Historically, any South African of Dutch or Huguenot descent whose native language is Afrikaans. Beginning in the late 20th century, the term also was used for all Afrikaans speakers, regardless of ethnicity. The Afrikaners were originally called Boers (“farmers”), since many Dutch and Huguenot settlers of the old Cape Colony (founded 1652) became frontier farmers in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. They established self-sufficient patriarchal communities, developed their own language and subculture, and were committed to a policy of racial segregation, later referred to as apartheid. They fought a bitter war with the British (the South African War, 1899–1902) over the right to govern the frontier territories. Though defeated, they retained their old language and culture and eventually attained politically the power they had failed to win militarily. They dominated South African politics for most of the 20th century but were obliged to give up national power after the first elections based on universal suffrage in 1994. See also Cape Town; Great Trek; National Party.

Variants of AFRIKANER

Afrikaner formerly Boer

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