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Imagine if we all spoke French? - Walk in Africa
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Walk in Africa / History  / Imagine if we all spoke French?
20 Sep

Imagine if we all spoke French?

g.jpg” alt=”” width=”229″ height=”135″ />For almost a thousand years the French and the British have been having a go at each other. From the Battle of Hastings in 1066, to the bid for the 2012 Olympics (which the Brits have won by the way), one’s loathing of the other has kept the Anglo-French war alive. This too is true for each of the country’s colonies. Although the Cape was first settled by the Dutch in 1652, Sir Francis Drake had passed earlier in 1580 and left his British Flag behind. It was only much later, after the Dutch had already established the Cape Colony, and it just so happened to be co-inhabited by French wine makers, that the British would come back to claim the land as theirs. The first governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, left behind a legacy in wine making. Places like Stellenbosh and Groot Contsatia make it clear to see why French Protestant Refugees or Huguenots were welcomed at the Cape: They were good at wine. Britain invaded the Colony in 1795 as a result of the invasion of the Netherlands by France. Peace in the Netherlands allowed the British to return the Cape to the Dutch under control of the Batavian Republic in 1803. But to prevent it’s falling into French hands after Napoleon’s increased movement in the Netherlands the British invaded a second and decisive time in 1806.

Throughout the British occupation the situation with the French loomed in the background. Many Afrikaans names originated from the French Huguenot immigrants. This is still evident in names such as De Villiers, Lombard or Du Plessis. Cecil John Rhodes (1880’s) aimed to have Britain occupy all countries from South Africa to Egypt for the rail route “Cape to Cairo”. This meant from south to north. Most countries were already ruled by Britain. But the French had plans of connecting their West African territories to the east coast. Their conflict of interests has since subsided in South Africa. It’s amazing how the decisions of few people a long time ago determined what language South Africans would speak.

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