From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
An Afrikaner is a white South African of Calvinist Dutch (or sometimes French Calvinist, German or Belgian) extraction, speaking Afrikaans, a language derived principally from the Dutch of the 17th and 18th centuries, with borrowings today from African languages and English.
Afrikaners (widely known until the 20th century as Boers from the Dutch boeren: "farmers") are descended mostly from white Calvinist settlers who occupied the Cape of Good Hope during the period of administration (1652-1795) by the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie) and the subsequent period of British rule.
In the 1830s and 1840s an estimated 12,000 Boer pioneers (Voortrekkers) penetrated the future Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal provinces in order to put themselves beyond the reach of British authority, in order to escape relentless border wars / British colonialism & its Anglization polices / as well as to ease pressure on an overcrowding frontier in which land was becomming scarce. While some historians claim that these series of migrations later known as the Great Trek was caused because the Boers did not agree with the British restrictions on slavery, the fact of the matter is that most Trek-Boers (semi-nomadic / migrating farmers) did not own slaves, unlike their more affluent cousins in the western Cape whom did not migrate or participate in the Great Trek. The vast majority of Voortrekkers were Trek-Boers from the eastern Cape who engaged in pastoralism.
The Great Trek was mainly the result of the "bursting of the dam" of pent up population migration & population pressures, as Trek-Boer migrations eastward had come to a virtual stop for at least 3 decades. Though some Trek-Boers did migrate beyond the Orange River prior to the Great Trek. During this so-called great trek they fought with the Zulus (after Voortrekker leaders Piet Retief & Gerhard Maritz along with almost half of their followers were killed by Dingaan & his warriors after initially signing a land treaty with them), who at the time were attempting to conquer the very same areas the Boers were trekking into.
The Boers established independent states in what is now South Africa, Natalia / Transvaal (the South African Republic) and the Orange Free State. The English wish to extend their colonial empire to the Boer areas led to the two Boer Wars of 1880-1881 and 1899-1902, which ended with the inclusion of the Boer areas in the British colonies. Following the British annexation of the Boer republics, the creation of the Union of South Africa (1910) went some way towards blurring the division between British settler and Afrikaner, though the black majority was excluded from equal participation in the affairs of the country until the ending in the early 1990s of the Afrikaner political leadership's policy of apartheid ("separateness" of black and white).
The term Afrikaner encompases disparate communities of Afrikaans speakers. Its first earliest use dates from 1707 but was not widely used until after the Anglo-Boer War during the early Twentieth century. Prior to then, the various Afrikaans speaking communities were known as Boers (farmers) or Trek-Boers (the semi-nomadic / migrating farmers of the eastern frontier) or Cape Dutch (those who lived in the western Cape) or Voortrekkers -the pioneers who migrated en masse in a series of migrations later known as the Great Trek. The term Afrikaner is believed to have been applied in order to distinguish between Afrikaans speakers & English speakers among the white population.