South Africa – Timeline
This timeline incorporates, amongst others, the timelines of general South African history from the website South African History Online.
SA History Online and Hazel Crampton’s ‘The Sunburnt Queen’. (Johannesburg: Jacana. 2004) were especially helpful in recording events of the Nguni peoples.
Brendan Swemmer has incorporated entries from, amongst others, the timeline in his project South Africa - History of Families of Witsand (White Sands) and Port Beaufort, Wikipedia's list of Years in South Africa and has permission to incorporate the timeline from whitlock.castlewebs.net (the accuracy of which cannot be vouched for).
The object of the project
... is to map the events that took place in South Africa which had a significant effect on its history and people. It is not the place to include the life events of individuals, (individual profiles have inbuilt timelines), unless those events significantly affected the history of South Africa or were of genealogical importance.
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You need to first be a collaborator so please join the project using the request link under "actions" at the top right of the page. Visit Geni Wikitext, Unicode and images which gives a great deal of assistance. See the discussion Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going!
If a person mentioned has a profile on Geni please add their profile to the project and add the link in bold. How to add a link is explained in the attached document - Adding links to Geni profiles in projects.
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Other SA Timelines on the internet:
Alistair Moncur Knox writes:
"SA's undocumented history starts millions (of years) BC with hominins that were here before our species: Homo sapiens sapiens. Taung, Swartkrans & other sites in the north include Australopithecines, while down in the Saldanha Bay area of Western Cape, fossilised remains of Homo erectus (the name has changed since) have been found. Many scientists believe SA could be the cradle of our species. Recent DNA studies have found up to 4% Homo sapiens neanderthalis (Neanderthal) DNA in 'European' & Asian populations & interestingly, 5% DNA from a Homo erectus girl found in Denisova Cave, Siberia came up in Australian aborigines.
The San are SA's most ancient people according to DNA analysis & Nelson Mandela carries a fair bit of this DNA along with DNA from Bantu-speaking West Africa (Quest magazine 2011). Stone tools from the earliest Stone Age periods lie around in abundance - a hand axe from circa 500 000 BC was found in the Cape Point Nature Reserve by a ranger who had studied archaeology and Cape shorelines are littered with shell middens, bits of pottery & tools - Miller's Point (penguin colony) & Sandy Bay in Cape Town being 2 well-known sites."
Since Raymond Dart discovered the skull of the 2.5 million year old Taung Child in 1924, the first example of Australopithecus africanus ever found, South Africa has been considered one of the most important centres of early hominid evolution, together with Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Many more species of early hominids have come to light in recent decades. The oldest of these is Little Foot, a collection of foot bones of an unknown hominid, which are believed to be between 2.2 and 3.3 million years old. They were discovered at Sterkfontein by Ronald J. Clarke in 1994. In 2008 the 1.9 million-year-old Australopithecus sediba was discovered by paleoanthropologist Lee R. Berger's nine-year-old son Matthew. Sediba is provisionally believed to represent a transitional species between Australopithecines and early hominids.
Human footprints that dated back to this time were discovered along Langebaan Lagoon some 60 miles north of Cape Town, South Africa, were found in 1995 by geologist David Roberts. The 117,000 year-old prints were cut out and moved to the South African Museum in 1998. (SFC, 8/15/97, p.A1,17)(SFC, 2/27/98, p.D3)(SFC, 6/24/98, p.A12)
South Africa was also occupied by early Homo sapiens as shown by the discoveries at the Klasies River Caves, where fossils and tools from the middle Stone Age, dating back between 125,000 and 75,000 years, were uncovered. In 2002 stones were discovered in Blombos cave, engraved with grid or cross-hatch patterns, dated to some 70,000 years ago. This has been interpreted as the earliest example of abstract art or symbolic art ever discovered.
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 is believed to be 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".
For more detailed pre-1460 information please refer to the timeline at South African History Online.
- The Portuguese recognised the Breede River mouth as the finest natural anchorage on the whole southern seaboard of Africa.
- Portuguese navigator Bartholomeu Dias was the first European to travel round the southern tip of Africa. He had unknowingly rounded the African continent in a storm and made landfall at Angra dos Vaqueiros - Bay of Cowherds - with reference to Khoekhoe herders seen on shore and what is now known as Mossel Bay. He leaves a black woman slave alone on the beach near today's city of Port Elizabeth to gather information about the country. On his return voyage he discovered what he called the Cape of Storms (Cabo Tormentoso), later renamed the Cape of Good Hope (Caboda de Bõa Esperança) by João. His voyage established a sea route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and Asia, a major breakthrough in the search for discovering a sea route to India..
Read more at Bartholomeu Dias Biography (Navigator/Explorer)
- The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (1460/69-1524), was mandated to expand on Dias' discoveries. He departed from Targus on 8 July 1497, heading an expedition consisting of two ships, São Rafael and São Gabriel . They sailed along the southern African coast on their way to India and put foot on South African soil for the first time on 8 November at present-day St. Helena Bay on the west coast and encountered the first Khoi-Khoi. Da Gama gave the following description of them in his diary: 'The inhabitants of this country are tawny-coloured. Their food is confined to the flesh of seals, whales and gazelles, and the roots of herbs. They are dressed in skins, and wear sheaths over their virile members. They are armed with poles of olive wood to which a horn, browned in the fire, is attached...' Later he landed at Mossel Bay and renamed it 'St Bra's Bay' and then, further east, he and his crew sighted the Natal coast on Christmas Day and named it "Terra do Natal", which is Portuguese for "Land of Birth" (Christmas). His men catch a shark there, and upon opening its stomach are amazed to discover 'a pewter plate, a gimlet, and a shoe.'
The Portuguese began mapping and exploring the South African coastline and basic trading took place between the Khoikhoi and the Europeans. Nguni and Sotho speaking groups began colonizing South Africa (subjecting and incorporating neighbouring groups and dispossessing their land), with eventually only the western and northern areas of the Cape not dominated by them.
- Bartholomeu Dias drowns off the Cape of Good Hope.
- First reported African slaves in The New World.
- Antonio de Saldanha, leading a Portuguese squadron, entered Table Bay (called Aguada da Saldanha until 1601) owing to a navigational error. They were the first Europeans to climb Table Mountain and named it Taboa do Cabo (the Table Cape) on account of its shape.
- Antonio de Saldanha, leading a Portuguese squadron, entered Table Bay (called Aguada da Saldanha until 1601) owing to a navigational error. They were the first Europeans to climb Table Mountain and named it Taboa do Cabo (the Table Cape) on account of its shape.
- 1st recorded Portuguese shipwreck - the 'Soares Wreck' - near Mossel Bay.
- Khoikhoi defeat Almeida's Portuguese at the Cape
- Wreck of the 'Sao Joao' at Port Edward
- Wreck of the 'Sao Jeronymo', possibly at Richard's Bay
- 24 April - The Portuguese ship São Bento was wrecked north of the Great Fish River. (Probably at mouth of Msikaba River) On its return from the East, Manuel De Mesquita Perestrello, Portuguese navigator and cartographer, was one of 64 survivors of the crew of 473 who reached Delagoa Bay on foot, and one of 23 ultimately rescued.
- An account of the shipwreck of the São Bento by mariner Manuel de Mesquita Perestrelo was published in Portugal, the oldest book dealing exclusively with events on South African soil.
- King Sebastian's navigator, Manuel de Mesquita Perestrelo, was commissioned to chart the South African coastline from the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Correntes. He gave the first detailed description and drew a map of the coast. He named St. Sebastian's Bay after Dom Sebastiao, "the most serene King of Portugal" and the west bank he named Cape Infanta.
- 18 June - Vice Admiral Sir Francis Drake rounded the Cape of Good Hope on his voyage around the world in his quest to reach India for the English Crown. He described the Cape in the following words: 'This Cape is a most stately thing, and the fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth'.
- The English and Dutch began to call regularly at Table Bay on their way to and from Asia. The Khoikhoi traded mainly iron, copper and marijuana with the foreigners.
- 1 August - The English navigator, James Lancaster, bartered sheep in the Bay of Saldanha (called Table Bay after 1601) from the Khoi-Khoi. He described the sheep as very large, with good mutton, bearing no wool but hair, and with very large tails.
- Wreck of the 'Santo Alberto', probably at Mtata River Mouth
- 4 August - Four ships under Cornelis de Houtman reached São Bras, marking the first contact of the Dutch with the coast of Southern Africa.
European's settled in South Africa for the first time and began to further colonize and trade with the Khoikhoi at the cape. By the middle of the century the first Khoikhoi-Dutch war was fought and slavery was entrenched. Throughout the rest of the country Nguni and Sotho groups began splitting, as a result of strengthening chiefdoms, into the groups that we know today (Zulu, Ndebele, Tswana, Xhosa etc).
- Joris van Spilbergen, leading a Dutch fleet, cast anchor in the Bay of Saldanha (Aguada da Saldanha) and named it Table Bay after Table Mountain while the original name was transferred to the present Saldanha Bay.
- English East India Company established
- 1 November - James Lancaster, in command of the first East India Company fleet of England, rounded the Cape again on his way to the East.
- 20 March - The Vereenigde Landsche Ge-Oktroyeerde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC), also known as the Dutch East India Company, received a charter from the States General, the highest authority in the Republic of the United Netherlands, which entailed a trading monopoly and the right to acquire and govern Dutch possessions in the Orient for a period of 21 years. Extended in 1623 and 1647.
- The French East India Company is established
- The Portuguese ship, Santo Esperitu, is believed to have been shipwrecked off the eastern coast of South Africa near Haga-Haga.
- Xhore is kidnapped at the Cape and taken to England
- Sir Thomas Roe attempted to land some deported British criminals at the Cape but those who were not drowned or killed by the Khoikhoi were soon removed from the Cape and the scheme was abandoned in 1616
- Danish East India Company is established
- 1st recorded Danish shipwreck on coast of Africa - the 'Jaeger' in Table Bay
- June - Captains Andrew Shillinge and Humphrey Fitzherbert formally annexed the shores of Table Bay in the name of King James 1, but the English King refused to confirm the annexation.
- The Portuguese ship, Sao João Baptista, was lost off the eastern coast of South Africa, near modern Port Elizabeth.
- Xhore is hanged at the Cape by the Dutch
- Wreck at the 'Sao Goncalo' at Plettenburg Bay
- The English took Autshumao (also Autshumato), chief of the Goringhaikonas Khoi-Khoi, to Batavia. He was known to the English as ‘Harry’ and later to the Dutch as ‘Herry’. He was later returned to the Cape to act as the resident agent or Postmaster for passing ships and as a translator.
- Autshumao (Herry) asked passing sailors to ferry him and twenty of his followers to Robben Island. The group remained there on and off for the next eight years, protected from their mainland Khoikhoi enemies and within easy reach of the island's edible resources which included penguins and seals.
- The Portuguese ship, Santa Maria Madre de Deus was wrecked off the South African east coast.
- 25 March - The Dutch ship Nieuwe Haarlem was wrecked at the Cape. One of the survivors, Leendert Janszen, was instructed to remain behind with some crew to look after the cargo. After a year a Dutch ship fetched Janszen, his crew and the cargo. Upon his return to Holland, Janszen and one of his companions Matthijs Proot, were required to write a feasibility report on the establishment of a refreshment station at the Cape.
- 26 July - The ‘Remonstrantie’ by Leendert Janszen and Matthijs Proot in support of the Dutch establishing a refreshment station at the Cape.
- Jan van Riebeeck, who was subsequently appointed by the VOC to establish the trading and refreshment station, supported him.
- The Dutch East India Company established a refreshment station at Table Bay.
- 6 April - Jan van Riebeeck arrived onboard the Drommedaris with the first white settlers.
- 7 April - Van Riebeeck personally went ashore to look for the best place to erect a fort and established a refreshment station at the Cape between the foot of Table Mountain and the shores of Table Bay. The purpose was to provide fresh water, fruit, vegetables and meat for passing ships enroute to India as well as build a hospital for ill sailors. He used Autsumao (Herry), chief of the Goringhaikonas, as interpreter in cattle bartering transactions with the Khoikhoi. Van Riebeeck immediately requested the VOC to supply him with slaves imported from Asia to do the farming, perform other tasks related to the needs of the crews of passing ships and to build a fortification as the VOC had issued clear instructions that the indigenous population was not to be enslaved. The VOC did not send slaves for at least five years. The only slaves that Van Riebeeck received were either stowaways or those that captains on passing ships give him (see later entries).
- 6 June - Bernert Willemsz Wijlant, the first European baby, was born at the Cape.
- Shortly after Van Riebeeck's arrival the first horses were imported from Java.
- The Cape Colony was governed by the Dutch East India Company(VOC) until 1795.
- 2 March – the first Slave, Abraham, a stowaway from Batavia, was given to van Riebeeck only to be sent back to Batavia 3 years later.
- 19 October - Autsumao (Herry), chief of the Goringhaikonas and Van Riebeeck's interpreter, murdered the cattle herder David Jansz and took off with almost the whole of the settlers' herd of cattle. He was pursued but not captured.
- The first Cape based slave expedition was sent to Madagascar and Mocambique but the ship was wrecked along the coast of Madagascar. The Roode Vos sailed to Mauritius and Anongil Bay, Madagascar in search of slaves but brought back none.
- Asian convicts brought to the Cape as slaves.
- 6 April - On the second anniversary of his arrival at the Cape, Van Riebeeck announced that in future this day will be observed as a prayer and Thanksgiving Day to God.
- Batavian convicts and political opponents were banished to the Cape bringing Islam, their faith, to South Africa.
- Dutch ensigned Jan Wintervogel was sent by Van Riebeeck to explore the interior. He was to scout for trading opportunities with the indigenous communities there as well as to identify arable land. He reached Saldanha Bay on the southwest coast overland.
- Having fled the Cape after the murder of cattle-herd David Jansz in 1653, Autsumao (Herry) returned to the Cape. Van Riebeeck allowed him to settle there once more. He was not punished for his former misdemeanour.
- Willem Muller, a corporal, accompanied by the interpreter, Autsumao (Herry), was sent by Van Riebeeck to explore the Hottentots Holland region and to barter livestock. On this occasion Autsumao took the barter goods (copper) and traded on his own account. He returned with thirteen cattle for the Company and a fair number of cattle and sheep for himself.
- Maize seeds were introduced to the Cape from the Netherlands.
- Van Riebeeck has the first vine planted in the Company's garden.
- 3 slaves arrived from Madagascar.
- 1st slave escapes from the Cape
- Catharina Anthonis, a slave born in Bengal, was the first slave to be freed, because Jan Woutersz, a Dutch settler, wanted to marry her.
- 21 February - Nine Dutch East India Company servants, the first 'free burghers', were released by the VOC on van Riebeeck’s recommendation to farm and keep livestock. They settled in the Liesbeeck Valley (Rondebosch)
- Slaves were imported from Madagascar and Java.
- First Free Burghers settle on Khoekhoe land.
- Abraham Gabbema was sent to scout the interior and explored as far as the Berg River and Paarl regions.
- Doman, the leader of the Goringhaiqua Khoikhoi, was sent to Batavia to be trained as an interpreter.
- 28 March - The Amersfoort ship stole 250 slaves from a Portuguese slave trader trafficking slaves from Angola to Brazil. The ship arrived with 170 slaves. 80 died during the trip. Most were sent to Batavia. Thirty eight men and thirty seven women remained at the Cape.
- van Riebeeck obeyed the order of the VOC not to enslave the indigenous people of the Cape.
- 6 May - Another ship, the Hasselt, arrived in Table Bay from Popo, Gulf of Guinea (Dahomey).with 228 slaves out of an initial 271, 43 having died at sea. Most of them were re-shipped to Batavia.
- 2 February - The first wine was pressed from Cape grapes.
- 1 May - Jan van Riebeeck established the Burgher Militia.
19 May - Armed Khoikhoi resisted protested against white, Dutch, encroachment and seizure of land which led to the first anti-colonial Khoikhoi-Dutch War.
- Expansion of the Cape settlement.
- Almond hedge planted to protect the settlement from the Hottentots (Khoikhoi).
- First horses arrived at the Cape from Batavia, circa 1660s.
- Rumours noted at the Cape concerning "Briqua" - later known to be Tswana.
- 6 May - Zaccharias Wagenaer succeeded van Riebeeck as Commander of the refreshment station which had, under van Riebeeck's command, become a colony. Van Reibeeck and his family left on 7th May for Malacca.
- Outposts were set up at Saldanha Bay and Hottentots Holland.
- The first Dutch Reformed Church congregation was founded at the Cape and the first minister appointed, Rev. J. van Arkel.
- Building of the Castle (or Fort) was started in Cape Town.
- Settlements were made in Saldanha Bay and Vishoek (Fish Hoek).
- The first Calvinist church was built in Cape Town.
- Indians arrived at the Cape.
- According to oral history the Zulu royal line was founded. The word Zulu means Sky and Zulu was the name of the ancestor who founded the Zulu royal line.
- Second Dutch-Khoekhoe war.
- Settlement of Hottentots-Holland.
- 12 October - Simon van der Stel was appointed Commander of the Cape of Good Hope Colony. He was specifically mandated by the VOC to vigorously continue with the Company policy of Dutch colonial expansionism.
- Stellenbosch was founded.
- Castle in Cape Town was completed.
- First farmers settled along the Eerste River.
- Governor-General Rijckloff van Goens instructed Commander Simon van der Stel to oppose all miscegenation (mixture of races) at the Cape.
- The visiting VOC Commissioner, Hendrik van Rheede (Reede), decreed that male and female slaves could buy their freedom for 100 guilders provided they were confirmed in the Dutch Reformed Church and could speak Dutch. Males from the age of 25 and females from 22 . They were to be trained in designated areas of work including agriculture. But the decree was not enacted. However, a slave school was established in the Company Slave Lodge for the children of Company slaves only.
- Simon van der Stel visited Namaqualand.
- Marriages between Dutch men and female slaves were prohibited except in the case of female slaves with Dutch fathers.
- Wreck of the 'Good Hope', probably at Mzimvubu River mouth
- Dutch Reformed Church congregation was founded in Stellenbosch.
- Wreck of the 'Stavenisse', probably near Mngazi or Mngazana River mouth
- Wreck of the 'Bonaventura', on Pondoland coast
- Settlements were made along the Berg River (Drakenstein, Paarl).
- The French Huguenots arrived and settled mainly at Franschoek.
- A Cape Dutch expedition meets amaXhosa near Algoa Bay and kills several
- Captain Rogers makes several visits to the Mzimvubu to trade for ivory
- The Trekboer class emerged.
- Commander Simon van del Stel was elevated to the rank of Governor of the Cape Colony.
- Dutch Reformed Church congregations were founded in Drakenstein and Paarl.
- The settlement of Wagenmaker's Vallei (Wellington) was established.
- Governor Simon van der Stel retired. His son Wilhelmus Adrianus van der Stel, who governed until 1707, succeeded him.
- Captain Stadis of the 'Fidele' leaves 3 Englishmen at the Mzimvubu River to trade for ivory.
- The VOC conducted slave trading in Mozambique, Zanzibar and Madagascar.
- The first "placaat" (ordinance or statute) restricting the importation of Asian slaves was promulgated.
- Settlement took place in Land van Waveren (Tulbagh).
- Cattle raids by the Khoisan commenced against the Dutch.
- A Cape Dutch expedition meets amaXhosa near the Great Fish River and kills several.
- King Tshiwo of the amaXhosa dies and his son Phalo is born
- March - An outbreak of smallpox, introduced by crew and passengers of a passing ship (introduced from India), resulted in the death of 25% of the White population and virtual decimation of the south-western Cape Khoi-Khoi who had no resistance to the disease. The decimation of the Khoi-Khoi resulted in an acute labour shortage. Whole tracts of land become ‘ownerless’. Colonial cattle farmers appropriated this land. Further outbreaks of smallpox occurred in 1755 and, most seriously in 1767, which registered three separate outbreaks.
- Wreck of the 'Bennebroek' near Mtana River mouth
- The 'Clapham Galley' visits the Wild Coast to trade in ivory
- The first trekboers migrated.
- The system of freehold title to land ended, by which time about 400 farms were granted.
- Western Cape Khoekhoe were reduced to labouring class.
- Groot Constantia was built.
- The VOC imported slaves from Mozambique and Zanzibar.
- The first Boers reached the George area and trekked inland into Langkloof.
- The annual rental of a 'leningplaats' was doubled to 24 rixdollars. The Quitrent system of land tenure was introduced.
- The Great Brak River was proclaimed the eastern boundary of the Cape.
- Hubner traders are killed at Phalo's Great Place
- Short-lived Moravian mission to the Khoekhoe.
- April - Hendrik Swellengrebel became Governor of the Cape.
- The first Trekboer loaned farms was recorded in Roggeveld.
- Dutch Reformed Church congregations were founded in Roodezand and Tulbagh.
1743 - 1745:
- Governor-General Baron van Imhoff inspected the Cape Colony. He changed the land tenure system to discourage migrant pastoralism among the Dutch border farmers as the introduction of the quitrent system proved ineffective. In addition he ordered the establishment of Dutch Reformed churches in areas that were to become known as Malmesbury and Tulbagh.
- Dutch Reformed Church congregations were founded in Swartland (Malmesbury).
- Swellendam was founded by Baron Van Imhoff.
- Ryk Tulbagh was appointed Governor of the Cape. During his reign from 1751 to 1771 he established the Colony's first library and a plant and animal collection in the gardens of the Company.
- Beutler's expedition to Xhosa territory
- A census of the Cape revealed that its non-indigenous population comprised 510 colonists/settlers and 6 279 slaves.
- First recorded |Xam San resistance to Roggeveld Trekboers.
- Second great smallpox epidemic at the Cape.
- The foundation stone of Old Town House in Cape Town was laid.
- Wreck of the 'Doddington' on Bird Island, near Port Elizabeth
- Jansz; Coetse with Klaas Barends and others crossed the Gariep River.
- Rharhabe moves west of the Kei
- Hendrik Hop traveled to the Gariep River.
- The Meermin sailed from the Cape to purchase slaves in Madagascar. The journey nearly failed due to a mutiny by the slaves on it's return. After a battle on the ship between captured sailors and slaves near Cape Agulhas only 122 out of 140 slaves reached the Cape.
- Third great smallpox epidemic at the Cape.
- Mothibi, son of Molehabangwe of Tlhaping, was born at Nokaneng.
- There was intense Khoisan resistance to the Trekboer occupation.
- Clashes between Trekboers and Xhosa began as trekkers crossed the Gamtoos River in the east.
- General Commando was mounted against the San: 503 killed, 241 captured.
- Death of Phalo King of the Xhosa
- The colonial boundary was extended to the Buffels, Zak and Fish Rivers. Van Plettenberg fixed the boundary of the colony at the Great Fish River.
- Death of Gcaleka King of the Xhosa
- Hendrik Jacob Wikar and Robert Jacob Gordon met the Khoekhoe; Geisiqua and Tswana groups along the lower and middle Gariep which Gordon named the Orange River in honour of the Netherlands Stadtholder.
1779 - 1879:
- The First Frontier War between British and Boer settlers and the Xhosas, known as the Xhosa Wars, in the South African Republic
1780 - 1783:
- The war between the Netherlands and England hastened the end of the commercial and political influence of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) which had started to decline in the early second half of the eighteenth century.
- In an attempt to avert a British threat to Dutch control at the Cape the French, who were allies of the Dutch, station troops were sent to the Cape. They remained there for three years.
- The first paper rix dollars were issued.
- Wreck of the 'Grosvenor' at Lambasi Bay
- Le Vaillant and Van Reenen traveled in Namaqualand and north of the Orange River.
- Graaff-Reinet was founded.
- The first overseas mail service in South Africa was inaugurated.
- Merino (wool-producing) sheep were brought from Holland.
1789 - 1793:
- Second Frontier War between the Xhosa and whites.
- San Sebastian Bay was surveyed by the French seaman, Captain Duminy.
- In documented raids on "Bosjesmen" 2000 - 3000 Khoisan were killed.
- Three ordained Moravian missionaries, Hendrik Marsveld, Daniel Schwinn and Christian Kuehnel, arrived at Baviaanskloof (Genadendal) to revive the work begun by Georg Schmidt in 1737. They found an aged woman named Lena who was a member of Schmidt's original congregation. Together the four rebuilt the mission station. The VOC government, although more sympathetic to missionary activity than the government under which Georg Schmidt had served, nevertheless forbade the missionaries from erecting a church and a school. Religious and school instruction was given either in the homes of the missionaries or under trees.
- Tuan Guru founded the Auwal Masjid (mosque) in Dorp Street, Cape Town, the first Muslim place of worship in Southern Africa.
- December - The Portuguese ship ‘Josa’ was wrecked in Camps Bay, Cape, with nearly 500 slaves onboard of whom about 200 drowned during the disaster.
- The British seized and occupied the Cape from 1795-1803.
- The rule of the VOC came to an end. General J. Craig was appointed Commanding Officer.
- The British authority outlawed torture in the Cape Colony.
- 'Hercules' wrecked near Begha River mouth
- May - the Breede River mouth was visited by Lady Anne Barnard nee Lindsay and her husband Andrew Barnard, who was Colonial Secretary under the British Administration, with Jocob van Reenen of Slangrivier. Her letters detailing this event and titled 'South Africa a century ago; letters written from the Cape of Good Hope (1791-1801)' may be found here.
1799 - 1802:
- Third Frontier War.
- The London Missionary Society sent large numbers of missionaries to the Cape Colony, First LMS station - to Xam on the Zak River
- Landrost Anthonie Faure reported to Governor Sir George Yonge that the Breede River was suitable for navigation "up to six hours inland, with excellent safe loading - places for small vessels along either bank'".
- An official newspaper press was established. A Government Gazette was issued which forbade freedom of the press with a heavy fine threatening anyone who attempted to publish.
- In July the Cape Government ordered the publication of a weekly newspaper called the Cape Town Gazette and African Advertiser.
- Baron von Buchenröder visited San Sebastian Bay, crossed the river in a small boat and pronounced it "only three to four feet deep at low tide, and thus only suitable for sloops and long flat vessels, such as one sees on the Main, Nekker and Weser in Germany." He also found an English ship anchored in the Breede River. Refer to the About Me section of his profile for clarification of the exact year.
- Dirk Gysbert van Reenen gave the same advice about the Breede River (as Baron von Buchenröder in 1802) to General Janssens. More can be read about him here.
- Bethelsdorp founded.
1803 - 1806:
- The Cape was retroceded to Dutch rule under Batavian administration. Advocate A. de Mist was elevated to the rank of Commissioner General in order to receive the colony from Britain. He was also instructed to establish a new system of government for the Cape.
- Lieutenant General J Janssens was appointed Governor.
- A mail service between Cape Town and Algoa Bay (present day Port Elizabeth) was inaugurated.
- The British again seized the Cape and occupied it for a second time. After a skirmish between British troops and a Cape burgher militia at Blaauwberg, the Dutch capitulated. All property of the Batavian Government was surrendered to the British. The formal cession of the colony to Britain took place eight years later in 1814.
- Promulgation of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in Britain which banned slave trading including the importation of slaves to the Cape. However, ownership of slaves was still legal.
- Cowan overland expedition leaves Cape for Delagoa Bay.
- The Moravian missionaries were given the farm Groenekloof in the Malmesbury district to undertake missionary work among the freed slaves and Khoikhoi. The farm was later renamed Mamre. This grant marked the beginning of the founding of a number of Moravian missionary settlements amongst the Khoikhoi and later their descendants in the Western Cape, as well as amongst the AmaMfengu in the Eastern Cape.
- amaBomvana move to Hintsa's territory
- Du Pré Alexander, 2nd Earl of Caledon's Hottentot Proclamation aimed to help the Afrikaner farmers by way of controlling the mobility of the labour force. It "decreed that every Hottentot (or Khoikhoi) was to have a fixed 'place of abode' and that if he wished to move he had to obtain a pass from his master or from a local official".
- Circuit courts were introduced in the Cape Colony to which black employees were able to formally lodge complaints against ill treatment by their white employers.
- John Cradock replaced Caledon as Governor of the Cape.
- The British Government at the Cape appointed John Graham as it's Commissioner for the eastern frontier.
- The headquarters of the Cape Regiment was named Graham's Town (subsequently Grahamstown) after Commissioner John Graham's onslaught on the AmaXhosa.
1811 - 1812
- Fourth Frontier War.
- Circuit courts were introduced specifically for upholding claims from former slaves against former masters which led to the "Black circuit" commissions and aroused considerable public outcry when the law was actually enforced in cases of black men against white men.
- The Apprentice Ordinance was promulgated which gave any white farmer the right to apprentice the children of his labourers for a period of ten years from the age of eight.
- Ndlambe expelled from the Zuurveld
1812 - 1813:
- Cape Colony - In an attempt to provide Khoikhoi and Coloured employees with legal protection with regard to labour, ‘Circuit Commissions’ were instituted. Many charges made by the labourers against their employers could not be substantiated. However, the Commissions uncovered the violence endemic to the system of master-servant relationship.
- In the public ‘Black Circuit’ court hearings and sittings, numerous white employees were convicted of ill treatment of their employees. Missionaries such as James Read played a significant role in making the ill treatment of labourers by their employees public, leading to the conviction and punishment of the worst perpetrators. The circuit courts and the support they enjoyed from missionaries led to tensions between the white settlers and their servants and labourers on the one hand and white settlers and some missionaries on the other.
- Governor Sir John Cradock passed plans for the introduction of white English medium schools throughout the Cape Colony.
- The Cape Town Free School for needy white children was founded.
- Malagas got its name from the farm belonging to Adriaan Odendaal, "Malagas Craal gelegen aan de Breede Rivier".
- With the official cession of the Cape from the Batavian Government to Britain, Charles, Lord Somerset was made Governor of the Cape.
- British sovereignty was recognised at the Congress of Vienna.
- Slagter's Nek Rebellion - an uprising by Boers on the eastern border of the Cape Colony. The rebellion, which was small and local, was handled so badly that it acquired importance as an incident in the struggle of Afrikanerdom against British domination.
- Shaka became chief of the Zulus. His Zulu Kingdom became the largest in Southern Africa.
- It was found that the bar was navigable by vessels displacing not more than six feet of water. Lord Charles Somerset named the east bank of Breede River after the title of his father, the Duke of Beaufort.
- Captain Benjamin Moodie and his partner, Hamilton Ross, were to bring out 10 000 Scots to South Africa. After the first 50, Ross pulled out. Moodie brought in 200 men, many of them artisans. The Scots were to pay Moodie the &20 (pounds) back before or after the trip. If they couldn't, then they must work for Moodie for 18 months.
- December - Joseph Barry arrived at the Cape on the 'Duke of Malborough', returning soon to London. Joseph Barry was commissioned by the London Wine House, Barry & Wilkinson, to act as their agent for the export of wines from the Cape. Soon after arriving in Cape Town he was granted permission to remain. More about Joseph Barry
- Joseph Barry bought the cutter, Duke of Gloucester, and arrived at Port Beaufort with food for the starving populace. This signified the fact that the Overberg had achieved its own gateway to the markets of the world. 500-600 wagons were assembled on the heights above the river mouth awaiting the cutter. Joseph Barry was persuaded to open a small trading store at Port Beaufort. Due to bad health he returned to the Cape Colony.
- Mdushane attacks Grahamstown.
- A neutral Zone was created east of the Fish River
- Captain Benjamin Moodie established the Port Beaufort Trading Company. Credit must go to him for first enticing the vessels to cross the bar regularly for mercantile purposes. He built a warehouse at Port Beaufort. Some of the Cape's merchant vessels brought in manufactured goods. The vessels were loaded with wheat, wine, brandy and fruit. It was this year that the coastal trade established Port Beaufort. Moodie noted the advantages given to the 1820 Settlers so he claimed them for himself for his earlier efforts. He was given the farm "Westfield" just east of the Breede River mouth.
- Approximately 5 000 British settlers from economically depressed regions of Britain arrived in Algoa Bay in the eastern Cape to increase the size of the white settler population. Upon arrival it was revealed to them that they were also required to act as a civilian defence force against the indigenous people on whose land they are settled. They were allocated land in the Zuurveld, next to the Fish River. As a result 2 distinct language groups and 2 distinct cultures amongst White South Africans were created.
- 1820 Settlers Project
- Port Elizabeth was founded.
- Makana drowns off Robben Island
- Joseph Barry opened a store in Port Beaufort. His nephew, Thomas, entered the coastal trade.
- The Cape government introduced a series of so-called ‘meliorative’ laws which attempted to improve the relationship between slave owner and slave by determining the nature of punishment that slave owners would be allowed to mete out, regulating working hours and the provision of food and clothes for slaves. The legislation outlawed public flogging, particularly of female slaves.
- Shaka attacks the amaPondo
- amaTshomane leave Mngazana, flee south.
- Cape traders settled at Port Natal, later renamed Durban.
- Joseph Barry moved to Swellendam, "a small and considerable place" with only one shop.
- The Rix-dollar was replaced by sterling
- Lord Somerset departed from the Cape
- The Cape colonial government approved the election of Adam Kok II. Due to internal strife Adam Kok II resigned some months later. He was succeeded by Cornelius Kok II
- Cape Colony - Legislation was passed to reform the justice system. Jury in the Cape Colony instituted the Cape Charter of Justice which introduced trial.
- The Cape Parliament passed Ordinance 19 which provided for the appointment of a Guardian of Slaves to ensure that slave owners adhered to the extent of punishment that they were allowed to mete out to their slaves. Slaves could lodge complaints of violations of the "ameliorative" legislation to the Guardian of Slaves or his assistants who were required to investigate the accusations and take action against the perpetrators. Ordinance 19 also provided for slaves to have their freedom bought for them by family members.
- Slave owners rose up in protest against Ordinance 19.
- Gambushe, chief of the Bomvana, dies.
- English becomes the official language of the Cape Colony.
- Cape Colony - Promulgation of Ordinance 50, which aimed at ensuring equality before the law of "every free inhabitant in the Colony", was introduced. Effectively this Ordinance curtailed the power that an employer had over his employee. It also exempted Coloureds from carrying passes. Furthermore the Ordinance revised the Apprenticeship Ordinance of 1812 by requiring that children could only be apprenticed with the consent of their parents. * Magistrates no longer had the power to administer corporal punishment.
- Freedom of the press was recognised by the Cape government.
- Ndlambe dies
- Shaka attacks the amaMpondo again.
- Shaka assassinated. Dingaan assumes power.
- AmaTshomane attacked by Matiwane
- Matiwane defeated at Mbholompo
- 1 January - William Dunn arrived in San Sebastian's Bay as an official to keep a watching brief for the authorities at Port Beaufort. His salary was &150 (pounds) per year.
- The South African College was founded in Cape Town in order to advance higher education in the colonialist society as higher education was lagging behind elementary education.
- Morley Mission established among amaTshomane - then destroyed by Nqeto.
- Death of Ngqika
- Death of Mdushane
- Faku defeats amaQwabe
- The Barrys owned a substantial warehouse in Port Beaufort.
- 31 January - The portion, Port Beaufort no.484 Swellendam 1419 morgan, given in freehold title by Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole for the management of a "mercantile warehouse" to the trustees Messrs Ewan Christian, Joseph Barry and Francis Collison.
- 10 October - The farm, "Westfield" no.478 Swellendam 5257 morgan, Government ground, was granted to Captain Benjamin Moodie by Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole as a reward for his efforts in bringing 200 Scots into the country.
- Soon after 1830 Thomas Barry settled permanently in Port Beaufort.
- Moshesh established himself in Basutoland
- The British Parliament passed an emancipation decree, the Abolition Act, which abolished the system of slavery but which wrote a kind of indentured labour system called ‘apprenticeship’, into the legislation. This was to ensure that the slave based economies of the British Empire did not collapse as a result of the end of slavery.
- The ship Charles Kerr arrived at Cape Town on 11 May 1833 with 20 boys aboard - the first group of children sent to the Cape as "apprentices" to "masters" by The Children's Friend Society. 42 ships arrived at the Cape between May 1833 and May 1841. A total of 843 children (694 boys and 149 girls) were sent to South Africa as part of a scheme "to reclaim and provide for vagrant children found in the streets without any means of subsistence except by begging or thieving...".
- Official date of the emancipation of slaves. 4 year 'apprenticeship' period begins.
- The migration out of the Cape Colony by groups of armed Boer farmers in what was to go down in South African history as The Great Trek began.
- Dec Sixth Frontier War begins
- King Hintsa is killed
- Queen Victoria becomes ruler of the British Empire
- Michiel van Breda of Oranjezigt took the chair at the first meeting of the trustees in the Commercial Exchange. There were 600 paid-up shareholders. Many city people invested in this venture. They received an erf for every &2 (pounds) share they bought.
- The Voortrekker leader and spokesperson, Piet Retief, set out in a ‘Manifesto’ the reasons for the Great Trek. One of the main reasons was the perceived lack of sympathy of the colonial government to the political and economic demands of the Boers which was expressed in the passing of legislation that aimed at placing Black and White on equal footing before the law.
- Dissension amongst the Voortrekkers caused them to split. Piet Retief and his followers trekked eastwards to Port Natal which later was known as Durban. Other groups moved northwards.
- Piet Retief visited Dingane, Chief of the AmaZulu, to negotiate an apparent claim to the land between the Tugela and Mzimvubu Rivers in exchange for cattle and rifles. The cattle were delivered but not the rifles. Dingane ordered the execution of Piet Retief and his negotiating party.
- The Voortrekker Republic of Natalia was established.
- The Voortrekkers, who by now had settled on the land seized from the various African chiefdoms in battles, attempted to organise themselves as a state. They drew up the framework of a Constitution which entrenched the superiority of White over Black and a racial master-servant social order.
- The main institution of the new state was a Volksraad (people's council or assembly), a body of twenty-four elected men. The Volksraad combined legislative, judiciary and executive powers. The British colonial government did not recognise the Republic of Natalia and henceforth occupied Port Natal thereby denying the newly founded republic access to the harbour that was the potential gateway to the eastern trade routes.
- Andries Hendrick Potgieter founded Potchefstroom as the capital of the new Transvaal Republic. North of the Orange River, Louis Trichardt, a Voortrekker leader, moved with his following to Delagoa Bay, where he died.
- Britain occupied Port Natal. It was later named Durban.
- Cape Colony - The ‘apprenticeship’ of slaves, formally emancipated in 1834, ended. This marked the factual end of slavery in the Cape as the ‘apprentices’ were officially no longer slaves.
- Ninety shares are issued. The Swellendam surveyor W.M. Hopley laid out the ninety plots. These were drawn for by the ballot, except for Joseph Barry and Captain Moodie, who were entitled to the "extensive erven" upon which their extensive warehouses were built.
- William Dunn crossed the Breede River and settled on the Potteberg farm Rietfontein with the adjacent farm Brakkefontein which had been transferred to his name in 1837.
- 16 December - Battle of Blood River fought. Victory by Boers against the Zulus
- The town of Pietermaritzburg was founded. It was named after the Voortrekker leaders Gert Maritz and Piet Retief. It became the capital of the newly established Voortrekker Republic of Natalia.
- By this year Barry and Nephews were the undisputed "princes of the port'.
- Port Beaufort was declared a port.
- By this year Benjamin Moodie's venture had for all practical purposes disappeared.
- Passing of the Cape Masters and Servants Ordinance which superceded Ordinance 50 of 1828 by disqualifying racial distinction between servants. White and Coloured servants as well as ex-slaves were placed on equal legal footing in terms of criminal sanctions for breach of contract.
- February - George Leith continued William Dunn's job after a Temporary held this position for about 3 years.
- The first Postmaster at Malagas was Dennyson. Imports to the tune of & 45 000 (pounds) passed through customs who were collecting dues averaging &1000 (pounds) per year.
- Approximately 103 settlers arrive in Port Elizabeth from war-torn Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Seventh Frontier War (The War of the Axe) begins
- Boers cross the Vaal River.
- Orange River Sovereignty was established.
- Battle of Boomplaats.
- Dutch Reformed Church parish was founded in Napier.
- Soutpansberg (later Schoemansdal) was founded
- 23 March Approximately 163 German settlers, known as the Bergthiel Settlers, arrive in Natal
- Eighth Frontier War begins
- Benjamin Moodie died at "Westfield" and was buried on his farm.
- 23 February - The Republic of the Orange Free State came into being after the signing of the Bloemfontein Convention
- Pretoria is founded
1856-7 The Xhosa Cattle-KIlling
- By this time Joseph Barry's business was as far as Robertson, Montagu, Sweetmilk Valley (Rivier Sonder End), Bredasdorp, Heidelberg, Riversdale, Mossel Bay, Zwartberg (Ladismith) and Barrydale. Joseph Barry sent John Barry to the London office to purchase a steam driven vessel. Other Barry vessels were The Barrys, Kadie, Vallisneria and Ceres. The Barrys and Kadie were wrecked at the mouth of the Breede River.
- 26 February - T.J. Herold was the second Postmaster at Malagas.
- By now the House of Barry reigned supreme in the Overberg.
- Barry Church completed by Thomas Barry. The register contains names of the Reitzes, the Moodies, the Dunns and the Barrys.
- 26 September - 156 ton screw steamer "Kadie" arrived at Port Beaufort after sailing for 81 days from Scotland. This vessel was built expressly for Barry and Nephews. On board was her Commander, Captain Fowler and his family and the Rev. John Samuel, headmaster of the Swellendam Grammar School, the 15 year old Francis William Reitz who was on holiday at Rhenoster Fontein from the South African College. The trip up the Breede River to Malagas took 2 hours and 20 minutes. "Kadie" was piloted by one of Williams Dunn's numerous descendants.
- Thomas Barry joined the firm. The village of Port Beaufort now consisted of about 20 buildings. Among these were the hotel and a canteen, the warehouse, customs house, Queen's warehouse, stores, a shop and some houses.
- Indians first arrived in Natal as indentured servants in 1860. Most of them were from South India, where surnames were not in common use.
- Diamonds were discovered. This and the later discovery of gold prompted the end of Boer isolation.
- Faku, King of the amaMpondo dies
- September: Gold was found in the upper reaches of the Blyde River by Alec “wheelbarrow” Patterson, near what was to become the centre of Pilgrim's Rest
1875: Annexation of the Transkei to the Cape
- May 16: The 1st Sekhukhune war, Boer against the Pedi began.
- The Ninth Frontier War begins
- February: The 1st Sekhukhune war ends, Peace restored with the Pedi.
- Death of Sandile king of the amaNgqika
- Jan 11: The Zulu war against British colonial rule in South Africa began.
- Jan 12: British-Zulu War began as British troops under Lieutenant General Frederic Augustus invaded Zululand from the southern African republic of Natal.
- Jan 22: In South Africa battles at Isandlwana Zulu impis or regiments armed with spears and shields killed around 1,300 British troops bearing rifles. Private Samuel Wassall lived through the battle and was awarded the Victoria Cross along with 14 others.
- Jan 22-24: Eighty-two British soldiers with rifles held off attacks by 4,000 Zulu warriors with spears at the Battle of Rorke's Drift in South Africa.
- November 28: The Anglo Pedi war (The 2nd Sekhukhune war) begins. Boer and Brit combine forces and gather at Middelburg in October to attack the Pedi Headquarters at Tjate
- December 2: The Anglo Pedi war came to an end on when King Sekhukhune was captured and taken to prison in Pretoria.
1880: 23 October Paramount Chief of the Mpondomise, Mhlonthlo, lured Hamilton Hope, the third resident magistrate at Tsolo in the Eastern Cape, and his staff to Sulenkama where they were massacred, during a revolt against the British]. Hope was lured to Sulenkama, Chief Mhlonto's capital, by promises that the Mpondomise would assist the British government defeat the Basotho during the Gun War of 1880-1881. In return, the British government would supply the Mpondomise with arms and ammunition. Chief Mhlonto asked Hope to address the assembled warriors before marching to battle. It was at this moment that the six men rushed to Hope and his two men and stabbed and killed them within a few minutes. The only life spared was that of a Davis, whose father and brother were missionaries among the Mpondomise. In retaliation the colonialists wiped out the Mpondomise clan altogether.
First Boer War
- The Berlin Conference signalled the start of the European "scramble for Africa". Attending nations also agreed to ban trade in slaves.
- An Australian prospector discovered gold in the Witwatersrand. Johannesburg's population exploded to about 100,000 by the mid-1890s
- The original edition of Genealogies of Old Cape Families, compiled by G.M. Theal from the work of C.C. de Villiers, was published in 1894 in three volumes
- October 1896 Guglielmo Martinaglia discovered Sterkfontein Cave while prospecting on farm Zwartkrans. Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1999.
- Jameson Raid led by Captain Leander Starr Jameson
1899 - 1902
Second Boer War
- 11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902 The Second Anglo-Boer War
- 13 October 1899 Boers invade Natal.
- 14 October 1899 Sieges of Mafeking and Kimberley started.
- 20 October 1899 Battle of Talana.
- 21 October 1899 Battle of Elandslaagte.
- 30 October 1899 Battle of Lombard’s Kop. Siege of Ladysmith started.
- 23 November 1899 Battle of Belmont.
- 25 November 1899 Battle of Graspan.
- 28 November 1899 Battle of Modder River.
- 10 December 1899 Battle of Stormberg.
- 11 December 1899 Battle of Magersfontein.
- 15 December 1899 Battle of Colenso. Battle of Dundee.
- Amalgamation of Union and Castle Steamship Lines
- Sir Alfred Milner was appointed Governor of the Cape Colony
- 06 January 1900 Boers attack Ladysmith.
- 23-24 January 1900 Battle of Spion Kop.
- 05 February 1900 Battle of Vaal Krantz.
- 15 February 1900 Relief of Kimberley.
- 28 February 1900 Ladysmith relieved.
- 07 March 1900 Battle of Poplar Grove.
- 13 March 1900 Bloemfontein captured.
- 11 June 1900 Battle of Diamond Hill.
- July / August 1900 Burning of farms (scorched earth) policy authorised.
- 200 teachers arrived from England to teach in the British concentration camps, followed by 100 teachers from Canada, New Zealand and Australia
- May 31 Peace of Vereeniging signed, ending Second Anglo-Boer War
- Soweto (an acronym for south west townships) was established as a separate, African-only district.
- May 31 The Union of South Africa was founded as a union within the British Empire.
- Johannesburg’s Alexandra township began when a group of blacks bought the land from a white farmer who failed to find white buyers. It became one of the only neighborhoods to successfully resist apartheid's forced relocations.
- Jan 8 The South African Native National Congress was founded. It was renamed the African National Congress (ANC).
- The Natives' Land Act of 1913 was the first major piece of segregation legislation passed by the Union Parliament, and remained a cornerstone of Apartheid until the 1990s.
1914 - 1918
- 11575 South Africans lost their lives in World War I Of them, more than 3000 served in Imperial units.
- July 18 - Nelson Mandela was born at Mvezo in Mtata, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
- Sept 14 - The first case of the Spanish Flu Pandemic is diagnosed in Durban. Of a total population of just over 6 million at the time, nearly half contracted the disease, while close to 140,000 died within a few weeks.
- July 7 Afrikaans was recognized as one of the official languages of South Africa, along with English and Dutch.
- Vote only granted to white women on the same basis as white men; black women did not qualify for the vote even though some black men did because owned by England.
1939 - 1945
- Of the 334,000 men volunteered for full-time service in the South African Army during World War II (including some 211,000 whites, 77,000 blacks and 46,000 coloureds and Indians), nearly 9,000 were killed in action, and The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has records of 11,023 known South African war dead during World War II.
- May 26 - South Africa elected a nationalist government. The National Party of the Afrikaners came to power .
- Apartheid was introduced. Laws legally and physically separate different racial groups.
- Jun 29 - The government of South Africa enacted a ban against racially mixed marriages. (Perhaps an extension of the ban enacted in 1685)
- The African National Congress, a black civil rights group, began a Campaign for Defiance of Unjust Laws as a protest against apartheid. Nelson Mandela was one of its leaders.
- Jun 26 - South Africa’s Congress of the People gathered in Soweto and adopted a Freedom Charter.
- Nelson Mandela was charged with high treason but the charges were dropped.
- 9 Aug Women's Day March
- In the town of Sharpeville, 67 black people were killed while protesting Apartheid.
- May 31 South Africa became an independent Republic.
- Nelson Mandela was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges and sentenced to five years in prison.
- Nelson Mandela was charged again and sentenced to life in prison. He served 27 years and spent many of those years on Robben Island.
- Genealogies of Old Cape Families, by C.C.de Villiers, revised, augmented and rewritten by C.Pama, A.A.Balkema, Cape Town, Published.
- In South Africa District Six, a multicultural community in Cape Town, was declared an all-white area. Black were allowed to return in 2004.
- Hundreds of black protesters were killed in an uprising in Soweto.
- 12 September Steve Biko tortured to death in police custody
- South African Genealogies, compiled by J.A. Heese, edited by R.T.J. Lombard, GISA, published 1986 - 2008.
- President F.W. de Klerk announced the end of apartheid.
- Nelson Mandela was released from prison on 2 February 1990, signalling the beginning of a transition to democracy.
- 17 March A referendum of the white electorate voted 68% in favour of dismantling apartheid through negotiations.
- 17 June The Boipatong massacre was an attack on Boipatong township residents by armed IFP men from the steelworks residence KwaMadala Hostel. Forty-five people died.
- 7 September The Bisho massacre occurred in the nominally independent homeland of Ciskei. Twenty-eight African National Congress supporters and one soldier were shot dead by the Ciskei Defence Force during a protest march when they attempted to enter Bisho (now renamed to Bhisho) to demand the reincorporation of Ciskei into South Africa during the final years of apartheid.
- FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- The South African population voted in the first universal suffrage general elections.
- Nelson Mandela was elected as President on 9 May 1994 and on 10 May was inaugurated as South Africa's new President in Pretoria and Thabo Mbeki and FW De Klerk as his vice-presidents.
- 1995 Rugby World Cup held in SA & won by SA. Mandela cheered by millions for wearing the Springbok Jersey onto the field of the final match.
- Parliament enacted a new Constitution and Bill of Rights.
- Nelson Mandela stepped down as President of South Africa.
- Dec 5: Nelson Mandela dies
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