Afrikaners are a Southern African ethnic group descended from predominantly Dutch settlers first arriving in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They traditionally dominated South Africa’s agriculture and politics prior to 1994. Afrikaans, South Africa’s third most widely spoken home language, is the mother tongue of Afrikaners and most Cape Coloureds. It evolved from the Dutch vernacular of South Holland, incorporating words brought from Indonesia and Madagascar by slaves.Afrikaners make up approximately 5.2% of the total South African population based on the number of white South Africans who speak Afrikaans as a first language in the South African National Census of 2011.

The arrival of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama at Calicut in 1498 opened a gateway of free access to Asia from Western Europe around the Cape of Good Hope; however, it also necessitated the founding and safeguarding of trade stations in the East. Very rapidly one European power followed another, all eager to trade along this route. The Portuguese landed in Mossel Bay in 1500, explored Table Bay two years later, and by 1510 had started raiding inland. Shortly afterwards the Dutch Republic sent merchant vessels to India, and in 1602 founded the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company; VOC). As the volume of traffic rounding the Cape increased, the Company recognised its natural harbour as an ideal watering point for the long voyage around Africa to the Orient and established a victualling station there in 1652. VOC officials did not favour the permanent settlement of Europeans in their trading empire, although during the 140 years of Dutch rule many VOC servants retired or were discharged and remained as private citizens. Furthermore, the exigencies of supplying local garrisons and passing fleets compelled the administration to confer free status upon employees and oblige them to become independent farmers.

Encouraged by the success of this experiment, the Company extended free passage from 1685 to 1707 for Hollanders wishing to settle at the Cape.In 1688 it sponsored the immigration of 200 French Huguenot refugees forced into exile by the Edict of Fontainebleau. The terms under which the Huguenots agreed to immigrate were the same offered to other VOC subjects, including free passage and requisite farm equipment on credit. Prior attempts at cultivating vineyards or exploiting olive groves for fruit had been unsuccessful, and it was hoped that Huguenot colonists accustomed to Mediterranean agriculture could succeed where the Dutch had failed.They were augmented by VOC soldiers returning from Asia, predominantly Germans channeled into Amsterdam by the Company’s extensive recruitment network and thence overseas. Despite their diverse nationalities, the colonists used a common language and adopted similar attitudes towards politics. The attributes they shared came to serve as a basis for the evolution of Afrikaner identity and consciousness.

Afrikaner nationalism has taken the form of political parties and secret societies such as the Broederbond in the twentieth century. In 1914 the National Party was formed to promote Afrikaner economic interests and sever South Africa’s ties to the United Kingdom. Rising to prominence by winning the 1948 general elections, it has also been noted for enforcing a harsh policy of racial separation (apartheid) while simultaneously declaring South Africa a republic and withdrawing from the British Commonwealth.
The term “Afrikaner” presently denotes the politically, culturally, and socially dominant group among white South Africans, or the Afrikaans-speaking population of Dutch origin—although their original progenitors also included Flemish, French Huguenot, and German immigrants.Historically, the terms “burgher” and “Boer” have both been used to describe white Afrikaans speakers as a group; neither is particularly objectionable but Afrikaner has been considered a more appropriate term. At one time, burghers merely denoted Cape Dutch, settlers who were influential in the administration, able to participate in urban affairs, and did so regularly. Boers often referred to the settled European farmers or nomadic cattle herders. During the Batavian Republic, “burgher” was popularised among Dutch communities both at home and abroad as a popular revolutionary form of address, or citizen. In South Africa, it remained in use as late as the Second Boer War.


The earliest Afrikaner communities in South Africa were formed at the Cape of Good Hope, mainly through the introduction of free Dutchmen, Huguenot refugees, and erstwhile servants of the Dutch East India Company. During the early colonial period, Afrikaners were generally known as “Christians”, “colonists”, “emigrants”, or ingezeetenen (“inhabitants”). Their concept of being rooted in Africa – as opposed to the Company’s expatriate officialdom – did not find widespread expression until the late eighteenth century.

The mass migrations under British rule collectively known as the Great Trek proved pivotal for the preservation of Boer ethnic identity. The Boers founded a number of self-governing states that were independent of British colonial oversight.

Boer republics

After defeating the Zulu and the recovery of the treaty between Dingane and Retief, the Voortrekkers proclaimed the Natalia Republic. In 1843, Britain annexed Natal and many Boers trekked inwards again.

Scholars have traditionally considered Afrikaners to be a homogeneous population of Dutch ancestry, subject to a significant founder effect.This simplistic viewpoint has been challenged by recent studies suggesting multiple uncertainties regarding the genetic composition of white South Africans at large and Afrikaners in particular.

Black Afrikaners
Approximately 100 black families who identify as Afrikaners live in the settlement of Onverwacht established in 1886 near the mining town of Cullinan. Members of the community descend from freed slaves accompanying Voortrekkers who settled in the area.


Traditionally Christian, the Calvinism of Boers in South Africa developed in much the same way as the New England colonies in North America.[clarification needed] The original South African Boer republics were founded on the principles of the Dutch Reformed Church.[citation needed] In 1985, 92% of Afrikaners were members of Reformed Churches. However, an opinion poll conducted among Afrikaners in February 2015 found that only 38% of Afrikaners claimed to attend church on a weekly basis. Another online poll conducted in February 2013 by a newspaper revealed that just over 30% of Afrikaners read the Bible at home.

Rugby, cricket, and golf are generally considered to be the most popular sports among Afrikaners. Rugby in particular is considered one of the central pillars of the Afrikaner community. The Springboks won the 1995 and 2007 Rugby World Cups.

Boere-sport also played a very big role in the Afrikaner history. It consisted of a variety of sports like tug of war, three-legged races, jukskei, skilpadloop (tortoise walk) and other games.