South Africa lost its Commonwealth membership in 1961. Its white inhabitants had voted (850,000 to 775,000) for a republican constitution, which came into force on May 31st. It withdrew its application to remain a member after this change when it found other Commonwealth countries reluctant to agree unless it altered its racial policies -- which have been almost universally condemned abroad.
The swift advance to independence of former colonies (H) had transformed South Africa's international position. Up to 1959, its whites felt shielded from the impact of African nationalism by a belt of British, Belgian and Portuguese territories where independence seemed a long way off. But then the 'wind of change' blew through British East and Central Africa (27), Belgium quit the Congo (23), and in 1961 Portugal faced revolt in Angola (34). Meanwhile African states farther north, angered by the South African government's racial doctrines and treatment of non-Europeans, campaigned against it ever more vigorously in the United Nations and other forums, and initiated economic sanctions against it.
South Africa's white population is much greater than that of any other African country -- 3 million, about 1·8 million of them Afrikaans-speakers of Dutch origin, about 1·2 million English-speakers, mainly of British origin. South Africa's 16 million people include 11 million Bantu Africans, 500,000 Indians, and 11/2 million 'Coloureds' of European-African mixed stock (D); but the whites have kept a monopoly of political power.
Dutch settlement around Cape Town dates from 1652. In the 17th century farmers were already moving eastward. In the western Cape, sprinkled only with nomad Hottentot and Bushmen, land seemed theirs for the taking; and as they toiled across the arid Karoo, their strict Calvinism produced a biblical sense of journeying to a promised land (this still underlies Afrikaner thought). After 1806, when Britain annexed the Dutch colony, and especially in the 1830s, many Afrikaner farmers (Boers) 'trekked' still farther east and north to escape from British rule (and from restraints on their treatment of Africans). North of the Orange river (and in the eastern Cape) they came up against Bantu tribesmen; and the creation of the Boer republics of the Orange Free State (O.F.S.) and Transvaal, and Boer settlement in Natal, involved wars with Basuto, Zulu and others (38).
British immigration, from around 1820 at the Cape and 1830 in