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Southern Africa

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A History Of Southern AFRICA

The legacy of apartheid



In this lesson you will encounter the Zulu warriors , Afrikaners, Nelson Mandela, and more!


Students will be able to:

  • Trace Southern African history from the 1400s-today.
  • Explain how apartheid was rooted in colonialism.
  • Describe the system of apartheid and how its end affected South Africa.

Timeline of History in Southern Africa


European colonization of Southern Africa


The British take over Dutch colonies in South Africa


The powerful Zulu Empire


Europeans take over all of Southern Africa


Independence movements across Southern Africa

British and Dutch Colonization of Southern Africa

The Dutch established a colony in 1651 on the Southern tip of Africa, and slowly chipped away more land from indigenous Africans. In 1806 the British took control over the Dutch colony in South Africa, but the Dutch settlers had already developed a unique culture.


The Dutch-speaking, white population of South Africa was called the Afrikaners. Although they were the minority group in South Africa, they enjoyed many priviliges over black Africans, even after the Dutch lost this territory to the British.

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Zulu Empire

One Group that the Afrikaners came into conflict with was the...

  • Europeans brought guns, diseases, and used too many of the Africa's resources. They forced people from their homes and captured people as slaves.
  • In 1619 a leader named Shaka formed the Zulu Empire. He united small clans together in opposition of European colonization.
  • This powerful empire fought both Afrikaners and British colonizers.

Discovery of Gold and Diamonds

Gold and diamonds were discovered in Southern Africa, ramping up European desires to take over the region. The British defeated other European countries, Afrikaners, and the Zulu to control Southern Africa.The discovery of precious gems and minerals also led to some people in the region becoming rich, but many others stayed poor. While white people in the region could be rich or poor, a culture of racism prevented Black Africans and people of other races from gaining wealth or power.

The racial tensions in Southern Africa intensified post-Independence.

  • Europeans controlled most of Southern Africa well into the 1900s.
  • In particular, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia took complicated paths to independence.
  • For many years, African-born white people held most of the power in these countries. Even after Europe granted these countries independence, Black Africans there were denied full rights as citizens.
  • For the rest of this lesson we are going to focus particularly on the story of the country of South Africa.


  • South Africa gained independence from Britain in 1910​.
  • In 1948, the Afrikaners won an election and established a policy called apartheid, or separateness. Apartheid kept people of all races strictly separate, with white people holding the power.
  • Apartheid laws limited where Black people could live, work,travel, go to school and receive medical care. They could not vote or marry people of different races.​

Making Connections

Do you notice any similarities between how Black Africans were treated under apartheid and the treatment of Black Americans at any points in US history?

Think about the following: ​ What is apartheid? Why were these laws passed?​ The effects of apartheid laws ​ How did people push back?​

Apartheid Continued

Many people inside and beyond South Africa believed apartheid was wrong. ​ The government jailed leaders of groups like the African National Congress (ANC), a political party that worked for Black civil rights.​ Nelson Mandela played a key role in ending apartheid as an ANC leader who was jailed in 1962.​F.W. de Klerk , South Africa’s president from 1989 to 1994, realized that apartheid was destroying South Africa. ​ In 1990, he released Mandela from prison and agree to end apartheid.​

Nelson Mandela

Music- Nelson Mandela by The Specials

Let's Make Connections!

Some historians note similarities between the work of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. Let's use our prior knowledge and historical thinking to compare and contrast these figures.

How are they similar? How are they different?

Any Questions?


See you tomorrow to discuss cultures of Southern Africa!