This is the 'umbrella' Progenitor Project that every SA Progenitor should be added to first.
See list of countries in alphabetical order below for projects for particular countries or people!
South African Progenitors
The intention of this project is to be a hub of information on the South African people who were Progenitors of today's South African population. The aim is to give information about all people involved in populating and colonising South Africa. It is all-embracing and aims to have no political influence or connotation.
To participate in any project......
...... you do need to first be a collaborator - so join the project. Look at the discussion Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going!
In order to join the project use the drop down menu at the top left of the screen and Join the Project. If this option is not available to you then contact a collaborator and ask to be added to the project. As a collaborator you will be able to edit this page.
How to Participate
- Please add the relevant profiles of Progenitors (not their entire family and descendants!) This is easily done from the profile page using the Add to project link.
- If you have any related queries please start a discussion linked to this project. (See the menu top right).
- Please add related projects to the menu on the right.
- If you have links to related web pages that would be of interest to others please add them in the relevant section at the bottom of the page.
- Add any documents of interest using the menu at the top right of the page, and then add a link to the document in the text under the heading below. If you do not know how to do this please contact one of the other collaborators to assist you.
How you can Help
Many of the SV/PROG profiles have been made "Master Profiles" but their biography section in the "About" field is often very disorganised - a mixture of links, excerpts, random pastes and the languages mixed up and "deuremekaar"!
It would be wonderful if we could tidy these up. These guidelines for the biographical notes can be adapted as suits, headings to be added or removed as applicable.
If you wish to help with this exercise please add your chosen profile to the discussion.
This project is a tribute to all the progenitors and their descendants who are more than bodies of data on a World Tree, but embody the Bantu principle of “Ubuntu” – I AM BECAUSE WE ARE.
The history of South Africa is full of dispute between the various people. There is a long history of wars and domination, and Reverend Bongani Finca expresses where we are today:
There is, in my view, a South Africa from which we have departed, a regime that we have conquered, an old order that is behind us. But there is a new South Africa that we have not entered. A new South Africa for which we continue to long, to yearn and to strive: the New Land of our dreams. And in between these two countries there is this time and place we are now – a land that is not the same as the land from which we departed in 1994, yet a land that is not yet the land of our dreams – a land between the two lands, a time between the two times.
There are a few things that make a big difference to how the tree can be used and shared on Geni.
If you haven't yet visited the Geni Wiki pages please do so - there is a lot of information and guidance there.
- Public/Private Profiles All living profiles must be marked Private. In addition profiles of people within living memory at least need to be private. However, profiles in the historical tree (i.e. born well before 1900) need to be PUBLIC. See this document for guidance on how to check your managed profiles.
- Please do not use modern day place names for events that took place when these names did not apply.
- Please place all given names in the "First name" field. Middle names are not picked up by matches, which means bad merges take place.
Go to our South African Genealogical Reference Centre for more information.
To participate in any project
- you do need to first be a collaborator - so join the project. If you're new to Geni, take a look at:
If you want to add text to this or any project; here's how:
The South African People can broadly be grouped into the following Ethic Groups:
- Ndebele (See extract below)
- Zulu (Fingo · Khumalo)
- amaXhosa The creation of the major political groupings of the southern Nguni area, the Xhosa, the Thembu,the Mpondo & the Mpondomise, resulted from the rise of particular descent groups, respectively, the Tshawe, Hala, Nyawazu & Majola to a position of dominance over their localities. The extension of their power was a slow process, beginning long before the more dramatic creation of the Zulu state in northern Nguniland, & continuing right up to the Colonial conquest. [Peires, JB. ‘The House of Phalo’. Johannesburg, SA, Raven Press, 1981. Print p23]
- Afrikaner Boer
- Dutch includes Flemish
- English (British)
- Nordic Settlers Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland
- Other Europeans Austria; Greece; Hungary; Italy; Poland
- Other Countries - Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Russia To include in time New Zealand, South American Countries, United States and any other countries that crop up!
Indigenous People of South Africa (San and KhoiKhoi)
Which projects should you add your South African Progenitors to ?
The profiles of ALL progenitors can be added to this project. They can also be added to other projects that apply - the links to the projects are in the above list and also in the list of projects at the left. They can also be added to South African Stamouers/Progenitors if they fall into the scope of that project.
The following is an alphabetical list which shows those countries for which there are established projects.
Particular people are not included in this list.
- English (Britain)
- San and KhoiKhoi
- New Zealand
- South American Countries
- United States
Those in bold have projects; those not in bold - this is where they will go.
A note on the Meaning of the word 'Progenitor', as distinct from 'Settler'
A PROGENITOR is the start of the bloodline in a country. (So this project collects all first fathers/mothers of a line that still has descendants in SA.) In the case of each family of settlers to SA, the progenitors are usually only the oldest father & mother. On the SA tree, this is indicated by the suffix PROG (Progenitor); SV (Stam Vader - Clan Father); or SM (Stam Moeder - Clan Mother)
SETTLER groups came in waves, usually from a point of origin that we can use as a useful name for a project: eg French Huguenots; or 1820 Settlers; or Nguni migration. But there will be settlers who come on their own, who don't fit easily into any big settler project.
So ALL PROGENITORS IN SA ARE SETTLERS (except for the tiny Koisan group, whose origins are so far back they were never 'immigrants' at any time we can identify - ie - they have 'always' been here as far back as history tells us), BUT NOT ALL SETTLERS ARE THE DESIGNATED 1ST PROGENITOR OF A FAMILY LINE.
Projects already in place researching specific groups of South Africans.
Other related projects
If you wish to start a project covering subject matter not yet being researched please do so, but please add links to these projects here and at The South African's Welcome & Overview of all SA Projects site so that subjects are not duplicated and interested users can follow and contribute to them.
Summary of the History of the South African People
South Africa has one of the longest sequences of human development in the world, and certainly this ‘Cradle of Humankind’ was home to some of the progenitors of the entire human race.
The following summary will help to place the origins of the above groups of people in the historical timeline of the settlement and colonisation of South Africa.
Around 500 BC
San groups acquired livestock from further north. As a result hunting and gathering gradually gave way to herding as they started tending small herds of cattle and oxen. These pastoralist San People became known as Khoikhoi ('men of men'), as opposed to the hunter-gatherer San People. The Colonialist Settlers referred to the San as Bushmen. When the two groups became intermarried the term Khoisan arose. The Khoikhoi established themselves along the coast and small groups of San inhabited the interior.
Around 400 AD
Around 2,500 years ago Bantu peoples started migrating across sub-Saharan Africa from the Niger River Delta.
The Bantu-speakers had started to make their way south and eastwards in about 1000 BC, reaching the present-day KwaZulu-Natal by 500 AD. These people had an advanced Iron Age Culture keeping domestic animals and practising agriculture. The Bantu-speakers arrived in South Africa in small waves rather than in one cohesive migration. Some groups, the ancestors of today's Nguni ( the Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi and Ndebele) preferred to live near the coast. Others, now known as the Sotho–Tswana peoples (Tswana, Pedi, and Basotho), settled in the Highveld, while today's Venda, Lemba, and Shangaan-Tsonga peoples made their homes in the north-eastern areas of South Africa
Between 900 and 1,300 AD.
Evidence from the remains of Iron Age cities of Bambandyanalo and Mapungubwe shows the rise and fall of the first indigenous kingdom in Southern Africa. Mapungubwe was a flourishing Iron Age city ruled by an African king almost a thousand years ago. The kingdom was the first stage in a development that culminated in the creation of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe in the 13th century. The people of the kingdom of Mapungubwe were highly sophisticated and traded gold and ivory with China, India and Egypt. The Mapungubwe Kingdom declined from 1240, and the centre of power and trade moved north to the Great Zimbabwe Kingdom".
Portuguese navigator Bartholomeu Dias is the first European to travel round the southern tip of Africa.
The first Europeans to arrive in the Cape were the Portuguese. The Cape was used as stopover on their trade routes but they had little interest in colonising the area, finding Mozambique more attractive.
A Dutch vessel was wrecked at the Cape. The crew built a fort and settled there until they were rescued a year later.
In 1652 the Dutch East India Company, also known as the VOC which stood for the Dutch ‘’Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie’’, established a permanent settlement at the Cape and sent an expedition (90± men) under the command of Jan van Riebeck to do this. Some of the men were released from their contracts to establish farms in the region. These men were known as free burghers who expanded their farms north and east of the Cape. The burghers were mainly Dutch but there were also Germans and ‘’’Scandinavians’’’ amongst them.
The first slaves from Madagascar and Indonesia were imported to the region. This included he first Chinese to arrive at the Cape. The Chinese did not see the Cape as a worthwhile risk and so used the Cape more as a penal settlement for its unwanted criminals etc.
By the time van Riebeck left in 1662 there were about 250 white people living at what was a developing colony at the Cape.
In 1688 the French Huguenots arrived at the Cape, having fled religious persecution in France.
independent farmers called ‘’trekboers’’ began to push north and east.
A census of the Cape reveals that its non-indigenous population comprises 510 colonists/settlers and 6 279 slaves.
1795 – 1806
The British seized the Cape, briefly relinquishing it back to the Dutch in 1803, and then finally conquering it in 1806.
In 1820 about 5000 middle class British people were persuaded to immigrate to the region. The intention was that these people would settle in tracts of land between the feuding groups, forming a buffer zone. This did not work, and within three years almost half of these 1820 Settlers had moved to towns where they could use their trades.
The British immigrants continued to arrive from this date onwards, populating areas east of the Cape and Natal.
In 1834 slavery was abolished.
The Boers started to Trek into the interior, taking with them large numbers of Khoikhoi and black servants. These were the Voertrekkers.
In the early part of the century, Shaka Zulu founded and expanded the Zulu empire, creating a formidable fighting force, resulting in an upheaval with large armies of impis led by Shaka Zulu’s officers killing or enslaving those in their way. This resulted in people moving out of the way, resulting in displacement throughout the region.
Boers leave Cape Colony in the Great Trek and found the Orange Free State and the Transvaal.
Natal was annexed by the British in 1843, where they established sugar plantations, meeting enormous resistance from the powerful Zulu.
The British had hoped to use the Zulu for labour to work the sugar plantations in Natal, but few were willing. As a result Britain brought labour in from India, with SS Truro arriving in Durban harbour in 1860 with 300 people onboard. 150 000 more Indians arrived over the next 50 years, resulting in Natal (today KwaZulu-Natal) becoming one of the largest Indian communities outside Asia.
The discovery of diamonds at Kimberly and gold in the Transvaal led to an acceleration of immigration, with thousands of people seeking their fortune.
Resources, Interesting Sources and Suggested Reading
- The Afrikaners of Southern Africa
- Colonial History S.A. Colonial History
- S A History
- Archival Platform The key objectives of the Archival Platform are to:
- Raise public awareness of the role and value of the archive, particularly in relation to social justice, the processes of reconciliation, redress and social cohesion and the exercise of democratic government;
- Provide a mechanism through which new ideas and information can be shared and debated;
- Facilitate organised, effective public engagement and intervention in the public interest wherever questions of archive are involved and;
- Break down inhibiting barriers and encourage cross sectoral interaction;
- Play a role in developing pro-active citizens empowered to draw on the archive as a resource for interrogating the past, shaping the present and imagining the future.
- First Fifty Years Project
- Passenger List
- Google Books Search for Peires, JB: ‘The House of Phalo’. 1981, Raven Press, Johannesburg, SA
- They Were South Africans by John Bond
- Chief Ndumisa Bhotomane’s oral recounting of Gcaleka genealogy on September 10 1967 – recorded in The Tongue is Fire: South Africa storytellers and apartheid By Harold Scheub
History of South Africa under the Administration of the Dutche east India Company (1652-1795)
There are very comprehensive papers on some of the African People found in South Africa. Small extracts are given below - follow the links for more information.
- Wikipedia Histroy of South Africa
- South Africa: Dutch colonialism, the destruction of the Khoekhoe and the rise of Chiefdoms (1652-1795)
"Although the origins of the South African Ndebele are shrouded in mystery, they have been identified as one of the Nguni tribes. The Nguni tribes represent nearly two thirds of South Africa’s Black population and can be divided into four distinct groups; the Central Nguni (the Zulu-speaking peoples), the Southern Nguni (the Xhosa-speaking peoples), the Swazi people from Swaziland and adjacent areas and the Ndebele people of the Northern Province and Mpumalanga.
The two Ndebele groups were not only separated geographically but also by differences in their languages and cultures. The Ndebele of the Northern Province consisted mainly of the BagaLanga and the BagaSeleka tribes who, by and large, adopted the language and culture of their Sotho neighbours.
The North Ndebele people resided an area stretching from the town of Warmbaths in the south, to the Limpopo River in the north and from the Botswana border in the west to the Mozambique border in the east. However, they were mainly concentrated in the districts of Pietersburg, Bakenberg and Potgietersrus.
Mpumalanga, much of which consists of the area known as the Lowveld, stretches from the town of Piet Retief in the south to Lydenburg / Pilgrim’s Rest in the north and from the towns of Witbank and Groblersdal in the west to the Mozambique border in the east. The Springbok Flats separated the North Ndebele and those in the east from one another.
The history of the Ndebele people can be traced back to Mafana, their first identifiable chief. Mafana’s successor, Mhlanga, had a son named Musi who, in the early 1600’s, decided to move away from his cousins (later to become the mighty Zulu nation) and to settle in the hills of Gauteng near where the capital, Pretoria is situated".
Hunter gatherers lived throughout Southern Africa long before white settlement at the Cape in 1652. The genetic origins of of the San, who were people of the later Stone Age, can be traced back to the beginning of modern humanity. They lived hunting game with bows and arrows, foraged for food. They formed kinship groups in territories right across the region - affected mainly by climate and the availability of food and water.
The arrival of the Bantu speaking people immigrants from 250 AD had quite an impact on San traditional life. The new people were agro-pastoralists who needed land to support their crops and cattle herds.
(to be continued)
"The San are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa, where they have lived for at least 20 000 years. The term San is commonly used to refer to a diverse group of hunter-gatherers living in Southern Africa who share historical and linguistic connections. The San were also referred to as Bushmen, but this term has since been abandoned as it is considered derogatory.
There are many different San groups - they have no collective name for themselves, and the terms 'Bushman', 'San', 'Basarwa' (in Botswana) are used. The term, 'bushman', came from the Dutch term, 'bossiesman', which meant 'bandit' or 'outlaw'.
This term was given to the San during their long battle against the colonists. The San interpreted this as a proud and respected reference to their brave fight for freedom from domination and colonization. Many now accept the terms Bushmen or San".
- South Africa: Dutch colonialism, the destruction of the Khoekhoe and the rise of Chiefdoms (1652-1795)
Not on Geni
"The Tsonga are a diverse people, generally including the Shangaan, Thonga, Tonga, and several smaller ethnic groups. Together they numbered about 1.5 million people in South Africa in the mid-1990s, with some 4.5 million individuals in southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The first Tsonga-speakers to enter the former Transvaal probably did so during the 18th Century. They were essentially traders who followed rivers inland, where they bartered cloth and beads for ivory, copper and salt.
See also Sotho Kruger 2 Canyons Tribal History
Estimated at 7 million, these Sotho speakers are the second largest African language group in South Africa. Three million Sotho and other closely related groups live outside of South Africa, the majority of who are in Lesotho.
The Sotho can be subdivided into three groups. The first group is the Northern Sotho also called Pedi and Bapedi.
The Pedi society arose out of a confederation of small chiefdoms that had been established sometime before the 17th century in what later became the Northern Transvaal (Northern Province). Defeated early in the 19th century by the armies of Mzilikazi, they revived under the leadership of Sekwati. Thereafter, they repeatedly clashed with the Voortrekkers during the later half of the 19th century.
The Sotho people migrated southward from the Great Lakes in Central Africa about 5 centuries ago in successive waves and the last group, namely, the Hurutse, settled in the Western Transvaal towards the beginning of the 16th century".
"As with most of the other peoples of South Africa the Venda (VhaVenda) came from the Great Lakes of Central Africa. They first settled down in the Soutpansberg Mountains. Here they built their first capital, D’zata, the ruins of which can still be seen today.
Venda culture has an interesting mix of other cultures - it appears to have incorporated a variety of East African, Central African, Nguni, and Sotho characteristics. For example, the Venda forbid the consumption of pork, a prohibition that is common along the East African coast. They also practice male circumcision, which is common among many Sotho, but not among most Nguni peoples.
From 800AD, the Mapungubwe Kingdom emerged, stretching from the Soutpansberg in the south, across the Limpopo River to the Matopos in the north. The Mapungubwe Kingdom declined from 1240, and the centre of power and trade moved north to the Great Zimbabwe Kingdom".