Emigration to Africa began at the end of the 19th century, at a time when Croatians, largely from Dalmatia, began to leave for all corners of the world, and in particular for North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Only a small portion of them made it as far as the southern end of Africa. They worked in Rhodesian copper mines, and around a hundred or so of them came from a single village from the western side of the island of Brač[1]. Over time, they moved to the South African Republic.



According to a theory by Adam Eterović from California, Croatians came to Africa as they did to the North American continent; with New World explorers. This led him to speculate that people from Dubrovnik sailed alongside Columbus, Magellan and Da Gama, which is made all the more likely by the fact that near the Cape of Good Hope, there is a bay called Saint Blaise, in Croatian St. Blaž, or as he was known in Dubrovnik, St. Vlaho.

One thing we know for certain is that people from Brač came to the South African Republic near the end of the 19th century. There were largely farmers, and would later work in African mines looking for gold and digging for diamonds. Emigration for economic reasons was the most common, although after World War II, there was a small flare up of political emigration. Aside from people from Brač, there are Croatians from all over the Adriatic coast living in the South African Republic today. There are many from Korčula and Slavonia, and they all live in larger cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Pretoria.

George Antun Sinovich came from the Sinovčić family, which shortened its family name for practical reasons[2]. George was born in Pretoria, where his father, Jure from Brač, came to alongside several of his neighbours. Jure owned a farm, and participated in the Boer War, fought against the English, and returned to his birthplace of Mirca in order to marry, even though he was quite the eligible bachelor in Africa. George, like his father Jure, was diligent and enterprising, and became one of the most successful farmers in the country, as well as a producer of food and alcoholic beverages. In 1929, he married a Croatian woman, also from Pretoria, and in 1938 he was appointed honorary consul of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He built the suburb of Sinoville on his lands, which was added to the city in 1965. Today, it is one of the oldest of Pretoria’s northern sections, and several of its avenues and streets carry Croatian names, such as Brac, Mirca, Konavle, Orsula, Marija, Antun, Miriana, and Luce.

The Pretorian municipality, in honour of George Sinovich, renamed one of the streets in its Daspoort district to Sinovich Drive.


Sinovic road Pretoria


Pretoria, streets with Croatian names in the Sinoville area[3]



Konavle St Sinoville                      Marija i Brac St Sinoville


[1] Filipović Bezić, Branka. 2011. O Hrvatima na krajnjem jugu crnog kontinenta (On Croats at the southern edge of the dark continent). Matica 4/11, pg. 13.

[2] See 1

[3] Photos courtesy of Maja Franković from the Croatian Embassy in Pretoria