History in Johannesburg

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Johannesburg, also known as Jo’burg , Jozi or eGoli, is the largest city in all of sub-Saharan Africa. It is also the provincial capital of Gauteng, and the wealthiest province in all of Africa due to its vicinity to gold and the diamond-rich Witwatersrand hills. Before planning your trip to this affluent city, it's a good idea to know a little bit about Johannesburg History.

The Era preceding Gold Rush

The original inhabitants of the region were the San tribes, but they were overpowered by Bantu-speaking people by around 1200. By 1700, one of the Bantu-speaking clans, Sotho-Tswana, was densely settled in the region. These people ruled the region from present-day Botswana to South Africa, and practiced cattle farming, mining, and smelting iron, tin and copper.

Many Sotho-Tswana villages were destroyed by the Zulus in the early part of 1700s. One offshoot of Zulus, Matabele, set up a new kingdom north of Jo’burg in Rustenburg. But their kingdom was short-lived, as Dutch-speaking Voortreakers took over the region in the early 1800s with the help of the local Sotho-Tswana allies. They started ruling the region from Pretoria , northwest of Johannesburg.

Era of Gold Rush

Around 1880, gold was discovered near Barberton, around 400 kilometers from Johannesburg, and the gold rush began. Gold miners soon found out that the Witwatersrand range of hills was the main source of gold in the region. In Jo’burg, first gold was discovered in Langlaagte in 1886, and attracted people from all over the world. As the value of the area increased, the tension grew between the local government and the British. The British defeated the local rulers in the battles of Doornkop( 1896) and the Second battle of Boer ( 1896-1901).

Modern Era

The development of the city started during the 1930s, and by the 1970s, Jo’burg became a major metropoliton city, complete with highrises and a busy international airport. During the apartheid era, the total city of Johannesburg was divided into 11 different local authorities, seven of which were controlled by white people and four of which by people of color. After 1995, in the post-arartheid era, the whole city came under one autonomous, governing body and paid uniform taxes. The city perimeters were also expanded by adding satellite towns like Randburg and Sandton, and poorer labour colonies like Soweto and Alexandra.

Present-day Johannesburg saw a major riot against the migrants from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in 2008. But part from that, Johannesburg stands out as the commercial capital in Africa where all have equal oppurtunity.


March 25, 2010 change by ashmita
June 20, 2006 change by giorgio

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