What are the historical similarities between South Africa and India? Since I am analyzing July’s People and the Miracle of Purun Bhagat, I need to talk about their respective histories with the...
What are the historical similarities between South Africa and India? Since I am analyzing July’s People and the Miracle of Purun Bhagat, I need to talk about their respective histories with the British.
Great Britain had a direct and large colonial presence in both South Africa and India, and in both cases, the British implemented colonial governments run by white settlers, and subjugated the native populations through brute force and the implementation of caste systems. Britain's colonization of India was somewhat more straightforward and much more massive in scale than its colonization of South Africa, partly because the so-called Cape Colony (which later became South Africa) was first colonized by the Dutch in the late 1640s. Later in the 1680s, the Dutch settlers were joined by German and French Calvinists. Unlike the white English settlers who came to form the enormous colonial government of India (The British Raj), the Europeans who settled in what is now South Africa intermarried with the indigenous population, and the progeny of those matches created what would later become known as the "colored population," under Apartheid Rule.
Whereas British rule of the so-called Indian Subcontinent, which consisted of India and Pakistan, was never threatened by rival European settlements, Britain's rule over South Africa came as a result of multiple wars and bloody skirmishes. The British officially annexed Cape Colony in 1815, as the result of the Napoleonic Wars, and the British Colonial government encouraged its white settlers there to farm in the territories claimed by Dutch (Boer) farmers.
These competing European settlements in the Cape Colony led to a series of wars, which pitted the Dutch Boers and the indigenous Zulu tribe against the English settlers. Only in the late 1890s did the British finally succeed in defeating the Zulus and Boers, in the very bloody and costly Second Anglo-Boer War. Although the British abolished slavery in the Cape Colony in 1833, against the will of the Dutch Boers, they maintained strict white control of power, and designated the “colored” population as second-class citizens. This kind of Apartheid was similar to what the British Raj practiced in the Indian Subcontinent.
A key difference between Britain’s role in India versus in South Africa is that the British retained direct control over India until the mid mid-20th century (1947), while the British relinquished direct rule over South Africa starting in 1910, when the “Union of South Africa” became a self-governing dominion of the British Empire, meaning that it remained closely allied to Britain and stayed under the auspices of the Empire, but enjoyed a great deal of sovereignty in terms of domestic governance. India, on the other hand, remained firmly under the thumb of the massive British Raj, which brutally suppressed numerous rebellions across the subcontinent until Partition in 1947, when the British Empire, reeling from World War Two, finally realized that it no longer had the resources or political will to keep such a massive territory under its control.