South Africa History

By | November 19, 2021

First residents

The earliest known Homo sapiens in the area are the Bushman tribes, who were primarily hunters. About 2,500 years ago, Bantu tribes migrated from the Niger River Delta to what is now South Africa and apparently lived peacefully with the Bushmans in the region.

Little is known of this time because these tribes did not know the writing and the little knowledge that exists comes from archaeological finds. Later other tribes migrated to South Africa such as the Khoi, San, Xhosas, Zulu and others.


The first Europeans to enter the country were the Portuguese, who had no colonizing intentions and, therefore, did not settle in this place.

The Dutch did colonize the region. Initially in 1652 they 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 into a British colony.

The European population began to expand and struggles with the natives over land possession began 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 Highveld where they formed four republics.

The descendants of the Dutch colonialists, at that time they were known as boers (farmers, in Dutch), had two wars with the British, called Anglo-Boers Wars, which ended in the defeat of the latter and their independent republics. In 1910 the four main republics of the region united forming the Union of South Africa. Black people were not given the right to vote in this republic, and the lack of rights for Blacks, Colorados, and Asians continued to pervade the Union.


This term means in Afrikaans, separation. It officially appeared in South Africa in 1944 and served to designate the policy of racial segregation and territorial organization applied systematically in South Africa until 1990. The descendants of the white settlers remained a minority among the black Africans. After World War II, the whites dictated their rules through apartheid, through a series of laws that established racial segregation.

The objective of apartheid was to separate the races in the legal field (white, Asian, mestizo or colored, Bantu or black), establishing a hierarchy in which the white race dominated the rest and geographically through the forced creation of reserved territories: the Bantustans.

In 1959, with the Self Government Actapartheid reached its peak when the black population was relegated to small marginal and autonomous territories and deprived of South African citizenship.

Until that moment, as a country located in Africa according to HOMOSOCIETY, South Africa with its important mineral wealth and its geostrategic situation had aligned itself with the western bloc. However, the racist system meant that, at a time when decolonization was developing, the pressures of the international community were increased against the Pretoria government.

In 1960 it was excluded from the Commonwealth. At the UN, the demand for sanctions was raised. In 1972, South Africa was excluded from the Olympic Games in Munich before the threat of a general boycott of African countries. Finally in 1977, the South African regime was officially condemned by its Western allies and subjected to an arms and military materiel embargo, and in 1985, the UN Security Council called on member states to adopt economic sanctions.

In all these international condemnations there was a certain hypocrisy. In the framework of the cold war, the racist regime was seen by Europe and the United States as a retaining wall for the expansion of communism in Africa. Within the framework of that conflict, the South African army made several incursions into the territory of its neighboring countries.

In 1975, the CIA together with the government of Zaire, the apartheid government of South Africa and the forces of the FNLA and UNITA, fundamentally, tried to prevent the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) from coming to power on November 11, date in that Angola would obtain its independence from Portugal. Adding to the aggression against Angola, on August 9, two South African armored columns entered the south. In the north, Zaire and FNLA forces reached the very gates of Luanda, being arrested in the Battle of Quifangondo by Cuban instructors and FAPLA forces. South Africans from the south reached Port Amboim, then turning to the east, being defeated by the special troops of the Ministry of the Interior of Cuba, at the Battle of Ebo. This battle would be the beginning of the end of the invasion of the South African forces into the territory of Angola, which were forced to withdraw to the other side of the southern border of this country on March 27, 1976. The South African armed forces continued to support UNITA forces and make inroads into Angolan territory.

In 1988 (after 14 years of war) the apartheid government suffered a severe defeat in Cuito Cuanavale. Fidel Castro personally directed the operations from Havana. The defeat suffered by South Africa undermined the prestige of its army and marked the beginning of the end of the racial segregation regime.

In 1990, after a long period of resistance from various anti-apartheid movements (notably the African National Congress), the National Party government took a first step towards negotiation by abolishing the ban on the African National Congressand other left-wing political organizations., and releasing Nelson Mandela after 27 years in prison.

Apartheid legislation was gradually superseded from the statutory texts and the first multiracial elections were held in 1994, with the African National Congress and its leader, Nelson Mandela, being elected.

In 1991 Mandela visited Cuba and expressed in a speech delivered on July 26 at the central ceremony for the 38th Anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes barracks, held in the province of Matanzas:

“The Cuban people occupy a special place in the hearts of the peoples of Africa. The contribution of Cuban internationalists to independence, freedom and justice in Africa is unparalleled by its nature of principle and selflessness The crushing defeat of the racist army in Cuito Cuanavale was a victory for all of Africa ”

At the moment South Africa is ruled by the black majority, which constitutes 80% of the population. Despite the elimination of apartheid, millions of black South Africans continue to live in misery and the official unemployment rate hovers around 40%.

South Africa History