History of Southern Africa


Kingdom of Kush

1070 BC - 350 AD

Nubian kingdom of Kush rules Egypt and metal technology expands economic influence in sub-Saharan Africa

Nok culture

1000 B.C.E. - 300 C.E.

Nok culture thrives in Nigeria, famous for their terracotta sculptures.

Aksumite Civilization

100 AD - 940 AD

The Aksumite Empire, a trading nation in modern-day Ethiopia, left a Christian legacy after Aksum adopted Christianity.

Bantu people settle

700 - 1488

Settlement of Mapungubwe

1050 - 1270

Located in the Limpopo River valley of present-day Zimbabwe; an economy based on livestock and trade.


1100 - 1200

A group of churches are carved directly from the rock of the Lasta Mountains under the auspices of the Zagwe dynasty in Ethiopia (http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/07/afa.html)

Zagwe dynasty

1137 - 1270

The Zagwe dynasty ruled present-day northern Ethiopia until the last Zagwe King was killed in battle by the forces of the Abyssinian King

Swahili culture becomes established in powerful trading centers


Arab traders introduce Islam on southeastern coast of Africa

Approx. 1200

Building of the Great Zimbabwe monument

1200 - 1450

"The monument of Great Zimbabwe is the most famous stone building in southern Africa. Located over 150 miles from Harare, it stands 1,100 km above sea level on the Harare Plateau in the Shashe-Limpopo basin."(bbc.co.uk)

Great Mosque of Kilwa


The first stages of the Great Mosque of Kilwa and palace complex of Husuni Kubwa are built in what is now Tanzania

Great Zimbabwe is founded by Bantu-speaking ancestors of the Shona people

1250 - 1450

Rozwi Clan Crosses Zambezi river


Forefathers of Mutota people who originated on the Congo-Zambezi watershed crossed the Zambezi river. Then “established their hegemony in Guruhuswa on the southern part of the plateau, and were the new generation of builders at Great Zimbabwe” (p. 22 An Introduction to the History of Central Africa)

Break up of Rozwi clan state/Shona tribes

1400 - 1480

the Rozwi clan had expanded their empire into provinces which were governed by members of the ruling family among the Shona, Mutota, and Rozwi people. The conflicting interests of these tribes, however, “led to the breakup of the state.”(p.22)

Peak of town of Kilwa

Approx. 1400

height and prosperity of town of Kilwa, which was integral in the gold trade just north of Mozambique border on Tanzanian coast

Peak of Mambo Mutota's rule and power

1450 - 1480

Mambo Mutota was a confederation of the Larger Shona tribe in southern Africa. During this time they subjugated a different tribe called the Tavare.

State of Khami succeeded Great Zimbabwe

1450 - Approx. 1512

Mambo Mutota lead expedition north out of Zimbabwe


Mambo Mutota (leader of Mutota people) lead expedition to find salt supplies, or probably for imperialistic purposes

Founding of state of Torwa

1450 - 1660

Capital was Khami, state located in Guruhuswa (modern day Zimbabwe)

Bartolomeu Dias discovers Cape of Good Hope

1488 - 1652

Changa takes control from Karanga people in the Zimbabwe area

1490 - Approx. 1500

Changa, the leader of Guruhuswa, possibly with the help of Arab traders, attacked the Karanga people, and gained control of the area. A few years later he was overthrown in the northern area, and the rest stayed under his control for awhile.

Portuguese land in Sofala


The Portuguese controlled the maritime route to Asia around the Cape.

1498 - 1595

They monopolized trade in the Indian Ocean, driving out Arab merchants and capturing all the major trading cities along the east African coast.

Vasco da Gama sailed along the east coast of Africa before striking out to India


Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, sailed along the east coast of Africa before striking out to India.

Decline of trade economy on southeastern coast of Africa

Approx. 1500

Decline of Kilwa, East African Coast, and Great Zimbabwe trade and economy.

Bartholomew Dias Dies


Bartholomew Dias dies in a storm off the Cape of Good Hope.

Portuguese take over trade economy from Swahili

Approx. 1500

The Portuguese placed monopolistic restrictions on the trade rivers in modern day Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. The Maravi tribes eracted strongly and sent multiple military expeditions east to combat them. The Lundu practiced cannibalism on their conquered enemies in Angola (Portuguese colony)

Portuguese gain control over Sofala


Portuguese authority over Sofala a province in present day Mozambique. They established trade routes, but eventually trade’s importance faded there and was replaced by headquarters with hospitals and forts.

Portuguese establish forts near Zambezi river

1509 - 1560

Portuguese forts are established at river heads north of Zambezi river along the coast.

Khoikhoi kill Francisco De Almeida


Khoikhoi (herdsman within the San people) killed Francisco de Almeida, the viceroy of Portuguese India, and fifty eight of his men at on their return voyage to Portugal at Table Bay.

Antonio Fernandez travelled inland from Sofala


A Portuguese explorer ,Antonio Fernandez, travelled inland from Sofala to retrieve info about tribes (Kiteve) made it to the Mazoe river. Brought back info about stone forts (zimbabwes), gold, and “suitability of country for European settlements”(p.32)

A son of a Shona leader visits Mozambique and is baptized as a Christian


First Christian mission to southern Africa


Don Gonçola da Silveira, a Portuguese Jesuit, begins the first Christian mission to southern Africa

Zimba (off shoot of Maravi) war band attacked and conquered Kilwa and Mombasa


They were defeated by Portuguese outside Malindi (modern day Kenya)

Portuguese and Imbangala form partnership

Approx. 1600

The Imbangala was a carnivorous tribe who paved the way for Andrew Battell, among others, to explore, colonize, and gather slaves in the area of Angola.

Muslim presence in Zambezi area began decreasing


Nzinga Mbande achieves Ngolaship


A powerful leader, she aligned herself with the Portuguese by being baptized in Luanda (capitol of Angola). A year later she appeals for their help against the imbangala only to be betrayed by the Portuguese in the name of slave raiding. Her people now in chaos, she moved them north. Here she built up a strong middle-man and slave raiding state. She remained a notable power until the Dutch threatened her, after which she realigned herself with the Portuguese

Muslim Sharif granted territory


A Muslim sharif was granted a small territory by the Mutapa in the Zimbabwe area

Torwa Civil war

Approx. 1640

Dutch establish colony of Cape of Good Hope

1652 - 1795

Dutch army landed on Cape of good Hope


Dutch Commander Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape to establish a victualing, or refreshment, station.

63,000 slaves brought to South Africa

1652 - 1807

They were brought mainly from the Indian subcontinent, the Indonesian Archipelago, Madagascar, the Mascarene island groups in Indian Ocean, and the east coast of Africa.

Cape Colony


Jan van Riebeeck, representing the Dutch East India Company, founds the Cape Colony at Table Bay.

Doman sent to Batavia to become interpreter


Doman, a Goring-haiqua Khoikhoi, goes to Batavia, near the Cape of good Hope, to become an interpreter. "But having witnessed first hand the capacity of the Dutch to reduce indigenous people to positions of servitude, he became a staunch opponent of European colonization"(sahistory.org)

Amboyan Mardyckers arrived in the cape from the southeast asian islands


First recorded arrival of Muslims in southern Africa. Islam's presence was felt in northern Africa, and in southern Africa before this, but never in such an intense way. The Mardyckers were from Amboya (an Indonesian island). They were brought to the Cape by the Dutch to defend the colonies from the indigenous peoples, and weren't allowed to practice their religion openly.

First Dutch and Khoikhoi war

1659 - 1660

Spurred on by Doman, who was sent to to the Cape be an interpreter for the Dutch.

Nzinge Mbande Died


"died in the arms of the church"(Medieval Africa 1250-1800 p. 177) aged 81

Dutch East India Company (DEIC) brought Makasserese political prisoners to Cape of Good Hope


The Makasserese were brought from Indonesia. After this the DEIC began to isolate the Muslims on the Cape to outstations, often separating families.

Cape occupied by British

1795 - 1880

British forces seize


British forces seize Cape Colony from the Netherlands. Territory is returned to the Dutch in 1803; ceded to the British in 1806.

Zulu Empire

1816 - 1826

Shaka Zulu founds and expands the Zulu empire, creates a formidable fighting force.

Leave Cape Colony

1835 - 1840

Boers leave Cape Colony in the 'Great Trek' and found the Orange Free State and the Transvaal.

Self Government


British grant limited self-government to the Transvaal.

First and second Anglo-Boer wars

1880 - 1902

Gold rush


Gold is discovered in the Transvaal, triggering the gold rush.

Anglo Boer War


British troops gather on the Transvaal border and ignore an ultimatum to disperse. The second Anglo-Boer War begins.

End of Anglo-Boer War


Treaty of Vereeniging ends the second Anglo-Boer War. The Transvaal and Orange Free State are made self-governing colonies of the British Empire.

Formation of Union


Formation of Union of South Africa by former British colonies of the Cape and Natal, and the Boer republics of Transvaal, and Orange Free State.

ANC founded


Native National Congress founded, later renamed the African National Congress (ANC).

Land Act


Land Act introduced to prevent blacks, except those living in Cape Province, from buying land outside reserves.

National Party founded.


Secret Broederbond


Secret Broederbond (brotherhood) established to advance the Afrikaner cause.

South West Africa (Namibia) comes under South African administration.


Joining and withdrawing from the Commonwealth

1931 - 1961

Status of the Union Act


The Union of South Africa parliament enacts the Status of the Union Act, which declares the country to be "a sovereign independent state". The move followed on from Britain's passing of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which removed the last vestiges of British legal authority over South Africa.

Basic concept for apartheid conceptualized & approved


National Party introduces apartheid

1948 - 1990

Nationalist government inherited a system of segregation that was showing signs of collapse


Population Registration Act


Each minority group had their land expropriated by the government and were forced into areas based on assigned ethnicity



Population classified by race. Group Areas Act passed to segregate blacks and whites. Communist Party banned. ANC responds with campaign of civil disobedience, led by Nelson Mandela.

Pan African Congress (PAC)


was formed as a result of being frustrated with ANC's politics. Believed blacks must be a self-sustaining group to instill courage and pride in their race



Non violent protests happening everywhere, violence occurring only from the police

70 Killed


Seventy black demonstrators killed at Sharpeville. ANC banned.

Exclusion from Olympic Games

Approx. 1960

International pressure against government begins, South Africa excluded from Olympic Games.

Sabotage Campaign


South Africa declared a republic, leaves the Commonwealth. Mandela heads ANC's new military wing, which launches sabotage campaign.

Mandela sentenced to life


ANC leader Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment.



September - Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd assassinated.

Black 'homelands'


More than 3 million people forcibly resettled in black 'homelands'.

More killings


More than 600 killed in clashes between black protesters and security forces during uprising which starts in Soweto.

49 activists assassinated

1977 - 1989

End of apartheid


National party realized apartheid wasn't working and amended the constitution

Township revolt, state of emergency.

1984 - 1989



De Klerk took office and shifted the strategy to dealing with anti-apartheid organizations

Mandela released from prison, apartheid abolished

1990 - 1994

Mandela released


ANC unbanned, Mandela released after 27 years in prison. Namibia becomes independent.

De Klerk repeals apartheid laws


Start of multi-party talks. De Klerk repeals remaining apartheid laws, international sanctions lifted. Major fighting between ANC and Zulu Inkatha movement.

Agreement on interim constitution.


Mandela becomes president, rejoins Commonwealth

1994 - 1999

Mandela becomes president


April - ANC wins first non-racial elections. Mandela becomes president, Government of National Unity formed, Commonwealth membership restored, remaining sanctions lifted. South Africa takes seat in UN General Assembly after 20-year absence.

New constitution


Parliament adopts new constitution. National Party withdraws from coalition, saying it is being ignored.

ANC = human rights abuse


Truth and Reconciliation Commission report brands apartheid a crime against humanity and finds the ANC accountable for human rights abuses.

ANC wins general elections, Thabo Mbeki takes over as president.