Almost nothing is known about the history of the southernmost part of Africa before the advent of the Portuguese, in the century. XV. At that time the territory was already inhabited by Bushmen (san) and Hottentots (khoi-khoin). In 1487 the Portuguese B. Diaz reached the Cape of Good Hope (then Cape of Storms) and since then the Bay of the Table became one of the most popular anchorages on the road to the Indies, but for a long time no state claimed possession of it. Only in 1631 the Dutch East India Company founded a post station there and twenty years later (1652) J. Van Riebeeck he organized an emporium on behalf of the Company to which groups of Dutch farmers (Boers = peasants) and later French Huguenots flocked, thus forming the first sizeable European colony in Africa in modern times. Extensive farms and large livestock farms completed it, but penetration was slow and only a century later the Orange River was reached. From the earliest times, the Company’s fiscal and authoritarian methods had aroused even violent reactions from the Boers, who were very jealous of their independence, and it was under the pretext of suppressing a Boer revolt that the British (under whose protection the Company had put of Holland) in 1795 occupied the Land of the Cape and established a colonial regime there, later recognized in the Congress of Vienna in 1815, also as the In the meantime, Holland had ceded the colony to England (with other territories) for six million pounds. However, serious friction between the British and the Boers did not take long, above all because the English liberalism towards Africans was in contrast with the economic and racist system of the Boers. The abolition of slavery, decreed by England in 1833, exacerbated the situation. After vain attempts at rebellion, the Boers decided in 1837 to emigrate en masse to the north to seek a new homeland. During this great exodus (the “Great Trek”) ten thousand Boers fought their way against the Matabele and settled between the Orange and Vaal rivers, where they founded a republic with Winburg as its capital. Another group of theirs founded a second republic on the east coast (1840) called Natal. The two states, A. Pretorius, were not recognized by the British, who considered the Boers their subjects.
English troops invaded Natal (1842) and there followed a second exodus of the Boers across the Vaal river and the foundation of various other settlements united with very elastic ties to the Republic of Winburg. In exchange for the alliance against the Kaffirs (Bantu peoples of the region), who fiercely opposed the expansion of whites, the British recognized the federation of the Transvaal (Sand River Convention, 1852) and two years later the autonomy of the territories to the S of the Vaal, with the name of ” Orange Free State ” (Bloemfontein Convention). However, the old conflicts between the Boers and the English persisted, also sharpened by an intransigent nationalist and racist current, called the Doppers. In 1856, according to internetsailors, the Boer republics united in a federal state, South Africa, with a single Constitution, and this act was considered by the British as a violation of the previous Conventions. In 1867, huge deposits of diamonds and gold were discovered in the region and new economic and political perspectives opened up: the pressure of the British began to make itself felt on the Boers and on the Africans. The Orange had to give up part of its territories, while the Boers were forced to clear out the lands of the Basotho (Sotho) they had just conquered (1867). The Sotho and Swazis had to accept the English protectorate. Griqualand was annexed in 1871. The following year, the Cape Colony gained autonomy from the British government. Cecil Rhodes blocked Portuguese attempts to reunite Angola with Mozambique and assured the British capitalists a mining monopoly over the immense regions that he called the Rhodesie (Northern and Southern). In 1877 the annexation of the Transvaal was proclaimed, under the pretext of defending the region from attacks by the Zulu. The Boers rebelled, led by SJP Kruger and defeated the British, who had to recognize the independence of South Africa again, with some formal reservations (Pretoria Convention, 1881). Meanwhile, between 1890 and 1895 C. Rhodes it assured England the possession of the Rhodesias. The discovery of very rich gold deposits in the Witwatersrand rekindled the greed of the British, who tried to organize (1895) a coup d’état in the Transvaal in synchrony with an invasion (Jameson Raid), both crushed by the Boer troops. The incident was smoothed out, but now aware of the recurring danger, the Boers of the North and South joined in a military alliance (1897), while the two Rhodesies remained aloof, loyal to England. After four years of further tensions, a second and more dramatic Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902) came. Despite the first successes, the Boers led by Kruger had to give in in the open field to the overwhelming numerical and technical superiority of the British, JC Smuts, C. De Wet and P. Botha.