South Africa: The beginnings part I

What comes into your mind when you hear the name ‘South Africa’ ?

Nothing ?, Think Again !!

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Try Again, what comes into an average person’s mind when they hear, see or write ‘South Africa’ ?

Nelson Mandela,

Okay. Now what more comes to your mind when you hear, read or see ‘South Africa’ ?

Nothing ?

Try Again :). Still Nothing.

Okay, here they are: Christiaan Barnard performing World’s first heart surgery Nelson Mandela,Apartheid, Frederik Willem DeKlerk 1995 IRB Rugby World Cup, 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, 2010 FIFA World Cup, Black Freedom, White Oppression are the things that come into your mind.

South Africa was once a prosperous republic, now thrashed by the Government of the African national Congress which has made it okay to MURDER, RAPE, STEAL and name ANY SIN you want to, if you are BLACK. Blaming the Whites for the Apartheid before 1994 that marginalized the Blacks, Nelson Mandela’s presidency hoped to quell the tensions and asked the Blacks to work together with the Whites as they had only taken control away from us and nothing else. Alas, his pleas were ignored by his very own people.

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Inhabited first by the Blacks in modern day Zimbabwe and South Africa, Black tribe settle ments were found in the northern area of South Africa. However, they could not be wholly and satisfactorily classified as the first settlers as they came in, settled and left for the Forests of Botswana and Zimbabwe. they did come back and settle in areas near modern day Durban and East London, leaving two dominant black groups, the Xhosa and the Zulu.

Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias led the first European voyage in 1487 to land in southern Africa & On 4 December of the same year, he landed at Walfisch Bay (Walvis Bay in Namibia today). This was south of the farthest point reached in 1485 by his predecessor, Diogo Cão. Dias  further continued down the western coast of southern Africa. After 8th January 1488, prevented by storms from proceeding along the coast, he sailed out of sight of land and passed the southernmost point of Africa without seeing it. He reached as far up the eastern coast of Africa as, what he called, Rio do Infante, probably the present-day Groot river. in May 1488, but on his return he saw the Cape, which he first named Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms). The King of Portugal at the time John II renamed the point Cabo da Boa Esperança (Cape of Good Hope), as it led to the riches of the East Indies. Dias’ feat of navigation was later immortalised in Luis de Camoes’ Portuguese epic poem, The Lusiads (1572).

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Whites led by Jan van Riebeeck arrived at modern day Cape Town in the 17th century AD. before that numerous indigenous black paintings were discovered in caves near the Zimbabwe-South Africa border. The earliest settlers were in fact Whites from The Netherlands, France & Germany who were known as ‘Afrikaners’ & ‘Boers’ (Boer being the Dutch word for farmer). The farmers inhabited lands that are part of modern day Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London. they were a prosperous community engaged in farming, ranching and trading. even despite repeated attacks from the black Xhosa and Zulu tribes, they eventually reached a ceasefire and intermarriages between the blacks and whites formed the ‘Coloureds’ or ‘Mixed race heritiage’. Cape Town outgrew itself as a checkpost and became the nation’s largest city until the Witswatersrand (White Water Rush) gold rush in modern day Johannesburg (aka Jo’Burg) led to the discovery of gold and migration of the Afrikaners to that area.

The arrival of the British in modern day Durban spiced up the situation. They took over the Cape Colony (cape Town area these days) to prevent the French from taking over Southern Africa after the French Republic had invaded the Dutch Republic in Europe. Having standing interests in Australia and India, Britain wanted to use Cape Town as an interim port for its merchants’ long voyages. The British returned Cape Town to the Dutch Batavian Republic in 1803, the Dutch East India Company having effectively gone bankrupt by 1795. After that they further expanded into modern day Johannesburg, prompting the Afrikaner exodus from Cape Area (which was not much but still of concern).

Afrikaner exodus began from 1806 as they were subject to British control. the Afrikaners founded the City of Pretoria named after Voortrekker (Boer Trek Leader) Andres Pretorius. Robert Owen Loftus Versfeld, an Afrikaner of German Descent was the father of modern day sports in South Africa who helped promote rugby, football and cricket. His association was headquartered in the Loftus Versfeld park which is now modern day Loftus Versfeld stadium. After 1806, with the expansion of White British and Afrikaner settlements repeated conflicts occurred between the Whites and the Blacks. the discovery of diamonds and gold in 1867 and 1884 respectively triggered the mineral revolution.

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Zulus grew powerful in the first two decades of the 19th century, wiping out other black tribes in the interior plateau of the South African region and wiped out other black tribes, prompting exodus of the Xhosa to the Cape Town area (A Ghost region inhabited by the Whites First !!). The Matabale who were the offshoot of the Zulus established their empire in the higher interior plateau.

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After the discovery of Minerals, both the Dutch and British imported slave laborers from modern day Indonesia, India and East Africa as well as Malaysia. the Afrikaner exodus from the Cape Area into interior of South Africa created Three new Boer republics namely: 1). Orange Free State (Modern Day free state, Capital is Bloemfontein), 2). Republic of Natalia (Modern day Kwa-Zulu Natal where Durban is present) & 3). South African Republic ( comprising of Modern day Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng & Northwest Territories). Both Afrikaners and the British struggled to control the resources and so did the native black population.

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Lord Carnarvon successfully introduced of federation in Canada & it was thought that similar political effort, coupled with military campaigns, might succeed with the African kingdoms, tribal areas and Boer republics in South Africa. In 1874, Sir Henry Bartle Frere was sent to South Africa as High Commissioner for the British Empire to bring such plans into being. Among the obstacles were the presence of the independent states of the South African Republic and the Kingdom of Zululand and its army. In 1879, The Anglo-Zulu War was fought between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom in which the Zulu kingdom overwhelming defeated the British at the Battle of Isandlwana & despite Zulu victory it resulted in the end of the Zulu nation’s independence.