Whites in South Africa

Whites in South Africa

Infobox Ethnic group
group = White South African

caption = Charlize Theron·Helen Zille·Trevor Immelman
Percy Montgomery
pop = 5,265,300 (2008) (11% of total population)
regions = All over the country but concentrated groups in big cities.
languages = Major: Afrikaans (60%)
English (39%)
religions = Mainly Christianity, minorities practicing Judaism or no religion

White South Africans is a term which refers to people from South Africa who are of Afrikaner, British or other continental European descent. In linguistic, cultural and historical terms, they are generally divided into the Afrikaans-speaking descendents of Boere-Afrikaner settlers, Afrikaners and the English speakers who share an Anglophone background.



Statistics South Africa estimates that there are about 4.3 million Whites in South Africa (2007) [ [http://www.southafrica.info/about/people/population.htm South Africa's population] , SouthAfrica.info] —down from an all-time high of 5,068,300 in the 1991 census. It is likely that the group was undercounted in the 2001 census, as many live in private gated neighbourhoods in cities, and on isolated farms which did not receive census forms. The undercount may be as much as 10%, which would bring the white population to about 4.8 million.Fact|date=April 2007 Roughly 60% of white South Africans speak Afrikaans as their mother language and about 39% speak English. 1% of the white population speak other European languages as their mother tongue, such as German, Portuguese or Greek. Speakers of Afrikaans refer to themselves as Afrikaners. Unlike the Afrikaners, the English speakers have not constituted a coherent political or cultural entity in South Africa. Hence, the absence of a commonly accepted term to designate them, although 'English South African' or 'English-speaking South African' is used (see Anglo-African). Many whites have immigrated to South Africa from other parts of Africa following the independence of those African nations. Many Portuguese from Mozambique and Angola and white Zimbabweans emigrated to South Africa when their respective countries became independent. South Africa also remains a prime destination amongst British expats. Meanwhile, many white South Africans also emigrated to First World, Occidental countries over the past two decades, mainly to Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.


According to Statistics South Africa, white Africans make up about 9.2% (July 2006) of the total population in South Africa and are large minorities in many cities and provinces in South Africa; in Pretoria they are roughly 23.9%, East Rand 19.4%, in Cape Town 18.7%, in Port Elizabeth 16.5%, in Johannesburg 16%, and in Durban 8.9%. Their actual proportional share is likely to be higher, given the undercount in the 2001 census.


White Africans continue to participate in politics, having a presence across the whole political spectrum from left to right. In general, white Africans consider themselves to be just as African as the non-white majority in South Africa.Fact|date=April 2008 Former president Thabo Mbeki stated in one his speeches to the nation that: "South Africa belongs to everyone who lives in it. Black and White." The history of white Africans in South Africa dates back to the 17th century.

There has been some rivalry and bitter feeling between Afrikaners and English-speaking white Africans. This is due in part to the Second Boer War, Britain's attempt to anglicise the country during the first half of the 20th century, and Afrikaner nationalism.

Prior to 1994, the white Africans minority of South Africa held complete political power under a system of racial segregation called apartheid. Many white Africans supported this policy, but some others opposed; support for an anti-apartheid South Africa amongst white South Afrikans was very small, only about 15-20% of whites opposed apartheid. Fact|date=November 2007.

During apartheid, immigrants from Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan were considered "honorary whites" in the country, as the government had and maintained diplomatic relations with these countries. These were granted the same privileges as white Africans, at least for purposes of residence. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,895835,00.html Honorary Whites] , TIME, January 19, 1962] African-Americans were sometimes granted an 'honorary white' status as well, based on the government's belief that they were "civilised" and possessed western values.Fact|date=April 2008

Today, the majority of white South Africans support the Democratic Alliance, a liberal party led by Cape Town mayor, Helen Zille.

Current trends

In recent decades there has been a steady proportional decline in the white African population, due to higher birthrates among the non-white population of South Africa, more immunity towards many diseases, especially those can kill whites, mostly the elderly and children, and help from the government. More recently, the improved counting of the majority black African population, the undercounting of white Africans in the census figures and emigration have contributed to a sharp decline since 1994. In 1994, upon the abolition of apartheid, white Africans comprised 13.6% of the population, compared to 9.2% today. According to some previous census data, the highest proportion of whites in South Africa was around 1911, when they made up between 19-21% of the population. It is estimated that at least 800,000 white Africans have moved abroad since 1995. [ [http://www.economist.com/world/mideast-africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12295535 White flight from South Africa | Between staying and going] , The Economist, September 25, 2008]

In contrast, the white African populations of East Rand, Johannesburg and Pretoria grew between 1996 and 2001. East Rand's white population expanded by 31,567 or 7%, with Pretoria's white population also increasing by 0.7% with 3,295 more white residents. In Johannesburg the white population increased by 22,982, or 4.6%.Fact|date=April 2007 Like many other communities strongly affiliated with the West and Europe's colonial legacy in Africa, the white Africans are often economically better off than their black African neighbors, but have nonetheless surrendered political dominance to majority rule. There were also many white Africans in South Africa who lived in poverty--especially during the 1930s. Current estimates of white poverty in South Africa run as high as 12%.Fact|date=April 2007

The new phenomenon of white poverty is often blamed on the government’s Affirmative Action employment legislation, which reserves 80% of new jobs for blacks and favours black owned companies (see Black Economic Empowerment). Over 350,000 Afrikaners may be classified as poor, with some research claiming that up to 150,000 are struggling for survival. [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,,1691343,00.html Simon Wood meets the people who lost most when Mandela won in South Africa] ] [ [http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2006/s1655159.htm South Africa - Poor Whites] ]

There are 40,000 white farmers in South Africa. Since 1994 close to 2,000 farmers have been murdered in tens of thousands farm attacks in South Africa, many brutally tortured and/or raped. Some victims have been burned with smoothing irons or had boiling water poured down their throats.cite paper | author=Criminal Justice Monitor | title=Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Farm Attacks | date=2003-07-31 | url=http://www.issafrica.org/CJM/farmrep/index.htm | accessdate=2006-10-11]

In recent years there have been high numbers of British expats relocating to South Africa. Among the British expat population, South Africa ranks as the 6th most popular destination and is ranked as the top destination amongst British retirees and pensioners.

By 2005, an estimated 212,000 British citizens were residing in South Africa. Since 2003, the numbers of British expats coming to South Africa has risen by 50%. An estimated 20,000 British expats moved to South Africa in 2007. The reasons cited by many expats are South Africa's family values, the weather and a better quality of life.cite web|url=http://www.homecomingrevolution.co.za/?page=2&category_id=23&related_id=2503| title=Sunny skies, family values lure Brits| publisher=Home Coming Revolution| date =2007]

Notable White South Africans

cience and Technology

*Christiaan Barnard, Surgeon who performed first successful human heart transplant
*Allan McLeod Cormack, Physicist (Nobel Prize, Medicine 1979)
*Mark Shuttleworth, Founder of Ubuntu Linux
*Max Theiler, Virologist (Nobel Prize, Medicine 1951)

Arts and media

*Jani Allan Journalist and radio personality
*Walter Battiss Artist
*Breyten Breytenbach Writer and painter
*Andre Brink Novelist
*Winifred Brunton Artist
*David Bullard Columnist
*J.M. Coetzee Novelist (Nobel Prize, Literature 2003)
*Nadine Gordimer Writer (Nobel Prize, Literature 1991)
*Antjie Krog Writer
*Ben Maclennan Writer and editor
*Hermann Niebuhr Painter
*John Perlman Radio presenter
*Barry Ronge Columnist and movie critic
*Allister Sparks Writer and journalist
*Irma Stern Artist
*Donald Woods Journalist and editor


*PW Botha Former State President
*Sandra Botha politician
*FW De Klerk former State President
*Tony Leon former opposition leader
*DF Malan former Prime Minister of South Africa
*Pieter Mulder leader of the Freedom Front Plus
*Joe Slovo former leader of the South African Communist Party
*Helen Suzman politician
*Eugene Terre'Blanche leader of the AWB
*Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd prime minister of South Africa, primary architect of Apartheid
*Helen Zille Leader of the Official Opposition and Mayor of Cape Town


* 1. [http://www.homecomingrevolution.co.za/?page=2&category_id=23&related_id=2503 Sunny skies and family values lure Brits]

ee also

* Demographics of South Africa
* Afrikaners
* Anglo-African
* South Africa
* South African Farm Murders
* White African
* Colonization of Africa
* Orania
* South African diaspora
* I've Never Met a Nice South African
* [http://www.demarcation.org.za/municprofiles2003/index.asp Municipal Demarcation Board of South Africa]
* [http://www.queensu.ca/samp/migrationnews/article.php?Mig_News_ID=3997&Mig_News_Issue=22&Mig_News_Cat=8 South African Migration Project (SAMP) ]

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