Potted History Of South Africa

Although the white population of South Africa is made up mainly of British and Dutch immigrants, it was actually discovered by a Portuguese sailor, Bartholomeas Dias, in 1488. The "discovery" was, of course, news to the Zulu who already lived there.

In 1652, Jan van Riebeeck landed in the Cape from Holland. The British later moved in and squeezed out the Boer settlers who travelled north to the Orange Free State and the Transvaal.
In 1885 the Boers whupped the British at Majuba Hill but the second Boer War saw Brits turn the tables and in a sinister move that was to have repercussions later in the 20th century, introduce concentration camps.

In 1910, everyone kissed and made up, as South Africa became a republic within the British Empire. Everyone was happy except the indigenous black population whose reaction was to set up the African National Congress.

Their lot was made even worse in 1948 by the election of the National Party and the introduction of apartheid. In 1960 the Sharpville Massacre brought the issue of apartheid to the attention of the world and in 1963 Nelson Mandela was sent to Robben Island.

With Mandela released from prison in 1991, the first free elections were held in 1994. Mandela became the first black president as the ANC swept to victory. He has since been succeeded by the current president Thabo Mbeki.