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A Brief History of Gauteng

A brief history of Gauteng brought to you by Conference Venues South Africa including Dr Broom, The Colonial Period, The Khoi-San and the Voortrekkers.

history gauteng

Gauteng is now widely thought to be the actual cradle of humankind and perhaps one of the places where human kind first started walking upright. One of its most remarkable yields was the 2.5-million-year-old female skull discovered by Dr Broom in 1947, which he dubbed Mrs Ples. The "Little Foot" skull was also found here.

Before the colonial period, the province was home to many different cultures as far back as 1100 AD, and even before. The Khoi-San people have inhabited the southern African region consistently for hundreds of thousands of years, but their cave paintings (Klerksdorp area) date back to between 20 000 and 30 000 years.

There are many Iron Age sites in and around the province, including in the Melville Koppies, showing mining and smelting activities. So mining has been part of the history of the province as far back as a thousand years ago, suggesting highly evolved and sophisticated cultures, contrary to the idea of "primitive" Africans.

The Voortrekkers moving away from the British Empire in the Cape in the early nineteenth century and the discovery of gold a few decades after that however, changed the nature of the province totally. With the coming of whites came also dispossession of the land and poverty for blacks for the next hundred and sixty years, culminating in "apartheid".

The province was known as the Transvaal after the end of the Anglo-Boer War that ended in 1902. Before that was known as the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek and was an independent from the British Empire. The Union of South Africa was formed in 1910 by which the former Boer republics,the Orange Free State, the ZAR and Natal, defeated by the British Empire, were united under British rule.
The country became independent from Britain in 1961 but remained in the British Commonwealth, although not for long. The National Party who won the elections of 1948 started implementing apartheid laws from the early 1950s into the 1960s.

Gauteng, formerly known as Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging,  was carved out of the old Transvaal province in 1994. Tokyo Sexwale was elected as the first premier of the province that same year. Politically, it has been dominated by the ANC throughout its post-apartheid history.


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