The South African culture is becoming more European

History of South Africa

Land conquest by the Dutch

It is the year 1652: the Dutch navigator Jan van Riebeeck and 90 followers set foot on the South African mainland. On behalf of the "Dutch East India Company (VOC)" he is to set up a permanent station at the Cape of Good Hope to provide fresh water and provisions for travelers to India.

The South African coast has been an important stopover on the way to India since the end of the 15th century. However, apart from a few anchorages that were bartered with the local population, there were no significant efforts to colonize the coast. And even now there are initially no attempts to penetrate further inland.

A few years later, the whole thing looks different. The base causes too high costs. The population of the branch should therefore be self-sufficient in the future. The VOC grants land specifically to those wishing to leave the country who settle in the area around Cape Town and find their new home there.

The increased demand for pastureland fueled the first conflicts with the locals in the following years. These are either pushed back inland or come to terms with the newcomers. In the following years they mix with the whites, the so-called "colored" population emerges.

Settlement expansion and immigration

The small Cape Colony grew steadily until the end of the 17th century. In Cape Town, the settlement area and fortress are continuously being expanded. In 1679 a second settlement was founded with Stellenbosch.

More and more people are coming to South Africa. First of all, they are politically exiled from the Dutch colonies in Indonesia. The population group called "Cape Malay" mainly finds work as craftsmen. A short time later, numerous Huguenots persecuted in France followed. South Africa is becoming more and more of a mixture of peoples.

At the beginning of the 18th century, immigration from Europe stopped for the first time. The country is too densely populated to accommodate more people. Instead, more and more slaves are being imported who have to work in the fields of the white population groups.

At this time, a new movement of white cattle farmers emerged, who increasingly cut themselves off from the Cape Town central administration and penetrated further and further inland in search of new grazing land for their cattle. These "trekboers" prefer to live in tents and covered wagons than to establish permanent settlements.

Conflicts with the local population are inevitable. There are always clashes with indigenous people and the members of the Xhosa people who are pushing south and who also raise cattle.

The English take control

In 1794 the VOC went bankrupt. The English seized the opportunity and one year later took over the Dutch bases on the Cape and incorporated them into the British Empire as a crown colony. After another four-year interlude by the Dutch, the status as a British crown colony was finally consolidated in 1806.

In the decades that followed, the English carried out far-reaching reforms. In 1807 the transport of slaves on British ships was banned, and in 1809 the so-called "Hottentot legislation" was introduced. It declares the aborigines to be British subjects and eliminates chief rule.

Around 1820 there was also a massive Anglicisation at the Cape. Poverty and unemployment in the mother country are causing more and more people to seek their happiness far away from home. In 1828 the "Magna Charta of the Hottentots" was passed, which guaranteed the indigenous people complete equality with the white population. In 1833 slavery was completely abolished and made under prohibition.

The Boers, as the long-established cattle breeders are now called, have a deep lack of understanding for the reforms of the English. They see themselves robbed of their livelihood and are emigrating in droves. From 1835 over 10,000 Boers moved north and northeast with the aim of annexing new pastures and forming free Boer republics.

But only 20 years later, after several armed conflicts with the British, Matabele and Zulus, the time has come. In 1854 the first Boer republic, the "Orange Free State", was established between the Vaal and Oranje rivers. Two years later, the "South African Republic" was founded in the Transvaal in what is now northeastern South Africa.

Conflicts between British and Boers

From the middle of the 19th century, constant clashes with the warlike Xhosa lead to more and more land seizures by the British. They annex numerous areas of the native population, incorporate them into the crown colony and secure their borders militarily. In 1857 Natal in the east of the country even became an independent crown colony with limited self-administration.

Just a few years later, thousands of Indians travel to Natal to work on the sugar cane plantations in the British colony. Since the working conditions are much better than in their home country and they can buy land after a few years of work, most of them stay in Natal. To this day, the population structure on the east coast of South Africa is strongly influenced by the descendants of these immigrants.

While the two British colonies and the "Orange Free State" of the Boers are growing more and more economically, there are more and more problems in the "South African Republic". The state is militarily too weak to withstand the constant attacks of local chiefs.

In addition, there is an enormous increase in foreigners who, after the gold rush of 1886, are looking for their fortune in the Boer republic, but do not identify with the state.

Just a few years after the first gold was discovered, twice as many foreigners as Boers are living in the still young republic. This leads to considerable social tensions that continue to discharge.

The British see general security in the European colonies on the Cape at risk and are trying to unite all four South African colonies into a union under British sovereignty. But the "South African Republic" under the leadership of Paul Kruger is vehemently resisting these plans.

South African Union: start of racial segregation

At the end of the 19th century, Paul Kruger's policy took on increasingly anti-British features. He even manages to get the previously neutral "Orange Free State" to his side.

The British did not want to put up with this and declared war on the two Boer republics in 1899. The Boers are hopelessly inferior to the military superiority of the British and are forced to surrender in 1902. The whole of South Africa is now under British sovereignty.

The next step is to combine all four colonies to form the "South African Union". However, such a step cannot be taken against the interests of the Boers, who in the meantime have held many ministerial posts in the British colonies and whose parties win an absolute majority in the former Boer republics.

In 1909 the negotiations were completed and the constitution of the new Union was approved. During these tough negotiations, the British made many admissions to the Boers, who were more conservative to racist, that had far-reaching consequences for the country.

With the entry into force of the constitution, all "non-whites" are deprived of their general right to vote. In 1913 the "Native Land Act" was passed, which allowed blacks and colored people to purchase land only in specially designated areas.

The era of apartheid

After the First World War, these laws were tightened. Now, even in urban regions, residential areas are shown exclusively for "non-whites". In the 1930s, many laws were tightened again.

Towards the end of the Second World War, the South African government loosens some of the legislation in response to international pressure, but has no concept of the growing self-confidence of blacks and the increasing number of violent uprisings after the war.

The growing fear of existence of a large part of the white population led in the following years to ever stricter legislation against black and colored population groups, which went down in history under the catchphrase "apartheid laws". Despite South Africa's political and economic ban in the following decades, these laws were not completely abolished until 1994.

WDR | As of: June 22nd, 2020, 2:34 pm