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History of South Africa in only 4000 words

Updated on April 14, 2017
MartieCoetser profile image

Martie Coetser is a freelance writer from South Africa. She has a keen interest in a variety of topics.

Since 1994 South Africa is composed of nine provinces -

Since 1994 South Africa is a democratic country divided into nine provinces
Since 1994 South Africa is a democratic country divided into nine provinces | Source

Author’s Note

This is a short and simplified summary of South Africa"s history. Detail are available via inserted links in blue.

South Africa before 1652

Perhaps South Africa is indeed the The Cradle of Mankind, as many scientists say it is. After all, various studies show that the South Africa's indigenous San people carry some of the oldest human Y-chromosome haplogroups. These haplogroups are specific sub-groups of haplogroups A and B - the two earliest branches on the human Y-chromosome tree. (Also read: worlds-most-ancient-race-traced-in-dna-study)

A set of tools almost identical to that used by the modern San was discovered at Border Cave in KwaZulu-Natal in 2012. Tests dated these tools to 44,000 BP.

(BP means 'before 1950'. Radiocarbon dating was first used in 1940. Beginning in 1954, metrologists established 1950 as the origin year for the BP scale for use with radiocarbon dating, using a 1950-based reference sample of oxalic acid.)

Be that as it may, until 1652 no white people lived in the land that would become South Africa.

While the San-people, who were nomadic hunter-gatherer people, and the Khoikhoi people, who raised cattle and cultivated land, lived in the south and south-west regions of SA, other distinct African chiefdoms and kingdoms occupied the rest of the country, each confined to a specific region. Among at least nine language-groups, were the Xhosa-, the Zulu-, and three distinct groups of Sotho people.

Apart from ordinary tribal wars, instigated by power-hunger kings and chiefs, the people were happy and contented. Social structures were thoroughly established and law and order were kept. There were economic relationships between the various groups. Remains of iron tools and weapons, and utensils of clay, indicate that the people lived in the Late Iron Age, in mixed-farming communities based on grain and livestock.

Read DavidOnline's hubs about the Khoisan people HERE.

Read more about the various ethnic groups in South Africa HERE.

Read more about indigenous South Africans here
Read more about indigenous South Africans here | Source
Many rock art was discovered against the walls of cages throughout the country
Many rock art was discovered against the walls of cages throughout the country | Source

Meantime in Europe: The trading of spices

From as early as 3000 B.C, the trading of spices such as cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, pepper, turmeric, and also opium, fell in the same category as the trading of oil today.

India's South West Coast path, especially Kerala, had established itself as a major spice trade centre. Merchants from all over the world went out of their way to find the best route to India.

The discovery of a sea route to the southern tip of Africa by Bartolomeu Dias in May 1488 was a break-through for the The Portuguese Empire, and even more so when Vasco da Gama finally discovered a route all the way to India in 1499. (The Portuguese Empire was the first global empire in history and also the longest-lived of the European colonial empires, spanning almost six centuries.)

For the next 164 years the spice route from Europe to India via the Cape of Storms had no effect on South Africa. The unpredictable and stormy sea at Africa's southern tip, where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet, became known as the graveyard of ships, as it claimed more than 140 ships and the lives of thousands, including the life of Bartlomeu Dias on May 29, 1500.

Read about the Dias and Da Gama crosses (navigational beacons) at Cape Point HERE.

Portuguese ship of the 15th century

The spice route from Europe to India via the southern tip of Africa
The spice route from Europe to India via the southern tip of Africa | Source

The Dutch East India Company

The United East India Company, also called the Dutch East India Company, was a powerful company since 1602. Its quasi-governmental powers gave it the right to establish colonies, negotiate treaties, to strike its own coins, wage war, and imprison and execute convicts. Between 1602 and 1796 it owned 4,785 ships and employed almost a million European workers, while their biggest competition, the British East India Company,had only 2,690 ships and 882,412 employees. The Dutch East India Company flourished for almost 200 years until it went bankrupt in 1800 due to corruption.

During the Dutch-Portuguese War (1601-1661), the Dutch managed to break the Portuguese monopoly of the spice route via the Cape of Storms.

The establishment of a vegetable (and fruit) garden at the southern tip of Africa, in order to supply fresh food to trading vessels plying the spice route via the Cape of Storms, became the Dutch East India Company's first priority in 1652.

The history of the The Company Garden
The history of the The Company Garden | Source

Jan van Riebeeck, the founder of Cape Town

Johan Anthoniszoon (Jan) van Riebeeck joined the Dutch East India Company in 1639. After serving in a number of posts, he volunteered to realize the company's dream to establish a vegetable & fruit garden at the southern tip of Africa, specifically at the Cape of Good Hope, previously known as the Cape of Storms and today known as Cape Town.

On 6 April 1652, at the age of 33, he set foot on shore. With him was 90 people, all of them positive and eager to accomplish the company's goal.

Jan van Riebeeck was compelled to fortify the site not only to prevent the enemies of the Dutch from destroying their precious Tavern of the Seas, but also because the native Khoikhoi were not at all happy with the trend of events. (Being nomadic people, the San simply moved north where they found peace in the desert, as none of the other races in Southern Africa were interested in the desert. Only some of the San people stayed with the Khoikhoi via marriage and family relations.)

The first war between the Dutch and the Khoihoi broke out in 1659, then a second in 1673, and a third from 1674 - 1677. Read more about it HERE.

Jan van Riebeeck @ Wikimedia
Jan van Riebeeck @ Wikimedia | Source
Arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in Cape Town painted by Charles Davidson Bell
Arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in Cape Town painted by Charles Davidson Bell | Source

Land ownership

As “victims” of land owner’s policies in the Middle Ages, and of Feudalism, and Manorialism, the Europeans practiced by 1652 Capitalism, while the Khoikhoi, and also the rest of the inhabitants of Africa, were still contented with Primitive Communalism or/and Feudalism systems.

According to African historical culture, land belonged to the king of the tribe. Tribes were composed of several ‘families’. Each family had a chief. These chiefs had the right to transfer ‘land use rights’. After successful negotiations with a chief, which included the delivery of whatever the chief wanted in exchange for the providing of land use rights, the Dutch occupied and developed the land they were allowed to use, but with the idea that they have sole right to do so. Meanwhile the indigenous people had no concept of ownership and sole rights. Their trespasses usually ended in wars, which would be won by the Europeans whose rifles and gunpowder prevailed over bows and arrows, assegais and bludgeons.

Ref: Tradition, Culture and Development in Africa: Historical Lessons for Modern Development Planning by Ambe J. Njoh


From 1652 to 1 December 1834 (182 years) Slavery was legal in South-Africa. There were already 11-20 slaves in the possession of the officials of the East Indian Company when the first shipment of Angolan slaves arrived on March 28, 1658. More slaves were imported from Batavia, Guinea, and Madagascar. The majority came from Dutch East Indies, known as Indonesia today. Today the latter is collectively known as the Cape Malay.

Painting by Carla Bosch of restored houses of slaves in Cape Town

Painting of restored houses of slaves in Cape Town
Painting of restored houses of slaves in Cape Town | Source

List of Wars in Europe between 1651 and 1692

European invasion of South Africa
European invasion of South Africa | Source

1652 - 1806: 154 years under the rule of the Dutch East India Company

The Cape of Good Hope surpassed the expectations of the Dutch. It was a haven comparing to the war-distressed Europe.

Dutch soldiers, compelled to do military service in the Cape of Good Hope, preferred at the end of their period of service to make a living as farmers in the Cape. German soldiers even joined the Dutch army with the intention to start a new life in the Cape of Good Hope. Businessmen, teachers, religious leaders, etc., came from all over Europe to meet the needs and demands of the settlers.

Although a number of French Huguenots already immigrated to the Cape of Good Hope, a large group came in 1687. In total some 180 from France, and 18 Walloons from the present-day Belgium, settled at the Cape of Good Hope to become the founders of South Africa’s flourishing wine industry. Read more about the French Huguenots in South Africa HERE.

The future of the Cape of Good Hope looked more than promising, as its strategic position meant that it would be, until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, supply each and every ship sailing between Europe and Asia with fresh food and wine.

As the number of farmers increased, more land was needed and obtained. As the years came and went, the tyrannical and authoritative Dutch East India Company compelled the Dutch farmers to move further away from Cape Town into the territory of the Xhosa people. Their intrusion led to two wars.

  • First Xhosa war (1779-81)
  • Second Xhosa war (1789–93)

By 1795 the Cape of Good Hope was much larger than the original garden of Jan van Riebeeck. The Khoikhoi was no longer a threat of any kind. 90% of them, as well as a quarter of the European settlers, had died during the fatal Smallpox epidemic of 1713. In order to survive, the remaining Khoikhoi offered their services to the Dutch farmers.

Read more about this time in South Africa's history in Charles Williams anthology, named Narratives and Adventures of Travelers in South Africa.

Read more about the history of the Cape Colony before 1806 HERE.

Expanding borders of the Cape of Good Hope 1652 to 1795
Expanding borders of the Cape of Good Hope 1652 to 1795 | Source

First European houses: Hartbeeshuis

New ethnic groups

In the meantime two groups of mixed races came to life. While one of their parents/grandparents was an European, the other was a Khoikhoi, or a slave from Indonesia, or Batavia, or Africa, or Madagascar.

  • The Cape Coloureds – stayed in Cape Town and immediate regions. By 2015 they will be for a long time the predominant population group in the region today known as the Western Cape Province. As the Afrikaners migrated north, a second group of Coulereds will emerged from relationships between Afrikaners (whites) and Africans (blacks).
  • The Griqua people – migrated inland from Cape Town in a northern direction to establish settlements on the borders, near the territories of African people. (See Griqualand West and Griqualand East, today part of the Northern Cape Province.)

A third unique ethnic group that came into existence was the Afrikaner, who will become known as the Boere (farmers), and creators of the abhorrent Apartheids regime from 1948-1994. As a mixture of Dutch, German and French this group formed their own culture, completely alienated from their European ancestors. In 1691 the Afrikaner population was composed of 66,67% Dutch, 16,67 French, 14,29% German, 2.37% Scandinavian/Belgian.

A new language: Afrikaans

Although each of the three new ethnic groups developed a unique dialect, Afrikaans is the name of the language they started to develop in the Cape of Good Hope.

Afrikaans is a daughter-language of Dutch, composed of 90 to 95% Dutch words and a variety of Portuguese, German, Malay, Khoisan, and African words. It will only be recognized as an official language (instead of a slang) in 1925. The (Dutch) Bible will be translated in Afrikaans in 1933. Today Afrikaans is the third-most-spoken language in the country, spoken by 13.5% of the population.

1814 – 1910 - The Cape Colony and Boere Republics

Napoléon Bonaparte’s victory over the Netherlands encouraged Britain to conquer the Cape of Good Hope. After the Battle of Muizenberg in 1795, and finally the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, the Cape was no longer Dutch, but English.

The British established more towns, and increased the number of wars with the Xhosa people.

  • Third Xhosa War (1799-1803) – was actually a Xhosa rebellion crushed by General T.P. Vandeleur.
  • Fourth Xhosa War (1811–12)
  • Fifth Xhosa War (1818–19)
  • Sixth Xhosa war (1834–36)
  • Seventh Xhosa War (1846-1847)
  • Eighth Xhosa War (1850-1853)
  • Ninth Xhosa War (1877-1878)

Read more about these wars HERE.

The Cape Colony by 1890
The Cape Colony by 1890 | Source

In the meantime up north (1816 – 1828)

The Zulu tribe, who occupied the land between the Drakensberge (Dragon Mountains) and the Indian Ocean, today known as KwaZulu-Natal, were in war with the Ndwandwe people. Under leadership of King Shaka, who came into power in 1816, the Zulus managed to unite all their neighboring tribes.

Some historians argue that Shaka changed the nature of warfare among the African tribes from 'a ritualised exchange of taunts with minimal loss of life into a true method of subjugation by wholesale slaughter. Be that as it may, by 1828, when Shaka was assassinated by his half brothers Dingane and Mhlangana, the Zulu people was a mighty tribe, ready to stop whomever wanted to take their land.

Read more about King Shaka HERE.

Zulu warrior
Zulu warrior | Source
Zulu territory
Zulu territory | Source

Mfecane / Difaqane / Lifaqane

At the same time, between 1815 and 1840, the ‘second greatest Southern African military leader after King Shaka’, named Mzilikazi, wreaked havoc in the rest of the country that would become South Africa.

Mzilikazi was originally a lieutenant of Shaka but after a disagreement in 1823, he took his clan, the Khumalo, and initiated the Mfecane (Difaqane/ Lifaqane) - a period of widespread chaos and warfare among indigenous South Africans that lasted from 1815 to 1840.

The Great Trek (1835-1846)

During the sixth Xhosa War (1834-1836) a total of 1093 Afrikaner families decided to leave the Cape Colony. They would cross the Orange River and negotiate for land with less hostile tribes, like the Sotho people, who were occupying the land today known as the Orange Free State.

The Voortrekkers - as they were called - had not yet met any of the tribes they were about to face, and had no idea what the world was like on the other side of the Orange River.

Disagreements between the leaders of the Voortrekker groups encouraged some of the groups to trek east instead of north. After crossing the Drakensberge (Dragon Mountains), they found themselves in the territory of King Dingaan, the half-brother, killer and successor of King Sjaka.

The Great-Trek, with all its heart-wrenching events, changed the future of South Africa. Sadly, it triggered racism that would lead to Apartheid and all the racial challenges South Africa is facing today.

Read more about the Great Trek HERE or HERE.

The Great Trek, South Africa
The Great Trek, South Africa | Source
The Battle of Blood River
The Battle of Blood River | Source
The various routes of the Great Trek, South Africa
The various routes of the Great Trek, South Africa | Source

Boere Republics

In spite of many adversities, including a number of battles and wars between the Afrkaners and the Africans, and disputes between the Afrikaners and the British, the Afrikaners managed to establish a number of Republics, of which two became the most problematic considering the objectives of the British.

South African Republic (Transvaal) 1852-1902)
South African Republic (Transvaal) 1852-1902) | Source
Orange Free State 1854-1902
Orange Free State 1854-1902 | Source

Union of South Africa

Natalia, one of the republics established by the Afrikaners after the Great Trek, had already been annexed by the British in 1843. In 1848 the first sugar cultivars were imported from Mauritius. The sugar industry immediately proved to be successful.

Due to the indigenous Zulu people’s unwillingness to become the slaves of the British by providing cheap labor, the British imported indentured labor from India.

(Between 1893 and 1914 the young Indian lawyer, Mahatma Gandhi, faced the discrimination directed at all coloured people in the British colonies and Boere republics. His efforts - through non-violent protests - to improve the living and working conditions of Indians and non-whites in SA, were impressive, but in vain. He returned to India to play a major role in India’s struggle for independence.)

The discovery of diamonds in 1866, as well as the discovery of gold in 1884, led to a massive migration of laborers, fortune seekers, and businessmen from all over the world. From Mid-, East-, and West Africa came people, eager to accept the minimum wages offered by the British entrepreneurs who had grabbed the opportunities to establish mining companies. This led to a Mineral Revolution that would form the basis of the Apartheid system that was implemented in the 1950’s.

The efforts of the British to colonize the two independent Boere republics led to two wars –

While the Afrikaners won the first war, and kept their independence, they lost the second war due to the British inhuman tactics - of burning down all the farms of the Afrikaners, including their homes, and to incarcerated all women and children and men (who were too old or ill to participate in the war) in concentration camps. 27 927 persons died in those camps - 1 676 men, 4 177 women and 22 074 children under sixteen. Africans, who worked as laborers on the farms, were put in separate camps. The total deaths in their camps were between 14 154 and 20 000, of which 81% were children.

On 31 May 1910 all the colonies, including the two previous Boere republics, were unified to become the Union of South Africa - a dominion of the British Empire.

Read more about the Second Anglo-Boer War HERE.

Second Anglo-Boer War

Tents in the Bloemfontein concentration camp
Tents in the Bloemfontein concentration camp | Source
Lizzie van Zyl, visited by Emily Hobhouse in a British concentration camp
Lizzie van Zyl, visited by Emily Hobhouse in a British concentration camp | Source

Union of South Africa (1910-1961)

The Union of South Africa (1910-1961)
The Union of South Africa (1910-1961)

World Wars

Being a colony of the British, South Africa joined with Great Britain in World War I (July 1914 - November 1918). More than 146,000 whites, 83,000 blacks and 2,500 coloureds/Indians served in South African military units during this war. The total casualties was about 18,600.

South Africa also participated with Great Britain in World War II (September 1939 – September 1945). Of the 334,000 men volunteered for full-time service (211,000 whites, 77,000 blacks, 46,000 coloureds/Indians), 11,023 were killed in action.

Read more about this HERE.

BL 5.4 inch Howitzer and crew, East Africa, 1916 or 1917. Photo courtesy of SANDF Archives, from Nöthling, C J (ed), "Ultima Ratio Regum: Artillery History of South Africa" 1987
BL 5.4 inch Howitzer and crew, East Africa, 1916 or 1917. Photo courtesy of SANDF Archives, from Nöthling, C J (ed), "Ultima Ratio Regum: Artillery History of South Africa" 1987 | Source

Apartheid (1948-1994)


Racial segregation was the order of the day through social norms since the arrival of Europeans in 1652. When the National Party came into power in 1948, it became enforceable through a series of legislation. Residents were classified in groups and assigned to different regions. Between 1960 and 1983 approximately 3.5 million non-whites were removed from their homes and forced into segregated neighborhoods called locations, today known as townships. All Africans had to registered as citizens of one of the ten tribal homelands, called bantustans. They had no right to vote in South Africa’s municipal and national elections.

All residents were deprived of their right to travel freely. As in the days of slavery, non-whites required passes to work and travel beyond the boundaries of their homelands. In the towns and cities of whites, signs indicated where they were allowed to sit, stand, eat and drink. Their segregated beaches, education, medical care, and all other public services, were inferior to those of whites.

Interracial marriage and romantic relationships were banned.

In the process only whites got the opportunity to found companies. Skilled jobs were reserved for white people, and unskilled labor for non-whites. As skilled businessmen, Indians did not plunge into poverty, while Africans and Coloureds had no hope to rise above their straitened circumstances.

This system was called Apartheid. Read more about it HERE and HERE.

Africans confined to homelands during Apartheid

Black homelands during Apartheid in South Africa 1960-1994
Black homelands during Apartheid in South Africa 1960-1994 | Source
Signs during Apartheid in South Africa
Signs during Apartheid in South Africa | Source

BGS Best ​Book 2015 Award, Dublin, Ireland was won by Mark Fine for his book 'The Zebra Affair' - an Apartheid love story


The African National Congress

On January 8, 1912, The African National Congress (ANC) was formed by African tribal chiefs, representatives of churches and other anti-Apartheid organizations. Their aim was to unite all Africans in order to defend their rights. A mass movement was only born after Apartheid became law in 1948, and specifically after the ANC adopted a Program of Action, submitted by its Youth League, in 1952.

Among the first volunteers who solemnly pledged to defy Apartheids laws was Nelson Mandela. Initially this program mainly encouraged public disobedience and nonviolent demonstrations of protests. After the Sharpeville massacre on March 21 1960, when the Police opened fire on a crowd of protesters, killing 69 people, and the banning of the ANC, a military wing called Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) - "The Spear of the Nation" – came into being. The Apartheids government classified it as a terrorist organisation and banned it, hence it went underground.

Calling themselves ‘Freedom Fighters’, numerous leaders of the ANC and the MK, including Nelson Mandela, were hunted by the Police, convicted for treason and sent to Robben Island.

Between 1966 and 1990 (23+ years), South Africa’s defence force spent most of its time and resources fighting communism in Angola and Namibia. The result was the withdrawal of Russian, Cuba and East-German forces and the independence of democratic Namibia. Read more about this war HERE.

A series of bombings and a landmine campaign in South Africa, conducted by the MK during 1983 and 1988, resulting in the killing of 65 innocent citizens and the injuring of 500, and the refusal of Western countries to have commercial and other dealings with a government that violates human rights, compelled the National Party to end Apartheid.

With F.W. de Klerk as president, the government took the first significant steps towards formal negotiations with the ANC in February 1990 when, in his speech at the opening of Parliament, de Klerk announced the unbanning of the ANC and other banned organizations, as well as the release of Nelson Mandela after 27 years in prison.

These positive actions of FW de Klerk received international recognition through the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize (1991), the Prince of Asturias Award (1992), and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 along with Nelson Mandela.

On 27 April 1994, as a social democratic political party, the ANC won South Africa’s first multi-racial democratic election with 69,7% votes. Nelson Mandela was elected as president. The period of his presidency between 1994-1999 was being thought of as "a golden age of hope and harmony".

Read more about the African National Congress HERE.

FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. | Source

Post-apartheid (1994-2015)

While the period of Nelson Mandela’s presidency was being thought of as "a golden age of hope and harmony", the current period of Jacob Zuma is being thought of as a campaign for the enrichment of members of the ANC and their families. (Read Jacob Zuma!)

Affirmative action legislation to resolve economic disparities, such as the Employment Equity Act, Black Economic Empowerment, and Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment, resulted in many disasters, among others -

However, critique and accusations are being ignored or denied by the ANC and labelled as ‘broad generalization and statements of opinions.


All citizens of South Africa can only hope that the plead in South Africa's National Anthem, - ‘Lord bless our nation, stop wars and sufferings, save it, save our nation!' - realizes rather sooner than later.

SA's National Anthem - translation in English

Lord, bless Africa
May her spirit rise high up
Hear thou our prayers
Lord bless us.

Lord, bless Africa
Banish wars and strife
Lord, bless our nation
Of South Africa.

Ringing out from our blue heavens
From our deep seas breaking round
Over everlasting mountains
Where the echoing crags resound.

Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

National Anthem, South Africa

South African Flag since 1994
South African Flag since 1994 | Source


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    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      I love history, DaveOnline. The blatant errors and misleading data in the history books provided by the Dept. of Education nowadays are absolutely shocking.

      This is one of the links in here you may like to follow in order to add the information to your hubs as well - about the a set of tools discovered at the cave in 2012, which is almost identical to that used by the modern San people and dating to 44,000 BP. (I had to check the meaning of BP. Forgot to add it!)

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Dave!

    • DaveOnline profile image

      David Edward Lynch 

      3 years ago from Port Elizabeth, South Africa

      Thanks for this writing on the history of South Africa Martie, I remember learning some of it at school but since then new history has emerged and it's always interesting to read about our land. I'm sure you put a lot of effort into this project and much research as well.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Genna, knowing the history of any country, helps us to comprehend present events. It also keeps us from being judgmental. Somehow we can all relate. Take care, dear Genna :)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      And what a comprehensive nutshell, Martie. Wow! It was interesting to read about the primitive socio-economic systems of historical Africa; the chiefs and kings had quite a bit of power and leverage within their tribes. And 182 years of slavery. The East India Tea Company had quite a history; as far reaching as our own American colonies, the impact on tax, the Dutch black market teas, and the Boston Tea Party. I never knew the origin of Afrikanns, and its roots in European languages as well as African. This is excellent writing, Martie. Thank you.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Hi, Flourish! I believe we need to know the history of everything in order to comprehend its current status. We just can't judge a situation as it is. Thank you so much for reading and commenting :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you, Shanmarie! Hoping for the best, is all we can do. Whatever will be, will be. The future are being determined by the past, and yet, there is a Power beyond human comprehension in charge.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      Very thorough and hard to believe how recent this has been. Thanks for breaking this down, as I didn't comprehend the history beyond what I learned briefly in college sociology.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      3 years ago from Texas

      Very interesting, Martie! It's hard to imagine segregation still happening in that manner while I was growing up, albeit in another country. I do like the lyrics to your national anthem. There is a beautiful message there. I hope that things take a turn for the better there.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Hi bravewarrior! The challenge is to stay positive, and to be the difference we would like to see. Sadly, we still have many racists in all groups - white supremacists and revengeful blacks and coloureds, passionately hating each other. May they soon come to their senses! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, dear Sha :)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      Martie, you've done a fabulous job of presenting Africa's history succinctly and without bias. It's sad and incomprehensible that the original people of the land have been torn down. The same happened to our Indians. Then we suffered racial segregation, but not to the extent that occurred in Africa. How humans can treat other humans with such disrespect and violence is beyond me. I, too, pray that peace is bestowed on your land and that all its people can live free without prejudice.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      BTW, Mark, my son was born on January 1, 1976 - on the official beginning of TV in SA.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Mark, glad to meet you. Could you please bring me links to your writings. I will love adding them to this hub :)

    • profile image

      Mark Fine 

      3 years ago

      Appreciate this informative overview of a complicated place with tormented past. In my own writings (The Zebra Affaire) I focused on 1976 as a pivotal year due to two seminal events; the first time introduction of television in the Republic which brought the news first-hand into everyone's living rooms, and, the Soweto Uprising that forever changed the status quo. Glad to have discovered your writings. Thanks, Mark

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Sunshine, I honestly believe we should know something about the history of the countries of our online friends. I'm sure by now you have a pretty good idea of SA. Take care, dear Linda :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Dear Marcoujor, I still have many travelogues to publish! The idea of an e-book containing this history and travelogues is growing in my mind. Thank you for everything you do and are for me. Love you too :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Alicia, I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel. I can only hope that we, European-Africans, don't end up as refugees in one or another sympathetic country. If you know the history of Zimbabwe, the decline since their independence, and eventually the confiscating of all farms, forcing white farmers to flee for their lives, we can clearly see SA going the same way. Today Zimbabwe is one of the poorest countries in Africa. But let's not go fetch the baboon behind the mountain! (Our saying when we advice others to not try meeting a challenge that still lies in the future.) Thank you for your support, Alicia!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Dear fpher, I am so glad you enjoyed this history lesson. I failed to mention that the Chinese are now buying some of the mines, bringing their own workers from China (and only pay taxes to the SA-government.) They are investing in land, planning to build an entire city, etc. So, in 30 years China will perhaps be the ruling empire down here.

      Yesterday I explained to someone that the Afrikaner was suppressed by the Dutch for 100+ years, as they were seen as 'bastards' after intermarriage with French and German people, and their language was seen as a 'slang' for almost 3 centuries. Then they were suppressed by the British for 148 years. They only got status in 1948, when voted into power. So, in fact, they rule for only 46 years, making a mess of their task by implementing Apartheid. So, who knows, the Chinese may soon be the ruling party down here.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Wow, this article is a history lesson that should be a book that only SAA could write! :)

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Martie,

      Visiting for a second time and will use this post as my point of reference frequently.

      You have done a stellar job in this historical timeline...providing a myriad of links for further exploration.

      I think this, along with your travel series, has the makings of an awesome ebook.

      Love you much, mar

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for all your hard work in creating this hub and for sharing so much information, Martie. I appreciated learning about South Africa's history, but at the same time I was saddened by the unhappiness that your country has experienced. I hope so much that the situation improves.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      You've just won the prize for best History Lesson ever. Wow, I am impressed with the time and research and knowledge you have shared with your readers about your country, Martie. It's all new to me and told so well.

      How very interesting it can be to learn of a country's history, including land, laws, wars,people, crops and other livelihood. There's so much to absorb here, I know I will read it again. Thanks, Martie!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you drbj! This is what happened in only 363 years. Imagine what happened since the very beginning. Here was dinosaurs at a time. What are semi-desserts today, were water and swamps :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you, DDE. I know 1652 was not the beginning of SA's history. I wish I have known more about ancient history, and ancient empires. Take care!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Take care, Suzette :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      You make history enthralling and engrossing, Martie. You have a special talent that compels me to read every single word of this fascinating history. Thank you for the singular education since I now know so much more about your part of the world and will follow all the links you so thoughtfully provided to learn more. Promise!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi Martie I learned so much of what mentioned here. To read it again at this time brings back lots of memories from my past life there. You have set out an extraordinary hub let the truth be told and in detail. Brilliantly put together. I Tweeted!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Thanks for answering all my questions! :) Wonderful article. I am bookmarking this.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Hello, mckbirdbks. South Africa was a haven for adventurers, pioneers and entrepreneurs. However, things have changed. I think for the next 20 years we Afrikaners will still be paying for the sins of our fathers. As I've said, SA is 30 years behind the USA. Perhaps because the conservatives (of all races) are (still) more than the liberals.

      Re diamonds in Africa - De Beers just sold the diamond mine at Kimberley - (giving the minerals back to the indigenous people of SA!)

      Yes, I do see a lot of Mexico in SA. Lawlessness, gangsterism, etc. etc. Sadly, on the one side, our governments - national and provincial (majority ANC) have many bright ideas, but incompetence, ineffective management and concentrating on personal interests instead of practicing democracy, and on the other side, the uneducated, the ignorant, and the criminals..... Well, it's like being stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea!

      Your support is much appreciated, thank you, Mck!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Hi always exploring - yes, those concentration camps must have been a nightmare, and only 115 years ago! When we look at the British of today, one can hardly believe that they were capable of all the horrors they have committed down here.

      There are many similarities in the histories of South Africa and the USA. Sadly, SA is always 30 years behind. When America ended racial segregation, SA began with Apartheid, etc.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, dear Ruby :) Take care!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you, suzettenaples! Don't be embarrassed! How can one know the history of all foreign countries? At least you now have an idea of South Africa's.

      I live in the North West Province. (Was born in the Free State. I also lived in Gauteng for 20 years before moving here in 1982. ) I would love to live in the Western Cape - in my view the most beautiful province.

      Yes, I am an Afrikaner carrying German, French, and Dutch genes. Afrikaans is my native language. English is my second language.

      You have heard 5 languages in our national anthem. Xhosa (first stanza, first two lines), Zulu (first stanza, last two lines), Sesotho (second stanza), Afrikaans (third stanza), English (final stanza). South Africa has 9 official languages. Population is ±54,000,000. According to the latest census, isiZulu is the mother tongue of 22.7%, followed by isiXhosa at 16%, Afrikaans at 13.5%, English at 9.6%, Setswana at 8% and Sesotho at 7.6%. The remaining official languages are spoken at home by less than 5% of the population. Perhaps I should put this information in the hub?

      Thanks a lot for reading, Suzette. As you know, not many people are interested in history. But I just had to publish this, because I often need to explain where we whites have come from, and why we are still here. We are being accused of 'stealing' the country and its minerals. Fact is, I was born here, I live here, I love this country. Blaming us (Afrikaners) for the deeds of our ancestors, and depriving us of our right to live here and to enjoy the same rights as everybody else, is unfair and actually inhuman. We are now living in the 21st century. Nurturing the ideas, thoughts and attitudes of previous centuries is totally absurd.

      Take care, Suzette!

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Martie. You really covered a lot of territory with this article. The Boer Wars always interested me. Actually the exploration of Africa has always appealed to the adventurer in me. Many hours have been spent in books regarding the discover of diamond 'fields' in Africa.

      It sounds like the country (continent) is falling into lawlessness. In a sense what you describe reminds me of Mexico, as it falls back into chaos.

      You have built a very strong African History Timeline.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      rebeccamealey - In my time history was a compulsive school subject. Nowadays the curriculum hardly touch it. How can one live in a country without knowing its history? How can one live in a world without knowing its history? Well, this is what I am asking myself. Glad to know your son-in-law is from Nelspruit. I envy him for having had the opportunity to escape. South Africa's future looks quite dark, although some people are still positive. Thanks for the visit!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Martie, reading about concentration camps is chilling. You have written of so many events that I was unaware of. The many wars, the corruption is painful to read about. I must say that I've learned more from this than any school I attended. When I think about slavery I think of America, When I read about people being forced to relocate, I think of the American Indian. I know you did in-depth research to write this and it is a compelling read. Thank you for sharing with us. It is a ' groot ' hub. Hugs..

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      PegCole, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. What about writing a summary of America's history. An e-book is growing in my mind :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Peg, Rebecca, Suzette. I will be back in a couple of hours to reply on your comments. In the meantime, take care :)

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Excellent hub, Martie. The history of South Africa is fascinating and I am embarrassed to say I knew very little about it before reading this. You give a great overview for people like me. Which province do you live in Martie? Do you speak Afrikans as your native language? Is English your second language? Are you an Afrikaner? I am sorry for all these questions but I am so ignorant of your country. Your national anthem is beautiful. Did I see and hear three different languages in the song? This article has really piqued my interest in S. Africa. What a stellar job you have done with this. Thanks so much for sharing your country with us.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Great research and photos. Thanks for sharing this. You worked on on this, I can tell. My son-in-law is a native of Nelspruit. Hope I spelled this right!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Quite an educational and informative piece, Martie. The statistics and comparisons between the races, in particular, the doctor-patient ratio, is astounding. Very interesting and well written. Thank you for this insightful glimpse into the history of South Africa.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Billy. I find the history of all countries extremely fascinating, and especially that of my own country :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Condensed version or long version, it's all news and interesting to those of us living in the States. Thanks for the history lesson, Martie!


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