South Africa
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Culture South Africa

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

South Africa : Discover the country's culture


"One Life" (2006), In my African Dream", by Johnny Clegg.

South Africa : Discover the country's history

Historical dates

About 2000 years ago: arrival of the San (Bushmen), then of the Ko´kho´s (or Hottentots).
1488-1498: Bartholomewe Diaz, then Vasco de Gama passed by the Cape of Good Hope.
1647: the Dutch ship Nieuw-Haarlem was shipwrecked near the coast of Table Bay, north of the future city of Cape Town initiating the permanent settlement of the Dutch (Boers) in South Africa.
From 1795 to 1802: after the failure of the East India Trading Company, the fights among the Dutch, the French and the English settlers intensified to eventually lead to British occupation of the territory and the setting up of British governance in 1815.
1835-1837: after the abolition of slavery, the Boers migrated to the north (the Great Trek).
1879: war between the British settlers and the Zulus.
1880: Boer riot against the British.
1902: defeat of the Boers.
1910: establishment of the South African Union, Louis Botha became Prime Minister and the Apartheid was launched.
1952: the "black" resistance intensified considerably with the National African Congress (ANC) taking the momentum.
1960: start of the armed resistance.
1961: establishment of the Republic of South Africa.
1989: Frederik De Klerk steps into power.
1991: liberation of Nelson Mandela after 27 years of imprisonment, an emblematic personality in the fight against apartheid. The abolition of apartheid.
October 1993: Frederick de Klerk and Nelson Mandela are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; an award obscured by battles raging between the Zulu party Inkhata (IFP) led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the National African Congress (ANC), almost leading to a civil war.
27 April 1994: Nelson Mandela is elected president of the Republic.
June 1999: Nelson Mandela is succeeded in power by Thabo Mbeki (ANC).
Since 1999: Thabo Mbeki confronts political worries. With elections approaching, the opposition grew in violence. The Cosatu trade union and the Communist party voiced harsh critiques against his ultra-liberal government and leads Mbeki to announce his endeavours to listen to the voice of his people.
2002: World Summit on Sustainable Development. Mbeki is accused of neglecting domestic affairs for the rest of Africa.
2004: In the run-up to elections, 80% of land still was in the hands of white locals. AIDs plagued the country (and still does) and people who are HIV positive represent some 20% of sexually active people. Retroviruses have started to appear. Africa celebrates 10 years of democracy and liberty as Thabo Mbeki starts his second term in power. The year also signified the first victory of the ANC and return of the New National Party (NNP) at the head of the government.
2005: a major corruption affair menaces Vice-president Jacob Zuma and he is dismissed from government by President Mbeki. Gay marriage was legalized in this year.
2006: the ANC won the general elections in all municipalities except Cape Town, whose vote went to the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition party.

South Africa : Stay up to date on the country's holidays and events


1st January: New Year
2nd January: Cape Town Carnival.
21st March: Human Rights Day.
27th April: Day of Liberty (National Holiday).
1st May: Labour Day.
9th August: Woman's Day.
24th September: Day of the Homeland.
16th December: Day of Reconciliation.
25th December: Christmas/Day of Goodwill.