In 1906 the British Empire decided to begin merging its colonies in certain parts of the world into bigger “mega colonies.” The idea was that it’d be easier for the UK to oversee their economies due to a larger surveillance program resulting from this idea.
The United Dominions of South Africa consisted of the Cape Colony, the Boer Republics, Benuchaland (now Botswana), the Rhodesias (now Zambia and Zimbabwe), Nyasaland (now Malawi), Basutoland (now Lesotho), (now Swaziland), then later after WWI, SW Africa (now called Namibia). The colonies were grouped together on the basis of their railroad track gauge of 4ft 8.5in gauge. (As opposed to our own reality’s 3ft 6in gauge, otherwise, the development of Africa railroads was the same). The economy of the new Dominion soon boomed like never before.
Meanwhile, the Afrikaners looked on in anger while the colony, and Britain, prospered. Losing independence was bad enough, but now they also had to face the growing integration of blacks into society by the UK. But on the bright side for the Afrikaners, they now could spread like melted butter across the country and breed like rabbits and therefore hope to overtake the black population, which they did. Soon, they were the largest group of whites in the country, and were gaining up on the black Africans in terms of population.
Another factor in the growing white population was the arrival of immigrants. These were mainly from Italy, Eastern Europe and other underdeveloped countries. There were also more from the UK, Iberia, Belgium, France, Holland, SE Asia, and even Latin America. The black Africans were worried, and so appealed to the King of England for more rights. The King surprisingly agreed, citing what he considered their strong work effort. But it was too late depending on who you asked, by that point, only the Zulus of South Africa still outnumbered the Whites as a whole, even they were slowly being outnumbered.
But by 1939, there was worse to come, Hitler invaded Poland and WW2 began. South Africa was obliged to help Britain fight Germany, Italy, and Spain. Therefore, South Africa immediately sent every fit male ranging in age from 18 to 60 up to the UK to help prepare for a battle against Germany.
But then, the Afrikaners realized that with most of the British and a good deal of their own gone off to war, they had all but complete rule of the country. Several groups of Afrikaner rebels, back by Axis sympathizers in the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique, who were taken advantage of the fact that Portugal had recently been invaded and annexed by Spain, as well as pro- Axis Belgians in the Congo, soon began a rebellion in the former Boer Republics. Creating the short-lived nation of Transvalia out of the old republics and Southern Rhodesia. These efforts would soon fall due to the eventual defeat of Italy, then Spain and Germany, and Japan, the result of the defeats meaning that the UK could go and retake South Africa again.
But they wouldn’t rule South Africa for much longer. By 1944, populism among both Afrikaners and the blacks was growing.
The country was becoming harder to govern as a direct colony. Therefore, the UK gave South Africa semi independence as a Commonwealth like Canada and Australia. But then the National Party, a pro Afrikaner party founded in 1914, won barely due to the recent surge of white population in the form of refugees from the Second World War. The Republic of South Africa was born.
Under this rule, Apartheid came into law, being mainly similar to what it was in real life. But the USA reluctantly aided them due to the threat of communism, while the UK stayed with them out of concern for those of British ethnicity in South Africa. However, the UK, USA, and South Africa did join forces to fight Robert Mugabe in the province of South Rhodesia. Mugabe’s communist forces were responsible for horrid crimes against not only white farmers, but also more moderate blacks in the region.
Despite being communist himself, Stephen Biko, the leader of the African Consciousness movement in South Africa, was absolutely appalled by Mugabe’s atrocities. He had expressed a desire to help the US and UK find a more peaceful solution to the problems South Africa had. But he himself was often under severe government watch. The good news here is that in this timeline, he not only survived his September 1977 arrest and detainment, but also became a traditional liberal, as opposed to straight-up communist.
That said, South Africa, backed by the UK and US military, we able to defeat Mugabe. Who was eventually sentenced to the firing squad for his crimes in 1982. At that point, the black Africans began demanding more liberty, and requested that the rest of the British Commonwealth help them. Within the next few years, they managed to free many prominent anti Apartheid leaders such as Mandela. That said, it was not easy, mainly due to the aforementioned fact that Afrikaners, and whites in general, outnumbered most black African ethnicities.
Eventually, however, in 2003, F. W. De Klerk, as moderate Afrikaner, announced the coming of free elections. In the end, Mandela’s party, the African National Congress (ANC) was elected.
After Mandela stepped down. Biko decided to run for president himself, on the side of the Democratic Alliance, citing his disappointment in the socialist turn the ANC took on South Africa.
Under the leadership of Biko, who is now in his early 70s, South Africa has developed into a true superpower, and is a major player in the British Commonwealth. With a wide variety of material being used with in and abroad. People of both white and black races enjoy one of the highest standards of living in Africa, and in the Southern Hemisphere.
The transportation network in the country has what is also considered the best railroad system in the world. An interesting side note is that South Africa, due to the cheap labor resulting in its many ethnic groups, black and white alike, breeding like rabbits, had plenty of low cost labor to continue the use of steam locomotives in the 2010s.
Another interesting subject is the average South African’s love of non super hero comics. Which originally was born out of the lack of super hero comics, due to most publishers like Marvel and DC boycotting South Africa over Apartheid. While most publishers of these comics did not have the same qualms about exporting them anywhere. Especially loved comics are those of Disney and Nintendo characters, to the point that several suburbs of several cities have been named after characters from both the Donald Duck universe and the Nintendo comics universe. One example is that a suburb of Lusaka, the capital of the Zambian province, was named Blouperskeberg, meaning “Blue Peach City”. Which is named after the Super Mario Bros. character Princess Peach. Who in South Africa, is associated with the blue dress she wears in the comics, the recent Disney/ Nintendo Mario productions, and the Mario Inc. RPG games that are based on the comics. Rather than the pink dress she usually wears in the video games. Though it has been hinted that Nintendo may try and make the games more marketable in that part of the world by having Peach wear the blue version of her dress all the time due to the comics being more widely known in South Africa than the games.