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Anglo-Africans are people of primarily Sub-Saharan Africa whose first language is English. Most are of British and Irish descent, although they can be of any ancestry including French Huguenot, Jewish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian. Most live in South Africa.


Ethnicity is a politically loaded and historically painful topic in South Africa. While some conservative English speakers still cherish the nametag "British", others view it as an obsolete when speaking of ethnicity. The phrase Anglo African is today used, somewhat loosely, to refer English speakers in Africa, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa . The largest number live in South Africa and other countries in Southern Africa - Zimbabwemarker, Namibiamarker, Zambiamarker, Tanzania, Lesothomarker, and Swazilandmarker. A sizeable number also come from Kenyamarker in East Africa. A few are from Nigeriamarker in West Africa.

An early reference to Anglo African as a term for British settlers in Africa is Walter H. Wills' "The Anglo-African Who's Who and Biographical Sketchbook, 1907" which contains the details of nearly 2,000 prominent men and women of Edwardian Africa.

Unlike the Afrikaners, few early rooineks dressed appropriately for the climate.
Unlike the Afrikaners, Anglo Africans have not constituted a coherent political or cultural entity in South Africa, hence the absence of a commonly accepted term, although 'English South African' or 'English-speaking South African' are much used.

An Afrikaans term for Anglo African is rooinek, which literally translates as "red neck" (derogatory depending on context) but is not the equivalent of the American term "red neck". It arose as a nickname in the early days of settlement, as a reference to the then red collars of British military uniforms, from the red markings the British farmers put on their imported Merino breed of sheep, or to the fact they were sunburnt easily, because unlike the Afrikaners, they were new to Africa, and so dressed inappropriately, i.e. wore inadequate hats, e.g. sola topees (pith helmets), or no hat at all. This term is not related to the American term redneck (a derogatory term for certain segments of rural North Americans); the former probably refers to a sunburnt neck, while the latter North American term is derived from American history.


Although there were small temporary British settlements along the West African coast from the 1700s onwards, British settlement in Africa began in earnest only at the end of the eighteenth century, in the Cape of Good Hopemarker.

British settlement in the Cape gained momentum following the success of the second British attempt to annex the Cape from the Dutch East India Company, and the subsequent encouragement of settlers in "Settler Country" in the Eastern Cape in an effort to consolidate the colony's eastern border following the Cape Frontier Wars against the Xhosa.

Britain expanded the Cape Colony northwards into Khoikhoi and San lands. Many Britons settled in the region, but developed a culture distinct from that in Britain; a culture which had similarities to developing Australian and Afrikaner cultures. Livingstone famously explored southern Africa, and was the first European to set eyes on Victoria Fallsmarker. He is a key character in Anglo African history, being one of the first well-known Britons to believe his heart was in Africa.
In the late nineteenth century, the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrandmarker and diamonds in Kimberleymarker further encouraged colonisation by Britons, Australians, Americans and Canadians. Following the defeat of the Afrikaners after the First and Second Boer Wars, Britain annexed the Boer Republics of the Transvaalmarker and Orange Free Statemarker.

Cecil John Rhodesmarker dreamt of a British Africa from Cape Townmarker to Cairomarker, and the BSAC conquered Mashonaland, Matabeleland and some settlements further north, which became known as Rhodesia (now Zimbabwemarker and Zambiamarker). The search for gold drove expansion north into the Rhodesias (now Zimbabwemarker, Zambiamarker and Malawimarker). Simultaneously, British settlers began expansion into the fertile uplands (often called the "White Highlands") of British East Africa (now Kenya and Tanzania). With the advent of post-World War II decolonization movement, black nationalist guerrilla forces aided by Soviet expertise and weapons such as the Mao Mao in Kenya and ZANU in Zimbabwe clamored for independence. In Rhodesia, the Anglo community developed something of a fortress mentality in the 1960s and 1970s, as Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence was recognized neither by Great Britain or the Commonwealth of Nations. After Rhodesia's independence in 1980, Anglo-African population declined sharply, and tens of thousands of white Zimbabwe citizens were driven off their lands and property, with many of those remaining being intimidated and threatened by the government and political and paramilitary organizations. As a result, over 2,000,000 Anglo-Africans were killed, pushed out, deported or went into exile from the original British colonies and only a few thousand British settlers remained after independence. In spite of it, in all of these colonies, a number of well connected extremely wealthy settlers remained to live following independence and the introduction of black rule in the second half of the twentieth century.

Modern history

Following the ideological rise of anti-colonialism throughout the Empire, many Britishmarker protectorates and colonies were granted independence.


Resistance to the Britishmarker government’s adopted policy of No Independence Before Majority Rule (NIBMAR), resulted in the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) of the Rhodesian government on 11 November 1965. The NIBMAR policy was perceived as irresponsible by supporters of the governing Rhodesian Front party, led by Ian Smith. Not long after UDI a protracted Bush War was fought in Rhodesia until 1979.

South Africa

Most English-speaking whites in South Africa supported the United Party of Jan Smuts, which favoured close relations with the United Kingdommarker and the Commonwealth, rather than the Afrikaans-speaking Nationalists, many of whom, like John Vorster, supported Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Many opposed moves to make the country a republic, voting "no" in the 1960 referendum, but following the establishment of a republic in 1961 (and South Africa's consequent withdrawal) from the Commonwealth, other English-speaking whites began to support the National Party.

In spite of being perceived as more politically liberal than Afrikaners, in the 1992 referendum in which whites were asked whether or not they supported the negotiated reforms begun by State President F.W. de Klerk two years earlier, election analysts reported that support to dismantle apartheid among the Afrikaners was actually slightly higher than among English speakers. South Africa became fully democratic in 1994. In 1994, after the apartheid era in South Africa, Anglo-African population is on the decrease due to a low birth rate and emigration. As a reason to their decision to leave, many blame the high crime rate and the affirmative action policies of the government. Since then, hundreds of thousands of British-South Africans left the nation to start new lives and fortunes abroad. Despite high emigration rates, a high rate of white foreign immigrants have settled the country, to be exact from countries such as United Kingdom and Zimbabwemarker. For example, by 2005, an estimated 212,000 British citizens were residing in South Africa. Since 2003, the numbers of British migrants coming to South Africa has risen by 50%. An estimated 20,000 British migrants moved to South Africa in 2007. South Africa is ranked as the top destination of British retirees and pensioners in Africa. There have also been a significant number of arrivals of white Zimbabweans of British blood, fleeing their home country in light of the economic and political problems currently facing the country. As well as recent arrivals, a significant number of white British Zimbabwean settlers emigrated to South Africa in the start of independence in Zimbabwe in 1980.

Efforts are being made by a few Anglo-Africans to secure minority rights . However, the majority of them, like the Afrikaners, are supporting South Africa's official opposition, the Democratic Alliance .

In South Africa, Anglo-African is a term which is commonly replaced by English-speaking White South African.

They constitute roughly 1/3 of the white population of South Africa, as opposed to the Afrikaners who constitute 2/3 of the white population. And the British population of South Africa is mostly dominant in the KwaZulu-Natal province and in cities such as Johannesburgmarker and Cape Townmarker.

Global presence

Fearful of crime and the possibility of South Africa's adopting a policy like that in Zimbabwe, a significant number of Anglo-Africans have emigrated to countries such as the United Kingdommarker, Canadamarker, United Statesmarker, Australia and New Zealandmarker. Many Anglo-Africans from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania have even settled Mozambiquemarker after the time it became a member of Commonwealth in 1992 and Namibiamarker which came under South African rule after the First World War. Other Anglo-Africans also settled Irelandmarker, Netherlandsmarker, Spainmarker, Argentinamarker, Mexicomarker and Brazilmarker.

A large number of young Anglo-Africans are taking advantage of working holiday visas made available by the United Kingdommarker and other Commonwealth countries to gain work experience. The favourable exchange rate with the South African Rand (ZAR) also increases the attractiveness of international experience.


Typical Rhodesian farmhouse, Beit Bridge, circa 1960.

Anglo Africans generally enjoy an outdoor lifestyle and fondness for sport. The braai, although originally Afrikaans, is a popular way to gather friends. Another pastime is that of visiting game reserves, hiking and camping. There is a particular appreciation of country life and farms are often bought as weekend retreats. Farmers themselves generally prefer holiday houses at the coast. In other ways the culture of Anglo-Africans is more Anglo than African; afternoon tea - in fact, tea at any time of day - is still widespread as are pastimes such as gardening and reading. Families who live in the country are usually familiar with previously practical pastimes such as riding and shooting. Riding is popular in town and country alike and drag-hunting is carried out by the Cape Hunt and the Rand Hunt. Polo is more accessible in South Africa than in the United Kingdom and very popular amongst farmers. The most avidly followed (and participated in) sports are rugby, cricket and tennis. Many Anglo-Africans will follow South African as well as British news and watch BBC and Sky News rather than CNN, and prefer British humor as expressed by Fawlty Towers and the Blackadder series. There is a widespread appreciation for British things and a certain cachet attached to British books, paints, clothes, fabric, magazines, stationary, china and toys; most Anglo-Africans travel to Britain at least once in their lives where they are likely to have many relatives and friends. Most, having been brought up on British nursery rhymes, history, and literature, are more conversant with Britain and its ways than is usually natural for people who have never lived there, or even visited. Conversely some Tanzanian and Kenyan Anglo-Africans occasionally affect Afrikaner accents and use Afrikaans as a badge to distinguish themselves from contract workers and tourists .


The heart of the Rhodes University campus.

Many Anglo Africans speak a unique dialect of English. However, even in South Africa, there are geographical differences in the English that Anglo-Africans speak; most can clearly tell the difference between the heavier accent of Durban, Cape Town's stereotypically disdainful drawl and the near-Received Pronunciation of Johannesburg and the Natal Midlands. Although the South African slang listed below is true of many young South Africans it would be unusual to hear it used amongst older Anglo-Africans or people who went to private schools where it would be thought charmingly provincial and only used in jest. Anglo-Africans who use Received Pronunciation will generally have an aversion to excessive South Africanisms in their speech as well as for regional British accents.

There are influences from Cape Malays, Afrikaners and the Bantu languages. The common greeting 'Howzit!' comes from 'How is it?' and can be likened to the US 'Howdy', the Australian 'G'Day', the Irish 'Howya?' or the recent British 'All right?'. The considerable Afrikaans influence can be seen from words such as braai, trek, lekker and ja having become common usage centuries ago. In South Africa many Zulu and Xhosa words (such as shongololo, muti, ubuntu, fundi etc.) are used.

Original South African English coinages

"bru" male friend (shortening of brother, see also bru above) "no" a common speech disfluency or filler "sarmie" a sandwich "scheme" to think that (e.g. "I scheme we should go home now"; usage evolved from the hyperbole "What are you scheming?" asked of a person deep in thought.) "tune" to talk to someone in a derogatory way, to insult someone ("Are you tuning me?"). "higher grade" a bit too complicated (from the South African matric division of exams into standard grade and higher grade) "now now"/"just now" From the Afrikaans "nou-nou" and "net-nou". An amount of time, could be anything from 5 seconds to 24 hours, could be past or future tense. i.e.: "I'll be done with it now now." or "He went out just now."

Rhodes Universitymarker situated in Grahamstownmarker houses the Dictionary Unit for South African English. The fourth edition of the Dictionary of South African English was released in 1991, and the Oxford Dictionary released its South African English dictionary in 2002. The English Academy of Southern Africa was founded in 1961. It is an association dedicated to promoting the effective use of English as a dynamic language in Southern Africa.


English-speaking Africans have a long literary tradition, and have produced a number of notable novelists and poets, including Doris Lessing, Guy Butler, Olive Schreiner, Roy Dunnachie Campbell and Denis Vincent Brutus. A traditional Anglo-African storybook is Sir Percy Fitzpatrick's Jock of the Bushveld, which describes his journey as a wagondriver with his dog Jock in the Bush. Other significant writers are Nadine Gordimer, Alan Paton, Peter Godwin, Alexandra Fuller, Bryce Courtenay and Cathy Buckle.


Anglo-Africans have influenced modern African arts, often incorporating other African cultures. Athol Fugard is a significant playwright. He was born of an Irish Catholic father and an Afrikaner mother and has always described himself as an Afrikaner, but he wrote in English to reach a larger audience.


Notable Anglo-African musicians include Dave Matthews, who emigrated to the United Statesmarker, and is therefore more generally identified as American. Johnny Clegg, though his work is heavily influenced by indigenous music . Wrex Tarr performed the distinctly Rhodesian comedy song Cocky Robin based on Chilapalapa. John Edmond was a popular singer, songwriter, entertainer and storyteller during the Rhodesian Bush War. Trevor Rabin, now a naturalised American, formerly a member of Rabbitt and Yes and now a film composer. Manfred Mann, a founding member and namesake of Manfred Mann and Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Seether is a post-grunge band originally founded by Anglo-African members, but now including Americans.


Anglo-Africans and their British forebears have been extensively involved in the founding and development of numerous educational institutions across Africa.


There are four universities in South Africa that are considered to come from a "liberal" South African tradition that were established by Anglo-Africans, opposed apartheid by admitting limited numbers of black students and are now being transformed into universities for all South Africans. The South African College was founded in 1829 and later became the University of Cape Townmarker. The University of Natal has been merged with the University of Durban-Westville to become the University of KwaZulu-Natalmarker. The University of Witwatersrandmarker was originally founded in Kimberley in 1896 as the "South African School of Mines" and is now based in Johannesburg. Finally, Rhodes Universitymarker was established in 1904, with an initial grant from the trustees of the Rhodes Trustmarker.


There are two categories of schools founded by Anglo-Africans or their British missionary predecessors, those originally meant for the education of the children of Anglo-Africans and those developed or founded by Anglo-Africans for the education of the indigenous population.

The first category includes both famous Southern African independent (private) schools like Plumtree School in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, the Diocesan Collegemarker in Cape Townmarker, the Wykeham Collegiate in Pietermaritzburgmarker and St John's Collegemarker in Johannesburgmarker and prestige government schools like Maritzburg College in Pietermaritzburg and the King Edward VII Schoolmarker in Johannesburg. A feature of these schools was that the student body was initially racially segregated, however all these schools have subsequently been desegregated.

The second category of schools includes South African institutions like the Lovedale Institute, which was responsible for the education of many famous Africans including Thabo Mbeki, Chris Hani and Sir Seretse Khama, Tiger Kloof Educational Institution and St Matthew's High School. Many of these missionary institutions were seriously impacted by the Bantu Education Act of 1953, and the Historic Schools Restoration Project was recently launched by Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane with the mission "to revitalise the rich heritage of the historical schools and transform them into sustainable and aspirational African institutions of educational and cultural excellence."


Rugby union, cricket, tennis and golf are generally considered to be the most popular sports among Anglo-Africans. The contribution of Anglo-Africans to South African rugby has continued to the present; other notables include the coach who led the Springboks to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Kitch Christie, Bobby Skinstad and Percy Montgomery, the Springboks' all-time leader in appearances and points. Jody Scheckter won the F1 World Championship. Anglo-Africans have also had notable success in African rallying, while former Rhodesia in particular has produced several world champion motorcycle road racers including Jim Redman and Kork Ballington.

Cricket in Africa and particularly Zimbabwe has been dominated by Anglo-Africans. Many of their best players include Andy Flower, Heath Streak, Brendan Taylor and Ray Price. Cricket is also dominated by Anglo-Africans in South Africa. Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher and Neil McKenzie currently play for South Africa alongside many other Anglo-African players in domestic competition.


(Alphabetically by surname)


See also


  1. Countrystudies Toward Democracy

External links

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