A world without us, to people and pastures
About 280 million years ago (mya), Pangea emerged from the Ice Age. The outlines of the southern African coast formed around 140 mya.Eruptions below the earth's surface about 290 mya caused rock buckling that formed the Cape Fold Mountains. About 150 mya some sediment was eroded away, leaving Table Mountain isolated.
20 000 years ago Homo sapiens were widely dispersed throughout southern Africa: The world without us had become the world of the San. The 'pastoral revolution' began 2 000 years ago when the Khoikhoi acquired sheep and cattle and grazing territory had to be owned.
Under pressure from San stock raiders the Khoikhoi migrated south. When the first Europeans arrived at the Cape in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Khoikhoi were the dominant society.
290 mya Cape Fold Mountains formed.
150 mya Table Mountain is formed.
140 mya Super-continent Pangea breaks up into separate continents.
5 mya Australopithecus, the southern ape, lives.
100 000 ya Anatomically modern humans live in caves in southern Cape.
14 000 ya San hunter-gatherers widely dispersed across southern Africa
2 000 ya Khoikhoi pastoralists live alongside the San; move south to the Cape coastline.
Barriers to Freedom and waves of resistance
In 1910 the Union of South Africa, incorporating the former Boer republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State and the two former British colonies of the Cape and Natal, was constituted.
1948 apartheid became official government policy, furthering the colonial pattern of segregation, racial domination and white minority privilege. The Group Areas Act of 1950 allowed the forced removal of 'coloured' people from their homes; and Africans were subject to the despised pass laws controlling their movement everywhere in the country.
Apartheid ruled and divided a nation, but resistance was brewing and no amount of legislation, reform or repression could stop it. Protest ended in tragedy.
1960 when police killed 69 peaceful demonstrators in Sharpeville.The massacre prompted 30 000 protesters to march on Cape Town from Langa. The government reacted by banning the ANC and PAC. Driven into exile, peaceful protest became armed resistance.
1976 students in Soweto rebelled against the use of Afrikaans in black schools.
The 1980s witnessed an eruption of resistance. The United Democratic Front, launched in 1983, unified the struggle. Apartheid had been pushed to the brink of collapse.
1910 Union of South Africa established, incorporating the Cape colony; African delegation travels in vain to London to protest against exclusion and the colour bar
1912 South African Native National Congress (SANNC, later ANC) is founded
1913 Natives' Land Act is passed, enforcing the separation of whites and Africans in the rural areas
1914-18 World War I: 12 452 South Africans die
1918 CJ Langenhoven writes Die Stem van Suid-Afrika
1923 Natives (Urban Areas) Act extends segregation to towns
1925 Afrikaans is adopted as an official language, in addition to English
1936 Property-owning Cape Africans are removed from the common voters' role
1939-45 World War II: 9 000 South Africans die; large numbers of Africans seek work in cities & towns
1948 Apartheid becomes official policy of government
1960 Anti-Pass Law campaign: 30,000 Africans march from Langa to Cape Town
1960 ANC & PAC banned: leaders flee into exile; military wings established
1964 Nelson Mandela and comrades imprisoned on Robben Island
1966 District Six declared a white area under the Group Areas Act
1976 Soweto uprising spreads to schools in W Cape
1980 Widespread revolt against apartheid in W Cape and across country
1983 United Democratic Front (UDF) is launched in Mitchells Plain, Cape
1984 Desmond Tutu is awarded Nobel Peace Prize
1986 Pass system & influx control abolished; rate of African urbanisation increases
1990 ANC and other political parties unbanned and political prisoners released
1991 Formal multi-party negotiations begin to provide for a new constitution & democracy
1993 Nelson Mandela awarded Nobel Peace Prize jointly with FW de Klerk
1994 South Africa's first democratic election
1994 Nelson Mandela becomes the first black president of South Africa
Strangers on the Shore and Soil and Settlers
Bartolomeu Dias sailed south in 1487, arriving at the "Bay of Cowherds" (Mossel Bay) a year later. Dias' party continued but never reached the east.
In 1498 Vasco da Gama rounded the entire South African coastline, making Portugal the first European nation to reach the east by sea. The Portuguese monopolised eastern trade and Europeans became familiar to the Khoikhoi. The Dutch eventually broke the Portuguese monopoly and changed the way of life at the Cape forever. By the mid 17th century Jan van Riebeek established a refreshment station at the Cape to service Dutch ships on trading voyages.
From 1652 Company employees were given land grants to farm on land used by the Khoisan. The French Huguenots arrived between 1688 and 1700 settling mainly in Franschhoek and founding the Cape wine industry.
In 1795 Britain occupied the Cape. After officially handing the Cape back to the Netherlands in 1803, they returned and stayed three years later. The Cape was to remain its colony until the Union of South Africa in 1910.
1488 Bartolomeu Dias makes contact with the Khoikhoi at Mossel Bay
1488 Dias rounds the Cape, calling it "Cape of Storms"; renamed "Cape of Good Hope"
1510 Portuguese clash with the Khoikoi on shores of Table Bay
1652 Jan van Riebeek establishes a permanent settlement at the Cape
1654 Citrus trees brought to the Cape from St Helena
1655 Wheat planted by the Dutch in south-western Cape
1655 Dutch plant first vineyards at the Cape
1657 First Dutch farmers (free burgers) settle on Khoikhoi land
1658 First slaves, from Angola & West Africa, arrive at the Cape
1663 White settlement spreads to the interior; outposts established & small market centres develop
1667 First slaves from the East arrive at the Cape
1771 Cape boundary crosses Gamtoos River; trekker and Xhosa clashes begin
1688 French Huguenots arrive; settle at Franschhoek
1690 Trekboers (frontier farmers) leave south-western Cape for the interior
1700 White settlers organise punitive expeditions against the San and Xhosa
1739 Last armed resistance by the Khoikhoi in south-western Cape
1793 Growth of mission stations at the Cape begins
Settlers, Slaves, Trekkers, Territory and Trouble
Between 1652 and 1834, slaves formed the backbone of the Cape economy. They were abducted from Africa, Madagascar, India, Ceylon, Malaysia, Burma and Java.
Between 1652 and 1808, approximately 63 000 persons of colour were relocated to the Cape as slaves. On 1 December 1834slavery was abolished at the Cape.In the 1770s Dutch-speaking farmers - the trekboers - migrated from the south-western Cape into the interior. Frontier wars against the Xhosa broke out in the east and lasted almost a century, until Xhosa power was broken. In 1834 frontier farmers rebelled against British rule at the Cape and migrated north in a 'Great Trek' to find ?a promised land?. 15 000 Voortrekkers left during the 1830s.By the late 19th century the Xhosa people were forced to move from their lands. Defeated by colonial forces with their cattle diminished, many migrated to white farms and towns in search of work.
1795 First British occupation of South Africa
1803 Cape Colony reverts to Dutch rule
1806 Britain re-occupies the Cape
1834 Slavery abolished in South Africa
1840 Merino sheep farming begins to transform colonial economy
1865 Ostriches first domesticated
1885 Cape to Kimberley railway line completed; reaches Johannesburg in 1894
1885 House of Parliament opened in Cape Town
1870 Afrikaner Nationalism gains root among Afrikaners at the Cape & interior in opposition to British Imperialism
1897 Enoch Sontonga composes Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
South African War until 1902
1901 Ndabeni becomes first African township in Cape
Buildings and Places
Discover the oldest surviving stone building in South Africa. Find out about the styles of architecture that depict the culture and history of Cape Town and the Western Cape.
Castle of Good HopeThe Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving stone building in South Africa. Situated in the Cape Town city centre, it is a visitor attraction with an interesting museum and good restaurant. The Castle is also the administrative military headquarters of the Western Cape.
The Castle formed the centre of community life and administration. The Castle housed a bakery, a church, offices, cells and living quarters. The Kat Balcony was constructed in 1695. Proclamations, judicial sentences and announcements were made from this balcony. Official visitors to the Castle were also welcomed here.The gateway to the Castle was built in 1682 and it replaced the previous gateway. The bell tower above the entrance was constructed two years later. The bell was only cast in 1697 in Amsterdam and is the oldest bell in South Africa. The Castle was declared a national monument in 1936. The moat, the Dolphin Pool and Het Bakhuys were reintroduced in the 1980?s. Today the Castle is the best preserved example of Dutch fortification in the world.The Castle houses a military museum, the William Fehr Collection of artworks and period pieces, a collection of antique furniture used at the Cape in Secunda?s House and the Grain Cellar Museum. The Grain Cellar museum displays a collection of bones, portraits and cutlery found when digging a hole in the cellar. Other attractions include the two dungeons (the Torture Chamber and the Dark Hole) and the Garrison Cells. The De Goewerneur Restaurant inside Het Bakhuys serves traditional Cape cuisine and wine. The Castle of Good Hope is open to visitors from 09h00 to 16h00 every day except Christmas Day and New Years Day.
ArchitectureThe architecture of the Cape depicts the culture and history of the area. Architecture has been strongly influenced by the Dutch, British and more recently by more contemporary African style.