy ports via the Cape of Good Hope.
Some of these early Afrikaners, however, became "free burghers", and set about clearing and cultivating the almost uninhabited country. Joined by French Huguenots, they permanently settled an area of 170,000 square kilometers; about six times the area of the Netherlands. As the Cape colony expanded, Dutch farmers (Boers) pushed outward, carving more homesteads from the vast wilderness. By the late 19th century, some had even crossed the Limpopo river into Mashonaland, now part of Zimbabwe.
In subsequent decades, South Africa's Afrikaner population (the largest white minority on the continent) increased dramatically. During apartheid, their numbers were bolstered by immigrants from Germany, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. According to a 1992 study, the number of Afrikaners was increasing at a modest rate, yet one that is fairly high compared to Europe.
Distribution of Afrikaners by province
Afrikaners are represented in every province of South Africa, although relatively few reside in the southeastern regions. The greatest concentration of white South Africans appear in Gauteng (which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria) and the Western Cape (which includes Cape Town).
In the mid to late 19th century and beforehand, South African trekboers found their way into Namibia (then South-West Africa) during separate quests to avoid aggressive British imperialism at home. A significant number even penetrated as far north as Angola during the Dorsland Trek. Others established an independent republic at Upingtonia in 1885, although this proved to be short-lived.
The South-West became a German colony during the late 19th century, and with the onset of the First World War a number of local Boers volunteered to serve with the imperial authorities against invading Allied troops. After that conflict left the territory under South African occupation, thousands of fresh Afrikaner migrants poured into the region to occupy available plots of prime stock-farming land and exploit untapped resources. Their government further encouraged new settlement by offering easy loans, necessary infrastructure, and more expropriated land to white newcomers. This policy was generally considered a success, as South-West Africa's white population more than doubled between 1913 and 1936.
Current estimates for the Afrikaner population in Namibia range from 60,000 to 120,000; they continue to make up the majority of the country's white citizens. 45% of the best ranging and agricultural land is presently owned by Namibians of European background, mostly Afrikaner ranchers.
While Afrikaners were always a small minority in Zimbabwe's population, some did arrive with the early pioneer columns and permanently settled, especially in the Enkeldoorn farming areas. After 1907, an increasing number of dispossessed Boers arrived in what was then the British territory of Southern Rhodesia, seeking better economic opportunities. They soon found themselves discriminated against by the other Europeans, who expressed alarm at an 'invasion' of 'poor Dutch' and what they described as the 'human wreckage of the Union'. This aversion was condemned by elements in the South African press, which charged that "the settlement of Afrikaners in Rhodesia is being emphatically worked against."
During World War I, the Maritz Rebellion in South Africa caused consternation among Rhodesian authorities, prompting them to conclude that their colony's Afrikaner inhabitants could not be relied upon against the German Empire. In the following decades a sharp cleavage continued to divide Afrikaners from their English-speaking countrymen, reflecting entrenched divisions in class and culture. The former generally earned lower incomes, and never advanced far in capital, education, and influence. They were also considered to be Rhodesia's single most conservative white community, almost unanimously opposing a multiracial school system and any concessions to black Africans regarding land apportionment.
With the ensuing Rhodesian Bush War and Zimbabwean independence under Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in 1980, over one-fifth of white Rhodesians, including most resident Afrikaners, emigrated abroad.
During and following the Boer Wars, some Afrikaner families emigrated to British East Africa, settling largely in the fertile Rift Valley. Many returned to their homeland in the 1930s, following a series of unhappy disputes with Kenyan tribes. A handful, however, remained concentrated around Eldoret until the territory's independence.
There were originally around 2,000 Boers in Angola, descendants of those who had survived Namibia's unforgiving Dorsland Trek. For fifty years they formed a distinct enclave in the underdeveloped Portuguese territory, joined by new Afrikaner migrants in 1893 and 1905. By 1928, however, the South African authorities arranged to have 300 such households repatriated to Outjo, where they settled comfortably into farming. The few Afrikaners who remained fled their homes during Angola's subsequent colonial and civil wars.
Tanzania and elsewhere
In the early 20th century a number of Afrikaners trekked into German Tanganyika, where they were parceled land by colonial authorities then attempting to boost agricultural production. After Tanganyika became a British trust territory on Germany's defeat during World War I, London reaffirmed such grants as they existed. Few Afrikaners stayed beyond the eve of Tanzanian independence in 1961.
With the retreat of European colonialism, Afrikaner communities outside South Africa and its immediate neighbors generally diminished in size and a significant number of settlers returned to their country in the decades immediately proceeding World War II.
British diaspora in Africa
South Africa and the Cape Colony
Although there were small British settlements along the West African coast from the 18th century onwards, mostly devoted to the slave trade, British settlement in Africa began in earnest only at the end of the 18th century, in the Cape of Good Hope. It gained momentum following British annexation of the Cape from the Dutch East India Company, and the subsequent encouragement of settlers in the Eastern Cape in an effort to consolidate the colony's eastern border.
In the late 19th century, the discovery of gold and diamonds further encouraged colonisation of South Africa by the British. The search for gold drove expansion north into the Rhodesias (now Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi). Simultaneously, British settlers began expansion into the fertile uplands (often called the "White Highlands") of British East Africa (now Kenya and Tanzania). Most of these settlements were not planned by the British government, with many colonial officials concluding they upset the balance of power in the region and left overall imperial interests vulnerable.
Cecil Rhodes utilized his wealth and connections towards organizing this ad hoc movement and settlement into a grand imperial policy. This policy had as its general aim the securing of a Cairo to Cape Town railway system, and settling the upper highlands of East Africa and the whole of Southern Africa south of the Zambezi with British colonies in a manner akin to that of North America and Australasia.
However, prioritization of British power around the globe in the years before World War I, initially reduced the resources appropriated toward settlement. World War I and the Great Depression and the general decline of British and European birthrates further hobbled the expected settler numbers. Nonetheless, thousands of colonists arrived each year during the decades preceding World War II, mostly in South Africa, where the birthrates of British Africans increased suddenly. Despite a general change in British policy against supporting the establishment of European settlements in Africa, and a slow abandonment in the overall British ruling and common classes for a separate and exclusivist European identity, large colonial appendages of European separatist supporters of the British Empire were well entrenched in South Africa, Rhodesia, and Kenya.
In keeping with the general trend toward non-European rule evident throughout most of the globe during the Cold War and the abandonment of colonial positions in the face of American and Soviet pressure, the vestigial remnants of Cecil Rhodes' vision was abruptly ended, leaving British settlers in an exposed, isolated, and weak position. Black Nationalist guerrilla forces aided by Soviet expertise and weapons soon drove the colonists into a fortress mentality which led to the break-off of ties with perceived collaborationist governments in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.
The result was a series of conflicts which eventually led to a reduced presence of White Africans due to emigration and natural death. Many were murdered, tens of thousands driven off their lands and property, with many of those remaining being intimidated and threatened by the government and political and paramilitary organizations. However, what soon followed was a mass immigration to the safety and white rule of South Africa, which is the African country known to have the largest white population, currently with 1,755,100 British-South Africans. When apartheid first started most British-South Africans were mostly keen on keeping and even strengthening its ties with the United Kingdom. However, they were largely outnumbered by the Afrikaners, who preferred a republic, and in a referendum voted against being a British commonwealth realm.
Hundreds of thousands of British-South Africans left the nation to start new lives abroad, they settled in United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, Netherlands, and Ireland. In spite of the high emigration rates, a large number of white foreign immigrants from countries such as United Kingdom and Zimbabwe have settled in the country. For example, by 2005, an estimated 212,000 British citizens were residing in South Africa. By 2011, this number may have grown to 500,000. Since 2003, the numbers of British immigrants coming to South Africa has risen by 50%. An estimated 20,000 British immigrants moved to South Africa in 2007. South Africa is ranked as the top destination of British retirees and pensioners in Africa.
There have also been a significant number of arrivals of white Zimbabweans of British ancestry, fleeing their home country in light of the economic and political problems currently[when?] facing the country. As well as recent arrivals, a significant number of white British Zimbabwean settlers emigrated to South Africa after the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980. Currently, the greatest white English populations in South Africa are in the KwaZulu-Natal province and in cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town.
At the brink of the country's independence in 1964, there were roughly 70,000 Europeans (mostly British) in Zambia (Northern Rhodesia before independence), making up roughly 2.3% of the 3 million inhabitants at the time. Zambia had a different situation compared to other African countries. It included segregation, similar to South Africa, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South-West Africa (Namibia); but as the Europeans constituted a smaller fraction of the population they did not dominate politics. There were a few cities in Northern Rhodesia that had British place names, but all except one (Livingstone) were changed when the country became independent or soon after. These included:
- Abercorn → Mbala (1964)
- Bancroft → Chililabombwe
- Broken Hill → Kabwe (1966)
- Feira → Luangwa (1964)
- Fort Jameson → Chipata
- Fort Rosebery → Mansa
A good example of segregation in Zambia before independence was in the city of Livingstone, on the border with Zimbabwe. This featured a white town, with black townships, which were also found in South Africa and Namibia. In Zambia, however, Livingstone was one of the few places in the country that used this system and was close to the Rhodesian border. British colonists were reflected in town and city names. Livingstone (which is currently the only town left with a British name) was nearly changed to Maramba, but the decision was later dismissed.
When Zambia became independent in 1964, the majority of white settlers left for Rhodesia, just by crossing the border. An almost identical town of Victoria Falls lies on the other side, and benefited from the white people's crafts and abilities. This enabled them to improve the situation on the white-controlled Rhodesian side, and therefore Livingstone soon became desolate and unused. However, since the economic problems in Zimbabwe since the start of the 21st century, the situation has very much turned around as the Zambian side has become more attractive to tourists and therefore Livingstone is once again improving (at the expense of Victoria Falls).
There were 60,000 white settlers living in Kenya in 1965. Today, they are estimated to be around 67,000 (35,000 Kenyans and 32,000 British). Well known Britons born in Kenya include road racing cyclist Chris Froome and evolutionary scientist Richard Leakey.
In contrast to the rest of British-ruled Central Africa, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) was once intended to become a "white man's country" – to be settled and ruled by permanent European colonists. Until Zimbabwean independence in 1980, white Rhodesians prevailed over the nation politically, socially, and economically. They numbered some 240,000 by late 1979; citizens of British origin comprised at least three-fourths of this figure and those from England or Wales predominated, while Scots were an almost overlooked minority. Most were fairly recent immigrants, particularly blue collar workers attracted by the promise Rhodesia's economic opportunities offered in contrast to their own war-damaged homeland. Throughout the 1960s they were joined by South Africans and colonials from British dependencies elsewhere.
There is a reported English population of 300 in Madagascar.
The British population of Angola is estimated at around 700. When Angola won independence from Portugal in 1975, most British people in Angola resettled in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Portugal or Brazil. Meanwhile, most from Mozambique left for either Zimbabwe, South Africa or the UK. However, even before 1975, the number of British people in Angola and Mozambique was small, especially compared to the inhabiting Portuguese population.
In Mozambique, the British population numbers 1,500. When Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975, most British people left for either Rhodesia or South Africa, while others resettled in Portugal and Brazil. However, just like Angola, the British population in Mozambique is/was tiny compared to both their share of the nation's population and in comparison to the Portuguese.
Sizable numbers of people of British descent are also nationals of Ghana, Namibia, Tanzania, Swaziland (3% of the population), Nigeria, and Botswana. In addition, nearly 10,000 white Ugandans of British extraction were living under the regime of Idi Amin as recorded by TIME Magazine in 1972. Due to the subsequent deterioration of conditions under Amin (Including the constant threat of forced expulsion), most of the local British diaspora emigrated to the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Scots in Africa
The Scots played an enormous part in British overseas colonisation, alongside the English, Welsh, and Irish. Scotland supplied colonial troops, administrators, governors, prospectors, architects, and engineers to help construct the colonies all over the world.
From the 1870s, Scottish churches began missionary work in Nyasaland/Malawi, in the wake of their illustrious predecessor, David Livingstone. Their pressure on the British Government resulted in Nyasaland being declared a British Protectorate. A small Scottish community was established here, and other Scots immigration occurred in Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Northern Rhodesia/Zambia, and South Africa. The table below represents how small their numbers were compared to other sections of the future Central African Federation.
|Year||Southern Rhodesia||Northern Rhodesia||Nyasaland|
The largest and commercial capital of the country, Blantyre, is named after a town in Scotland and birthplace of David Livingstone. It is a testament to the love the African people had and still have for Livingstone that this name has not been changed after independence, like so many others. The reason for the small number of Europeans was mainly the lack of mineral resources (Northern Rhodesia had copper and Southern Rhodesia has gold).
After Nyasaland became independent (and upon adopting a new name: Malawi), many Scots returned to Scotland or moved to South Africa or Rhodesia (formerly Southern Rhodesia and later known, from 1980, as Zimbabwe). Despite this, Scots had an enormous South African community (compared to that of Nyasaland), however they fail to take credit because they were a small part of the white community in South Africa. Also, under the African sun, and in relatively small numbers, domestic differences tended to be overlooked and the resulting colonial culture was an inclusive British one.
To this day most Scots in Africa reside in South Africa and until the 21st century, also in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). Most Scottish settlers from Rhodesia left for South Africa after Rhodesia's independence and after economic and political problems in 2001. Evidence of the continued Scottish influence is seen in the continuing traditions of Highland games and pipe bands, especially in Natal. Ties between Scotland and Malawi also remain strong to this day.
French in Africa
Large numbers of French people settled in French North Africa from the 1840s onward. By the end of French rule in the early 1960s there were over one million European Algerians, mostly of French origin and Catholic (known as pieds noirs, or "black feet"), living in Algeria, consisting about 16% of the population in 1962.
There were 255,000 Europeans in Tunisia in 1956, While Morocco was home to half a million Europeans. French law made it easy for thousands of colons, ethnic or national French from former colonies of Africa, French India and French Indochina, to live in mainland France. 1.6 million European colons migrated from Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. As of December 31, 2011, there were 94,382 French citizens in all three countries, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
French-speaking Central and West Africa
There is still a comparatively large European population living in the former West African colony of the Ivory Coast, which had the largest French population of France's former colonies of sub-Saharan Africa, numbering 60,000 in 1980, though its numbers are believed to have declined since then. There are also important white minorities in Gabon, Senegal, and Togo. As of December 31, 2011, there were 83,276 French citizens in West and Central Africa altogether.
A sizeable number of French people reside in Madagascar, many of whom trace their ties to Madagascar back to the colonial period. An estimated 20,000 French citizens live and work in Madagascar in 2011. Currently, approximately 120,000 people, or 0.6% of the total population, are of French heritage. This community is descended from French settlers who arrived in Madagascar during the 19th century. A further 80,000 people are classified as Réunionese Creole, therefore bringing the total number of people with French ancestry to approximately 1%. The numbers make Madagascar the home of the largest ethnic French population in terms of absolute numbers in sub-Saharan Africa, other than the French département Réunion.
There are about 37,000 Franco-Mauritians (2% of the population) the smallest ethnic group.
A large number of French Huguenots settled in the Cape Colony, following their expulsion from France in the 17th century. However, the use of the French language was discouraged and many of their descendants intermarried with the Dutch. This early contact is visible in the Francophone names of a few historic towns in Western Cape such as Courtrai and in the surnames of some Afrikaners and Cape Coloureds, such as Marais, Joubert, de Lille, and du Plessis. The Huguenot-descended South African community is the largest in France's African diaspora.
Franschhoek (meaning French Corner in Dutch) is a large town in the Western Cape, so named for the French Huguenots, who traveled and settled there. There is a striking French influence in the town, which can be found firstly in street names which include La Rochelle Street, Bordeaux Street, Huguenot Street, Roux Malherbe Street, and Cabriere Street. Nearby farms, hamlets, and villages often hold French names such as La Roux; a township north of Franschhoek, Chamonix Estate, and so forth. Many Huguenot-dedicated buildings have been erected in Franschhoek, the major one being the Huguenot Monument.
In 1979, there were 49 Huguenot congregations in South Africa.
Between 1945 and 1969, many Franco-Mauritians emigrated to South Africa. In 1981, their population in the KwaZulu Natal province was estimated at more than 12,000.
Portuguese in Africa
The first Portuguese settlements in Africa were built in the 15th century. The descendants of the soldiers who accompanied Christopher da Gama expedition to support the Ethiopian throne in the 16th century continued to exert a significant influence in that country's history over the next two centuries; for example, the Empress Mentewab was extremely proud of her Portuguese ancestry. In the late 17th century, much of Portuguese Mozambique was divided into prazos, or agricultural estates, which were settled by Portuguese families. In Portuguese Angola, namely in the areas of Luanda and Benguela, there was a significant Portuguese population. In the islands of Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe, besides Portuguese settlers, most of the population was of mixed Portuguese and African origin. The descendants of the Portuguese settlers who were born and "raised" locally since Portuguese colonial time were called crioulos.
In the early 20th century, the Portuguese government encouraged white migration to the Portuguese territories of Angola and Mozambique, and by the 1960s, at the beginning of the Portuguese Colonial War, there were around 650,000 Portuguese settlers living in their overseas African provinces, and a substantial Portuguese population living in other African countries. In 1974, there were up to 1,000,000 Portuguese settlers living in their overseas African provinces. In 1975, Angola had a community of approximately 400,000 Portuguese, while Mozambique had approximately more than 350,000 settlers from Portugal.
Most Portuguese settlers were forced to return to Portugal (the retornados) as the country's African possessions gained independence in the mid-1970s, while others moved south to South Africa, which now has the largest Portuguese-African population (who between 50–80% came from Madeira), and to Brazil. When Mozambican Civil War (1977–1992) began suddenly, large numbers of both Portuguese-born settlers and Mozambican-born settlers of Portuguese blood went out again.
However, after the war in Mozambique, more Portuguese settlers returned and the newer ones settled Mozambique while White Brazilians, especially those of Portuguese descent, moved to Mozambique to work as aid workers and investors and have adopted Mozambique as their home. It is estimated the population of Portuguese people in Mozambique has increased to over 20,000 since the peace settlement of Mozambique in 1992. Notable demographics of Portuguese Mozambicans could be found in cities like Maputo, Beira, and Nampula with Maputo accumulating the highest percentage. In recent years, some Portuguese have migrated to Angola for economic reasons, mainly the country's recent economic boom. In 2008, Angola was the preferred destination for Portuguese migrants in Africa.
Portuguese South Africans
South Africa largely featured two Portuguese waves of immigration, one was a constant but small flow of Portuguese from Madeira and Portugal itself, while the second was ethnic Portuguese fleeing from Angola and Mozambique after their respective independences. The reason behind the immigration of Madeirans to South Africa was both a political and economic one. After 1950, prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd encouraged immigration from Protestant northern Europeans to bolster the white population. He later began to approve immigration policies also favouring southern Europeans, one of which were Madeirans, who were facing high unemployment rates. Many Madeirans and other Portuguese who immigrated were at first isolated from other white populations due to their differences, such as being Catholic and the fact that few could speak English or Afrikaans. Eventually they ended up setting up businesses in Johannesburg or coastal fisheries, and a substantial number intermarried with other white South African groups.
One known Portuguese South African creation was the restaurant chain Nando's, created in 1987, which incorporated influences from former Portuguese colonists from Mozambique, many of whom had settled on the south-eastern side of Johannesburg, after Mozambique's independence in 1975. Currently there's a 300,000-strong Portuguese community in South Africa.
Italians in Africa
Libya had some 150,000 Italians settlers until World War II, constituting about 18% of the total population in Italian Libya. The Italians in Libya resided (and many still do) in most major cities like Tripoli (37% of the city was Italian), Benghazi (31%), and Hun (3%). Their numbers decreased after 1936. Most of Libya's Italians were expelled from the North African country in 1970, a year after Muammar Gaddafi seized power (a "day of vengeance" on 7 October 1970), but a few hundred Italian settlers returned to Libya in the 2000s (decade).
|Year||Italians||Percentage||Total Libya||Source for data on population|
|1936||112,600||13.26%||848,600||Enciclopedia Geografica Mondiale K-Z, De Agostini, 1996|
|1939||108,419||12.37%||876,563||Guida Breve d'Italia Vol.III, C.T.I., 1939 (Censimento Ufficiale)|
|1962||35,000||2.1%||1,681,739||Enciclopedia Motta, Vol.VIII, Motta Editore, 1969|
|1982||1,500||0.05%||2,856,000||Atlante Geografico Universale, Fabbri Editori, 1988|
|2004||22,530||0.4%||5,631,585||L'Aménagement Linguistique dans le Monde|
Somalia had over 50,000 Italian Somali settlers during World War II, constituting more than 5% of the total population in Italian Somaliland. The Italians resided in most major cities in the central and southern parts of the territory, with around 22,000 living in the capital Mogadishu. Other major areas of settlement included Jowhar, which was founded by the Italian prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi. Italian used to be a major language, but its influence significantly diminished following independence. It is now most frequently heard among older generations and the educated.
South African Italians
Although Italians did not immigrate to South Africa in large numbers, those who have arrived have nevertheless made an impact on the host country.
Before World War II, relatively few Italian immigrants arrived, though there were some prominent exceptions such as the Cape's first Prime Minister John Molteno. South African Italians made big headlines during World War II, when Italians captured in Italian East Africa needed to be sent to a safe stronghold to be kept as prisoners of war (POWs). South Africa was the perfect destination, and the first POWs arrived in Durban, in 1941.
Despite being POWs, the Italians were treated well, with a good food diet and friendly hospitality. These factors, along with the peaceful, cheap, and sunny landscape, made it very attractive for Italians to settle down, and therefore, the Italian South African community was born. Although over 100,000 Italian POW were sent to South Africa, only a handful decided to stay. During their capture, they were given the opportunity to build chapels, churches, dams, and many more structures. Most Italian influence and architecture can be seen in the Natal and Transvaal area. Esselenpark (Railway College) is particularly notable.
Today there are roughly 39,120 White South Africans of Italian descent.
The Italians had a significantly large population in Africa which quickly diminished. In 1926, there were 90,000 Italians in Tunisia, compared to 70,000 Frenchmen (unusual since Tunisia was a French protectorate). Former Italian communities also once thrived in the Horn of Africa, with about 50,000 Italian settlers living in Eritrea in 1935.
Additionally, there were settler communities in Ethiopia. During the five-year occupation of Ethiopia, roughly 300,000 Italians settled in the Horn of Africa. Over 49,000 lived in Asmara in 1939 (around 10% of the city's population), with more than 38,000 residing in Addis Ababa. The size of the Italian Egyptian community had also reached around 55,000 just before World War II, forming the second largest expatriate community in Egypt.
A few Italian settlers stayed in Portugal's colonies in Africa after World War II. As the Portuguese government had sought to enlarge the small Portuguese population through emigration from Europe, the Italian migrants gradually assimilated into the Portuguese community.
Greeks in Africa
Greeks have been living in Egypt since and even before Alexander the Great conquered Egypt at an early stage of his great journey of conquests. Herodotus, who visited Egypt in the 5th century BC, wrote that the Greeks were the first foreigners that ever lived in Egypt. Diodorus Siculus attested that Rhodian Actis, one of the Heliadae built the city of Heliopolis before the cataclysm; likewise the Athenians built Sais. While all Greek cities were destroyed during the cataclysm, the Egyptian cities including Heliopolis and Sais survived.
In modern times the official 1907 census showed 62,973 Greeks living in Egypt. The expulsion of 2.5 million Greeks from Turkey saw a large number of those Greeks move to Egypt and by 1940 Greeks were numbered at around 500,000. Today the Greek community numbers officially about 3,000 people although the real number is much higher since many Greeks have changed their nationality to Egyptian. In Alexandria, apart from the patriarchate, there is a patriarchal theology school that opened recently after being closed for 480 years. Saint Nicolas church and several other buildings in Alexandria have been recently renovated by the Greek Government and the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation.
During the last decade, there has been a new interest from the Egyptian government for a diplomatic rapprochement with Greece and this has positively affected the Greek diaspora. The diaspora has received official visits of many Greek politicians. Economic relationships have been blossoming between Greece and Egypt. Egypt has been recently the centre of major Greek investments in industries such as banking, tourism, paper, and oil. In 2009, a five years cooperation memorandum was signed among the NCSR Demokritos Institute in Agia Paraskevi, Athens and the University of Alexandreia, regarding Archeometry research and contextual sectors.
The Greeks have had a presence in South Africa since the late 19th century. After the flight of the Greeks from Egypt in reaction to Nasser's nationalization policy the Greek population of South Africa dramatically increased to around 250,000. Today the number of Greeks in South Africa is estimated between 60,000 – 120,000.
The Greek community in Zimbabwe numbered between 13,000 and 15,000 people in 1972 and once comprised Rhodesia's second largest white community after individuals of British origin. Today the Greek community in Zimbabwe numbers under 3,000. Zimbabwe currently hosts eleven Greek Orthodox churches and fifteen Greek associations and humanitarian organizations.
The Greeks have a presence in a number of African countries such as Cameroon (1,200 people), Zambia (800 people), Ethiopia (500 people), Uganda (450 people), Democratic Republic of Congo (300 people), Kenya (100 families), Nigeria (300 people), Tanzania (300 people), Gambia (300 people), Sudan (200 people), Botswana (200–300 people), Malawi (200 people), and Morocco (150 people).
Germans in Africa
Germany was late to colonize Africa (or to have an empire) mainly due to it not being a unified country until the late 19th century. However, many Germans settled in South West Africa (modern day Namibia) as well as South Africa. Those Germans who migrated to South West Africa retained German culture, religion, and even language, while those in South Africa often had to learn English or Afrikaans as a first language and adopt another culture.
Unlike other Europeans in Africa, when many African states gained independence, the Germans (along with the English and Dutch/Afrikaners) stayed in Southern Africa because they retained political dominance (now being a mandate under South African control). The country was administered as a province of South Africa during the apartheid era (though South African rule was not widely recognized internationally.) German influence in Namibia is very strong and noticeable. Because Namibia hasn't changed any town names since independence, many of the largest cities in the country retain their German names. These include Lüderitz, Grünau, Maltahöhe, Wasser, Schuckmannsburg, and even the capital city has a (slightly unused) German name (Windhuk). In the southern Regions of Karas and especially Hardap, the vast majority of town names are German, or a mixture of German, Afrikaans and English. In the Hardap region, some 80% of settlements have a name of German origin.
Namibia is also the only nation outside Europe to have a Lutheran majority. This is due to many German missionaries during the 19th century who converted the Ovambo and Damara people to Christianity. Until 1990 German was an official language of Namibia, and is now a recognized regional language (the only one of its kind for the German language outside of Europe).
Today there are roughly 20,000–50,000 ethnic Germans in Namibia (32% of the white population, and 2% of the nation's population), and they greatly outnumber those of English and many Black ethnic origins. Their precise numbers are unclear because many Namibians of German ancestry no longer speak German, and sometimes would rather be classified as Afrikaans.
When Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi were under German control they were named German East Africa and received some migration from German communities, with over 3,579 Germans in German East Africa by 1914. In Dar Es Salaam, the capital city, its German population grew to 1,050, 0.006% of the city's population and just under a third of the entire German East African population (including the surrounding province). However, the German population was focused on spreading German technology and science rather than settling or Germanise the country.
A number of locations in Tanzania formerly bore German names. The city of Tabora was formerly named Weidmannsheil and Kasanga was known as Bismarckburg. Mount Kilimanjaro was known as Kilimandscharo, a German way of spelling it. Despite virtually all German names being reverted since World War I, some places still hold German names. These include the majority of Glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro, such as Rebmann Glacier and Furtwängler Glacier.
Some colonial German-style buildings still exist in some of Tanzania's largest cities and former German strongholds, but they are in bad condition and need extensive renovation. Current estimates for the German population in Tanzania put it at 8,500, more than double than the peak population under German colonial rule.
Togoland was a German colony from 1884 to 1914. In 1895 the capital, Lomé, had a population of 31 (~1% of the city) Germans and 2,084 natives. By 1913 the native population had swelled to 7,042 persons and 194 Germans (2% of the city), including 33 women, while the entire colony had a German population of 316, including 61 women and 14 children. Their numbers were depleted after World War I. The very little German architecture can be seen in the capital and from the Hinterlandbahn, a huge German railway which went deep into the thin country.
The colony's infrastructure was developed to one of the highest levels in Africa. Colonial officials built roads and bridges to the interior mountain ranges and three rail lines from the capital Lomé. Virtually all German influence present, and almost all German colonial activity took place in Lomé, and only ever reached deep inland when the Hinterlandbahn would voyage in the jungle for resources. Estimates for the current German population are as high as 700.
Kamerun was a German colony in present-day Cameroon between 1884 and 1916. During German control, few Germans migrated, but many trading posts and infrastructure was built to aid the growing German Empire with goods, such as bananas and important minerals. These trading posts were most abundant around the former capital city, and largest city in Cameroon: Douala.
Douala itself was known as Kamerunstadt (German for 'Cameroon City') between 1884 and 1907. Most trading took place with Hamburg and Bremen, and was later made easier by the construction of an extensive postal and telegraph system. Like all German colonies (except South West Africa), after World War I, most Germans left for Europe, America, or South Africa.
German Settlers enjoying Christmas in Kamerun.
Former Portuguese colonies
A number of German settlers stayed in Portuguese African colonies as World War II refugees when the Portuguese government tried to request Europeans of other nationalities to increase the very tiny Portuguese population and during the war, although that plan of the Portuguese government was unsuccessful. They were assimilated to the Portuguese population. The previously reported German population of Mozambique, numbering 2,200, is no longer referred to in sources, indicating their presumed departure and/or assimilation into other groups.
Spanish in Africa
The Spanish have resided in many African countries (mostly former colonies), including Equatorial Guinea, Western Sahara, South Africa, and Morocco. 94,000 Spaniards chose to go to Algeria in the last years of the 19th century; 250,000 Spaniards lived in Morocco at the beginning of the 20th century. Most Spaniards left Morocco after its independence in 1956 and their numbers were reduced to 13,000.
The Spanish have resided in Equatorial Guinea (when under Spanish rule known as Spanish Guinea) for many years and first started as temporary plantation owners originally from Valencia, before returning to Spain. Few Spaniards remained in Spanish Guinea permanently and left only after a few years. At independence in 1968 Spanish Guinea had one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa (332 USD). The Spanish also helped Equatorial Guinea achieve one of the continent's highest literacy rates and developed a good network of health care facilities.
Many left Spanish Guinea when the colony gained independence in 1968, and current estimates of the Spaniard population range from 5,000 (1% of the population) to 16,000 (roughly over 3%). After independence, many Spanish-named cities and places in Equatorial Guinea were changed to more African names, the most obvious one being the capital city, Malabo (formerly Santa Isabel), and the island it is located on, Bioko (formerly Fernando Pó).
Despite a large loss of Spanish residents during the rule of Masie Nguema Biyogo, their numbers have somewhat increased after he was overthrown. They almost exclusively speak Spanish as their first language; French or Portuguese, which are official languages, are often spoken as second languages, sometimes alongside the indigenous Bantu languages. Their religion is almost entirely Catholic, and this can be reflected by the population, which also remains Catholic. Since the discovery of oil, and an economic 'boom', a large number of Europeans of other ancestries have also migrated the country for business and in Malabo, they are located in the western half of the city and in new housing estates.
Belgians in Africa
In the Belgian Congo, Belgium's largest overseas possession, European missionaries, corporations, and officials had entrenched a comprehensive political, social, economic, and cultural hegemony. This was disrupted as 1955 drew to a close, however, as mild proposals for a form of Congolese self-government provoked furious protests across the Belgian Congo. A Belgian-appointed study commission subsequently recommended a complicated formula which would lead to gradual self-government for the Congo by 1985, although this was opposed by the most militant nationalists, who demanded immediate and full independence.
On 5 July 1960, five days after the new Republic of the Congo gained independence from Belgium, members of the Force Publique (Dutch: Openbare Weermacht) garrison near Léopoldville/Leopoldstad mutinied. African soldiers, resentful over the fact that independence had brought little change to their status, ousted 1,000 of their Belgian officers from the command structure. The new government was slow to react, allowing a state of panic to develop among the 120,000 settlers still resident in the territory as roving bands of mutineers attacked numerous European targets, assaulting and killing with impunity. Belgium's attempt to defend her nationals with military force only aggravated the situation; within ten days of independence white civil servants were emigrating en masse. As Congo's infamous crisis developed further, the predominantly white magistrate corps also fled the growing chaos, dealing a severe blow to their nation's basic judicial apparatus – considered by several prominent observers to be "the worst catastrophe in this series of disasters".
In 1965, there remained a mere 60,000 Belgians spread throughout the Congo.
Flemings in Africa
It has also been observed that there were at least 3,000 Flemish settlers in Rwanda, although many were targeted for extermination as part of the Rwandan Genocide. This seemed to be largely because Belgian colonisers had offered better education and employment opportunities to Tutsi tribesmen under colonial rule than the Hutus, who controlled the government during the genocide. Radio messages broadcast by Hutu extremists advocated the killing of white Rwandans should they be of Belgian ancestry, despite the fact that Belgium itself attempted to remain neutral during the 1994 conflict. Today, estimates put the Rwandan white population at about 6,000; many of whom are of Flemish descent, and part of the large "reverse diaspora" currently occurring in Rwanda.
Thousands of Flemings, along with the Dutch, migrated to South Africa for many years between the 17th century and the 20th century. Immigration into the RSA has slowed down drastically, but the remnants of a huge Flemish population still exist in Southern Africa. Many Flemish colonials, including farmers and mineowners, moved to the Belgian Congo to seek their fortunes during the colonial era, entrenching a system of racial segregation not unlike those practiced in most other European-ruled African territories. The old segregated Belgian neighbourhoods, in fact, are still visible in Kinshasa (formerly Léopoldville in French, Leopoldstad in Dutch), the Democratic Republic of the Congo's capital city. Despite the mass emigration of white people to Belgium, the Netherlands, and South Africa during the Congo Crisis, there are still a little under 5,000 Flemings estimated to be living in the Congo.
Norwegians in Africa
Although Norwegians in Africa are one of the smallest immigrant communities, they are not unheard of. However it is almost certain that the vast majority of them live in Southern Africa (most likely South Africa). One incident involving Norwegians in Africa was the Debora Expedition, where Norwegian families left Bergen in 1879 to establish a Norwegian colony on an Indian Ocean atoll called Aldabra (now located in the Seychelles). However the mission was aborted and the families instead settled in Madagascar or Port Natal (modern day Durban) in South Africa. They were the first Norwegians to settle in Port Natal.
A number of Norwegian settlers stayed in Portuguese African colonies when the Portuguese government tried to request Europeans of other nationalities to increase the very tiny Portuguese population, although that plan of the Portuguese government was unsuccessful. They were already acculturated to the Portuguese population.
Other European diaspora in Africa
The vast diversity of European ethnic groups in Africa were once more scattered, however currently every European ethnic group is greatest in South Africa. Virtually all European ethnic groups can be found in South Africa.
In 1948, approximately 600,000 Jews lived in North Africa; most of the Jews in Morocco and Algeria were Sephardi Jews whose ancestors were expelled from Spain in 1492, while most of the other Jews in North Africa were Mizrahi Jews whose ancestors never settled in Europe. Today only around 6,000 Jews remain. There is a substantial, mostly Ashkenazic Jewish community in South Africa. These Jews arrived mostly from Lithuania prior to World War II. Although the Jewish community peaked in the 1970s, about 80,000 remain in South Africa.
Armenians once numbered thousands in Ethiopia and Sudan, before civil wars, revolutions, and nationalization drove most of them out. They still have community centers and churches in these countries. Before 1952 there were around 75,000 Armenians in Egypt. Today, they number around 6,000 and live primarily in Cairo. The Armenian Apostolic Church and Coptic Orthodox Church are in communion as Oriental Orthodox churches.
The inhabitants of the Canary Islands hold a gene pool that is halfway between the Spaniards and the ancient native population, the Guanches (a proto-berber population), although with a major Spanish contribution.
On Tristan da Cunha, the population of 301 people share just eight surnames: Glass, Green, Hagan, Lavarello (a typical Ligurian surname), Patterson, Repetto (another typical Ligurian surname), Rogers, and Swain.
The most spoken language at home by white Africans is Afrikaans. It is spoken by 60% of South Africa's, 60% of Namibia's, and about 5% of Zimbabwe's white populations. In South Africa they make up a major white speaking group in all provinces except KwaZulu-Natal, where Afrikaans speakers (of all races) make up 1.5% of the population. In Rhodesia (and later Zimbabwe), Afrikaans wasn't as spoken and therefore the country remained English dominated for its history. There were, however a few Afrikaans inhabitants, mostly from South Africa. Afrikaans was also very limited culturally to Rhodesia and so only a few Afrikaans place names existed, most notably Enkeldoorn (renamed Chivhu in 1982). Most Afrikaners in Zimbabwe have now immigrated to South Africa or European countries.
English is the second most spoken language among white Africans, spoken by 39% of South Africa's, 7% of Namibia's, and 90% of Zimbabwe's white population. In South Africa they remain the dominant white ethnic group in KwaZulu-Natal, while in Gauteng and the Western Cape they also contribute to a large percentage of the English-speaking population.
It is here that they challenge the Afrikaans in being the white dominant ethnic group. English is a second language of many non-British white Africans with higher education in predominantly non-English-speaking African nations. Outside of South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, British Africans make up a large minority in Zambia, Kenya, Botswana, and Swaziland, therefore increasing the presence of English in these countries.
German is spoken by 32% of Namibia's white population (making up 2% of the Namibian population). There is also a now nearly extinct German dialect in Namibia known as Namibian Black German (or in German as Küchendeutsch or Kitchen German), and used to be spoken by black domestic servants to German colonists. However, the government has tried to lower the use of German and Afrikaans due to its colonial roots, and instead try and enforce English, the sole official language, and Bantu languages. There is also known to be a German dialect, spoken in the south-east of South Africa, known as Nataler German (German from Natal).
Most of all whites in Angola and Mozambique use Portuguese as their first language. The other 1% of whites in South Africa (who don't speak Afrikaans or English) mostly speak Portuguese (from immigrant communities who come from Angola and Mozambique), or German and Dutch (from European immigration). Equally, in Namibia, the remaining 1% of the white population speaks mostly Portuguese because of the immigration from Angola following independence of all Portuguese colonies in 1975.
Only a small white population in Libya, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia has the fluency of Italian, because it is no longer the official language there. Spanish is also spoken in some areas of Morocco, Western Sahara, Equatorial Guinea, as well as in those territories that still form part of Spain as the Canary Islands. Very few White Africans speak Bantu languages (languages spoken by Black people) at home, but still a small percentage of white Africans speak Bantu languages as second languages.
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Field hockey is another popular sport amongst Whites.
Football (Soccer) is popular among White Africans of Spanish and Portuguese descent.
- British diaspora in Africa
- French people in Madagascar
- Italian South African
- Portuguese Angolans
- Portuguese Mozambicans
- White people in Zambia
- White people in Kenya
- White people in Zimbabwe
- White South African
- White Namibians
- White Congolese
- White Tanzanians
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