Friday, 8 October 2010

CASE 105 - The History of South Africa

If the history of South Africa is in large part one of increasing racial divisiveness, today it can also be seen as the story of - eventually - a journey through massive obstacles towards the creation, from tremendous diversity, of a single nation whose dream of unity and common purpose is now capable of realisation.

The earliest people

The earliest representatives of South Africa's diversity - at least the earliest we can name - were the San and Khoekhoe peoples (otherwise known individually as the Bushmen and Hottentots or Khoikhoi; collectively called the Khoisan). Both were resident in the southern tip of the continent for thousands of years before its written history began with the arrival of European seafarers. And before that, modern human beings had lived here for more than 100 000 years - indeed, the country is an archaeological treasure chest. The hunter-gatherer San ranged widely over the area; the pastoral Khoekhoe lived in those comparatively well-watered areas, chiefly along the southern and western coastal strips, where adequate grazing was to be found. So it was with the latter that the early European settlers first came into contact - much to the disadvantage of the Khoekhoe.

As a result of diseases such as smallpox imported by the Europeans, of some assimilation with the settlers and especially with the slaves who were to arrive in later years, and of some straightforward extermination, the Khoekhoe have effectively disappeared as an identifiable group. Other long-term inhabitants of the area that was to become South Africa were the Bantu-speaking people who had moved into the north-eastern and eastern regions from the north, starting at least many hundreds of years before the arrival of the Europeans. The Thulamela site in the northern Kruger National Park is estimated to have been first occupied in the 13th century. The ruins of Mapungubwe, where artefacts from as far away as China have been found, are the remains of a large trading settlement thought to stretch back to the 12th century. Agro-pastoralists, these people brought with them an Iron Age culture and sophisticated socio-political systems.

Settlers and slaves

Their existence was of little import to Jan van Riebeeck and the 90 men who landed with him in 1652 at the Cape of Good Hope, under instructions by the Dutch East India Company to build a fort and develop a vegetable garden for the benefit of ships on the Eastern trade route. Their relationship with the Khoekhoe was initially one of bartering, but a mutual animosity developed over issues such as cattle theft - and, no doubt, the growing suspicion on the part of the Khoekhoe that Van Riebeeck's outpost was becoming a threat to them. Perhaps the first sign that the threat was to be realised came in 1657 when nine men, released from their contracts, were given land to farm. In the same year the first slaves were imported. By the time Van Riebeeck left in 1662, 250 white people lived in what was beginning to look like a developing colony. Later governors of the Cape Colony encouraged immigration, and in the early 1700s independent farmers called trekboers began to push north and east. Inevitably, the Khoisan started literally losing ground, in addition to being pressed by difficult circumstances into service for the colonists. The descendants of some of the Khoisan, slaves from elsewhere in Africa and the East, and white colonists formed the basis of the mixed-race group now known as "coloured". It is noteworthy that the slaves from the East brought a potent new ingredient to South Africa's racial and cultural mix, especially with their religion of Islam.

Colonial expansion

As the colonists began moving east, they encountered the Xhosa-speaking people living in the region that is today's Eastern Cape. A situation of uneasy trading and more or less continuous warfare began to develop. By this time, the second half of the 18th century, the colonists - mainly of Dutch, German and French Huguenot stock - had begun to lose their sense of identification with Europe. The Afrikaner nation was coming into being. As a result of developments in Europe, the British took the Cape over from the Dutch in 1795. Seven years later, the colony was returned to the Dutch government, only to come under British rule again in 1806, recaptured because of the alliance between Holland and Napoleon. The initially somewhat cautious regulations aimed at ameliorating the conditions under which, for instance, Khoi servants were employed, caused discontent and even open rebellion among the colony's white inhabitants.

Discovery of Gold, diamonds and the Boar war

Britain achieved a temporary expansion of its southern African rule in the politically unstable north, where the unpopularity of President TF Burgers opened the way for Britain to annex the Transvaal in 1877. It lost control again after a rebellion that dealt another blow to the military pride of the empire at Majuba. The eventual resolution was the granting of qualified independence in 1881 and full internal autonomy in 1884 - by which time the conservative and intensely pro-Afrikaner Paul Kruger had been elected president of the restored, but financially strapped, republic.

Two years later, when gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand, Kruger presided over a financial turnaround of spectacular proportions - but he also saw a serious threat to Afrikaner independence develop as huge numbers of newcomers, mostly British, descended on the gold fields. Without urgent action, these people (the uitlanders, or foreigners) would soon qualify for the vote. The response was to create stringent franchise qualifications, an action which, with its 14-year residence stipulation, would at least postpone the difficulty.

Rhodes and the Jameson Raid

In the Cape, however, Cecil John Rhodes had become Prime Minister. His overriding vision of a federation of British-controlled states in southern Africa was well served by the growing discontent of the uitlanders and exasperation of the mining magnates in the ZAR. Rhodes' first attempt at takeover, however, came to an ignominious end when his plan to have Leander Starr Jameson lead a raid into Johannesburg in response to a planned uitlander uprising failed. The uprising did not happen: Jameson rode precipitously into the Transvaal and had to surrender. Rhodes resigned. The Jameson Raid had a polarising effect. Afrikaners in the Cape and the Orange Free State, though disapproving of Kruger in many ways, became more sympathetic to his anti-British stance. The Orange Free State, under President MT Steyn, formed a military alliance with the Transvaal.

The Anglo-Boer War

In Britain, however, Rhodes and Jameson were popular heroes. It kept up the pressure on Kruger, and the Anglo-Boer/South African War began in October 1899. Up to half a million British soldiers squared up against some 65 000 Boers; black South Africans were pulled into the conflict on both sides. Again, Britain's military reputation suffered a blow as the Boers set siege to Ladysmith, Kimberley and Mafeking (Mafikeng - home at the time to a young black diarist named Sol Plaatje, whose initially pro-British attitudes were to be severely shaken by the shameful treatment of the town's black inhabitants during the siege). Under Major General Herbert Kitchener and Field Marshal Sir Frederick Sleigh Roberts, however, the British offensive gained force, and by 1900 Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Pretoria were occupied. Kruger fled for Europe. The Boer reply was to intensify guerilla war - General Jan Smuts, who had been Kruger's state attorney, led his troops to within 190 kilometres of Cape Town - and in response Kitchener adopted a scorched-earth policy and set up racially separate civilian concentration camps in which some 26 000 Boer women and children and 14 000 black and coloured people were to die in appalling conditions. The war ended in Boer defeat at the Peace of Vereeniging in 1902.

3 decades of crisis

The 1950s had still offered many opportunities to resolve South Africa's racial injustices peacefully. This, however, was contrary to official ideology. Instead, apartheid transmuted itself into the policy of "separate development": the division of the black population into ethnic "nations", each of which was to have its own "homeland" and eventual "independence". South Africa's isolation increased in 1961 when, following a white referendum, South Africa became a republic and Verwoerd took it out of the Commonwealth. A general strike was called to coincide with the May 31 institution of the republic. At the end of that year, Umkhonto we Sizwe (The Spear of the Nation), emerged with acts of sabotage against government installations. Originally formed by a group of individuals within the ANC, including Mandela, it was to become that organisation's armed wing. A new stage of international pressure began when the UN General Assembly called on its members to institute economic sanctions against South Africa. Mandela, in the meanwhile, had travelled through Africa making contact with numerous leaders. Going underground on his return, he was arrested in Natal in August 1962 and received a three-year sentence for incitement.

The Rivonia Trial

In July 1963 a police raid on the Rivonia farm Lilliesleaf led to the arrest of several of Mandela's senior ANC colleagues, including Walter Sisulu. They were charged with sabotage, Mandela being brought from prison to stand trial with them. All were sentenced in 1964 to life imprisonment and taken to Robben Island. In September 1966 BJ Vorster became Prime Minister after the assassination in parliament of Verwoerd. Segregation became even more strictly enforced. Reeling under the blow of the "Rivonia Trial", the ANC nevertheless continued to operate, regrouping at the Morogoro Conference in Tanzania in 1969. The first half of the next decade was marked by increasing repression, increasing militancy in the resistance camp, and extensive strikes.

June 16, 1976

The moment of truth came on June 16, 1976, when the youth of Soweto marched against being taught in the medium of Afrikaans. Police fired on them, precipitating a massive flood of violence that overwhelmed the country. Nevertheless, an attempt was made to further the "homeland" policy, with Transkei being the first to accept nominal independence later that year. A new movement known as Black Consciousness had become increasingly influential. The death as a result of police brutality of its charismatic founder, Steve Biko, shocked the world in 1977. PW Botha, who became Prime Minister in 1978 after Vorster's retirement, tried to co-opt the coloured and Indian population in the early 1980s with a new constitution establishing a Tricameral Parliament, with separate houses for these groups. The constitution also did away with the post of Prime Minister and provided for an executive State President. Opposition came from both left and right, a section of the right wing splitting off from the National Party. The United Democratic Front, an internal coalition of anti-apartheid groups, organised highly successful boycotts of the coloured and Indian elections in 1984.

State of emergency

There was a further escalation of violence, with the country being governed - as far as it was governable - under a state of emergency in a spiral of revolution and repression. International sanctions increased. Among the other organisations in the spotlight at this time were the trade union body Cosatu and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha, the latter involved in bloody conflict with pro-ANC factions. 1989 was the year in which the logjam started to break up. Negotiations had been entered into between Mandela and PW Botha, but these were secret. Dissension within the Nationalist Party, in combination with Botha's ill health, led to his resignation, and he was replaced by FW de Klerk. The South African Blacks and English-speaking Whites were against Verwoerd’s new Boer/Afrikaner Protestant republic now separated from the Order’s British Crown. Therefore the Jesuit Order’s preeminent Black African Temporal Coadjutor—Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu (backed by Rome’s CFR/RIIA-controlled international press (AP, UPI, etc.)—accompanied by his violent and criminal student, Black Jesuit Temporal Coadjutor Nelson Mandela leading the Socialist-Communist Black ANC, began organized resistance to the anti-communist, White National Party and the independent republic enforcing racial separation. With the assassination of Verwoerd, the movement to create an independent White Protestant Boer nation—as well as an independent Black nation—out of the recently created Republic of South Africa sadly ended. From that moment on the National Party began to cave and compromise, catering to pro-Black, pro-amalgamation and pro-socialist-communist pressures—to the delight of the Jesuit Order. Therefore, the Jesuits, being the masters of reaction, created the hatefully-racist, secretly neo-Nazi, White AWB political party in 1973. Its founder would be ex-police officer Eugene Terre Blanche. Its secret purpose would be the same as the Order’s creation of the hatefully-racist, Second American Ku Klux Klan in 1915: to lead historic White Protestants with legitimate grievances into acts of violence, social defeat, the loss of historic, high White Protestant culture to be replaced with historic, low African culture, racial amalgamation, rampant Black-on-White crime and the organized genocide of the racial and religious White Protestant Boers. Fortunately, only a fraction of White Dutch Boers would join Blanche’s paramilitary organization, the vast majority realizing the bombastic Afrikaner was an agitator and a traitor to his racial people and historic White Protestant culture. He, like Knight of Malta Nelson Mandela, was a violent criminal, Blanche nearly beating a Black man to death for which he was sent to prison. Blanche preached hatred, violence and anarchy while rightly advocating the establishment of an anti-communist, White Afrikaner Republic created from a portion of the existing anti-White Boer, socialist-communist Black Republic of South Africa. He was a hateful White Supremacist, following in the footsteps of his Jesuit Nazi-SS forebears. Blanche, by his very actions, despised the very memory of the righteous and benevolent Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd—murdered by the Jesuits of Rome! Although we are incensed by Blanche’s savage murder—calculated to incite a White backlash that would be used to justify White Protestant Boer annihilation via the Pope’s pro-socialist-communist United Nations, we are now relieved of his presence. May the White Protestant Boers begin to tell their pitiful story to the world before their impending genocide—promoted by the Black Pope’s Masonic White Power Structure centered in Washington, London and Rome—becomes another fact of bloody, Jesuit Counter-Reformation history!

(Nelson Mandella and his political opposition wearing the SMOM black robes)

Death of the apartheid

On February 2 1990, FW de Klerk lifted restrictions on 33 opposition groups, including the ANC, the PAC and the Communist Party, at the opening of Parliament. On February 11 Mandela, who had maintained a tough negotiating stance on the issue, was released after 27 years in prison. The piecemeal dismantling of restrictive legislation began. Political groups started negotiating the ending of white minority rule, and in early 1992 the white electorate endorsed De Klerk's stance on these negotiations in a referendum. Violence continued unabated, a massacre at the township of Boipatong causing the ANC to withdraw temporarily from constitutional talks. In 1993, however, an agreement was reached on a Government of National Unity which would allow a partnership of the old regime and the new. The optimism generated by the negotiations was shattered by the assassination of Chris Hani, the secretary-general of the Communist Party: only a prompt appeal to the nation by Mandela averted a massive reaction. At the end of the year an interim constitution was agreed to by 21 political parties.

First democratic elections

South Africa's first democratic election was held on 26, 27 and 28 April 1994, with victory going to the ANC in an alliance with the Communist Party and Cosatu. Nelson Mandela was sworn in as President on May 10 with FW de Klerk and the ANC's Thabo Mbeki as Deputy Presidents. Mandela's presidency was characterised by the successful negotiation of a new constitution; a start on the massive task of restructuring the civil service and attempts to redirect national priorities to address the results of apartheid; and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up primarily to investigate the wrongs of the past. In the country's second democratic election on 2 June 1999 the ANC marginally increased its majority and Thabo Mbeki became President. The New Nationalist Party, previously the official opposition, lost ground and ceded that position to the Democratic Party, which later became the Democratic Alliance. In 2004 South Africa's third democtaic election went off peacefully, with Thabo Mbeki and the ANC again returning to power, and the Democratic Alliance retaining its position as official opposition. 1995 The world watched South Africa host the Rugby World cup in which they won, unifying the country further


Anonymous said...

Brilliantly researched...not. That picture is not of Nelson Mandela wearing the robes of the Order of Malta with his "political opposition". He's wearing the robes of the Order of St John and that's the Duke of Gloucester!

Anonymous said...

Sovereign Military Order of Malta = ORDER OF ST JOHN