In 1602 the Dutch East India Company planned to build a supply stop for ships at the Cape of Good Hope. It soon became the thriving Cape Colony, however. In 1657 the Company started transporting Dutch, French and German colonists. Within one generation, all settlers were speaking Dutch. In 1658 the colony started importing slaves. Later they eventually conquered the indigenous peoples. There were language problems so settlers used simplified Dutch to communicate with the slaves and natives. This was first a Dutch dialect, but it became a distinct language - Afrikaans. Although Dutch was the official language, settlers used Afrikaans in their communities. With the development of their own language, the settlers developed a distinct culture. Like all Europeans during this period, the whites felt superior to the non-whites; they believed that they were God's chosen people and that they had a God-given right to rule South Africa and civilize the natives.

In 1814, the Cape Colony switched to British hands through a peace settlement; in 1820 Britain sent 5,000 colonists from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to the Cape Colony. They were supposed to join the Dutch farmers, but they could not farm successfully, so most became merchants and artisans and lived in the towns. They spoke English and never integrated with the other settlers. The English-speakers distinguished themselves from the Dutch settlers by calling them Boers, "farmer" in Dutch. The "Boers" called themselves Afrikaners. The English-speakers and the Afrikaners hated each other's language and culture. The Afrikaners were always the white majority, never less than 55% of the white population. One thing that they both agreed was that the black majority was a serious threat to white supremacy. The whites never made up more than 20% of the South African population. (Thompson, 55-56)

In 1853 the British government allowed the Cape Colony have a bicameral parliament. Members had to have a certain amount of money. Since English-speakers had more money, the best jobs in towns and were high in the economy, they, of course, dominated the government. (Thompson, 64-65) By 1870, most African communities had been conquered. "Throughout the region, whites were incorporating Africans into a capitalist, white dominated economy." (Thompson, 111) As gold and diamonds were found in southern Africa, Africans had to work in the mines to survive. They got the worst jobs and lowest wages; the mining economy rested on cheap black labor.

Throughout southern Africa's British rule, Afrikaners were frustrated at their situation. Afrikaners hated English-speakers and British rule, where Afrikaner interests were not represented. English-speakers lived and worked in the towns; as the mine owners and managers and merchants, they dominated the economy. Afrikaners were poorer and lived and worked in rural areas. As small Afrikaner farmers lost their land to capitalist, they had to move to the urban areas to work. With little education, they had to compete with blacks for unskilled labor. They were known as the Poor Whites, and their living was compared to that of Africans.The Afrikaners were powerless; they hated feeling inferior in their "own" country. They were scared of losing their cultural identity and drowning in the black majority. They wanted the blacks to be separated from white society to keep the Afrikaner race "pure."

To escape British rule, many Afrikaners left the Cape Colony and expanded into the interior of southern Africa. They formed the Natal, Transvaal and Orange Free State colonies. The British eventually annexed these as well. The Afrikaners in the Transvaal and Orange Free State put up a fight, known as the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). Once again the British established their rule over the Afrikaners. In 1910, the four colonies united to form the Union of South Africa. Britain let the Union have its own government, based on the British system, which was dominated by English-speakers. Few Afrikaners joined the government.

Afrikaners and English-speakers had very different interests. English-speakers wanted to keep British support and cooperate with British Parliament. Because of Britain, South Africa was dragged into two world wars. Afrikaners wanted complete independence from the British Commonwealth. They wanted South Africa to be ruled by Afrikaners, the chosen race. The English-speaking mine owners wanted to be able to hire Africans (for lower wages) for
semi-skilled jobs. Afrikaners wanted more job security by reserving the good jobs for whites only. There seemed to be no way for Afrikaners to gain any footholds in South African society.

In 1910 the South African party won the election; it was lead by Louis Botha and Jan Smuts. They tried to gain Afrikaner support, but were too friendly with Britain. When Botha, the prime minister, died in 1919, Smuts became the next prime minister. Unsatisfied, James Hertzog, an Afrikaner and the leader of the Orange Free State, founded the National party in 1914 to support the interests of Afrikaners in the government. Afrikaners felt that Botha and Smuts had been selling out to the British. The National party made a political pact with the Labor party and won the 1924 elections; Hertzog became prime minister. In 1934 South Africa gained constitutional independence from Britain. Also in 1934, because of the Great Depression, Smuts, leading the South African party, and Hertzog decided to form a coalition party, the United party, where Hertzog was prime minister and Smuts was deputy prime minister. D.F. Malan broke from the United party to form the Purified National party. He gained the support of Afrikaners with the help of the Broederbond and help start a wave of Afrikaner nationalism. In 1939, Hertzog wanted South Africa to stay neutral in WWII, and Smuts wanted to support Britain. Put to a vote, Smuts won. Hertzog resigned and Smuts became prime minister.

During this time, Afrikaners started rising in society with the help of the Broederbond. Malan denounced Smuts as a traitor to Afrikaners for supporting Britain in WWII. He rallied Afrikaners around his Apartheid slogan, which would ensure white supremacy and purity. Finally, after being ruled by English-speakers for 134 years, the Afrikaner National party won the elections of 1948.