We have not yet been able to address the topic of South African boys' clothes in detail, but have begun to collect information. Boys clothes in South Africa have primarily been set by English fashions. Dutch styles were less important because until after World War II the country was controlled by the English and English fashions became the accepted standard. The mild climate was another important factor. We have a basic history of South Africa. South Africa is an ethnically diverse country. The racial composition in 2000 was about: black (75 percent), white (14 percent), colored (9 percent), and Indian (3 percent), although there are other varies estimates. There are many strata levels in South African society which in itself is interesting. Due to the temporate climate, some boys (especially in the rural areas) run about in short pants (albiet grubby) and a "T"-shirt and of course barefooted. In the cities boys have generally become more sophisticated and dress well in varying degrees. South Africans speak a great diversity of languages. The two principal European languages are English and Afrikaans. The latter language is easy to understand by Dutch people.
HBC at this time does not have detailed information about trends in South African boyswear over time. We have very few historical images in the HBC archives. The limited information we have suggests that since the British seized control of the Cape Colony that South African clothing styles have closely followed British styles. We are less sure about the Bohrs who moved inland and attempted to ditance themselves from the British. After the Bohr War (1899-1902) the images that we have noted suggest that the Bohrs also adopted British clothing styles. We have little informatio on how school uniforms and children's clothing in general has changed over time.
We would be interested in any insights and information HBC readers might have to offer.
Boys clothes in South Africa have primarily been set by English fashions. Dutch styles were less important because until after World War II the country was controlled by the English and English fashions became the accepted standard. The mild climate was another important factor.
The Dutch created the first European settlement in Southern Africa, located at Capetown near the strategic Cape of Good Hope. The Dutch ceeded the Cape Colony to Britain (1814) near the end of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. Conflict with the British began almost at once, but intensified after the British freed the slaves that the Boers still held (1834). The Boers decided to place themselves beyond British authority and about 7,000 intrpid pioneers emmigrated north in the Great Trek (1835-40). More Boer emmigrants followed and three states were created: the Orange Free State, Natal, and the Transvaal. Wars were fought both between the Boers and the native people. The Xhosa war was fought at the Fish and Kieskama rivers Eastern Cape. Later the Zulu wars were in the then Natal now Kwazulu province. The question of national jurisdiction was not finally settled until the Boer War (1899-1902). The various colonies were combined in the Union of South Africa (1910). Modern South Africa is a union of British and former Boer Republics (1910) with their diverse populations.
Africa was almost enturely divided up by the European powers in the 19th century Scranble for Africa. South Africa was the first Africa country to begin to emerge from European control, although under a white controlled government. After World war II, other African countries began to achieve independence. The high hopes of independence were dashed througout Africa by economic failure. Economic conditions fgor the most part declined throughout Africa the various countries achieved independence. Ironically, racist Apartheid South Africa proved to be the economic powehouse of the continent. It might be said that the economic success was achieved by exploiting black labor. But the fact that blacks in neigboring states vied to enter South Africa to work there demobstrates that more was involved than the exploitation of blacks. The racist South African economy generated European style lives for whites and living standards for blacks above that of most other African countries. The Apartheid re\gime was replaced with black majority rule (1994). There were high hopes both within and outside of the country for a bright multi-racial future. Those bright hopes have not been asvhieved. South Africa today, blacks and colored (mixed race) can now enter the middle class and live in nice neigborhoods, the great bulk of the black population has not benefitted greatly. Unemployment has risen from 17 percent in 1995 to 25 percent in 2009. The infrastructure inherited has deteriorated The state-owned energy compsny, Eskom, now has to implement rolling power outages. The responsibility for the economic decline lies at the feet of the governing African National Congress (ANC). [Johnson] Nelson Mandella was an inspiring figure in ending Apartheid, but his age and abilities were less suited to overseeing an economy. Mandela at a cabinent meeting asked, "Who is a good economist?" Trevor Manuel thought Mandella had asked, "Who is a good communist?" and raised his hand. Manuel did a reasonable job as Finance Minister (1996-2009), but it was blind luck. Most other South African ministers were incompetent or corrupt or both. And his sucessor Thabo Mbeki lacked Mandelas mora sruples without any reedeming managerial capabilities. Mbeki is best known for fighting AIDs with garlic and potatoes. Under the ANC black revolutionary nationalism and rampant coruption, South Africa's once vibrant economy has declined. South Africa's new president, Jacob Zuma, has promised reforms, what will be achieved is an open question.
South Africa is an ethnically diverse country. The racial composition in 2000 was about: black (75 percent), white (14 percent), colored (9 percent), and Indian (3 percent). [CIA Factbook.] Other estimates exist. Some show the white populationa s low as 8 percent of the population. [South Africa On-Line Travel Guide.] The black population itself is very diverse. The Zulus (21 percent) are the largest group. Other groups include Xhosas (17 percent), Sothos (15 percent), and a large number of smaller tribes. The White population consists of Afrikaners (descended from Dutch, French, and other European immigrants) and English settlers. Indians were brought into South Africa to work on sugarcane plantations and they are still concentrated in Natal. Famed Indian leader Mahatma Gandi soent his formative years in Natal. There are smaller groups like the Cape (Khoikhoi) Malays who were brought as slaves from East India by the Dutch in the 18th century.
There are many strata levels in South African society which in itself is interesting. Due to the temporate climate, some boys (especially in the rural areas) run about in short pants (albiet grubby) and a "T"-shirt and of course barefooted. In the cities boys have generally become more sophisticated and dress well in varying degrees.
South Africans speak a great diversity of languages. The two principal European languages are English and Afrikaans. The latter language is easy to understand by Dutch people. According to a Dutch reader, " Afrikaans tickles one's funny bone, because it seems such a primitive, child-like language, derived from 16th century Dutch, enriched with some native African and Malayan words. But they always make up new words that make a lot of sense, like refrigerator = ijskassie (ice box), automobile = wa (from the word wagon), etc." HBC of course has a Dutch glossary, but not one on Afrikaans for clothing related terms. We suspect that the clothing terms are quite similar. Both languages continue to be spoken in South Africa, but the black majority strongly prefers English, in part because most associate Afrikanns with Apartheid. There are a much larger number of idigenous African languages. The two most important are Xhosa and Zulu.
HBC at this time does not have detailed information about trends in South African boyswear over time. We have very few historical images in the HBC archives. The limited information we have suggests that since the British seized control of the Cape Colony that South African clothing styles have closely followed British styles. We are less sure about the Bohrs who moved inland and attempted to ditance themselves from the British. After the Bohr War (1899-1902) the images that we have noted suggest that the Bohrs also adopted British clothing styles. We have little informatio on how school uniforms and children's clothing in general has changed over time. While basically following British styles the South African climate over time has has some impact on clothing styles. A 2001 newspaper article entitled "Rather death than being out of Fashion!" provides some insights on current trends in South Africa.
South Africa is made up of a diverse mix of African, Europen, and Asian people. Each of these groups have destinctive dress and garments. At this time we do not have any information on African traditional garments. It was the English who came to dominate South Africa and as a result, English clothing styles became the accepted standard in South Africa. Even after the Afrikanner Nationalist Part gained control of South Africa, it was English fashions that predominated in South Africa. We note relaitevely little influence from the Netherlands.
We do not yet have much information about boys activities in South Africa. There are a variety of family outings that South African families can take. South Africa has some wonderful parks. Some of the national parks are world famous. Religion is an important activity. The original Dutch settlers were members of the Durch Reformed Church. French Hugenoughts and Jews expanded the religious makeup. The British brought the Anglican Church and msny other denominations. Indian workers brought the Hindu and Muslim faith. At this point we only have some limited informstion on Sunday schools. We do have some information on schools. Of course sports are a popular activity. Rugby is especially popular in South Africa. We notice play activities. We note some choirs in South Africa, mostly school choirs. South Africans celebrate most of the familiar holidays celebrated in Europe. One example is Arbor Day. Of course the holidays often look different than in Europe because the seasons are reversed. We do not note if there are any specifically African holidays.
We have begun to collect information on South African families. Family portraits provide a wealth of interesting fashion and sociological information. At this times we have archived information on just a few South African families, but we are working on the section. South Africa is a very diverse country. We hope to eventually archived a wide range of families from different time periods and different ethnic and social class families. We note three siblings of the Van Plesten family about 1912. We note members of the Van Der Wal family, probably a grandmother with three grandchildren and an African boy associated with the family. This photo was taken in Lydenburg, a town in Mpumalanga on April 8, 1916. We see the Botha family in the late-1980s in Dundee. The town is situated in a valley of the Biggarsberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal.
The two boys are Sarel and Henning Botha.
Photography was invented in Europe. The first commercial process was the Dahguerreotype (1839). The process quickly spread in Europe and America. It took a little longer to reach Africa, but not much. Photography first reached Durban (1846). Next was French Daguerrotypist Jules Légar at Algoa Bay, a settlement in the Eastern Cape. It is located along in the east coast, 425 miles east of the Cape of Good Hope. He arrived on the schooner Hannah Codner. He took and exhibited the first settler portraits and colonial scenes (1846). An associate, William Ring, struck out on his own in Cape Town, but ws not very successful. Others were soon operating studios in Cape Town: Carel Sparmann, William Waller, and John Paul (1851). And technological advances soon followed, especially the wet plate. S.B Bernard and F.A.Y. York won public commissions (breakwater and prison at waterfront docks) and had imprssive clientelles (1850s). Most of the early photographs were portraits of the settlers. One of thei clients was Govenor Sir George Grey who organized the destruction of the Xhosa chiefdoms after the cattle killing in the Eastern Cape (1856-57). [Hayes, p.139.] Photographs of the African peoples mostly began with anthropologists and missionaries who were interested in the native populations. These and collections of other European colonial photographers, often had racial overtomes, designed or unintenionlly conveyin imagery designed to legitimize colonialism. The first such images were of the native peoples (the Khoi khoi and San) that the Duch and Britsish first encountered. The first large number of images came with the development of the albumen process and the CDV (1860s). And we begin to see large mumber of image first time, mosty of the European settlers.
One of the use HBC sections is the personal experiences section. Here we collect information on individual South African boys. We are interested in information not only about clothing and fashion, but general boyhood experiences growing up in South Africa. The information comes from our individual biographies section as well as information our readers have sent to us. We note John Hall walking along a street of Pretoria in the 1940s. His son was Anthony born in 1936. We have information about a visiting America imn the 1970s. Hopefully our South African readers will send along information about their own expeiences.
Hayes, Patricia. "Power, Secrecy, Proximity: A Short History of South African Photography," Kronos University of Western Cape (November 2007), pp. 139-162).
Johnson, R.W. South Africa's Brave New World (Overlook: 2010), 702p.
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