South Africa History – From the Origins to the Anglo-Boer war

The Hottentots (farmers) and the Bushmen (hunters and gatherers), collectively referred to as Khoi-San, are considered indigenous peoples in the strict sense; their culture remained backward and they were overwhelmed by the Bantu emigration from the North and, subsequently, by the arrival of the first Europeans on the far southern coast. The settlement of the whites began after 1488, the year in which the Portuguese B. Dias he managed to reach and round the Cape of Storms, renamed Cape of Good Hope, and to complete the circumnavigation of Africa. In 1652 the Dutch, who took over from the Portuguese in control of the route to the East, founded a first stable warehouse of provisions, which at the end of the century changed into a settlement colony (600 Dutch in 1680). In 1688, 300 Huguenots arrived and fled France following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. From the following century, Dutch, French and other Europeans of different origins, united by the Calvinist faith, merged into a community with original characteristics, which lost all emotional and practical ties with Europe, while in search of fertile lands and new pastures they expanded eastward. In this first phase the Khoi-San were decimated and partly assimilated in a servile position; only at the end of the 18th century. the Cape settlers came into contact along the edge of the Fish River, with the Bantu, more numerous and developed. Contrasts and clashes arose between the two populations; Thus began the series of Kaffir wars (Kaffers were called by the Portuguese those Bantu populations), led by the Boers (“peasants”) with their own organization, while the Dutch Company remained extraneous to it. For South Africa history, please check

In 1814 the colony of the Cape was ceded to the English who had already occupied it from 1795 to 1803 and then from 1806. Meanwhile, the warlike policy of conquest of the Zulu had repercussions throughout southern Africa, prompting the attacked populations to organize themselves in a firmer and more efficient to defend oneself, or to move, with wars or peaceful migrations; thus arose, among other things, the kingdom of Swaziland and that of the Basutos. In 1835 the Boers, in order to escape British authority and to organize themselves freely according to their own political-religious tradition, began to emigrate en masse beyond the Orange and towards the Natal prairies; in 1840, having won the resistance of the Zulus led by Dingaan, the chief A. Pretorius proclaimed the Boer Republic of Natal. The attempt at independence, however, was cut short by the British government and in 1845 Natal was annexed to the colony of the Cape (from 1856 it was erected as a separate colony); Britain instead recognized the republics created by the Boers in the Transvaal and lo Free State of Orange. The Cape authorities extended their control over the Griquas (whose territory had acquired importance due to the discovery of diamond deposits in Kimberley in 1868) and the Basutos in 1871, but this led to a clash with the Zulu. Under the pretext of defending the European settlers from the latter, Great Britain annexed the Southern Transvaal Republic in 1877. In 1880 the Boers rose up against the English who, defeated, had to restore autonomy to the Transvaal, while maintaining sovereignty over the territory and control of its foreign relations. The period of government of C. Rhodes, prime minister of the Cape colony (1890-96), wishing to unify all the territories inhabited by European colonists, marked a new failed attempt to absorb the Transvaal, where gold deposits had been discovered in 1886. uitlanders, victims of the nationalist and xenophobic policy of the president of Transvaal P. Kruger; the new contrast led to the bloody Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902).

Racial segregation

Following the defeat of the Boers, the Transvaal and the Orange became British colonies, but regained ample autonomy in 1906 and 1907. A certain reconciliation allowed the creation of the South African Union (May 31, 1910), a domain endowed with governmental autonomy, in which the economic and political power resided in the hands of the approximately 1,250,000 whites, mostly Afrikaners (or Boers), represented by L. Botha’s South African Party (SAP), prime minister in 1910-19. The African population was gradually deprived of the few rights it had enjoyed; to defend their prerogatives, the African National Congress (ANC) was established in 1912, which, however, could not prevent the following year from passing a law that prohibited blacks from buying land outside the reserves in which they were been confined. Finally, the conditions reserved for colored and Asians were scarcely better.

In the First World War the country sided with Great Britain, despite the sympathies for Germany nurtured by the most extremist Boers, and in 1920 the government chaired by JC Smuts, who succeeded Botha in 1919, obtained the mandate from the League of Nations. South-West Africa, formerly a German colony. The nationalists’ victory in the 1924 elections and the appointment of JBM Hertzog as prime minister were followed by the tightening of racial legislation and the adoption of a more independent policy from London.. In 1933 Hertzog welcomed Smuts into his government and agreed to the merger of the National Party (NP) and the SAP into the United Party (UP, 1934), abandoning his decidedly anti-English orientation in exchange for a tightening of racial legislation; the compromise lasted until the outbreak of the Second World War, when Hertzog resigned because he was opposed to entering the war against Germany and the leadership of the executive was again assumed by Smuts (1939). In this period the country experienced a notable industrial development and massive urbanization phenomena. In the 1948 elections the NP won an absolute majority of the seats; the nationalist government, chaired by DF Malan (1948-54), applied a policy of strict segregation of the different ethnic groups (➔ apartheid); all opposition was crushed and the South African Communist Party (SACP) was banned. The NP prevailed in all subsequent elections up to 1981, progressively accentuating the policy of segregation. In 1959 the constitution of separate regions was started, populated by single African ethnic groups, endowed with self-government and destined to become independent; in 1960 the anti-racist parties were banned, which then took the path of armed opposition to the segregationist regime. Repeatedly internationally condemned, the country left the Commonwealth, proclaiming the Republic (May 31, 1961).

South Africa Anglo-Boer war

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