South Africa; main historical events
Page last modified 6/2/2019
For events in the rest of Africa see Africa
Boer War (& prior events)
18/12/2017, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa defeated Ms Dlamini-Zuma in elections for the Presidency of the ANC, South Africa.
5/12/2013, Nelson Mandela died, aged 95.
16/8/2012, Striking mineworkers were fired upon by police at Marikana, South Africa. 34 miners were killed.
1/6/2004, Nelson Mandela announced his retirement from public life.
2/6/1999, Thabo Mbeki became President of South Africa.
20/7/1994, South Africa was readmitted to the Commonwealth, after 33 years of exclusion.
10/5/1994. Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the first Black president of South Africa (see 2/5/1994). Nelson Mandela voted for the first time in his life on elections held between 26 and 29 April and his Africa National Congress Party won an overwhelming 62.6% of the vote. The National Party won 20.4%.
2/5/1994, South African President F W de Klerk conceded defeat to Nelson Mandela in the country’s first truly democratic elections, see 10/5/1994.
26/4/1994. First multiracial elections in South Africa.
11/3/1994. Riots in South African Black Homeland of Bophutatswana.
1/3/1994, South Africa ceded Walvis Bay to Namibia.
15/10/1993. Nelson Mandela and President F W De Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
24/9/1993. The USA and Commonwealth lifted trade sanctions against South Africa.
16/8/1993. South Africa agreed to return Walvis Bay, its last colonial possession, to Namibia.
22/3/1993, South Africa officially abandoned its nuclear weapons programme. President de Klerk announced that the country's 6 warheads had already been dismantled in 1990.
23/6/1992, In South Africa the ANC withdrew from constitutional talks in protest at the Boipatong violence.
20/6/1992, Police fired on Black residents in Boipatong.
18/6/1992, 39 people were killed in South Africa in the Boipatong Massacre, which was allegedly by Inkatha supporters.
17/3/1992. South African Whites voted for constitutional change.
15/12/1991. F W de Klerk was under pressure at it emerged that the South African Government had given money and other assistance to the Zulu Inkatha organisation, an arch-enemy of the ANC, and had organised for Inkatha members to travel to Israel for military training.
13/12/1991, The UN ended a ban on sporting, scientific and academic links with South Africa.
20/9/1991, Clashes in South Africa between Blacks and Right-wing Whites.
17/6/1991. In South Africa, the repeal of the Population Registration Act of 1950 officially ended apartheid.
5/6/1991, In South Africa, the ‘Pillars of Apartheid’, the Land Acts of 1913 and 1936, and the Areas Act of 1950, were repealed.
14/5/1991, In South Africa, Winnie Mandela, wife of ANC leader Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to 6 years for kidnap and accessory to assault.
13/5/1991, In South Africa, Winnie Mandela was convicted of kidnapping 4 Black people.
1/2/1991. De Klerk of South Africa promised an end to all apartheid legislation.
14/12/1990. Oliver Tambo, ANC President, returned to South Africa after 30 years exile.
19/10/1990, In South Africa, the ruling South African National Party formally opened its membership to people of all races.
18/9/1990, In South Africa, Winnie Mandela was charged with kidnapping and assault.
21/8/1990, 400 killed in clashes between the ANC and the Inkatha Zulu in the Transvaal townships, South Africa.
15/8/1990, 150 were killed in violent clashes in townships outside Johannesburg, South Africa.
2/7/1990. ANC called a national strike in South Africa.
6/5/1990, P W Botha resigned from South Africa’s ruling Nationalist party in protest at talks with the Africa National Congress.
16/4/1990, A charity concert was held at Wembley in honour of recently-freed Nelson Mandela.
21/3/1990, Namibia gained independence, after 75 years of South African rule.
2/3/1990, Nelson Mandela was elected Chairman of the Africa National Congress.
11/2/1990. Nelson Mandela, the 71-year-old Black Nationalist leader of South Africa, was freed from prison after 27 years, given a life sentence for treason He walked free from Victor Verster prison in the Cape Province, met by a crowd of 2,000, the maximum number allowed by the authorities. On 2/3/1990 Mandela was elected chairman of the ANC (Africa National Congress) which began serious negotiations with President F W De Klerk, but the peaceful transition to a multiracial society was threatened by escalating violence between the ANC and the rival Zulu-based Inkatha movement. Mandela, a lawyer, joined the ANC in 1949; the ANC had been founded in 1912; it was committed to peaceful resistance to White rule for its first 48 years, but began a campaign of civil disobedience after White police fired on Black protestors at the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960.
3/2/1990, South African President de Klerk lifted the 30-year old ban on the African National Congress and announced the imminent release of Nelson Mandela, prisoner for 27 years. 30 other political parties, including the Communist Party, also saw lifting of restrictions, political prisoners were to be freed, the death sentence was suspended, and emergency restrictions on the media lifted. The ANC was to be invited to share power.
13/12/1989 In South Africa, President F W de Klerk met with ANC leader Nelson Mandela for the first time.
16/11/1989. A pillar of apartheid was removed when the South African President, F W de Klerk removed beach access restrictions which separated racial access. The Separate Amenities Act, permitting Whites to monopolise public space, was also to be repealed.
29/10/1989. 60,000 took part in an ANC (Africa National Congress) rally in South Africa.
13/9/1989. 20,000 demonstrated against Apartheid in South Africa, and the killing of 23 protestors during the Whites-only elections the previous week. Protestors were from all races.
21/2/1989. Two members of Winnie Mandela’s bodyguard were charged with the murder of 14-year-old Stompie Mocketsi.
7/12/1988. Nelson Mandela was moved to a luxury house within the grounds of Pollsmoor Prison.
29/2/1988. In South Africa, Archbishop Desmond \Tutu was arrested for illegally demonstrating outside the Parliamentary building in Cape Town. He was protesting against the death sentence imposed on the Sharpeville Six for killing a Black Councillor.
31/12/1986, Esso announced that it was disinvesting in South Africa.
2/10/1986, The US imposed sanctions on South Africa.
7/9/1986. Bishop Desmond Tutu was appointed Archbishop of Cape Town, the first Black head of the South African Anglicans.
23/8/1986. Riots continued in Soweto, South Africa, with 13 dead and over 70 injured.
1/5/1986. 1.5 million Black workers went on strike in South Africa.
23/4/1986. President P W Botha of South Africa announced there would be no more arrests under the hated ‘pass laws’ whereby Black people had to carry their passes at all times.
7/3/1986, South Africa lifted the State of Emergency imposed in July 1985.
2/11/1985, The South African Government imposed emergency restrictions on the reporting of unrest.
20/7/1985. State of emergency imposed in 36 areas of South Africa.
15/4/1985. South Africa abolished racial sex laws. Interracial marriages were now legal.
21/3/1985. In South Africa, 19 died when police opened fire on a crowd of Black people on the 25th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre.
3/9/1984, 14 died in rioting in Sharpeville and other Black townships around Johannesburg.
22/8/1984. ‘Coloureds’ were allowed to vote in South African elections.
4/12/1981, South Africa created the ‘independent’ Republic of Ciskei as a ‘homeland’ for Black people; this was not recognised outside South Africa.
28/8/1981, South African troops invaded Angola.
23/9/1979, A US satellite recorded a brilliant double flash over the ocean between South Africa and Antarctica. A South African Navy ship was in the area, but South Africa denied it had tested a nuclear weapon. Since the 1960s, South Africa had invested in nuclear power technology, despite having abundant coal reserves.
29/9/1978, Johannes Vorster became President of South Africa.
28/9/1978. Peter Botha became Prime Minister of South Africa.
20/9/1978, B J Vorster resigned as Prime Minister of South Africa due to ill-health.
1977, The Gleneagles Agreement was signed, by Commonwealth leaders, in Scotland. It aimed to discourage sporting links with South Africa in protest at the Apartheid policy.
4/11/1977. The UN banned arms sales to South Africa.
12/9/1977. The moderate South African black activist Steven Biko, 30, died after 3 weeks in days in police detention in Port Elizabeth. He received a head injury during police interrogation and became unconscious; a police doctor recommended hospitalisation. Instead, on 11/9/1977 Biko was taken on a 1,200 mile journey to Pretoria Central prison, naked in the back of a Land Rover, where he died on the 12th. This event proved a focal point in internal and international opposition to the South African regime. Steve Biko’s funeral was held on 25/9/1977. Steve Biko’s funeral was held on 25/9/1977. Heavy tactics were used to prevent Black mourners from attending, bus travel permits were denied, roadblocks employed, and Black mourners taken off buses and beaten with truncheons.
21/8/1977, South African Black civil rights activist Steve Biko was arrested on suspicion of promoting unrest in Port Elizabeth and of distributing leaflets calling for ‘violence and arson’.
26/10/1976. Transkei became the first South African Black homeland to gain ‘independence’. The UN called the exercise a sham; South Africa had effectively deprived the 1.3 million Xhosa in Transkei of South African citizenship.
6/7/1976, After the Soweto riots of 16/6/1976, the South Africa Minister for Education announced that plans for compulsory teaching in Afrikaans were to be dropped.
16/6/1976. Schoolchildren in the black township of Soweto, South Africa, began protesting against having to learn Afrikaans, the language of the then ruling white minority. Police open fire and killed a 13 year old, Hector Peterson. Nationwide demonstrations began, met by more police brutality. By February 1977 over 570 people, mostly black schoolchildren, had been killed. Resistance against apartheid hardened. Apartheid had developed in the 1930s by the Afrikaans rulers as a way of segregating blacks and whites. When the Afrikaaners gained power in 1948 they made apartheid part of the South African legal system.
1972, The AWB (Afrikaanse Weestand Beweging), or Afrikaner Resistance Movement, was formed, led by Eugene Terre’Blanche. Its aim was to preserve White control of South Africa by force if necessary.
5/2/1973, 20,000 Black workers went on strike in
22/7/1970, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia threatened to leave the Commonwealth if Britain sold arms to South Africa. On 20/7/1970 Britain had said it was willing to sell arms to South Africa for coastal defence.
22/5/1970, The Middlesex Cricket Club, under UK Government pressure, cancelled a South African tour of England.
15/5/1970, The International Olympics Committee expelled South Africa.
5/11/1969, Anti-Apartheid demonstrators invaded the pitch at Twickenham, during a game by the touring South African Springboks.
30/3/1966, In South Africa, the National Party won a large majority in elections.
6/9/1966, South African Prime Minister Dr Hendrik Voerwoerd, aged 65, was assassinated, stabbed four times in the chest by a White Parliamentary messenger, with a stiletto, because ‘his Government didn’t do enough for Whites’. Voerwoerd had, since 1950, created semi-independent and poverty stricken ‘homelands’ for South Africa’s 73% Black majority, covering just 13% of South African territory; effectively creating a White majority in the remainder of the country.
17/11/1964, The UK imposed an arms embargo on South Africa because of its apartheid policy.
9/10/1964. A planned tour by the Rolling Stones to South Africa was cancelled due to the British Musician’s Union’s anti-apartheid embargo.
20/8/1964. South Africa was banned from the Olympics because of its apartheid policy.
14/6/1964. Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to
6/5/1964, In South Africa the Bantu Laws Amendment Act was passed. This attempted to control the informal settlement of Black Africans on the periphery of urban areas.
11/3/1964, South Africa left the International Labour Organisation.
18/9/1963, The UN Special Committee on Apartheid in South Africa called for prohibition of arms and petroleum traffic with South Africa.
27/1/1963. Mrs Winnie Mandela was served with an injunction preventing her seeing her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela. See 14/6/1964.
22/10/1962 Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, went on trial charged with treason; he pleaded not guilty.
12/5/1962, The South African General Law Amendment Bill imposed the death penalty for sabotage. A few months later it was made a criminal offence to publish anything said by a Black or White journalist whose works had been banned. In October 1962 those banned from speaking or writing publically could be put under house arrest for 5 years; they could not receive visitors or use the telephone, or communicate with any other banned person. By the end of 1962 18 such orders had been issued.
31/5/1961. The Republic of South Africa was formed, and it left the Commonwealth.
13/4/1961, The UN General Assembly condemned apartheid in South Africa.
15/3/1961, South Africa stated it would leave the Commonwealth.
6/1/1961, Dag Hammarskjold, UN Secretary General, visited South Africa to discuss apartheid.
6/10/1960, South Africa held a referendum on whether to declare itself a Republic, further cutting ties with Britain. Only Whites were allowed to vote. The result was 52.14% in favour of a Republic and 47.42% against.
9/4/1960, David Pratt, a 52-year-old White man, fired two shots at South African President Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, wounding him.
30/3/1960, State of Emergency in South Africa after the Sharpeville riots.
25/3/1960, Following Sharpeville, all non-White political organisations, including the ANC, were banned in South Africa.
21/3/1960. South African police killed 67 Black Africans at Sharpeville, and wounded 186. The demonstrations were against the hated 'Pass Laws'. All over South Africa, Black people deliberately left their passes at home and awaited arrest. Versions of what provoked the shooting at Sharpeville, a township 5 miles north of Vereeniging, varied. According to police, a crowd of 20,000 Black people were about to storm the police station. Black witnesses said only 5,000 Blacks were present and had gone peacefully to the police station to discuss the Pass Laws. A medical expert testified that 70% of the victims were shot from behind. On 30/3/1960 South Africa declared a State of Emergency following the Sharpeville riots.
3/2/1960, UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan upset his hosts in South Africa when he called for racial equality; Macmillan was concerned that the newly independent ec-colonies of Africa and Asia would align themselves with the USSR, not the former European colonisers.
29/1/1960. Race riots in Johannesburg.
13/11/1959, In South Africa, the South African Progressive party was founded at a conference in Johannesburg.
5/7/1959. Ghana began a boycott of all South African products.
18/6/1959. There was serious rioting in Durban when police moved in on Black settlements. The police were destroying illicit stills discovered during an operation to resettle some 100,000 Black people. Rioting continued throughout June, and 4 Black people died. Property damage was estimated at £250,000. More deaths occurred in September 1959 when police opened fire on rioters.
7/2/1959. Daniel Francois Malan, Prime Minister of South Africa 1948-54 and creator of apartheid, died at Stellenbosch, Cape Province, South Africa, aged 84.
3/9/1958, Hendrik Verwoerd became Prime Minister of South Africa.
2/9/1958. South African President Hendrik Voerwoerd promised to strengthen Apartheid.
24/8/1958, J G Strijdom, Prime Minister of South Africa, died 65. He was succeeded by Hendrik Verwoerd on 3/9/1958.
3/5/1957. South Africa dropped ‘God Save the Queen’ as its national anthem.
26/4/1957.The Anglican Church and the universities in South Africa continued to defy government rulings on enforcing racial segregation, or apartheid.
5/3/1957, The Union Jack ceased to be one of the official flags of South Africa.
4/7/1955. Britain said it would return the Simonstown military base to South Africa by 31/3/1957, whilst retaining the rights to use the base.
9/2/1955, The final explusion of Black Africans from Johannesburg began.
1954, Dr Voerword, who in 1950 had become Minister of Native Affairs, began introducing further discriminatory apartheid legislation. He enacted the Native Resettlement Act, empowering the White government to remove Black settlements that were deemend to be too close to White areas. It was bulldozed and the area redeveloped as a White district. The first Black settlement moved under this legislation was Sophiatown, in the centre of Johannesburg. Trades Unions in South Africa were ordered to segregate into Black and White sections, to end joint bargaining by workers of different races. He also introduced the Bantu Education Act, taking the education of Africans out of the hands of church missionaries who Verwoerd found too liberal.
15/4/1953, In South African elections the National Party under D F Malan secured a clear majority
16/2/1953, In South Africa the Public Safety Act was passed. This gave the Governor-General, or in some cases the Minister of Justice, powers to declare a State of Emergency and override Parliament.
26/6/1952. Non-violent anti-apartheid demonstrations began in South Africa.
22/4/1952, In South Africa, Prime Minister D F Malan, having seen the law courts declare Apartheid unconstitutional, got a Bill passed making Parliament a ‘High Court’, so it was able to overrule any legal decisions against Apartheid.
20/3/1952, South Africa’s Supreme Court ruled that Malan’s Apartheid legislation was unconstitutional. However this triumph of the Africa National Congress was short-lived, see 22/4/1952.
14/5/1951. South Africa disenfranchised 'Coloured' voters.
1950, The South Africa Nationalist Party passed several Acts to entrench Apartheid. These were, 1) The Population Registration Act (1950), entitling the government to have the final word on people’s racial category, 2) The Immorality Act (1950), making it illegal for people of different races to have sex, and the Group Areas Act (1950), splitting South Africa up into black and white areas. These were followed by the Reservation of Separatre Amenities Act (1953), creating segregated toilets, beaches etc. for Blacks and Whites.
11/9/1950, Death of Jan Smuts, the Boer guerrilla leader who became a British field-marshal.
29/1/1950. Race policy caused riots in Johannesburg.
16/12/1949, A quarter of a million Afrikaners attended the unveiling of the Voortrekker Memorial to South Africa’s Boer pioneers in Pretoria.
26/5/1948. South Africa elected a Nationalist government with apartheid policies.
21/11/1942, J B M Hertzog, South African politician, died aged 76.
16/12/1938, The foundation stone of the Voortrekker Memorial was laid in Pretoria, see 16/12/1949.
30/3/1933, In South Africa, J B M Hertzog formed a National Coalition Government, with J C Smuts as deputy Prime Minister.
7/10/1931, Desmond Tutu, Anglican
priest, was born in
1927, The first traffic light was installed in Johannesburg. It was soon knocked down by a car.
13/11/1925, The South African Government called for more segregation of Black people.
29/6/1925. South Africa passed laws, The Mines and Works Act, excluding ‘Coloured’, Indian, and Black people from all skilled jobs. In the late 19th century, skilled mining jobs in South Africa could only be filled by Whites. By the 1920s Black people had acquired the necessary skills for these jobs, and White employees feared their wages would be undercut, so they lobbied the Government for these racist laws.
30/6/1924, In South Africa, J B Hertzog, Nationalist leader, formed a Government with Labour support, following the defeat of J C Smuts’ South African Party in elections.
8/5/1924, Afrikaans became the official language of South Africa.
12/3/1922, White Nationalists seized control of The Rand, South Africa’s industrial area, in protest at job losses as Whites lost their jobs to cheaper Black labour.
8/2/1921. Jan Smuts was elected Prime Minister
27/8/1919, Louis Botha, South African Boer general and first Prime Minister from 1910, died.
18/7/1918. Nelson Mandela, South African Black Rights campaigner and leader, was born (died 2013).
12/1/1916, Pieter Botha,
South African President, was born in Paul Roux in the
13/12/1915, B J Vorster, President of South Africa, was born.
9/7/1915. German South West Africa (
14/4/1915. South African troops began
an offensive to clear the Germans from German South-West Africa (now
For main events of World War One see France-Germany
13/1/1915. South African troops occupied Swakopmund in German South West Africa.
14/11/1914. Lord Roberts, Boer War
commander, died whilst visiting British troops in the field in
13/11/1914. General Botha’s forces crushed the rebellion of General Christaan de Wet in the Orange Free State, opening the way to march on the German colonists of South West Africa.
13/10/1914, The Boers in South Africa, under Christian de Wet, rebelled against British rule.
1913, South Africa passed the Natives Land Act; this set aside 90% of the country for White people, who comprised less than one third of the population. Black people were pushed into ‘homelands’.
25/11/1913, In Natal, police opened fire on demonstrators protesting against the imprisonment of Mahatma Ghandi, killing 2 and injuring 20.
8/1/1912, The Africa National Congress was formed in South Africa, as the South African Native National Congress.
1/7/1910. South Africa became a
dominion of the
31/5/1910. The colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, the Transvaal, and the Orange River Colony united to form the Union of South Africa, see 31/5/1902.
7/12/1909, A proclamation was read on the steps of the Royal Exchange, London, announcing the creation of the self-governing Union of South Africa.
20/9/1909, The South Africa Act received the Royal Assent.
16/8/1909, The Conservative leader Arthur Balfour argued that giving equal rights to South African Black people would undermine White civilization.
27/7/1909, MPs gave the South African Union Bill its second reading, but deplored the fact that the Bill would deny the Black population the right to vote.
30/1/1908. Mohandas Ghandi, who led a campaign against the requirement for all Asian people to register, was released from a South African prison by General Smuts.
12/12/1907, Dinizulu, King of the Zulus, surrendered to the British; a Zulu rebellion had been triggered by the imposition of a poll tax.
22/3/1907. Mohandas Ghandi
1869-1948) started a civil disobedience
12/12/1906, In South Africa, the Transvaal was given autonomy with White male suffrage.
6/12/1906, Self government was granted to
9/8/1906, The Boer War
Commission reported that corruption and incompetence in conducting the war
23/7/1906, 1,000 Zulu rebels surrendered to British
6/5/1906, British soldiers killed 60 Zulus at
26/1/1905. The world’s largest diamond
was found at the Premier Mines in
14/7/1904, Paul Kruger, leader of the Boer Republic of Transvaal during the Boer War, died.
25/8/1903, A Royal Commission into the Boer War criticised poor campaign planning and revealed that 100,000 British lives were lost.
28/9/1902, 15,000 requests a week for South African gold mining permits.
31/5/1902. The Boer War ended with the Peace of Vereeniging. (See 11/10/1899).
The Boers accepted the sovereignty of the British Crown over Transvaal and the
12/4/1902, Following British successes against the Boers in South Africa, Kitchener met with Boer leaders for peace negotiations.
25/2/1902. Boers routed the British army at Klerksdorp.
26/3/1902. Statesman and colonial administrator, Cecil John
Rhodes, died aged 48 in
13/2/1902, The UK Government refused to let a German committee visit the South African Boer concentration camps.
25/12/1901, The Boers gained victory in South Africa, at Tweefontein.
8/9/1901, Hendrik Verwoerd, South African Prime Minister
who was responsible for the policy of apartheid,
was born in
7/8/1901, In South Africa, Kitchener announced that all Boers who failed to surrender by 15 September would be permanently banished from the territory.
4/8/1901. Gold was discovered in the South African Rand.
17/6/1901, Lloyd George spoke out against starvation, lack of hygiene, and poor conditions in the concentration camps in South Africa, where Britain was detaining the Boers. The camps had originally been set up to feed Boers displaced from their farms by the fighting; in February 1901 their function changed to interning Boer men who might fight a guerrilla war. The camps now contained some 75,000 people, mostly women and children.
19/3/1901, The Boer
15/12/1900, Soon after Lord Roberts declared that the Boer War was over, British troops in South Africa suffered a surprise defeat and the capture of hundreds of their men by the Boer attackers led by General P.H. Kritzinger. 573 men in four companies of the Northumberland Fusiliers were taken prisoner at the battle of Magaliesberg.
12/12/1900, In London, the War Office announced that the Boer War had cost the lives of over 11,000 soldiers, over two thirds of that number due to disease.
25/10/1900, Britain annexed the former Boer South African Republic, and renamed it the Transvaal Colony. This ended the Boer War.
4/7/1900, Britain annexed the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Kruger travelled to Germany to try and gain support for the Boers. However on 6/10/1900 Kaiser Wilhelm II refused to meet with Kruger.
31/5/1900, The British took Johannesburg.
5/6/1900. The British took Pretoria, capital of the
24/5/1900. Britain annexed
18/5/1900, At 9:17 p.m. in London, the Reuters news agency broke the news of the victory at Mafeking. As author Phillip Knightley later noted, "Britain went mad. The celebrations lasted for five nights, and surpassed the victory celebrations of the First and Second World Wars in size, intensity, and enthusiasm. Baden-Powell became the most popular English hero since Nelson, and a household name not only in Britain but also throughout the United States
17/5/1900. The British
relieved Mafeking, after a siege of 217 days which began on 12/10/1899, in
the Boer War.
9/4/1900. The Boers defeated the British at Kronstadt.
15/3/1900, British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury rejected US President McKinley’s offer to mediate in the Boer War.
13/3/1900. General Roberts captured
28/2/1900. The relief of Ladysmith,
27/2/1900. The Boer General, Piet Cronje, surrendered to the British after his defeat at Paarderberg.
16/2/1900. Siege of
24/1/1900. The British under General Warren took Spion Kop, in the Boer War.
6/1/1900, Battle of Ladysmith.
16/12/1899. At the end of a bad week for the British in South Africa, 2,000 men and 12 heavy guns had been lost in battles with the Boers.
15/12/1899. The Boers defeated the British, under Sir Redvers Buller, at the Battle of Colenso.
11/12/1899. The Boers under Piet Cronje defeated the British at Magersfontein.
15/11/1899. Sir Winston Churchill was captured by the Boers whilst working as a reporter for the Morning Post. He was on board an armoured train derailed in an ambush, and had persuaded the engine driver to take the remains of the train back with the wounded, and was captured by a Boer horseman with a rifle; Churchill had lost his pistol helping clear the railway line. He escaped a few weeks later.
2/11/1899. The Boers under Piet Joubert laid siege to Ladysmith, an important railway junction in Natal. See 28/2/1900.
20/10/1899, Battle at Talana Hill, near Dundee, Natal, in the Boer War.
17/10/1899, British troops defeated the Boers at Glencoe.
15/10/1899. The Boers, who surrounded Mafeking on 12/10/1899, laid siege to Kimberley. The siege of Kimberley was lifted by the British on 16/2/1900.
14/10/1899. Winston Churchill left for South Africa to report for The Morning Post.
12/10/1899, The Boers began the siege of Mafeking. Baden Powell defended the town until it wads relieved by Colonel Plumer 217 days later.
11/10/1899. The Boer War began. (See 31/5/1902). It was between the British Empire and the Republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. President Kruger of the Orange Free State had sent a telegram to Britain on 9/11/1899 demanding that Britain stop sending troops and arms to South Africa. Troubles had begun in the 1890s with the discovery of gold and diamonds in the Transvaal and this prompted many prospectors to arrive in the area. The Boers called them Uitlanders and President Kruger of the Transvaal taxed them heavily and refused them the vote. He feared that if they had the vote, Cecil Rhodes, Premier of Cape Province, who had considerable mining interests, would gain control of the Transvaal. Kaiser William of Germany expressed support for the Boers in the ‘Kruger Telegram’ of 1896; Britain’s imperial ambitions were making her unpopular abroad at this time.
The Boers had 50,000 men against the British with 15,000 regulars in South Africa and another 10,000 due from India. The Boers had better knowledge of the terrain, and their horsemen war more mobile then the ponderous British forces, whose fighting was based on Crimean tactics. However the Boers were to waste their forces in besieging the British in strategically unimportant towns such as Ladysmith, instead of sending the majority of their forces out in to South Africa and depriving the British of naval supplies by capturing the ports.
30/12/1897, Zululand was annexed to Natal.
6/1/1896. Cecil Rhodes was forced to resign as Prime Minister of Cape Colony because of his involvement in the Jameson raid.
2/1/1896, The Jameson Raid, into the Boer colony of Transvaal to support British settlers, ended in failure.
29/12/1895. Leander Starr Jameson, an agent of the British South Africa Company, invaded the Boer Republic of Transvaal with 470 men. On 2/1/1896 Jameson surrendered At Doorn Kop after a defeat at Krugersdorp. On 3/1/1896 Kaiser William II sent a telegram to Paul Kruger congratulating him on the defeat of Jameson. This caused outrage in Britain, which saw the telegram as an attempt by Germany to expand its influence in Africa. Britain mocked the German Navy, saying it would be ‘child’s play’ for the British Navy to wipe it out. Wilhelm I now decided on a course of massive expansion of the German Navy, seeing Britain no longer as an ally but a potential threat.
17/7/1890. Cecil Rhodes became Prime Minister of the Cape Colony.
29/10/1889. Britain granted a charter to the British South Africa Company, under Cecil Rhodes, to colonise Bechuenaland and other parts of southern Africa.
20/9/1886. The city of Johannesburg was founded.
8/9/1886, Thousands flocked to Witwatersrand, South Africa, as public gold digging was permitted.
6/2/1886. An English carpenter, George Walker, discovered gold in the Transvaal, South Africa. Whilst digging the foundations for a cottage for a gold prospector, his shovel uncovered a seam of gold; specks of the metal had been found in rivers for the past 30 years but geologists now believed the Witwatersrand Ridge, in the Boer Republic, contained large gold fields. Boers feared a large influx of foreigners.
8/2/1884, King Cetywayo, former ruler of the Zulus, died, see 29/1/1883.
23/1/1894, King Lobengula of Matabeleland was killed.
16/4/1883, Paul Kruger became President of South Africa.
29/1/1883, King Cetywayo of the Zulus was restored to a (part of) his old kingdom by the British under Shepstone, as decided by PM Gladstone. However Cetywayo’s enemies attacked within the week, and after a year’s fighting Cetywayo was defeated and fled to a native reserve at Ekowe, see 8/2/1884.
5/4/1881, The Convention of Pretoria; the Transvaal became effectively independent, with only nominal British sovereignty.
27/2/1881. The Boers defeated a British force at the Battle of Majuba in Northern Transvaal, killing 359 men. This was part of a force of 1,500 men that had marched into the Transvaal in December 1880.
30/12/1880, The Transvaal became a Republic, headed by Paul Kruger.
9/12/1880, After Britain had annexed the Transvaal in 1877, on this day 9,000 Boers fought for their freedom and won, see 9/12/1838, 16/12/1949.
16/12/1879, The Transvaal Republic was founded.
28/7/1879, King Cetywayo of the Zulus was captured by the British. He was brought to London in August 1882, where Gladstone decided upon his restoration, but only to a part of his old Kingdom. See 29/1/1883.
4/7/1879, The British routed the Zulus at Ulundi, see 11/1/1879 and 28/8/2879.
22/1/1879, Battle of Rorke’s Drift, where a few British soldiers fought off a large Zulu army. Eleven VCs were awarded for this action.
11/1/1879. The British-Zulu war began. Lord Chelmsford entered Zululand, with 13,000 troops. The British accused the Zulu King, Cetywayo, of fomenting revolt against the Boers and British. The British, in December 1878, demanded reparations from Cetywayo, whilst awarding him the territory he claimed from the Boers. See 4/7/1879..
12/4/1877. Britain annexed the South African Republic of Transvaal, to the anger of the Boer farmers. The Transvaal treasury was bankrupt following false hopes of gold and a costly war against the Black population. At the Sand River Conference in 1852 Britain had recognised the Transvaal, but now Britain claimed that the republic was unable to defend itself and that British subjects there were in danger. The Boers offered non-violent resistance, and their leader, Paul Kruger, went to London to present their case.
22/5/1874, Daniel Malan, the South African politician who was responsible for the apartheid policy, was born in Riebeck West, Cape Province.
27/10/1871. In South Africa, Britain annexed the diamond-rich region of Griqualand West.
1870, Diamonds were discovered at Kimberley.
24/5/1870, Jan Christian Smuts, South African soldier and Prime Minister, was born in Malmesbury, Cape Colony.
27/9/1862, Louis Botha, South African military commander and first President of the country in 1910, was born near Greytown, Natal.
12/7/1856, Natal was made a British colony.
1855, The city of Pretoria was founded. The ground on which it stands was purchased from the Boers by Martinus Pretorius.
17/2/1854, Britain signed the Convention of Bloemfontein, agreeing to withdraw from territory in South Africa north of the Orange River. This left the Orange
Free State for Boer settlers.
5/7/1853, The colonial administrator Cecil Rhodes, Prime Minister of Cape Colony 1890-96, was born at Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, the 7th of 11 children.. His father was a vicar.
17/1/1852, Britain recognised the independence of the Transvaal Boers.
16/12/1838 At the Battle of Blood River, 500 Boers defeated the Zulus under Dingaan. This was in revenge for the killing of Boer leader, Piet Retief, and other Zulu attacks on Boer settllements in February 1838. See 6/2/1838, 9/12/1838, 9/12/1880, 16/12/1949.
9/12/1838, Boer commander Andries Pretorius and his 460 men vowed to observe an annual Day of Thanksgiving if God granted them victory over the Zulus. Seven days later they met 10,000 Zulus in battle; 3,000 Zulus died for the loss of 2 Boers, and Pretorius kept his vow.
22/9/1828, Shaka, the Zulu King who founded the Zulu Kingdom in southern Africa, was murdered, aged 41, by his brothers Dingane and Mhlangane; they now ruled jointly.
12/4/1838, British settlers in South Africa heavily defeated the Zulus at the Battle of Tugela.
17/2/1838, The Weenen Massacre. Voortrekkers were slaughtered by Zulus near the town of Weenen, South Africa.
6/2/1838, The Boer leader, Piet Retief, was executed by the Zulu Chief Dingaan.
16/12/1837, The Zulu Chief Dingaan was defeated by a small force of Boers at Blood River.
1/12/1834, The slaves of the British Cape Colony were freed; this caused resentment amongst Boer farmers who were not consulted over the move.
10/10/1825, Paul Kruger, South African politician and Boer leader, was born in Colesberg, Cape Colony.
13/8/1814, The British took over the colony of Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch.
10/1/1806. Britain seized the Cape Colony (South Africa) from the Dutch, whose government in Europe was a puppet of Napoleon. The Boers were defeated at the Battle of Blaawberg. However the Boers, despite having little love for the French, seemed to like the British even less; Britain seized this colony in 1795, at the Battle of Muizenberg, but faced a Boer rebellion there in 1801 and gave it up at the Treaty of Amiens, 1802.
16/9/1795, In June 1795 a British fleet with 4,000 soldiers arrived off the Dutch Cape Colony (South Africa) to prevent the French from taking the territory. This day the British soldiers landed at Muizenberg, and the Dutch soldiers, under Governor Sluysken, largely fled without a fight. Sluyksen managed to negotiate a truce with the British, but was soon evicted from power by settlers in the interior who resisted his rule.
6/6/1781. Dutch Boer settlers in South Africa massacred black Xhosa tribesmen for the third time in three years. Dutch settlers were been expanding eastwards, and successfully enslaving or driving away the Khoisan tribes, but the Xhosa put up more resistance.
31/12/1687, The first boatload of Huguenots sailed from Holland to settle in South Africa. They took vines to start a wine industry in the new colony.
7/4/1652. The first permanent European settlement in Africa was founded by the Dutchman Jan Van Riebeck, at Table Bay. For decades earlier, since the 1500s, ships, mostly Dutch and English, had anchored here to refit their vessels for the voyage to the east. In 1620 two Englishmen, officers of the East India Company, took it upon their own initiative to possess Table Bay in the name of King James, for fear that the Dutch would claim the area and charge English ships to refit there. But London did not approve of their action and it had no effect. The Portuguese influence was declining and they were not in a position to resist the Dutch. The English seized St Helena island as a halfway house to the east. France took colonies in Madagascar and elsewhere. The Dutch settlement was the beginning of the Boer, farmer, settlers.
21/4/1634, Jan van Riebeck, Dutch surgeon and founder of Cape Town, was born in The Netherlands.
29/5/1500, Bartholomew Diaz, the Portuguese explorer who discovered the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, was drowned during a storm at sea.
23/5/1498. Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut, southern India, after discovering a route via the tip of southern Africa.
25/1/1498, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama visited Quelimane and Mozambique in southeastern Africa.
25/12/1497, The Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama reached the part of South Africa which he called Natal.
22/11/1497. The Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope in his search for a route to India. His fleet comprised the St Gabriel, the St Raphael, the Berrio, and a store ship. See 24/12/1524. He had set sail from Lisbon on 8/7/1497.
8/7/1497, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama set sail from Lisbon to attempt to find a sea passage to India.
3/2/1488, Bartholomew Diaz of Portugal landed in Mossel Bay, after rounding the Cape of Good Hope (which he called the Cape of Storms). He was the first known European to travel this far south.