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South African History

The 17th and 18th centuries of the history of South Africa brought about an extension of the economic world order from the Cape of Good Hope to the interior where Europeans met with the indigenous peoples, bringing with them an African tradition from the north of this country which was sparsely inhabited. The history of South Africa at the beginning of the 19th century began the start of British colonialism which resulted in the Great Trek of the Dutch settlers to the north of the Orange- or Gariep River. This population migration brought Western civilization to the interior of South Africa. Western, American and more so German music and songs are still characteristic and part of the Afrikaner culture.

Unfortunately African tradition clashed with Western civilization, and on many occasions warfare was the result between European authorities and the various African peoples. English as well as Afrikaans literature gave different viewpoints on the contradictions and ideas were spread to the Western world. Wars took place between the Xhosas and the Cape Colony, boundary wars between the British and Afrikaners against the Basotho, inter-tribal warfare amongst the Zulus, the Tswanas and the Matebele under the leadership of Mzilikazi during the difaqane.

It is not a myth that large areas of the interior of South Africa were emptied by the difaqane allowing Europeans to settle there after the intertribal wars were ended by the Battles of Blood River (1838) and Mosega (1837). The discovery of diamonds and gold during the latter half of the 19th century marked the beginning of the influx of large numbers of foreigners, capital and Western amenities. Urban development in specific islands of prosperity laid the basis for an economic upliftment of all peoples in this part of the world.

Notwithstanding the want for peace, cultural differences amongst the different population groups prohibited the formation of a unitary state in Southern Africa although British rule intended such a country under the British flag. The 20th century was marked by World Wars I and II and, as an aftermath of these wars, in South Africa a struggle between the two language groups, Afrikaans and English, resulted in a Whites-only government in the Union of South Africa since 1910 and the Republic of South Africa since 1961.

Under white Afrikaner majority rule, recognition of the vast cultural differences amongst the population groups gave rise to the idea of separate development, duly discredited world-wide as apartheid, enabling the African National Congress (ANC) to come to power in 1994, uniting South Africa for the first time as a democratic nation. The 20 years which have followed our first democratic elections have seen great improvements in various areas such as social development, economic prosperity and South Africa has once again taken its rightful position on the world stage.

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