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The British diaspora in Africa is a population group broadly defined as English-speaking white Africans of mainly (but not only) British descent who live in or come from Sub-Saharan Africa. The majority live in South Africa and other Southern African countries including Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia), Namibia (South West Africa), Botswana (Bechuanaland Protectorate), Zambia (Northern Rhodesia), Lesotho (Basutoland) and Swaziland (Formerly under British rule). There are also sizable numbers in Kenya (Kenya Colony), Nigeria (British Nigeria) and Ghana (Gold Coast Colony). Their first language is usually English. The majority of white Africans who speak English as a first language are of British and Irish descent.
Although there were earlier British settlements along the West African coast to facilitate the British Atlantic slave trade, British settlement in Africa only began in earnest at the end of the eighteenth century, at the Cape of Good Hope. British settlement in the Cape gained momentum following the second British occupation of the Dutch Cape Colony in 1806, and the subsequent encouragement of British settlers in Albany ("Settler Country") in order to consolidate the British Cape Colony's eastern frontier during the Cape Frontier Wars against the Xhosa. Natal in southeastern Africa was proclaimed a British colony in 1843. Following the defeat of the Boers in the Second Boer War in 1902, Britain annexed the Boer Republics of the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State.
Scottish medical missionary David Livingstone famously explored Africa, and it is believed he was the first European to set eyes on Victoria Falls in 1855. He is a key character in African history, being one of the first well-known Britons to believe his heart was in Africa.
In the late nineteenth century, the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand and diamonds in Kimberley encouraged further settlement by the British, Australians, Americans and Canadians. The search for mineral resources also drove expansion north. Mining magnate Cecil Rhodes dreamed of a British Africa linked from Cape Town to Cairo, and the British South Africa Company he founded in 1889 controlled the territory named Rhodesia after him, which later became known as (Southern) Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Simultaneously, British settlers began expansion into the fertile uplands (the "White Highlands") of British East Africa (now Kenya).
As a result of the ideological rise of anti-colonialism throughout the British Empire and the post-World War II decolonisation of Africa, British colonies and protectorates in Africa eventually became self-governing, but not necessarily with majority rule. Often aided by Soviet expertise and weapons, black nationalist guerrilla forces such as the Mau Mau in Kenya, ZANU in Rhodesia and MK in South Africa fought for majority rule, which normally meant "one man, one vote".
A unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) occurred in 1965. Civil war lasted until 1979. In 1980, the first democratic general election was held in independent Zimbabwe and the country joined the Commonwealth. Subsequently, the country's white population declined sharply – thousands were intimidated, attacked and driven off their property. Charged with abusing human rights and undermining democracy, President Robert Mugabe and other Zimbabwean individuals and entities were subjected to a wide range of sanctions. In 2002 Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth due to human rights abuses and electoral fraud,. In 2003, Zimbabwe voluntarily terminated its Commonwealth membership.
In 1910 four separate British colonies in Southern Africa united to form the Union of South Africa, which was governed as a constitutional monarchy within the British Empire under white minority rule. In 1931 the Statute of Westminster granted the Union full legislative independence from Britain, leading it to become an independent realm within what would come to be known as the Commonwealth. The majority of the British diaspora supported the United Party, led by J. B. M. Hertzog and Jan Smuts while it was the ruling party between 1934 and 1948, and its various successors up to the Democratic Party, the predecessor of the Democratic Alliance. The United Party favoured close relations with the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, unlike the Nationalists, many of whom, such as John Vorster, supported Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
The Afrikaners, who ruled the country from 1948 until 1994, entrenched apartheid, established a republic and withdrew from the Commonwealth. In 1955, 33,000 Dutch (34, 8%) Germans (33, 7%) French (13, 2%) People of colour (7%) British (5, 2%) Unknown origin (3, 5%) Other Europeans (2, 6%) in Natal, which had an English-speaking majority of white voters, signed the Natal Covenant against the establishment of a republic. Many of the British diaspora voted "No" in the 1960 referendum of white voters, which was approved by a narrow margin and led to the establishment of a republic. The Natal majority voted against the republic and some Natalians even called for secession from the Union after the referendum.
In 1994 South Africa held its first universal democratic general election, marking the end of apartheid and white minority rule, and rejoined the Commonwealth. The majority of the British diaspora support the Democratic Alliance, which is the official opposition to the ruling African National Congress and an increasingly multiracial party.
The British diaspora population has declined since the early 1990s as a result of a low birth rate relative to that of other population groups and emigration. Reasons for emigration include crime, corruption, poor service delivery and affirmative action. A crude estimate of the British diaspora population is the number of white South Africans who speak English as a first language, representing 1.6 million people, 36% of the white population group and 3% of the total population in the South African National Census of 2011. This number is an overstatement as it includes people of other ancestral origins who have assimilated into the white English-speaking population. The English-speaking population is largest in the KwaZulu-Natal province and in cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Despite the high emigration rate, many people of British descent continue to settle in South Africa, including many South African-born people who have returned home since the late 1990s, especially after the 2008 global economic crisis. South Africa has been a top destination for British retirees, and many white Zimbabweans of British descent have settled in South Africa since Zimbabwe's independence, some as a result of forced removal from their property. Over 200,000 British citizens live in South Africa, including more than 38,000 who are being paid a state pension.
A significant number of the British diaspora in Africa have emigrated to other Commonwealth states such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Others have settled in countries such as the United States, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil. A large number of young people are also taking advantage of working holiday visas made available by the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth states.
White Africans, including the British diaspora, generally enjoy an outdoor lifestyle and sports. The braai is a popular way to gather with friends and family. Other popular pastimes include visiting game reserves, hiking, camping and recreational angling. There is a particular appreciation of country life and farming. Farmers themselves generally prefer holiday houses at the coast. In other ways, the culture of the British diaspora derives from their British ancestry. Afternoon tea – in fact, tea at any time of day – is still widespread as are pastimes such as gardening and reading. Families who live in the country are usually familiar with pastimes such as horseriding and shooting. White South African culture was encapsulated in the 1970s Chevrolet radio jingle "Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet" based on the United States version "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet". Although nationwide television in South Africa was introduced in 1976, many older South Africans of British descent had little exposure to British television and humour as a result of an Equity union ban on British television programme sales to South Africa during apartheid.
Many white Africans speak a unique dialect of English. South African English is influenced by Afrikaans and the Bantu languages. The considerable Afrikaans influence can be seen from words such as braai, trek, lekker and ja in common usage. Some Zulu and Xhosa words such as shongololo, muti, ubuntu and fundi (meaning an "expert") are also commonly used. Although South African slang is used by many younger South Africans, it would be unusual to hear it used among older people. The common greeting "howzit!" comes from the Afrikaans hoezit! (or "how is it?") and can be likened to the US "howdy", the Australian "g'day", the Irish "howya?" or the recent British "all right?".
Rhodes University in Grahamstown houses the Dictionary Unit for South African English. The fourth ion of A Dictionary of South African English was published in 1991, and the second ion of the Oxford South African Concise Dictionary was published in 2010. The English Academy of Southern Africa founded in 1961 is dedicated to promoting the effective use of English as a dynamic language in Southern Africa.
A few South African English coinages are listed below:
|bru||male friend, from Afrikaans broer meaning "brother"|
|(my) china||(my) friend, from Cockney "china plate" which is rhyming slang for "mate"|
|an amount of time, could be anything from 5 seconds to 24 hours, could be past or future tense, from the Afrikaans net-nou and nou-nou (e.g. "He went out just now." or "I'll be done with it now now.")|
|no||common speech disfluency or filler|
|oke||male friend, either shortened from bloke or from the Afrikaans diminutive 'outjie' (oldie, used as a term of affection much like 'guy' in English, with English pronunciation approximating 'oakie')|
|scheme||to think, as in the expression, "What are you scheming?" asked of a person deep in thought (e.g. "I scheme we should go home now.")|
|tune||to talk to someone in a derogatory way (e.g. "Are you tuning me?")|
The British diaspora in Africa has a long literary tradition, and has produced a number of notable novelists and poets, including Doris Lessing, Olive Schreiner, Guy Butler and Roy Campbell. A traditional South African storybook is Percy FitzPatrick's Jock of the Bushveld, which describes his journey as a wagon driver with his dog Jock. Other significant African writers of British descent are Nadine Gordimer, Alan Paton, Peter Godwin, Alexandra Fuller and Bryce Courtenay.
The British diaspora has influenced modern African arts, and has often incorporated other African cultures. Athol Fugard is a significant playwright. Born of an Irish Catholic father and an Afrikaner mother, he has always described himself as an Afrikaner but he wrote in English to reach a larger audience. Sharlto Copley is a significant film actor, producer and director. He starred in the Oscar-nominated science fiction film District 9, which was an international box office hit and received widespread critical acclaim. District 9 drew heavily on metaphoric references to South Africa's apartheid history as well as including many other more direct references to South African and African culture. Although English-speaking, Copley plays an Afrikaner bureaucrat who experiences a similar oppression to that he once imposed on alien refugees. He also starred in the film remake of the 1980s television show The A-Team.
Notable African musicians of British descent include Dave Matthews, who emigrated to the United States, and Johnny Clegg. Wrex Tarr performed the distinctly Rhodesian comedy song "Cocky Robin" based on Chilapalapa. John Edmond was a popular singer, songwriter, entertainer and storyteller during the Rhodesian Bush War. Seether is a post-grunge band founded by South Africans, which now includes Americans.
The British diaspora and their forebears have been extensively involved in the founding and development of numerous educational institutions across Africa.
There are four universities in South Africa that were established by the British diaspora, which admitted limited numbers of black students during apartheid. The South African College was founded in 1829 and later split into the University of Cape Town and the South African College Schools. The University of Natal merged with the University of Durban-Westville to form the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The University of the Witwatersrand was founded in Kimberley in 1896 as the South African School of Mines and is now based in Johannesburg. Finally, Rhodes University was established in 1904 with an initial grant from the Rhodes Trust.
There are two categories of schools founded by the British diaspora or British missionaries, those originally intended for the education of the children of the British diaspora and those founded for the education of the indigenous population.
The first category includes both notable private schools such as St. George's College in Harare, Peterhouse Boys' School in Marondera, the Diocesan College in Cape Town, the Wykeham Collegiate in Pietermaritzburg and St John's College in Johannesburg and prestigious government schools such as Maritzburg College in Pietermaritzburg, King Edward VII School in Johannesburg and Prince Edward School in Harare.
The second category of schools includes South African institutions such as the Lovedale educational institution in the Eastern Cape, which was responsible for the education of many notable Africans including Thabo Mbeki, Chris Hani and Seretse Khama, Tiger Kloof Educational Institute in the North West province, and St Matthew's High School outside Keiskammahoek in the Eastern Cape. Many of these institutions were adversely impacted by the Bantu Education Act of 1953, and the Historic Schools Restoration Project championed by former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane aims to transform under-resourced historically significant schools into sustainable centres of cultural and educational excellence.
Cricket in Africa and particularly Zimbabwe has been dominated by the British diaspora. Up until recent times, the majority of Zimbabwean players were from the British diaspora, including Andy Flower, Heath Streak, Brendan Taylor and Ray Price. Cricket in South Africa also traditionally features the British diaspora, including current national Test captain Graeme Smith. The England cricket team has often included members of the British diaspora in their ranks. The England cricket team of 2010 that retained the 2010–11 Ashes series in Australia, for example, received significant contributions from South African captain Andrew Strauss, wicketkeeper Matt Prior, batsman Kevin Pietersen, batsman Jonathan Trott and coach Andy Flower.
A few examples of the notable contributions of the British diaspora to South African rugby are those made by Kitch Christie, the coach who led the Springboks to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Bobby Skinstad and Percy Montgomery, the Springboks' all-time leader in appearances and points.
Members of the British diaspora have also had notable success in African rallying, while former Rhodesia in particular produced several world champion motorcycle road racers including Jim Redman and Kork Ballington.
Colloquial terms for the British in Africa which might be considered derogatory include the Afrikaans term rooinek (literally "red neck", probably from the stereotype that they sunburn relatively easily although unrelated to the American term redneck), the Australian term pommy, and the isiZulu term mlungu which may also be applied to white Africans in general.
The term Anglo-African has been used historically to describe people living in the British Empire in Africa, although it has also been used to self-identify by people of mixed British and indigenous African ancestry. The Anglo-African Who's Who and Biographical Sketch-Book published in London in 1905 contains details of prominent British and Afrikaner people in Africa at that time.
Less than 40,000 of Zambia’s 13-million-strong population are white
According to an article in World Affairs, a bi-monthly international affairs journal published in Washington, DC (World Affairs n.d.), there were 296,000 white Zimbabweans in 1975, 120,000 in 1999, and 30,000 in 2010 (World Affairs 1 May 2010).
Joined Commonwealth:1931 (Statute of Westminster; left in 1961, rejoined in 1994)
It is to be the poster boy for the new DA, a party that has been aggressively attempting to shake off the image of white, middle-class and predominantly English-speaking.
She is now the face of an effort to diversify the party’s leadership, shed its stereotype as the party of South Africa’s white elite and give it any hope of catching up to the A.N.C., which captured more than 65 percent of the vote to the alliance’s 16 percent during the last national election in 2009.
The South African Department of Home Affairs says it does not track South Africans who move abroad and then return. Anecdotal evidence, however, indicates more South Africans have been returning to the country since the late 1990s.
They are part of a growing number of mostly thirtysomething South Africans who have returned to the country in the past two years. Exact numbers are hard to find but a recent CNN report quoted a British employment survey which found that about 100 000 South African job-seekers were planning to return home ... The CNN report estimates that up to 20% of South African professionals, almost exclusively white, have left the country since 1995—a loss of about 800 000 people, from a white population of 4,5-million.
Furthermore, with its 'retirement visa' scheme, South Africa is a top 10 destination for British retirees.
An estimated 5.5m British people live permanently abroad ... South Africa: 212,000
The Republic of South Africa is home to more than 200,000 UK expats, drawn by a relatively low cost of living, warm climate, beautiful beaches and amazing wildlife and game parks, as well as opportunities for an outdoors lifestyle among the country's incredible scenery. Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions show there are more than 38,000 UK citizens living in South Africa and drawing a UK state pension.
The Scots Presybterian mission station of Lovedale was the centre of this process, with a reach that spread all over southern Africa, either by direct evangelisation, as in Malawi, or by the example of the quality and level of the education that could be obtained there. Lovedale became a centre of 'higher' education for black people for more than a century. Amongst many others, Seretse Khama of Botswana and Thabo Mbeki were pupils there.
With 82% defining themselves as 'South African', whites identify with the country the most, followed by coloureds and Indians. Five percent of whites consider themselves to be Africans, while 4% identify themselves according to race and 2% according to language or ethnicity.
Meanwhile, English-speaking whites call uncouth Afrikaner ones 'hairybacks' or 'rockspiders,' while Afrikaners call the other whites 'rooinek' – rednecks, as in sunburned British soldiers – or worse.
Overall, the term mlungu is actually a negative one that captures the inhumanity of the colonial oppressor.
Sir Harry Johnston, the former Governor General of Central British Africa said after the conquest of German East Africa in the 'Daily News': ... Another well known Anglo-African and Colonial politician E. D. Morel in an article in the 'Labour Leader' entitled 'The Way Out' writes as follows: ...'Harry Johnston (1858–1927) and E. D. Morel (1873–1924) are referred to as Anglo-Africans in this publication.
A startling feature in the rhetoric of black institutional leadership on the eve of the Civil War was the popularity of the term, 'Anglo-African.' ... By 1900, 'Anglo-African' had been replaced by 'Afro-American' and such variants as 'Euro-African', and 'Negro-Saxon'.
The festival was to be given at Gloucester with Coleridge-Taylor himself conducting the three choirs. As it was advertised that the conductor was an Anglo-African, the audience expected a white man. What was its surprise to see instead a dark-skinned Negro, quick-moving, slight of build, with an enormous head of high, thick, frizzly hair, broad nostrils, flashing white teeth, and a winning smile.
Because the area had only been colonised in the 1890s, the Anglo-African community of Nyasaland during the 1930s, for the most part, consisted of first-generation persons of 'mixed' racial descent. This is reflected in their preference of the term 'Anglo-African' over 'coloured' and 'half-caste'. Although all three were used, 'Anglo-African' had the advantage of emphasising their partial descent from colonists.
At different historical junctures in Northern Rhodesia's racialized landscape, persons of mixed descent were categorized accordingly: 'half-caste,' 'Anglo-African,' 'Indo-African,' 'Euro-African, 'Eurafrican,' and 'Coloured.'
But we may perhaps claim that, incomplete as it is, it contains many records of Anglo-Africans which are not readily available in any similar work of reference, and it is only necessary to add that we hope to remedy its sins of omission and commission in future ions.