Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)

South Africa

Capital : Pretoria

Size: 471 000 sq m Popn: 39 790 000

Bophuthatswana, Cape Province, Ciskei, Orange Free State (Oranje Vrystaat), Natal, Transkei, Transvaal, Venda


The earliest known inhabitants were the Kung, Khoikoi and Khoisan (Bushmen and Hottentots) who were displaced by Bantu immigrants including the Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi and Sotho from about 1500 years ago. The first European to round the Cape of Good Hope was the Bartolomeu Diaz in 1488 and Vasco da Gama sighted the Natal coast in 1497.

Dutch and Huguenots (from whom the Afrikaners descend) arrived in the C17th and C18th and the Dutch East India Company established the Cape Colony in 1652. White settlers spread slowly inland and the area was occupied by Britain in 1798 with the Cape Colony coming under British rule in 1806. In 1814, Britain bought Cape Town and the hinterland for 6 million and began to near Durban in 1824. The Dutch Boers (farmers) did not welcome British rule and moved north in the Great Trek of 1836 to find new land, founding the settlements which became the republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

The Zulus had risen to power in the C19th, driving other local tribes into neighbouring countries. After Britain annexed Natal in 1845, the Zulus were caught between the British and the Boers, resisting until 1879-81 when their country was annexed. The Orange Free State was annexed by Britain in 1848 but became independent in 1856. In 1877, Transvaal was also annexed by the British although independence was restored in 1881 but the discovery of diamonds at Kimberley and gold in the Witwatersrand brought in foreign speculators who antagonised the Boers. In the 1890s, Cecil Rhodes, the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, attempted a takeover which led to the Boer War of 1899-1902. The Boers were forced into submission but the Afrikaners gained favourable terms at the Peace of Vereeniging in May 1902 which allowed them to retain their own language and to exclude blacks from voting. In 1910, Natal, Transvaal, the Cape provinces and the Orange Free State formed the Union of South Africa as a dominion of the British Commonwealth. The South African Party led by Jan Smuts, who supported the Commonwealth, and the republican nationalists led by James Hertzog, governed alternately between the two World Wars. Hertzog advocated neutrality but Smuts was in power and South Africa fought with the Allies in WWII.

The Afrikaner National Party came to power in 1948 and its leader Daniel Malan established Apartheid as a solution to the problems of the multi-racial society. During the 1950s, the African National Congress (ANC) led a campaign of civil disobedience and was made illegal in 1960 although that year, the British Prime Minister announced that the West would support black majority rather than white minority rule. The ANC leader, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, was imprisoned on sabotage charges in 1964.

The Sharpeville Massacre intensified anti-apartheid protests and the whites voted to become a republic. Due to heavy opposition to his regime, under which the races were kept segregated with 15% of the land expected to accommodate about 75% of the population, Malan's successor, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd withdrew from the Commonwealth and the Republic of South Africa came into existence in 1961. Western opinion was turning against the regime and South African sportsmen were banned from the international arena after their their organisers' refusal to welcome black players. He was assassinated in 1966 and although his successor John Vorster modified some of the worst discriminations, he lost any goodwill his neighbours may have felt with the invasion of Angola in 1978, raids on ANC bases and assassinations of anti-apartheid activists. Black movement was restricted by the pass laws and ten black homelands or bantustans were established to contain different ethnic groups, some of whom were forcibly resettled. These took up only 14% of the country, comprising some of the least fertile areas. Many opponents of Apartheid were imprisoned without trial and after black leader Steve Biko died in detention in 1977, police brutality came under international condemnation.

Nominal independence was given to the Black National States of Transkei in 1977, Bophutswana in 1977, Venda in 1979 and Ciskei in 1981. Pieter W. Botha became Prime Minister in 1978 and showed willingness to modify apartheid. Coloureds and Indians (not blacks) were given a share of political power but the 1980s saw increased international opposition and township unrest. Hardline whites objected to any power sharing but Dr. Andries Treumicht and 15 others who later formed the Conservative Party of South Africa, were expelled in 1982. The changes were approved by an all-white referendum and came into effect in 1984. The Mixed Marriages Act was repealed in 1985 and multi-racial political parties were legalised but in the 1986 cabinet of 21, everyone was white except one Coloured and one Indian.

During the South African troops raided what they claimed were ANC bases in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and exiled ANC leader, Oliver Tambo, gained increasing support from world leaders. Although still in prison, Mandela became a international symbol of the struggle for black African rights. His wife, Winnie Mandela, continued to publicly condemn the Apartheid system and it now appears that she may have advocated violent protest. Non-violent protest was advocated by the Zulu Inkatha movement and Bishop Desmond Tutu amongst others. In 1986, black township unrest caused many deaths and led to the declaration of a state of emergency. Sanctions were called for and the Eminent Persons Group of Commonwealth leaders reported that there were no signs of real liberalization. Although the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was unwilling to impose sacntions, some Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada, went much further and were eventually joined by the USA although the withdrawal of individual multinational companies from South Africa may have had more effect.

F.W. de Klerk took over after President Botha's stroke in 1989. The National Party had its worst results since coming to power in the whites-only elections that year but remained in government despite gains by both the non-racial Democratic Party and the Conservative Party. De Klerk promised political reform and began freeing political prisoners, including Walter Sisulu, and legalised the ANC, but it was the release of Nelson Mandela in February 1990 that convinced the world of his good faith. Tambo returned in December but Mandela was elected as ANC leader but there were some disagreements within the movement. In February 1991, de Klerk announced the end of Apartheid and by June, all racially discriminating laws were repealed. Sanctions were lifted and and the Republic of South Africa was allowed to return to international sport, with black and coloured sportsmen representing their country for the first time. The draft constitution of September 1991 was criticised by the ANC for seeking to retain white rule although black people were enfranchised. It joined the Pan-African Congress and other black groups in a union against the government but the PAC and Chief Buthelezi withdrew although Inkatha remained. In 1992, a white-only referendum gave de Klerk a mandate to introduce a new constitution ending white minority rule.

Although violence and internal disputes continued, Nelson Mandela was elected as South Africa's first black president in the first free elections. Some white extremists, such as Eugene Terreblanche, strongly resent their loss of privilege despite Europeans being only 14% of the population which otherwise consists of 74% Bantu, 9% Coloured (mixed Bantu, white, Malay and Khoisan descent) and 3% Indian, brought as labourers by the British in the C19th and C20th. Afrikaans and English are the official languages and the black majority speaks Bantu. Christianity is the official religion.

South African Names


Anuiyelewa Bobang Dayisile Dimi Dliza Duma
Es'kia Fikile Gatsha Jomo Katiza Ketso
Khaya Liod Makhaya Mangaliso Mbongeni Med
Mendi Mokete Mpilo Mshengu Msunguli Muileki
Nameni Nkosana Nyathi Oupa Potlako Selope
Seperepere Shakes Simphiwe Siphiwe Thabo Thami
Thoibo Thoko Thulani Tournament Tsepo Vusumuzi
Zolilie Zwelakhe        


Didi Inah Matlakala Moshidi Mpho Mphonyana
Nolitha Nomasonto Nontsikelelo Nthati Thembi Vuyiswa


Behndy Biko Boesak Bopape Boshielo Cachalia
Calata Cebekhulu Chosane Coha Dadoo Dingake
Dube Fazzie Festile Gaetswe Goniwe Gqozo
Grumede Gwala Gwentshe Hadebe Issa Kampa
Kani Kapwepwe Kaseme Kekana Kgoloko Kgopong
Kgosana Khogisa Khumelo Kodesh Kolane Kotane
Kubatsi Kunene Kutoane Lata Lbvolu Lekota
Lembede Letele Letlake Letshwiti Lonco Lutuli
Luvoyo Mabhida Mabuso Mabuza Madi Magubane
Mahabane Mahlambeni Mahlangu Majola Majombozi Makama
Make Makeba Makue Malangeni Malanje Maluli
Mamoepa Mandela Mangobe Maoto Maree Marupeng
Mase Masekela Maseko Masemola Mashaba Mashego
Mashinini Masinga Masondo Masubu Mathi Mathibela
Matlou Matomelaa Matshikiza Matyhila Mavuso Mayekiso
Mazibuko Mbata Mbatha Mbeki Mbelu Mbityi
Mde Mgaji Mgudliwa Mhalele Mhlaba Minge
Mini Mji Mkaza Mkhalee Mkwayi Mlangeni
Mlonyeni Modise Moeti Mofokeng Mogotsci Moketsie
Mokganyetsi Mokone Molaoa Molefe Molefi Molema
Molete Moloa Moloi Moloto Molotsi Mompati
Moroka Morometsho Moropedi Moshesh Mosheua Moshoeli
Mothopeng Motlana Motloung Motsamayi Motseki Motshegwa
Motsoaledi Mpetha Mphahlele Msimang Msimanga Mthebe
Mutch Mwakangale Ndlanya Ngakame Ngekule Ngendane
Ngidi Ngoyi Ngqobongwana Ngubane Ngubase Nhlapo
Njongwe Nkabinde Nkadimeng Nkampeni Nkobi Nkosi
Nobanda Noko Nokwe Nomwa Nongqayi Nthite
Ntini Ntsele Nyanda Nyathi Nyatsumba Nzo
Peteni Phatudi Phiri Pooe Qoboza Raboroko
Radebe Radobe Ramaala Ramahanoe Ramaphosa Ramasodi
Raptula Rathebe Resha Rothele Sebe Sekgapane
Sello Sepeng Sewale Sexwole Sharangabo Shukuma
Sibande Sikhosana Sobukwe Sono Tambo Tantsi
Tefu Teka Thema Thugwane Tlhoome Tloome
Toyana Tshabalala Tshaealala Tshwete Tugwane Tuli
Tutu Tyamzashe Tyesi Vusani Wagana Wiki



Autshumao Bagindawo Bambata Banabakhe Bikitsha Dabulamanzi
Dalibunga Daligqili Dalindyebo Gadla Jongilizwe Joyi
Khalipa Krune Lewanika Madiba Makanna Makgatho
Makhanda Mandla Mapogo Maqoma Masibulele Mdingi
Meligqili Melithafa Mlahwa Mpondombini Mthikraka Ngang-elizwe
Ngubengcuka Nkedama Nqabeni Nxeko Nxele Olwethu
Paki Rolihlahla Sabata Sandile Sefako Simakade
Thandiwe Themba Thembekile Tyumzashe Xola Yera
Zenani Zilindlova Zwelibhangile Zwide    


Baliwe Fundiswa Leabie Lindiwe Makaziwe Makhulu
Makhutswana Maki Mandisa Mathona Maudisa Nandi
Ndindi Nkosazana Nobantu Nodayimni Nomafu Nomampondo
Nombeko Nomble Nomonde Nomzano Nonyameko Nosekeni
Notancu Phathiwe Zaziwe Zeni Zindziswa Zintle

Many names can be used for males and females. They often have meanings associated specifically with the individual child.

Akhona Anisha Ayanda Ayele Luzuko Lyanda
Mxolisi Nandiphe Nkosinathi Nodathembu Phetuxolo Simthembele
Siyabulele Thandeka Thandi Thandiswa Thandiwe Themba
Unathi Xolelwa Zukisa      


Blayi Bokwe Fadana Giqwa Jabavu Mabutho
Madikizela Mahlasela Malope Mandela Matanzima Matyolo
Mbekela Mbekeni Mdingane Mdingane Menye Mkentane
Mqhayi Mufamadi Ncube Ndzamela Ntlabathi Nxu
Radebe Sindiswa Sisulu Siwundla Tatane Xuma

great spirit - Qamata



Ayize Cetshwayo Chaka Dinizulu Ganya Gatsha
Luthuli Mangosuthu Maphumulo


Nbomani, Bomani 'warrior' Thembinkos Thulani


Amaka Fabana chief Mavivi Nande Nandi her father's child Nomazizi
Nomlanga Ntombi Ntozake Setai a sorceress Shange  


Bambatha Bopela Buthelezi Dingane Hintsa Kgama
Kumalo Lambede Luthuli Makana Manzini Mdokwana
Montshiwa Mthembu Mtolo Ngidi Ngubane Sibiyo

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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