Monday, August 02, 2010

a more Dutch South Africa

Based on what I've read in various alternate history forums, this is my take on a parallel universe where the Dutch managed to keep the Cape Colony after the early 1800s. I'm thinking of it as the opposite of a British Argentina in the sense that here I describe South Africa (or most of it) not taken over by the British whereas my website talks about an Argentina taken over by the British. Of course, the British had aims to take over both the River Plate region and the Cape but were successful only in the Cape in real life. Here is what it seems to me has unfolded in that particular real-life parallel universe:

Either one of two points of divergence would do the trick. The first one is that in 1806, the Dutch defeat the British near Cape Town, and the second one is that in 1814, the British hand the Cape back to the Dutch (except the strategically-important Simon's Town - not far from Cape Town). I think the second one is much more likely, given that in 1806 (and I'm sure in 1795 as well), the Dutch forces were weak and not numerous compared to the British. Either way, the Cape Colony is kept under Dutch control as a result.

The Cape Colony keeps on expanding slowly, and undergoes numerous wars with the native tribes like the Xhosa. At the same time, the Cape Colony attracts migrants first mainly from the Netherlands, and then also from Germany, Scandinavia, and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the
Trekboers would start making their migrations on a small scale for the time being, given their distrust towards authority. These would ultimately bring them to the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. This would be sort of like the Wild West in America.

In terms of territorial organization, it seems more likely that the Cape Colony eventually gets dominion-like status from the Netherlands (cf. Canada or Australia). In that case, the Trekboer areas in the OFS and Transvaal just might split off from the Cape Colony in rebellion. During all this time, the British establish a colony in Natal (and what we know as Durban is known here as Port Natal), along with Simon's Town.

When diamonds are discovered in and around Kimberley, the Cape Colony and any of the possible Boer republics claim the diamond areas, which ultimately are awarded to the Cape Colony. The Witwatersrand gold goes to the Transvaal (or to the Cape Colony, depending on the scenario). These discoveries are made 20-30 years later than OTL because of the
delay in Trekker migrations. Both of these discoveries attract many migrants from the Netherlands and elsewhere.

The Portuguese, meanwhile, claim the area between present-day Angola and Mozambique - and hence colonize our world's Rhodesia and probably also Nyasaland, while the Germans colonize Namibia until World War I as in our world.

If the Cape Colony itself was awarded a dominion-like status, and the Boer republics split off, I see all these eventually federating into one country - and Natal would totally be its own country. Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland would remain their own countries.

Today, the country resulting from the Cape Colony is more or less developed (somewhat more so than our world's South Africa), though with lingering racism issues (never quite as bad as the apartheid of our world) and poverty among the non-white majority. Because of increased European immigration relative to this world's South Africa, non-whites have a smaller majority. There is also (slightly) less crime than in the South Africa of our universe. All these things are also true with Natal. Johannesburg probably still overtakes Cape Town as the largest city in the country. South African Dutch (no, not exactly Afrikaans as such, because it's not cut off from the Netherlands like in our world) is spoken in South Africa, along with the black and other indigenous languages. In Natal, of course, the leading languages are English and Zulu (just like in this world).

No comments: