Southern Africa, 1800–1900 A.D.

  • Southern Africa, 1800–1900 A.D.



The Cape of southern Africa, already populated by Dutch (Boer) immigrants, comes under the control of Britain. This serves as the point of expansion for further European settlement of the interior as they seek grazing lands and sources of gold and diamonds throughout the nineteenth century. Unhappy with British colonial policies, Boer farmers found republics on the Transvaal beyond the scope of British domination. Among indigenous communities, the development of large, centralized chiefdoms by Nguni and Zulu peoples results in the overall militarization of society and the implementation of far-flung systems of tribute that concentrate and redistribute forms of wealth such as cattle, beads, and metals. This political concentration results in the adoption of foreign traditions, such as figurative sculpture originating from northern, Tsonga-speaking communities, into Zulu and Nguni material culture. Similar processes of consolidation occur in Madagascar, where a succession of Merina kings places much of the island under Merina control. By the late nineteenth century, however, both Madagascar and the southern African mainland are incorporated into the French and British colonial empires, respectively.


“Southern Africa, 1800–1900 A.D.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2004)