c. 1,000 BC    Khoikhoi herders move into South Africa
300 – 1,000 AD  Bantu-speaking farmers move into South Africa
1652 Dutch East India Company establishes settlement at Cape Town
1650s – 1780s  Colonial expansion into northern and eastern Cape and conquest of Khoikhoi
1658 First slaves imported to Cape
1760s Slaves and Khoi required to carry passes
1799 – 1803 Khoikhoi rebellion in eastern Cape
1806 British establish permanent control over Cape Colony
1812 Indenture of Khoikhoi children on settler farms
1820s Expansion of Zulu kingdom
1834 Slave emancipation
1836 The “Great Trek.” Dutch-descended settlers (Boers) leave eastern Cape to live beyond British rule

Trekkers defeat Zulu and establish republic of Natalia (Natal

1843  British annex Natal
1846   Introduction of segregated administration for Africans in Natal
1852    Sand River Convention. British recognize Boer independence north of the Vaal  River (Transvaal)
1854  Bloemfontein Convention. British recognize Orange Free State.
1856 – 1857   Xhosa cattle-killing
1860        Introduction of Indian indentured labor to Natal (ended in 1911)
1867 Discovery of diamonds at Vaal-Hartz river (Kimberly)
1871  British annex diamond fields
1877   British annex Transvaal
1879  British invasion of Zululand
1880   Cape war with Soto
1881     Transvaal rebellion forces British withdrawal
1886    Gold discovered at Witwatersrand (Johannesburg)
1894      Glen Grey Act establishes separate land and tax systems for Africans (eastern Cape)
1899 –1902 South African (Boer) War.  British conquest of Transvaal and Orange Free State
1902 – 1905   Reconstruction of Transvaal and Orange Free State
1903 – 1905   South African Native affairs Commission recommends blueprint for segregation
1904 – 1907     Chinese indentured laborers used in gold mines
1910    Union of South Africa established
1911   Mines and Works Act imposes color bar in mines
1912   Foundation of SANNC (later ANC)
1913     Native Land Act segregates land ownership and restricts African land ownership to ‘native reserves’.  Indian general strike in Natal led by Gandhi
1918    Status Quo Act modifies color bar on mines.  African municipal workers strike in Johannesburg.  Afrikaaner Broederbond founded.
1920  Native affairs Act establishes separate administrative structures for Africans.  African mineworkers strike.
1922     Rand Revolt
1923      Natives (Urban Areas) Act provides for urban segregation and African influx control.  Industrial Conciliation Act excludes migrant workers from trade union   representation
1924   Coalition of Labour and National Party win election.  Afrikaans language given official recognition
1927    Native Administration Act ‘retribalizes’ African government and law
1930 – 1933    Great Depression
1934               South African Party under Smuts and National Party under Herzog form coalition ‘Fusion’ government
1936  Native Trust and Land Act consolidates reserves.  Representation of Natives Act removes Africans from Cape election rolls
1937 Marketing Act gives state subsidies to white farmers.  Native Laws Amendment Act intensifies urban pass laws
1940 – 1945   Rent and transport boycotts and squatter resistance on the Rand
1946     African mineworkers strike
1946 – 1947   National Indian Congress resists ‘Ghetto’ Act restricting Indian property ownership
1948   National Party under Malan forms government
1949       ANC Youth League produces Programme of Action.  African and Indian conflict in Durban
1950   Population Registration Act, Immorality Act, Group Areas Act, Suppression of Communism Act lay first foundation of apartheid
1951 Bantu Authorities Act
1952   Abolition of Passes and Coordination of documents Act extends pass laws.  ANC launches ‘Defiance Campaign’
1953      Separate Amenities Act, Bantu Education Act, Criminal Law Amendment Act extend apartheid legal framework
1955     Native (Urban Areas) Amendment Act extends urban influx control
1956   Coloreds removed from Cape election rolls.  Mass demonstration of women  against pass laws
1956 – 1961     Treason Trial
1956 – 1957   Rural revolts in Transvaal and Free State
1957        Alexandra bus boycotts          
1959       Foundation of Pan African Congress (PAC).  Promotion of Bantu Self- Government Act sets up ethnic ‘homelands’
1960     Sharpeville shootings and State of emergency.  Banning of ANC, PAC and Communist Party
1961    Umkhonto we Sizwe guerrilla movement founded.  South Africa leaves British   Commonwealth and becomes a Republic
1963        General Laws Amendment Act permits detention without trial
1964               Rivonia trials sentence ANC leaders to life imprisonment.  Black Labour Act tightens influx control
1969   Foundation of South African Students’ Organization (SASO) under Biko
1973 -1975  Widespread African strikes in Natal and eastern Cape
1975    Foundation of Inkatha under Buthelezi
1976      Revolt in Soweto and other townships
1977     Detention and murder of Biko.  Banning of Black consciousness organizations
1976 - 1981   Nominal independence of homelands—Transkei (1976), Bophutathatswana (1977), Venda (1979), Ciskei (1981)
1979     Carlton Conference meeting of government and business leaders.  Rickert    Commission recommends easing the color bar.  Wiehahn Commission recommends recognition of African labor unions
1982   Formation of conservative Party under Treurnicht
1983  Formation of United Democratic Front (UDF)
1984    Elections under new tricameral constitution widely boycotted by Indian and    Colored voters
1984 – 1986   Widespread resistance.  State of Emergency and troops move into townships
1985    Foundation of Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). International bank loans called in. International sanctions intensified. Uitenhage shootings.
1986  Repeal of pass laws
1986 – 1989  Widespread conflict between Inkatha and UDF in Natal
1988   KwaNdebele resistance to ‘independence’
1989   P.W. Botha replaced by F.W. de Klerk.  Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) launches civil disobedience campign
1990  De Klerk unbans ANC, PAC and Communist Party. Nelson Mandela released from jail. Namibia obtains independence
1991 Repeal of Group Areas, Land and Population Registration Acts. Conventiion for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) formed to negotiate democratic constitution.  Government backing for Inkatha vigilantes against ANC
1992 White referendum supports CODESA negotiations but they break down and Inkatha-ANC conflict intensifies
1993      Negotiations resume to form interim constitution
1994     Election by universal franchise elects Government of National unity with ANC majority. Mandela inaugurated as State President.
1995  Bishop Tutu appointed head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by President Mandela
1996  New multi-racial constitution signed into law
1999       Mbeki becomes President
2003  Final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
                                  *The timeline is largely drawn from Nigel Worden, The Making of Modern South Africa. Second Edition. Oxford, UK & Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995