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SOuth Africa and the development of colonialism

Sule Bengu Ersozoglu

Table of Content

1. Colonialism

2. The two main protagonists

3. The first major clash

6. The mineral revolution & the South African War

4. The arrival of the British & the Great Trek

5. The Battle of Blood river

7. The act of Union & segregation era

8. Country profile

6. The mineral revolution & the South African War

What is colonialism?

Colonialism is the act by which a country or state exerts control and domination over another country or state.

The two main protagonists:

The British

The Boers (The Dutch)

The Africans (sort of as well) but they were rather the main antagonists

Two main colonizing migrations:

The Dutch east India (VOC)

The Bantu migration

  • Had been spreading since over a millennium
  • Displaced the indigenous San and Khoikhoi populations

The first major clash between the blacks and the whites were in the far frontiers of the Eastern Cap

• Smaller scale of population
• Established a tiny settlement in 1652 on Cape Town
• Purpose: to supply fresh fruit & vegetables to VOC ships
• Slowly, their numbers increased
• Their settlement crept eastwards
• Those who settled escaped from their restricted companies and formed their own independent farms (the original Trekboers)
• There was very little standing in their way (the occasional resistance)

• The British established their own empire

• The Dutch colony occupied a strategically vital sea route in the east and gained power with that
• So, the British used the Napoleonic Wars and French occupation of Holland to seize the Cape

The arrival of the British and the Great Trek:

Thousands of Boers travelled deep into the subcontinental interior of South Africa, spreading northeastwards to, what it later becomes, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, and then finally southwards into Natal. This journey is called the Great Trek.

o People who took part in the Great Trek were called Voortrekkers

o To sum up, Boers did this to escape from the British control and to get hold of cheap land

The Great Trek

  • During the armed battles between the Boers and the Africans, the Boers won a famous victory over the Zulu army. This battle was known as the Battle of Blood River (legend states that the river turned red with the blood of the Zulu)
  • Their victory didn’t last too long though.
  • The British happened

Battle of Blood River

The mineral revolution and the South African War:

  • The movement of workers into Johannesburg was important, because:
    • The marking of the real beginning of mass migration of Africans into the cities
    • Many Whites also entered into Johannesburg, sparking a political contest between the two governments:
      • The Transvaal (led by Paul Kruger), which wanted to preserve the conservative Afrikaner (Boer) character of the republic
      • Uitlander community of mainly English-speaking Whites (their vote was supported by the authorities in Cape Town)

  • Diamonds (1867) and Gold (1886) was discovered
  • Labor and capital expansion


The British attempted to invade Transvaal and spark an uitlander uprising
o Result: Fail

1899 – 1902:

• Result: South African War (Anglo-Boer War/Boer War) between the British and the two Boer republics

• In the last two years of war, the Boers prolonged a guerrilla campaign: Negotiation

• Initially, the British hoped to win but the Boers had better armies

The Act of Union and the segregation era

• The defeat of the Boers followed disagreement of political reconciliation between the two Whites

• The terms offered to the Boers were undemanding
• The Boer Republics were under the direct control of the British but were then granted a measure of self-government


• A unification of the four colonies were discussed during the South African National Convention
o Result: agreement of the South African Act (the Act of Union)


• Educated Africans concerned with the issue formed the South African Native National Congress (SANNC), the forerunner of the ANC, to defend their political interests


• The radical National Party (NP) was formed with Hertzog as the leader
• South African entry into WW1
o Result: Fail


• The ANC and the CPSA organized strikes and protests
• After the war Black and Whites lived alongside in the cities
• What they did: choosing the National Party (NP) and its policy of apartheid

Political Geography


• South Africa was made up of 4 separate provinces:
o British - Cape Province – Cape Town
o British – Natal - Pietermaritzburg
o Boer - The Transvaal – Pretoria (but Johannesburg dominated the gold-mining)
o Boer - The Orange Free State – Bloemfontein
• The existence of three capitals:
o Administrative
o Legislative
o Judicial

  • The Rainbow Nation: The White, Black and Colored population
  • 1/5th were Whites
    • The Afrikaners (60%)
    • The English (40%)
  • 1,5 million were Colored and half a million Indian
    • an intermediate position
  • Black population was divided into two ethno-linguistic groupings:
    • The Nguni (spoken more)
    • The Sotho-Tswana

Country profile

Political Geography


Country profile