History of South Africa


August 19, 2022

Remains of hominids have been discovered that populated the present territory of South Africa more than three million years ago. It evolved gradually until a million years ago when Homo erectus appears in the region. The first knowledge we have of Homo sapiens dates back 100,000 years. The first Homo sapiens known in the area are the tribes derogatorily known as Bushmen, who were mainly hunters. About 2,500 years ago Bantu tribes migrated from the Niger River Delta into what is now South Africa and apparently lived peacefully with the Bushmen in the region. Little is known about this period as these tribes did not know writing and the little knowledge we have comes from archaeological findings. Other tribes later migrated to South Africa such as the Khoikhoi, San, Xhosa, Zulus and others. The written history of South Africa begins with the arrival of Europeans in the region. The first were the Portuguese, who founded a precursor settlement of Cape Town at the Cape of Good Hope and practically exterminated the Khoikhoi and the San who lived in the region. The Dutch, who took the colony from the Portuguese in 1652, established small settlements at the Cape of Good Hope and expanded to form the Cape Colony. At the end of the 18th century the English took over the Dutch colony, transforming it then into a British colony. The European population began to expand and struggles with the natives began over possession of the land with heavy casualties on both sides. Hostilities also began between the Dutch and the British and many of these Dutch emigrated and settled in the central area of ​​the region known as the Highveld where they formed the Transvaal Republic by the Sand River Convention in 1852 and the Orange Free State by the Bloemfontein Convention in 1854. The Dutch, at that time known as the Boers (farmers, in Dutch), had two wars with the British, called the Boer Wars, which ended in the defeat of these and their independent republics. In 1910 the four main republics of the region united to form the Union of South Africa. Black settlers were not given the right to vote in this republic, and the disenfranchisement of blacks, so-called "colored men" and Asians continued to erode the concept of the Union. The descendants of white settlers have always been a minority among black Africans. After World War II, whites dictated their racist rules through apartheid, through a series of laws that established racial segregation. The system of Apartheid began to be questioned internationally at the beginning of the last quarter of the 20th century, so that the National Party government increased sanctions, arrests and oppression against the non-white population. In 1990, after a long period of resistance by various anti-apartheid movements (especially the African National Congress) and international pressure from campaigns such as Free Nelson Mandela, the National Party government was forced to make a first step towards negotiation by lifting the ban on the African National Congress and other left-wing political organizations, and releasing Nelson Mandela after 27 years in prison. For the delivery of power to the black majority, negotiations were carried out that included the maintenance of the pre-existing economic system, the law of reconciliation and the dismantling of South Africa's nuclear program so that Africans would not have the atomic bomb. Apartheid legislation was gradually replaced by statutory texts and the first multiracial elections were held in 1994. The African National Congress (ANC) won them