British history in South Africa
Did you know?
Rudyard Kipling, Winston Churchill and Edgar Wallace were all reporters in the South African War (also known as the Anglo-Boer War).
There are many pockets of British influence on South Africa, and as you drive through the country you’ll pass through what sometimes looks, sounds and tastes just like the United Kingdom.
Take, for instance, the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal: Nottingham Road; Gowrie; Underberg; Richmond; Currie’s Post. Combine those names with green, rolling hills and cottage industries and bucolic little dusty side roads and a hundred Farmer Brown lookalikes and yes, this could be Britain.
Then there’s the Eastern Cape, replete with 1820 Settlers' stock from Somerset East to Lady Grey, Adelaide to Bedford to Cookhouse to the heartland frontier of English South Africa: Grahamstown.
Britain briefly captured the Cape from the Dutch in 1795, gave it back 7 years later and then, in 1806, took it once more – keeping it as a British colony for 104 years until 1910.
This is where the African legends were born: British authors John Buchan (Prester John), Percy Fitzpatrick (Jock of the Bushveld), Olive Schreiner (Story of an African Farm) vied with red-blooded adventurers like Cornwallis-Harris, jaunty crooks like Scotty Smith, civil rightists like Emily Hobhouse and moguls like Cecil John Rhodes for a place in the history books.
In the late 19th Century, the Zulus gave Lord Chelmsford’s forces the British Empire’s biggest colonial bloody nose at that time, lost the war later at Ulundi and then watched as Boer and Brit squared up.
The South African War (formerly called the Anglo-Boer War) at the turn of the century saw Britain dispatch 500 000 soldiers against 65 000 Boers, with large numbers of black South Africans being recruited on both sides. Eventually, after a protracted guerilla war, the Boers gave over at Vereeniging in 1902. In 1910, South Africa became a union and later, in 1961, a republic. Today, British numbers make up the majority of offshore tourists who visit South Africa.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Makana (Grahamstown) Tourism
Tel +27 (46) 622 3241
KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields Region Guides
Tel: +27 (0) 72 271 1766
Diamond Visitor Centre (Kimberley)
Tel: +27 53 832 7298