LANGUAGE TIME LINE

This South African language time line indicates language related events in Southern Africa - mainly with regards to language presence, development and official recognition.

DATE

EVENT OFFICIAL
LANGUAGE
186 000 BC Footprints of first humans in South Africa.  
20 000 BC Khoisan peoples arriving in Southern Africa.
8000 BC Manmade shelters of humans living north of current day Johannesburg (language unknown).
1000 BC Bantu language speaking peoples started moving from west Africa towards Southern Africa.
500 AD A group Bantu language speaking people reached present-day KwaZulu-Natal province.
696 Arab traders trade with peoples living in the Southern African region.
1050-1270 Kingdom of Mapungubwe (Limpopo Province) (language unknown).
696 Arab traders trade with peoples living in the Southern African region.
1488 Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias sails passed the Cape of Good Hope.
1497 Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama passes Cape of Good Hope and names the the region currently known as the KwaZulu-Natal Province Natal as they passed it during Christmas (Natal is the Portuguese word for Christmas).
1580 English explorer Sir Francis Drake rounds the Cape.
1652 Arrival of Dutch officials under Jan van Riebeeck to start a way-station for the Dutch East India Company in the Cape. First Dutch speakers settle in the country. Dutch
1657

The Dutch East India Company imported slaves from East Africa, Madagascar, and the East Indies (mainly Indonesia and Malaysia) - they also had to speak Dutch (this contact influenced the language and also contributed to the creation of the Afrikaans language).

1688 French Huguenots arrived at the Cape followed by some German speakers.
1795-1803 First British occupation of the Cape. Afterwards control was handed back to the Dutch.
1806 Second British occupation of the Cape.
1814 Dutch officially cede the Cape Colony to Britain. English
1820 English speaking British settlers arrive on the eastern coast of the Cape.
1835 So-called Great Trek of Dutch settlers - split between English and Dutch colonists - further development of Afrikaans as separate language from Dutch.
1839-1842 Boer Republic of Natalia Dutch
1852-1902

Boer republic in later Transvaal - Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek

Dutch
1854-1902 Boer Republic of the Orange Free State Dutch
1860 British colonists brings labourers from India to work in sugar-plantations in Natal. English
1899-1902 Anglo South African War (previously known as the Anglo-Boer war) - between Boer and British controlled forces.
1910 Establishment of the Union of South Africa with English and Dutch as official languages English
Dutch
1912 Establishment of the African National Congress  
1914 Afrikaner Rebellion and establishment of the National Party  
1925 Afrikaans replaces Dutch as official language English
Afrikaans
1948-1976 Apartheid period - Afrikaans and English were regarded as official languages while nine African languages were promoted within the so-called Bantustans. It is believed that this was aimed at dividing black people in South Africa by emphasizing the differences between language groups. This period saw the separate development of the following languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Ndebele, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Tsonga, Tswana and Venda. Mother-tongue education was compulsory in the lower primary grades in schools thereafter a transition was made in schools for Afrikaans or English media of instruction. Afrikaans
English

Bantustan languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Ndebele, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Tsonga, Tswana and Venda
1961 Independence from Britain with the establishment of the Republic of South Africa
1976 Soweto riots - rejection of dual medium education system
1976-1989 Reform (representation of Indians and Coloureds but not Black South Africans in Government). State of emergency.
1989-1994 Transitional period with unbanning of political parties such as the ANC and others as well as the release of political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela (1990).
1994-Currently New democracy - new constitution in 1996 with equal recognition of 11 official language in a unified country. Official languages: Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Ndebele, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Tsonga, Tswana and Venda

- Pan South African Language Board established to promote and develop the official languages of South Africa (PanSALB) (1995)
- LANGTAG Report (1996)
- Language-in-Education Policy (1997)
- National Language Policy Framework (2002)
Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Ndebele, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Tsonga, Tswana and Venda

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J. Olivier (2009)
SAlanguages.com