A Brief History of South Africa: 1652 – 2023

University of Wolverhampton, UK

Spencer Jones is Senior Lecturer in Armed Forces and War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton, UK and serves in the British Army as the Regimental Historian of the Royal Artillery. He is a noted expert on the First World War, Second World War, and the life of Sir Winston Churchill. An award-winning historian and author, he has published widely on these topics and his work has been translated into five languages. Dr. Jones’ most recent publication is The Darkest Year: The British Army on the Western Front 1917.


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The history of South Africa is a story of empires, greed, war and corruption, but also one of heroism and hope. This lecture explores events in South Africa–from the arrival of the first Dutch settlers in 1652, up to the present day. The colonists, known as the Boers, and natives were soon at war with one another, setting the stage for centuries of conflict. The history of South Africa was further complicated in the late 1700s when the British Empire sought to take control of the area, whilst at the same time the Zulu Kingdom forged a mighty empire in the eastern part of the country. The 1800s would be defined by power struggles between the British, Boers and Zulus that ultimately led to apartheid rule in the 20th century. Yet, hope emerged from this dark period in the form of Nelson Mandela, who against all odds welded together a democratic “Rainbow Nation” that endures to the present day.


Recommended Reading:

A History of South Africa, by Leonard Thompson

The Washing of the Spears: The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation, by Donald R. Morris

The Boer War 1899 – 1902, by Thomas Pakenham

History of South Africa: 1902 to the Present, by Thula Simpson



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This was very informative to a lay person like myself who knew very little about South Africa’s history. Great professor who was able to highlight snippets of the history and have it make sense.

9 months ago
Terry Shannon

Lessons for today?

Learned a lot about how diverse the population had become throughout its history. Any lessons for resolving Middle East problems?

9 months ago
Edward Hotchkiss

Excellent lecture

Excellent lecture. Informative and with outstanding presentation. Jones speaks spontaneously with a command of the information and makes great eye contact and “connection” with the listener. Appropriate illustrations. Certainly among the very best of the One Day Univ presentioons

8 months ago
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