South Africa - Apartheid Background to 2018

  • 400

    4th century - migrants from the North

    4th century - migrants from the North
    Migrants from the north settle, joining the indigenous San and Khoikhoi people. Khoikhoi are the traditionally nomadic pastoralist non-Bantu indigenous population of southwestern Africa. They are grouped with the hunter-gatherer San under the compound term Khoisan. Photo - sculpture of Doman, leader during the first Khoikhoi/Dutch War.
  • 1480

    First Europeans

    First Europeans
    Portuguese navigator Bartholomeu Dias is the first European to travel round the southern tip of Africa.
  • 1497

    Europeans land at Natal

    Europeans land at Natal
    Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama lands on Natal coast.
  • Dutch East India Company arrives

    Dutch East India Company arrives
    Jan van Riebeeck, representing the Dutch East India Company, founds the Cape Colony at Table Bay.
  • Invasion of the Cape Colony

    Invasion of the Cape Colony
    British forces seize Cape Colony from the Netherlands. Territory is returned to the Dutch in 1803; ceded to the British in 1806. It was at the time the only viable South African port for ships making the journey from Europe to the European colonies in the East Indies. (map attributed to George McCall Theal -, Public Domain,
  • Zulu Empire begins

    Zulu Empire begins
    Shaka Zulu founds and expands the Zulu empire, creates a formidable fighting force. Ruthless leadership also led to his assassination.
  • The Great Trek

    The Great Trek
    Boers leave Cape Colony in the 'Great Trek' and found the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Afrikaans Groot Trek, was the emigration of some 12,000 to 14,000 Boers from Cape Colony in South Africa between 1835 and the early 1840s, in rebellion against the policies of the British government and in search of fresh pasturelands.
  • Steps to Transvaal independence

    Steps to Transvaal independence
    British grant limited self-government to the Transvaal.
  • Full Transvaal Independence??

    Full Transvaal Independence??
    Boers proclaim the Transvaal a republic. The South African Republic (Transvaal) obtained its coat of arms by a Volksraad resolution of 18 February 1858. It was officially described as a wagon and an anchor on a silver field or shield, and on the arms an eagle; on the right-hand side a man in the costume of the land, armed with a gun; on the left-hand side a lion. The motto EENDRAGT MAAKT MAGT (Unity is Strength) was added soon afterwards underneath the arms.
  • Immigrant Labour Brought In

    Immigrant Labour Brought In
    Arrival of thousands of labourers and traders from India, forebears of the majority of South Africa's current Indian population - 1860-1911
  • Diamonds!!!

    Diamonds discovered at Kimberley. Picture: Forced labour camps set up by deBeers.
  • The Brits return to Transvaal

    Britain annexes the Transvaal.
  • Zulus v. the British

    Zulus v. the British
    British defeat the Zulus in Natal.
  • Rebellion in Transvaal!

    Rebellion in Transvaal!
    Boers rebel against the British, sparking the first Anglo-Boer War. Conflict ends with a negotiated peace. Transvaal is restored as a republic.
  • Gold!!!!

    Gold is discovered in the Transvaal, triggering the gold rush.
  • 2nd Boer War

    2nd Boer War
    British troops gather on the Transvaal border and ignore an ultimatum to disperse. The second Anglo-Boer War begins.
  • Treaty of Vereeniging

    Treaty of Vereeniging
    Treaty of Vereeniging ends the second Anglo-Boer War. The Transvaal and Orange Free State are made self-governing colonies of the British Empire.
  • Union of South Africa

    Union of South Africa
    Formation of Union of South Africa by former British colonies of the Cape and Natal, and the Boer republics of Transvaal, and Orange Free State.
  • Roots of the ANC

    Roots of the ANC
    Native National Congress founded, later renamed the African National Congress (ANC). Leading the struggle: A South African Native National Congress 1914 delegation with founding members Thomas Mapikela, Walter Rubusana, John Dube, Saul Msane and Sol Plaatje.
  • Land Acts

    Land Acts
    Land Act introduced to prevent blacks, except those living in Cape Province, from buying land outside reserves.
  • The new National Party

    The new National Party
    National Party founded.
  • Secret Brotherhood

    Secret Brotherhood
    Secret Broederbond (brotherhood) established to advance the Afrikaner cause.
  • Spreading Afrikaaner control

    Spreading Afrikaaner control
    South West Africa (Namibia) comes under South African administration. The conquest and occupation of German South West Africa (Namibia) was by forces from the Union of South Africa acting on behalf of the British Imperial Government at the beginning of the First World War.
  • South Africa sovereignty

    South Africa sovereignty
    The Union of South Africa parliament enacts the Status of the Union Act, which declares the country to be "a sovereign independent state". The move followed on from Britain's passing of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which removed the last vestiges of British legal authority over South Africa.
  • Segregation now policy

    Segregation now policy
    Policy of apartheid (separateness) adopted when National Party (NP) takes power.
  • Classification by race resisted

    Classification by race resisted
    Population classified by race. Group Areas Act passed to segregate blacks and whites. Communist Party banned. ANC responds with campaign of civil disobedience, led by Nelson Mandela.
  • Sharpeville Massacre

    Sharpeville Massacre
    Seventy black demonstrators killed at Sharpeville. ANC banned.
  • South Africa a Republic

    South Africa a Republic
    South Africa declared a republic, leaves the Commonwealth. Mandela heads ANC's new military wing, which launches sabotage campaign.
  • International Pressure

    International Pressure
    International pressure against government begins, South Africa excluded from Olympic Games.
  • Prison for Mandela

    Prison for Mandela
    ANC leader Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • Assassination!

    Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd assassinated.
  • The 'Homelands'

    The 'Homelands'
    More than 3 million people forcibly resettled in black 'homelands' thoughout the '70s.
  • Soweto Violence!

    Soweto Violence!
    More than 600 killed in clashes between black protesters and security forces during uprising which starts in Soweto. Black anger boils over. People rallied against the white government, which hit back violently
  • Township Revolt!!

    Township Revolt!!
    Township revolt, state of emergency.
  • de Klerk takes power

    de Klerk takes power
    FW de Klerk replaces PW Botha as president, meets Mandela. Public facilities desegregated. Many ANC activists freed.
  • Mandela freed!

    Mandela freed!
    ANC unbanned, Mandela released after 27 years in prison. Namibia becomes independent.
  • Repeal of last apartheid laws

    Repeal of last apartheid laws
    Start of multi-party talks. De Klerk repeals remaining apartheid laws, international sanctions lifted. Major fighting between ANC and Zulu Inkatha movement.
  • A New Constitution

    Agreement on interim constitution.
  • ANC Wins!!

    ANC Wins!!
    ANC wins first non-racial elections. Mandela becomes president, Government of National Unity formed, Commonwealth membership restored, remaining sanctions lifted. South Africa takes seat in UN General Assembly after 20-year absence.
  • The South African TRC

    The South African TRC
    Truth and Reconciliation Commission chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu begins hearings on human rights crimes committed by former government and liberation movements during apartheid era.
  • New Constitution - coalition collapse

    New Constitution - coalition collapse
    Parliament adopts new constitution. National Party withdraws from coalition, saying it is being ignored.
  • TRC Report

    TRC Report
    Truth and Reconciliation Commission report brands apartheid a crime against humanity and finds the ANC accountable for human rights abuses.
  • Mbeki in Power

    Mbeki in Power
    ANC wins general elections, Thabo Mbeki takes over as president.