1852: The United Kingdom signed the Sand River Convention. The Dutch East India Company was formed in 1602 as they began their quest for colonial and imperial trade in Southeast Asia. In 1648, one of their ships was stranded in Table Bay (a natural bay on the Atlantic Ocean, near present day Cape Town in South Africa) and the shipwrecked crew found an impressive amount of natural resources to sustain themselves until they could be rescued several months later. They liked it so much, the Dutch built a fort and began settlement of Cape Town in 1652. The natives in the area were part of the community. The Dutch and Afrikaans word for farmer is boer, and the residents and their descendants were called Boers.
The Dutch East India Company continued to rule until the United Kingdom took over the region. Boers who were not happy under British rule moved outward and settled in the Orange Free State, Transvaal, and even as far as Natal. The Boers were able to remain outside British control when they settled near the Vaal River in 1835, but it wasn’t long until the British were able to gain control of this region as well. The Dutch had allowed each Bantu village to be ruled by their own chief whereas the British wanted a more hands on type of governance. While everyone was willing to tax the locals for the benefit of the Europeans, the day to day ruling was in contention.
On this day, William Hogge and Mostyn Owen signed for Great Britain while Andries Pretorius signed the Sand River Convention for the Boers and on behalf of the new country. Great Britain granted farmers across the Vaal River to govern themselves, free of any British interference along with several more points of interest. The new country, the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek or ZAR, held their first election in 1857 and had Marthnius Wessel Pretorius (son of Andries) elected as President. The capital of the new country was located in Potschfstroom and later it was moved to Pretoria. The 24 member Parliament was called the Volksraad.
While free of British rule, the ZAR was still ruled by Dutch oversight. They became fully independent and changed their name to the South African Republic in February 1884. European interference continued and in November, another convention was signed to help distance themselves from overseas control. The land was contested and more conflict was to follow. After the Second Boer War, 1899-1902, the ZAR came under the rule of South Africa and were once again part of the British Empire.
What light is to the eyes – what air is to the lungs – what love is to the heart, liberty is to the soul of man. – Robert Green Ingersoll
There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires. – Nelson Mandela
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