A brief introduction into the history of South Africa
To be in South Africa is to feel part of a story that goes back to the start of our shared humanity, the first chapter of our story and everyone else’s, and to be welcomed back “home” not as a traveller, but as a friend.
Who first lived in South Africa?
The Khoisan were the first inhabitants of southern Africa and one of the earliest distinct groups of Homo sapiens, enduring centuries of gradual dispossession at the hands of every new wave of settlers, including the Bantu, whose descendants make up most of South Africa’s black population today.
The first European settlement in the history of South Africa was established by the Dutch East India Company in Table Bay (Cape Town) in 1652. Created to supply passing ships with fresh produce, the colony grew rapidly as Dutch farmers, called Boers, settled to grow crops.
The Boers founded the Boer republics: the South African Republic, the Natal Republic, and the Orange Free State.
In 1806, wars in Europe left the British in control of the Cape Town colony.
The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1884 in the interior started the Mineral Revolution and increased economic growth and immigration.
In 1879, the British fought a war against the Zulu kingdom. The Zulus resisted bravely and were only defeated after a series of particularly bloody battles that have gone down in the annals of colonial warfare.
In 1910, following the two Anglo-Boer wars, the British united four colonies in the region and created the Union of South Africa, a self-governing Dominion in the British Empire.
While the new nation was sovereign when it came to its domestic affairs, the United Kingdom maintained control over its relations with the wider world.
In 1948, the Afrikaner Nationalist Party came to, power and introduced a number of acts and laws in order to establish the Racial Apartheid System.
Finally, this harsh and discriminatory segregation came to an end in the early 1990’s in a series of steps that led to the first democratic elections in the history of South Africa on 27 April 1994.
Since then, this day is called Freedom Day and is a public holiday in South Africa to commemorate this historical event.
The first black President.
On 10 May 1994, Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.