The History of South Africa

The History of South Africa

The History of South Africa

The History of South Africa

Synopsis

To quote the title of Nelson Mandela's 1994 autobiography, it has been a "long walk to freedom." The history of South Africa, one of the oldest inhabited places on earth, is also the story of one of the newest nations, made and remade over the last century. This compellingly written history of South Africa, from prehistoric times through 1999, is the only up-to-date history of the nation. Beginning with an overview of the modern nation, this narrative history traces South Africa from prehistory through the European invasions, the settlement by the Dutch, the imposition of British rule, the many internecine wars for control of the nation, the institution of apartheid, and, finally, freedom for all South Africans in 1994 and the Mandela years 1994-1999.

Excerpt

Anyone who writes or speaks about South Africa has to preface their work with a discussion of South African terminology and orthography. The problem began when the Dutch arrived in 1652 and called the Khoikhoi people Hottentots. For much of South Africa's history Whites used the word kaffir (Arabic for "infidel") for Africans, and that practice continued into the late twentieth century. These two terms are now regarded as extremely offensive, racist, and insulting; their use is even considered criminal. Starting in 1948 the apartheid government used language in such a manipulative and racist way that many other terms today offend certain ethnic groups. Even the term "African" has provoked debate. Whites generally apply it only to the Bantu-speaking peoples who migrated into South Africa over the last two thousand years and not to the Khoisan peoples who are indigenous to southern Africa and also Africans. White usage also frequently changed over time, so that different terms were used for the same people, such as "natives," "Bantu," "Blacks," and "Africans." To avoid confusion I have retained the terminology of the period; for example, the 1913 Natives Land Act, but the 1951 Bantu Authorities Act. The Dutch word boer for the earliest White settlers was often used by the English as a term of derision, and many boers today prefer the term "Afrikaners." I have used "Afrikaner . . ."

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