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Brief History of Western Cape, South Africa

Back to Property in Western Cape, South Africa

Traces of the tools of early stone age hunter-gatherers found in the area of modern day Western Cape indicate that this area was inhabited by prehistoric people as much as 600 000 years ago. Most well known of these prehistoric hunter-gatherer is probably the the San (Bushmen) which relied almost solely on what the seashore had to offer for their food. About 2000 years ago the San was displaced by the Khoikhoi from the north, bringing with them their herds of cattle and sheep. By the time the first Europeans settled into the Table Bay area of the Western Cape the Khoikhoi was the dominant tribe in the area.

The first European settlement in the Western Cape area of South Africa was in the form of a supply station established in1652 by the Dutch East India Company at the newly christened Cape of Good Hope. This supply station quickly evolved into a colonial settlement. With the growth of the settlement the Khoi-San was driven away and slaves had to be imported from Madagascar, India, Ceylon, Malaya, and Indonesia to help build the colonial settlement in the Western Cape.

By the early 18th century the Western Cape Khoikhoi population had completely disintegrated and the influx of German and French religious refugees swelled the European population. At that time slavery had become the economic backbone of the colony in the Western Cape.

In order to secure this strategic sea route to the east, Britain quickly grabbed Western Cape in 1795. This was not welcomed by the Calvinist Dutch Burghers but for the substantial Muslim Slave population this was good news as the British soon ordered the abolition of slavery. The British also allowed freedom of religion resulting in the first Mosque built in Dorp Street in the Bo-Kaap of the Western Cape area.

By the 19th century Western Cape had a Seaport of major significance and department stores, banks and insurance company buildings became evident everywhere. Victoria road was built from City to Sea Point and a Suburban railway line to Wynberg laid. As slavery was abolished convict labor had to be imported from the colonial frontier in the Eastern Cape to build the city.

Cape Town in the Western Cape became the legislative capital of the union in 1910. By 1945 the increasing industrialization had attracted an influx of black workers which were housed in the Western cape locations of Guguletu and Nyanga. Three years later the National Party came to power and they introduced a policy that favored coloureds over blacks for employment.

The Langa township of Western Cape became a stronghold of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) . On April 8,1960 the PAC organized a peaceful anti-pass demonstration in Western Cape. The police opposed the demonstration killing three demonstrators and wounding many. As a result of this incident the government declared a state of emergency and consequently anti-apartheid groups such as the PAC & ANC was banned. In 1966 the government introduced the group areas act. As a result of this act coloured communities were removed from district six to the desolate Cape Flats. Here gangsterism took root which is still prelevant today in the Cape Flats are of the Western Cape.

In 1986 the South African government scrapped influx control and blacks poured into Western Cape seeking work and erecting shanty towns. The influx was so great that Western Cape soon became one of the fasting growing cities in the world. In 1990 Mandela was released and soon a non-racial democracy was established in South Africa.


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