The Land Issue: South Africa 1652 – present: Part 5

Recapping

Flag of the Dutch East India Company svg Welcome to Part 5 of this examination into South African History. We request that you kindly read the preceding parts to gain a proper understanding and the correct context in which this particular part continues the documented course of events. The information has been gleaned from archived documents translated from the original autographs of the Journal of Johan van Riebeeck and others.

In Part 1 we looked at the meticulous planning by the Dutch in the years 1649-1651 prior to Johan van Riebeeck and the designated parties sailing from Texel in the Netherlands on their voyage to the Cape of Good Hope to establish a refreshment station as undertaken by the VOC (Dutch East Indies Company).

In Part 2 we undertook the voyage from Texel in the Netherlands on 14th December 1651 sailing on the flag ship of the fleet, the Drommedaris, to the landing at the Cape of Good Hope on 6th April 1652. We also looked extensively at the lifestyle of the Dutch settlers and their work ethic, their relationships with the local Khoikhoi and San natives and other people groups from these clans. We looked also at the relationship between the Dutch and a native interpreter named Herry. This took our learning adventure into the early days of January 1653.

In Part 3 our investigations continued from the 9th of January 1653 looking back into life at the Cape of Good Hope, the relationships being forged between the local natives and the colonists, the Dutch Christian lifestyle, the assembly service and the gospel, daily trials and tribulations experienced by the Dutch, the birth of Johan and Maria van Riebeeck’s son, christened Abraham van Riebeeck, who was born on 18th October, 1653 at the Fort de Goede Hoop, Kaapkolonie (Cape Colony; present day Cape Town), making Abraham a born white African and therefore ‘a son of Africa.’ We read about a Christian marriage on African soil, native theft and the murder of a Dutch cattle herdsman and the subsequent forgiveness to continue with friendly communications and dealings between black and white peoples. This part would end in December 1653.

In Part 4 we looked at the Christian attitudes to ‘slaves’ and we examined the Biblical teachings concerning ‘slaves’ and ‘slavery’ which is very different to the evil and wicked practices of sinful white and black men who were involved in the slave trade. We looked at the Biblical recordings of the true intension of what ‘slaves’ were to be which are servants in wilful servitude and the protections afforded those servants. We also examined the word ‘kafir’ delving into the etymology thereof and discovering the origins to be Arabian and the Islamic use of the word means ‘disbeliever.’ We then went even further back into history and ascertained that slavery stems from the Arabic world where Islam was birthed, and we see that Islamic slavery is still active and alive to this very day.

Continuance of Christian conduct to the local natives

Khoi-Traders We take up the record again from the Journal of Johan van Riebeeck[1] in this part of our research into the early life of the local natives and the Dutch colonists at the Cape Colony. 

The following extracts from the aforementioned Journal reflects as we can read the record where forgiveness and continuing grace being shown towards the local native inhabitants by the Dutch was very much the way they addressed the issues at hand. There was no retribution carried out because of theft, murder and unfriendly actions directed towards them, but on the contrary the opposite applied. Friendship was still extended to the local natives. On page 157 of the Journal we read:

No. 26.—Instruction for the Officers of the “Roode Vos,” Ready to Proceed to Saldanha Bay also the Neighbouring Islands.

. . . For this purpose you may use the little cargo still on board. On meeting the natives you shall treat them as kindly as possible, assuring them that we are un-willing to do them the least harm because of the crime of Herry, but rather desired to show them as much friendship as possible; and that we are here abundantly supplied with copper and tobacco; adding whatever may further tend to draw them towards us. For the Company is much interested in being on friendly terms and in kindly intercourse with these natives. . . . Of your arrival you must at once inform us overland, that we may consider, whilst you are there, whether we shall make an expedition against Herry, as the party sent out would be better provided with provisions from that place than could be done from this. For the rest you can gather our purpose from the conversations held in the Council and also outside of it. We therefore depend upon your diligence and wish you a prosperous voyage. Amen.

J. VAN RIEBEECK.
Jacob REYNIERSZ.

Dated in the Fort, December, 1653.

On page 160 of the Journal we read of the account of Herry’s murder of the young Dutchman looking after the herds during the Sunday Church service . . .

No. 27.—To The India Council.

. . . From the journal you will see how Herry, our interpreter, who with his people had always been under our protection and received many favours from us, robbed us of our cattle on the 19th October, during the Sunday service, and murdered the young man left in charge by the herds, and that we failed in capturing either himself or any of his. The consequence has been that the Saldanhars, informed of it, were afraid to come near the fort, thinking that we would revenge ourselves upon them. We have not been able to obtain a single animal from them since the 20th. Informed however of this fear of the Saldanhars, who would not approach nearer than half a mile, we assured them by personal visits to their encampments, unarmed, that they had no reason to be afraid; and by persuasion finally induced them to come to the fort, where they were royally treated and a new alliance with them was formed. They declared that they had no share in Herry’s doings. What the truth may be, and whether by bribes they may be induced to deliver Herry to us, time alone will show. We do not broach the subject to them, but confine ourselves to treating them well, to find out what their intentions really are. . . .

(Signed) J. van Riebeeck.
Jacob Reyniersz.

Dated in the Fort, 31st December, 1653.

On page 163 under Resolutions this entry appears concerning the manner in which the Dutch colonials are to treat the natives including Herry concerning a death of the shepherd and theft of cattle,

Tuesday, October 21.—All our cattle, 44 in number, stolen last Sunday by the Watermen during Divine service. The thieves have always been protected by us since our arrival, and we have shown them much kindness, especially the interpreter Herry, who daily dined at our table, and was clothed with Dutch clothes and adorned with a copper chain, a stick and plates. The others likewise were always well fed, and consequently always prepared to fetch water and fuel, to milk the cows and take charge of the calves. We were as kind to them as if they were our own people, and we believed that they were as favourably disposed towards us. We find that we have been deceived. The common people, who are the greatest sufferers, are very much embittered against them, and vowing vengeance. This course however, would cause great irritation, and for good put an end to all intercourse with the Saldanhars, the chief object of the Company here. The Saldanhars, we fear, will, for some time to come, hesitate to approach us with their cattle, dreading that we intend to take vengeance. We have accordingly resolved, notwithstanding the murder of young David Jansen, who herded the cattle at the time, and because the rogues were not captured red handed, to publish an order, forbidding all and every one to do the least harm to the natives, whether Beach-rangers or Saldanhars, when they show themselves at the fort; yea! not even to Herry, who is evidently the sole cause of the crime; but to show them as much kindness as possible; yea! more kindness than was shown them before, in order to remove the fears of the Saldanhars, and convince them that we do not desire to revenge an injury, and certainly not without cause; also that we do not attach any importance to any vengeance taken upon the Beach-rangers, as it would interfere with our intercourse with the Saldanhars, which is of much importance to the Company. We might also punish the innocent with the guilty, and the last error would he worse than the first. And in order to ensure safety on the road to the forest, the foresters shall always be together to the number of ten, whilst six wood carriers, always armed, shall attend the wagon. The men within the fort shall be divided into four companies, each one to have its place, in case of surprise, and also to appoint men under the gunner to work the cannon.

Also on page 164 we read that both parties, local natives and Dutch colonists, were willing to work together for the greater cause of sustained friendship,

Thursday, October 23.—A few of the musketeers guarding the woodcutters in the forest hastily arrived with the news that some Saldanhars—among them a Captain from whom last year we had bartered much cattle, and had caught and returned one which had strayed away—had brought the information that Herry was lying in False Bay with the stolen cattle and had requested the Saldanhars to be allowed to live with them; but the latter had refused, knowing that his cattle had been stolen from the Dutch. The said Saldanha Captain had also stated this to us last Saturday evening, adding that he had seen the animals, and making signs to the carpenters that more men with fire-arms should be sent for, and that he would bring them to Herry to recover the cattle. Having heard this news, and considered that the Beachrangers, Herry’s allies, were the cause of all the injury hitherto sustained by us, and that the Saldanhars had shown us unbroken kindness, as was again proved last year; and that they preferred to trade without the intervention of Herry, who never dared to venture among them unless accompanied by some of our men (one troop excepted, who seemed to be somewhat friends of Herry, though even these he and his allies approached with fear, always fleeing whenever any Saldanhars visited the fort, Herry alone remaining under our safe protection), it became more and more evident that, in accordance with the opinion of all who have visited the Cape from time to time and also those of the wrecked ships Mauritius and Haerlem, that the Saldanhars and Watermen were always hostile towards each other; that the Watermen prevented trade with the Saldanhars, and that therefore we would do a service to the Saldanhars by following Herry and his tribe,—the Saldanhars signifying that we should kill both Herry and the Watermen in order to trade with us more peaceably. It would not be necessary to do this only for the Saldanhars’ sake, but Herry and his confreres have given us cause sufficient to take revenge for the murder of the boy and the theft of the cattle. It was finally resolved, after mature deliberation, to send 17 strong soldiers, victualled for four or five days, towards False Bay, under command of Corporal J. v. Harwarden, a prudent and careful man. They were to remain during the night in the forest with the carpenters, and on the following morning to proceed with the Saldanha Captain, or without him, to wherever Herry might be with the cattle. Finding him they were to endeavour to recover the animals and capture him and his people by fair or foul means, being particularly careful that they were not tempted, deceived or killed by the Saldanhars or Watermen.

On page 170 we also read,

EDICTS (PLAKKATEN).

Edicts issued by Johan van Riebeeck and Council,

October 21, 1653.—Murder by the Hottentots of the cattle herd David Jansz, and the theft of 49 head of cattle by the murderers. Ordered, that, for various reasons in the interest of the Company, no natives, including even the thieves and the late interpreter Herry—the apparent cause of the outrage—should be molested, but on the contrary most civilly treated, not only for the sake of procuring more cattle, but likewise to travel about with a greater degree of safety, this being the best course in the interest of the Company, and for the growth of the settlement.

(Signed) Johan van Riebeeck.

Dated 21st October, 1653.

And further on page 171 we continue reading, where the Dutch are carrying on in their friendship towards the local natives, the Hottentoos have another agenda in how they confront the colonialists, in not a too friendly manner,

JOURNAL (continued).
1654.

January 3rd.—Hottentoos without cattle arrive at the fort, boldly stealing whatever they can lay their hands upon, not hesitating to deprive our people even under the fort, when unarmed, of their property, and coaxing the children aside to rob them of their brass buttons, though they are so well treated. The carriers of the palisades report that daily some 50 armed Hottentoos are loitering about the forest without approaching the fort. Do not know what to make of it. Decided to protect the carriers with 20 musketeers, and the carpenters there with 2 additional soldiers, and besides the 5 soldiers to guard the gardener’s house outside the fort, to have 5 musketeers for the gardens, the fowl, duck and geese houses; also to add 2 musketeers to the armed herds in the pastures, in order from our side to avoid all estrangement of the natives, which can only be avoided by taking good care of our own, for if they have stolen anything, they are at once afraid to come near to the fort where they are much wanted, if only to fetch fuel for the cook, which assistance is beginning to be rendered to the great relief of our people; likewise also for the re-opening of the cattle trade, which, as yet, hangs fire. Accordingly we intend soon to visit them in person to try and persuade them, but fear that Herry breeds mischief among the Saldanhars, and may treacherously conspire against us, for which we hope to be prepared.

Conclusion

The following concluding extracts record Khoikhoi, slave and colonial life at the Cape of Good Hope from various points and the sources of the information provided is recorded in the bulk of the extensively quoted text. What you will read hereunder is surprisingly different to what one would hear from the South African political rhetoric that is spewed forth by the ruling socialist communists which is diametrically opposed to the facts. Today South African history is altered and changed to appease the masses which has obvious financial rewards to the politicians by receiving the masses’ votes – the vast majority of voters being illiterate, uneducated and indoctrinated! If a lie is told repeatedly by bringing up the past repeatedly it will result in the gullible audience believing it and holding onto it. It is a form of ‘brain-washing’ hypnotism! To further their own corrupt lying agendas to the hypnotised masses there has to be a scapegoat to divert their shenanigans away from themselves and sadly they use an evil past event like ‘apartheid’ to blame for their corruption, fraud, lying, selfish ambitions and inept administration of South Africa whilst ostracising and being racist against the white population and other minority people groups, including the Khoikhoi and San peoples! You see acknowledging that the bantu tribes only arrived in South Africa from north and west Africa during the Nguni migration south does not legitimise their claim to owning the South African land! It does not fit with their political lying rhetoric to dupe the masses as they do not have a written record claiming who owned what! It is all based on hear-say. Oral tradition cannot be believed in its entirety as stories change all the time to suite one’s own agenda. If there are multiple written autographs that record certain events in history that can be substantiated by various writers, just as the educated Europeans used by recording in writing historical events that will stand for posterity, i.e. all future generations of people, here in South Africa and the world.  There is always two sides to a told story and the way forward would be to accept past history for what it was and by learning from it we hopefully will not make the same mistakes, but in order to progress as a united people we must find the middle ground that will benefit everyone. Changing history only creates lies and more heartache! Let by-gones be by-gones. All men of one race group cannot be held accountable for some men who acted out of the wretchedness of their hearts! Each man, woman and child is accountable for their own actions and one day every knee will bend and bow to the GOD of Creation before the Judgment Seat of the Lord Jesus Christ!!

Now to conclude this part of the series kindly read, how life was truly, with no punches pulled but warts and all, from the following document found online titled primarysourcepacket.pdf[2], inter alia:   

1. Diary, Jan van Riebeeck

Krotoa van Meerhoff / WikiTree Krotoa[3], called Eva by the Dutch, is the first Khoikhoi woman to appear in the European records of the early settlement at the Cape as an individual personality and active participant in cultural and economic exchange. Eva joined Commander Jan van Riebeeck’s household at the Dutch fort at around age 12. She was closely related to Oedasoa, chief of the Cochoqua Khoikhoi, but it is unclear whether her family sent her to the Dutch to work and learn the language or whether she made this decision on her own. She learned to speak fluent Dutch and Portuguese, and acted as an interpreter for the Dutch for most of her life. She converted to Christianity and in 1664 married a Danish surgeon, Pieter van Meerhoff, who was rising in the service of the Dutch East India Company. Together they had three children. After his death on an expedition to Madagascar, Eva became an alcoholic and was eventually sent to the prison colony on Robben Island for disorderly conduct. She died in 1674 and was given a Christian burial.

The following selections are from the official diary kept by the Dutch Commander Jan van Riebeeck and his council at the Cape. Since these men were representatives of a major trading company, most entries have something to do with commercial interests. Eva emerges as a savvy business partner to the Dutch, but also as a person truly suspended between two cultures. Note her use of clothing, religion, and language as she negotiates between the Dutch and the Khoikhoi worlds.

Source: Riebeeck, Jan van. Journal of Jan van Riebeeck. Volume II, III, 1656-1662. Edited by H.B. Thom and translated by J. Smuts. Cape Town: A.A. Balkema, 1954.

Eva of the Goringhaikona / WikiTree 31 October 1657:
“The Commander [Jan van Riebeeck] spent the day entertaining the Saldanhars [a Khoikhoi tribe from the interior] and questioning them about various things through the medium of a certain girl, aged 15 or 16, and by us called Eva, who has been in the service of the Commander’s wife from the beginning and is now living here permanently and is beginning to speak Dutch well.”

21 June 1658:
“Fine weather with N.W. breeze. The freeman Jan Reijnierssen came to complain early in the morning that during the night all his male and female slaves had run away, taking with them 3 or 4 blankets, clothing, rice, tobacco, etc. We thereupon called the new interpreter Doman, now called Anthony, who had returned from Batavia with the Hon. Cuneus, and asked him why the Hottentots would not search for the runaway slaves, to which he coolly replied that he did not know. [Little is known about Doman, though he was one of the important interpreters between the Dutch and the Khoikhoi in the early years. He was taken to Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia) to learn Dutch, and there he seems to have noticed the threat that the Dutch posed to indigenous ways of life. When he returned to the Cape, he consistently advocated Khoikhoi interests, especially of the Peninsular tribes, over those of the Dutch in trade negotiations.] The Commander, not trusting him, then called the interpreter Eva alone into his office and privately asked her whether our blacks were not being harboured by the Hottentots. On this she asked whether such was the Commander’s opinion, and being answered in the affirmative, she (speaking good Dutch) said these words, namely: “I tell you straight out, Mijnheer Van Riebeeck, Doman is no good. He told the Hottentots everything that was said in Mijnheer’s room the day before yesterday. When I told him that it was wrong to do so, he replied: ‘I am a Hottentot and not a Dutchman, but you, Eva, try to curry favour with the Commander, etc.’” She added: “Mijnheer, I also believe that the Fat Captain of the Kaapmans harbours the slaves.” On being asked what the chief would do with the slaves, Eva replied: “He will present them to the Cochoquas to retain their friendship, and they in turn will deliver the slaves to the Hancumquas living far from here and cultivating the soil in which they grow daccha [also dagga, of the cannabis family], a dry herb which the Hottentots chew, which makes them drunk and which they highly esteem.”

A depiction of a Hottentot female / WikiTree 23 September 1658:
“The interpreters Doman, or Anthonij, and Eva wished to visit their friends and asked for some copper, iron, beads, tobacco, bread, and brandy as a reward for their services as interpreters, and presents for her mother and their friends and all the natives whom they, especially Eva, would visit, to induce them to bring a larger number of cattle, as well as young horses, tusks, civet, amber, seed pearls (of which they were shown and given samples) and hides to the eland, hart, steenbuck, etc. They promised to do their best and hoped that we would soon see the fruits of their efforts; toward evening they thanked us politely and gratefully in good Dutch words for the presents they had received. They then left. When Eva reached the matted hut of Doman, also known as Anthonij, outside the fort, she at once dressed herself in the hides again and sent her clothes home. She intended to put them on again when she returned to the Commander’s wife, promising, however, that she would in the meantime not forget the Lord God, Whom she had learnt to know in the Commander’s house; she would always think of Him and endeavour to learn, etc.”

26 January 1661:
“The interpreter Eva has remained behind to live in the Commander’s house again, laying aside her skins and adopting once more the Indian way of dressing. She will resume her services as an interpreter. She seems to have grown tired of her own people again; in these vacillations we let her follow her own will so that we may get the better service from her. But she appears to have become already so accustomed to the Dutch diet and way of life that she will never be able to give it up completely.”

2. Letters, Johanna Maria van Riebeeck

Johanna Maria van Riebeeck (1679-1759) was from an elite family in the Dutch colonial network. She was the granddaughter of Jan van Riebeeck, first Dutch Commander at the Cape, who went on to hold important posts in the Dutch government in Batavia (Indonesia), and the daughter of Abraham van Riebeeck, Governor-General of Batavia. She made three advantageous marriages, and died a very wealthy widow. In 1710 she voyaged to Holland with her second husband, Joan van Hoorn, retiring Governor-General of the Indies, and his 11-year old daughter Pieternelletje. Until then, Johanna Maria had never left the Far East, and therefore we may also see her as a woman caught between cultures. In these letters, which she wrote during a stop at the Cape on her journey to Holland, we get a sense of Johanna Maria as a prim, and rather dissatisfied person. Not all of her letters have this tone, however. Unlike most visitors to the Cape, she did not enjoy the experience; she even found the world-famous botanical gardens to be rather overgrown. Note her use of the adjective “hottentottish,” and consider her assessment of acceptable living circumstances and behavior for women in the Dutch colonies. [Note: The two letters are similar because correspondence often did not reach its destination.]

Source: Briewe van Johanna Maria van Riebeeck en ander Riebeeckiana. Edited by D.B. Bosman and translated by Anne Good. Amsterdam, 1952.

From Letter 5: Johanna Maria to her Parents, 13 January 1710:
I can’t withstand the cold very well yet, and am rather uncomfortable because of it, and plagued with sinkings and a stiff neck, which I hope will get better with time.

When you see this place from the sea, it is prettier and more pleasant than when you arrive on land. It is very miserable; you don’t see grass or clover, and the streets everywhere by the castle and in the town are full of holes, as though wild pigs had rooted through them—when you decide to ride into the city or to the Company’s gardens, you are always worried about falling! And the gardens are so fine that your heart closes right up. When you come into the garden, nothing looks finer than the laurel trees, which grow quite tall here, however, the paths are very narrow. The fruit trees are full of fruit, but little is ripe yet, and there are nice vegetables too, but not planted in nice order, and the ground is very rough, so that Ms. Moutmaker likened it well to a volgeesie—which the people from the Cape don’t enjoy hearing. In this place there is nothing nice to see along the seashore, and the castle is quite ugly and the governor’s house is like a labyrinth, so that you can easily get confused, and the other houses within the castle walls look like prisons. Outside are the Hottentots, who are very ugly and stinking people, and the Dutch people also keep very untidy households. You see many people with strange faces, and the way of life is strange here. The governor is a man who enjoys company, and it looks like he enjoys having women around all the time—so there is a really courtly bunch here, but even so, everything is hottentottish.

I must admit that based on appearances, I have never seen a worse place. But as far as food is concerned, it is better here than in Batavia, and so is the climate.

From Letter 8: Johanna Maria to her Parents, 30 January 1710:
I have also received a letter here from my son Jan [Jan was actually Johanna Maria’s stepson, in his late teens or early twenties, attending university in Holland.], and he writes me that his grandmother has been quite sick all year, and lying in bed, and hoped to see me soon in the fatherland [Holland]. But he doesn’t say anything about his studies. I hope that I will find things better than what he was written to us. We have decided to let him live in our house at first, which will certainly be by far the best for him, so that he can be weaned from his friends in Utrecht. And if he really doesn’t have the desire to study, we’ll find something else for him, and I hope that I will yet see happiness in him. …

Now to tell something about this place. . . . After we came to anchor, a number of shots were fired for us from the castle, which our ship answered. Shortly afterwards the Governor Van Assenberg arrived on board, with his second in command, the Fiscal and a few others, Missus D’Abling and two captains’ wives. An hour later, we departed together toward land, and got a shower along the way, from which we became nicely wet, and it was a really cold day. In that weather we reached the pier, which looks very bad and has no steps, just planks nailed to poles, about two feet apart, going steeply up, so that we had to allow ourselves to be pulled up, and we were close to the sea which was not still at all.

A little farther off stood a dirty-looking coach with six horses (like everything here it was quite hottentottish) with which we drove to the interior of the castle, and stopped in front of the house of the governor. We entered the house, which is a very ugly building, and dirty and greasy, as though it belonged to Pater Smeerlant of Ceylon [a joke character]. The castle looks miserably unkempt, with a number of buildings of an ugly style within its walls. The city is quite large for this place, but the roads everywhere are very slovenly, full of holes high and low, so that when you ride out, you feel as though you will surely fall—the roads to Boejong Gede [presumably near Batavia] are much better and prettier, and lordly in comparison. Outside the city it isn’t any less rugged. It is a pity that the governor here doesn’t take better care of the place, and doesn’t live better himself. This whole place might then change, and also the people, who are now very jealous of one another.

The governor is a man who likes to take his pleasure daily with young misses of bad reputation, and he is very familiar with Mrs. Munckerius’s daughter, who looks like a flirt to me. The governor would certainly have been in my company daily if I had not told him that I do not enjoy the conversation of young people, and would rather keep other company.

Mrs. D’Abling is a very sweet and modest little woman, as well as two or three other women here, but they are not in the governor’s favor, because they don’t want to mix with his other company. For people like them, this is a very dreary place.

From Letter 13: Johanna Maria to her Parents, 15 February 1710:
[I am sending you] another little sack of seeds that I received from a black woman, named Black Maria, who says she is the daughter of a woman or maid who was earlier in the house of my blessed [late] Grandfather, and who begged me to send the sack to you, Father. It appears that these people still cherish a great affection for our family: besides this woman, I’ve met two or three others, as well as a very old, blind Hottentot woman, named Cornelia, and two Hottentot men, one called Dobbeltje [a type of coin] and the other Vogelstruys [Ostrich], who were able to tell me much about that time.

3. Ethnography, San Dance

Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek, German ethnographers who lived in Cape Town, were the first people to systematically write down Khoisan folklore, beliefs and customs. They did their work in the late 19th century, so there is no way to be sure that the traditional way of life described by the informants was the same as that lived by the Khoisan in the previous centuries. Nevertheless, we know from many sources that the communal dance was an important part of Khoisan culture. The extract that follows is a firsthand account of the experience by a participant, |Han‡kass’o, also known as Klein Jantje, who was about 30 years old at the time he spoke with Bleek and Lloyd. He came from the northern Cape colony and stayed in the Bleek home for nearly two years, before returning to his people. In his storytelling he often notes who first told him the story, and this is frequently his mother. He emphasizes the celebratory aspects of the dance. Dance was used to release communal tensions, or it could take on ritual meaning, when dancers sought to reach “boiling point,” or a trance-state, where they became one with the spirit world. Note the different roles suggested for men and women in the piece below.

Source: Bleek, Wlihelm H. I., and Lucy C. Lloyd, eds. “The use of the !gõïn!gõïn, followed by an account of a Busman dance.” In Specimens of Bushman Folklore. London: George Allen & Co., Ltd., 1911.

[The speaker first explains that one of the reasons the San people beat the drum called the !gõïn!gõïn is so that the bees may flourish and produce a lot of honey.]

“And the people take honey to the women at home. For, the women are dying of hunger, at home. Therefore, the men take honey to the women at home; that the women may go to eat, for they feel that the women have been hungry at home; while they wish that the women may make a drum for them, so that they may dance when the women are satisfied with food. For they do not frolic when they are hungry.

And they dance, when the women have made the drum for them. Therefore, the women make a drum for them; they dance. The men are those who dance, while the women sit down, because they clap their hands for the men when the men are those who dance; while one woman is the one who beats the drum; while many women are those who clap their hands for the men; because they feel that many men are dancing.

Then, the sun rises, while they are dancing there, while they feel that they are satisfied with food.”

4. Rock Art, Khoisan

Rock art, found on the walls of caves and on moveable rocks, was once thought to depict simple images of the daily lives of the Khoisan. In the last 20 years, study of oral traditions and close attention to what is actually depicted in the paintings has led to a complete revision of this theory. Now it is believed that the images depict the experience of the trance dance, an integral part of Khoikhoi and San social and ritual practice. The dance was performed with the whole community present, although only a few may have done the dancing—prominently the shaman, or leader of ritual.

It was an extremely intense activity, sometimes performed after smoking dagga (cannabis), where the dancer strains to reach “boiling point” and let his or her spirit transform and get in touch with spiritual forces. In Khoisan belief, there are spirits in the world—particularly connected with animals like the largest antelope, the eland—that can influence weather, communal tensions, and personal problems. As the dancer goes into the trance, he or she hyperventilates, cramps over in pain, bleeds from the nose, and starts to hallucinate. A shaman describes this, also in the symbolism of the rock art, as transforming into the spirit of an antelope or other animal. Women were an integral part of the dance and could take part in the trance, but they are rarely depicted in rock art. Here we see the participants in the clapping circle, together with shapes from the hallucinatory experience, and figures in a state of transformation.

The paintings are extremely difficult to date and the artists are unknown. It is believed that they may have been shamans.

Source: Lewis-Williams, David and Thomas Dowson. Images of Power: Understanding Bushman Rock Art. Johannesburg: Southern Book Publishers, 1989.

Bushman Rock Art Bushman Rock Art

5. Object, Digging Stick

The Khoikhoi were semi-nomadic pastoralists (herders of sheep and cattle), who hunted game and gathered edible plants, nuts, roots, berries, and honey to supplement their diets. There was a division of labor between men and women: men hunted and tended the cattle while women looked after small stock and gathered food in the surrounding countryside. One of the implements used by women was the digging stick weighted with stones. Although the implement may appear primitive, consider what went into making it and how practical it was in its environment for its intended uses.

Source: Ratzel, Friedrich. Drawing of digging stick and stone weights. Völkerkunde. Volume 1 (Leipzig and Vienna, 1894).

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6. Drawings, Khoikhoi

In the late 17th century, an anonymous artist did a series of impromptu sketches and set pieces showing Khoikhoi at the Cape of Good Hope. The artist seems to have been interested in capturing natural movement and depicting actual articles of Khoikhoi clothing or activities in which they engaged, rather than falling back on the stereotypes that tended to be perpetuated in European books about the Cape. But the sketches are not entirely spontaneous, since the women in some of the scenes are clearly posed in classical ways. In addition, the artist seems to have had a tendency towards allegory as he juxtaposed wrinkled and crippled old women with voluptuous young women. The depiction of young women, which sometimes seems deliberately sexualized, also raises questions about how independent an observer the artist was.

On the left side of the page, the artist shows different types of hats, facial painting, and the hide bag carried by the Khoikhoi, as well as a woman playing a drum made by drawing a leather hide over a clay pot. On the bottom of the right side of the page, the artist carries on the theme of dancing, including the notes of the chant he has heard. The lines around the legs of the women indicate the leather anklets they commonly wore. On the top of the right side of the page, Khoikhoi men and women appear to be reacting to an image in a frame—probably a mirror. The scene is not explained by the handwritten notes, but a selection from 1660 Journal of Jan van Riebeeck provides an interesting parallel: “Later on, when the said servants [of a Khoikhoi chief]—the one called Oocktis Koukoa and the other Hanhumma, herdsmen of their King’s cattle and sheep—were led to a large looking-glass in the Commander’s room, they were obviously very much alarmed, at first thinking they were looking at people in another room, and then, when they recognized themselves and other people reflected, they imagined that they were seeing spirits. Such a state were they in that Eva, Doman, and some other Hottentots living in the fort were hard put to it to bring them back to their right senses again.” The notes explaining the scenes were added at a later date by someone other than the author.

Source: Drawing of Khoi dancers and musical instruments. In The Khoikhoi at the Cape of Good Hope: Seventeenth-century drawings in the South African Library, Text by Andrew B. Smith and Translations by Roy H. Pheiffer. Cape Town: South African Library.

Drawings Khoikhoi

7. Travel Narrative, Peter Kolb 1

Peter Kolb was a German astronomer and mathematician who lived at the Cape from 1705 to 1713. He was initially sponsored by a German baron to make astronomical observations in pursuit of a way to calculate longitude accurately. When this project ended, Kolb stayed at the Cape and observed everything else. About three years after his return to Germany, he began to compile a book about his experiences, based on letters and notes he had written. This book (more than 850 large pages) was divided into three sections: the first discussed the flora, fauna, minerals, water, and topography of the Cape. The second addressed the social life and customs of the Khoikhoi (then known as Hottentots). The third discussed the political intrigues of the Dutch colony during the years Kolb was part of it. His ethnographic conclusions are now contested, but there is no doubt that his book is an important source for understanding interaction among the various ethnic groups at the Cape in this early period. Although Kolb was not married and had no children, he made numerous comments about many different aspects of women’s lives. In the excerpt below, he discusses the rearing of children, but also offers a glimpse into how closely Europeans, Khoikhoi, and slaves lived and worked together.

Source: Kolb, Peter. “On the Manners and Customs which are observed among the European Inhabitants…” Letter Eight, Part Three in Caput Bonae Spei Hodiernum. Translated by Anne Good Nuremberg: Peter Conrad Monath, 1719.

Not all parents need to be accused of nurturing their children badly, since there are still some to be found who lead honest lives—but there are still far too few who may be accused of spending too much time with their children when they are still young and tender, or who watch and care for them, and try to instill honesty in them together with their mother’s milk. Instead, from the very beginning the whole care is given over to slave women or even female Hottentots [Khoikhoi], and the parents are content as long as the children suffer no pain, or other unpleasantness that could hurt them, or learn obviously bad manners.

Just think to yourself what good such an Aja, as these caregivers are called, could do for a young child, leading a heathen life, given over to lust and other sinful desires, carrying on indecent and wanton conversations with others like herself in the presence of the child, and not caring for anything except that the child have enough to eat and drink, clothes, and lack no other incidentals, so that the child will not cry and fuss a lot, and she will not receive a harsh reprimand. Thus the child will be brought up in pleasure and happiness, even though the foundation for a real fear of God will be completely neglected. This is a circumstance that cannot be lamented too highly, and should find disapprobation among all righteous Christians.…

It cannot be denied that such an Aja does indeed know how to get on with the child skillfully enough, and is a faithful caregiver when it comes to anything necessary for bodily health. No one would disagree either, that they are good language teachers, and that their mother tongue, or at least the Portuguese, which is commonly used throughout the East Indies, and may be considered a main language in these lands, flows into the children at the same time as mother’s milk [presumably they were wet nurses as well]. Still, with all these skills, in my opinion they still lack that which is most essential and important to bringing up children.

For, not considering the fact that they speak very bad and broken German, or rather, Dutch, and therefore are not able to teach the child this language, so that in the beginning all the children here speak German very badly, almost like the French people [Huguenots who had fled religious persecution in France] who are just beginning to learn the language—there is an even greater impediment that prevents these caregivers from steering the children towards true godliness, which should be learned above all else: the Ajas themselves still lead heathen lives, and therefore hardly know even by name what godliness is or means.

8. Travel Narrative, Peter Kolb 2

Peter Kolb was a German astronomer and mathematician who lived at the Cape from 1705 to 1713. He was initially sponsored by a German baron to make astronomical observations in pursuit of a way to calculate longitude accurately. When this project ended, Kolb stayed at the Cape and observed everything else. Kolb was writing for a European audience, and therefore often played to their expectations. In the case of the Khoikhoi, the assumption was that these people were among the most primitive on earth. Thus, his work had to be used with caution when trying to reconstruct the early history of the Khoikhoi. On the other hand, when Kolb’s observations are compared with those of modern anthropologists, significant overlaps may be found, so that it seems clear that Kolb spoke directly to Khoikhoi men and women about their beliefs and customs. In the following excerpts, Kolb discusses Khoikhoi practices during and after the birth of a child. Ask yourself how, as a European man, Kolb could have seen or heard about these rituals. Nevertheless, his account cannot be simply discounted, since it is known that Khoikhoi did consider water risky for expectant mothers and newborn infants, and cattle played major and significant roles in the economy and rituals of traditional Khoikhoi society.

Source: Kolb, Peter. “On the Ceremonies and Customs that the Khoikhoi Observe at the Birth of a Child…” Letter 8, Part Two in Caput Bonae Spei Hodiernum. Translated by Anne Good Nuremberg: Peter Conrad Monath, 1719.

When a Hottentot [hereafter Khoikhoi] woman feels the hour for giving birth coming near, she always has two or three other Khoikhoi women with her, to keep her company and help her during the birth. As soon as she feels labor pangs, and has to lie down, one of these women runs and fetches the midwife, of which there is one in every kraal [or village homestead]. This midwife will have been chosen by the other women to fill this office, and she will always be called to lend a helpful hand during the birth.

As soon as the midwife arrives, and goes into the dwelling of the pregnant woman, the man of the house must leave, and may not be seen there again as long as his wife is in labor. If he comes back even to ask how his wife is doing, he is punishable, if any of the other men or women heard him, and he will have to make himself right again [anders machen—go through a cleansing ritual]. That is, after the woman has born her child, the man will have to slaughter one or two fat rams to legitimate himself again. But the meat will not be given to the new mother or the other women, rather the men will eat it, and the women will just receive the broth, as in the case of other slaughtering for cleansing rites.

[Kolb then describes how when a Khoikhoi woman has a difficult birth she will be given a drink of tobacco cooked in milk to ease the way. He suggests that women in Europe might not be able to survive drinking the concoction.]

. . . If the child is born alive, they do not wash or bathe it in water, for they say that this is Sickum, or unhealthy. Instead, they have a different and extraordinary way of cleaning the birth filth off the baby—though according to the customs of Europeans, we would say that this is just making it even more offensive than it was by nature. For, instead of using water, or something else that one might use to clean newborn children, they take fresh cow dung and rub it all over the child, so that it is simultaneously perfumed and coloured grass-green.

[Kolb goes on to say that after the dung has dried, the women rub the baby all over with a paste made from the mashed leaves of a specific plant. After this has soaked in, they rub the baby all over with sheep’s fat or butter, and sprinkle it with powder made from a dried herb used for ceremonial purposes (buchu). They do this to make sure that the child will live and be strong.]

. . . . Can such a result [health and strength] be brought about by applying such stuffs? I must doubt it, since God gives and sustains life, and must be asked, and the child’s constitution must be taken into account. Still, small things often produce great results, and so I will leave it to others to investigate these customs, and make up their own minds.

9. Will, Laurens Verbrugge and Beletje Frederikszoon

Laurens Verbrugge and Beletje Frederikszoon were ordinary people from Holland who settled in Stellenbosch (near Cape Town), and took up farming there. Though not wealthy, they did own slaves and had sufficient property that they felt the need to draw up a will when Beletje became ill. Note the Christian beliefs expressed in the wording of the will.

Laurens was Beletje’s second husband which was not unusual at the Cape, where there were fewer European women than men throughout the 18th century. Women therefore tended to marry early to men older than themselves who often died before them. It was not uncommon for women to marry three times, which could cause disputes over inheritance. Marriage among Europeans, Khoikhoi, and slaves was not forbidden, though relatively rare; sexual relations were more common. The status of the children of slave women by European fathers was precarious, and in the following will it is difficult not to speculate on the paternity of the slave girl Christintje. (The “-tje” ending to Dutch words means “little” and often suggests affection when attached to names.)

Source: Notarial Deeds and Wills 1708-1714, #12. Stellenbosch Files: 1/STB 18/3. Cape Town Archives Repository. Translated by Anne Good.

27 October 1711
Testament between Laurens Verbrugge and Beletje Frederiksz.

In the Name of the Lord, amen.

Knowing that they are the only ones who may be concerned with the contents of this present and public instrument, made in the year after the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, one thousand seven hundred and eleven, on the twenty-seventh of October, around midday, twelve o’clock, before me Peter Kolb (provisional secretary to the Magistrate and Council etc.) and the witnesses named below, the following appeared in person—the honorable Laurens Verbruggen and the virtuous Belie Frederiks, a married couple living in Stellenbosch, the testator [Laurens] healthy of body, standing and walking, but the testatrix [Belie] sick and lying in bed, but completely in command of her mind, understanding, and memory and well able to use them, as it appeared to us. The couple declared that, considering the brittleness of human life, the certainty of death but the uncertainty of the time and hour when it will come, they intended not to take leave of this world before they had disposed of their temporal goods, lent to them by God Almighty, doing this of their own free and unforced will, without the direction or deception of anyone else, committing first of all their immortal souls to the protecting hand of God, and their dead bodies to the earth, asking an honorable burial, revoking, breaking and declaring null and void all other testaments, codicils, marriage conditions, or any other public agreements, made by them together or by each separately, whatever they might be, so that they may not be observed in any point.

First, the testators bequeath to the poor of Stellenbosch the sum of 25 guilders, Cape value, which will be given out by the one who lives the longest, after the death of the other, out of their remaining goods.

Furthermore, the testators, explain that, before any other claims, the one who dies first leaves to the one who lives longest the inheritance of the house, with all land belonging to it, and all its contents, standing in Stellenbosch, together with a new wagon with eight draft oxen, which the one who lives longest should enjoy as their own unencumbered property, without any difficulty being raised by the children of the testatrix by her first husband. This on the express condition that the one who lives longest will not be able to alienate or reduce the property, with the understanding that after both their deaths, the property will be given to the children of the testatrix by her first husband. Moreover, this will should stand only as long as the one who lives longest remains unmarried, because both of the testators wish to keep in mind, that the children of the testatrix may not be overlooked.

If the testator [Laurens] comes to die first, it is his intention and complete declaration, that, in case any of his brothers’ or sisters’ children comes to live at the Cape of Good Hope, that person should receive a sum of no more than fifty Rixdollars, excepting which, all the rest of the goods should go to the children of the testatrix by her first marriage.

Next, the testatrix, declares that it is her will and design, that the slave child called Christintje, should remain the property of her son’s child, baptized Beeltje after the testatrix, as long as they both shall live, desiring that the aforesaid slave child will never be sold or otherwise alienated, but expressly stipulating that the aforementioned slave child, after the death of her son’s child Beeltje, will be free. Finally the testators reverently ask that the honorable lords of the Orphans’ Chamber at the Cape of Good Hope will become the executors and administrators over their remaining goods and inheritance, and that the honorable lords will have the goodness to administer the inheritance for the children of the testatrix by her first marriage. [This was the usual arrangement.]

Having heard the above clearly and precisely read to them, the testators declare this to be their final will and testament, desiring that the same will stand and take effect in every part . . . . All of this done in the house of the testators, in the presence of the former town counselors, Jan Botma and Adam Tas—as witnesses of good reputation, expressly asked to be here, who, together with me, the provisional secretary, and the testators, sign below on the day, hour and year mentioned above.

As witnesses
[signatures of]
Jan Botma
Ad. Tass

This is the personal mark t mark and signature
of Laurens Verbrugge

This the mark \\\ and the personal signature of
Beeltje Frederiks

With my knowledge
P. Kolbe
Provisional secretary

10. Law, Alcohol Sale

The following law suggests that slaves and Khoikhoi were considered particularly prone to alcohol addiction. There is some anecdotal evidence that this was a common stereotype held by Europeans at the Cape. Some scholars argue that alcoholism may indeed have been more prevalent among the Khoikhoi and African slaves because indigenous fermented drinks were not as strong as those brewed by Europeans. Furthermore, it is known that among the Khoikhoi, fermented drinks and dagga (like cannabis) were used for ritual purposes at the occasion of the trance dance. The following law regulates who may sell or serve alcoholic drinks, particularly prohibiting slave and Khoikhoi women from being involved. It is unclear, however, whether the law is meant to regulate alcohol or to control the leisure time activities of slaves. Since slave and Khoikhoi women are at the center of this issue, we may ask why it seemed “worse” to the authorities to have these women selling liquor rather than anyone else.

Source: "Laws and Regulations Respecting Slaves at the Colony the Cape of Good Hope since the Year 1658 till a. 1805." In Dutch laws translated into English. 1806. James Ford Bell Library. University of Minnesota.

3 September 1754
“But whereas a still greater annoyance has been experienced in as much that some Persons who have obtained Licences to sell strong Liquors, do not scruple to have it done by Slaves or what is still worse by Hottentot and other women in their own Houses without any Superintendance whereby other Slaves are the more easily debauched into all kinds of bad practices; no Person therefore shall employ any male or female Slave or other Woman even were she already emancipated, to draw or sell strong Liquors in the Tap or Public Houses, under the same Penalty as before mentioned of the loss of Licence over and above a Fine of Two hundred Rixdollars and the male & female slave or other Woman so doing shall besides be severely flogged.”

11. Law, Slave Women and Children

Khoi Women and Dutch Colonist WDL11267 in 1700s Although marriage was not forbidden between Europeans and slaves or other non-Europeans, it was quite rare and entailed a drop in social status for the European. Nevertheless, sexual relationships occurred—sometimes coerced, sometimes by mutual agreement. The children born to slave women by these relationships were seldom openly acknowledged by their fathers, and thus usually followed the fate of their mothers. Religious and secular authorities were not at ease with this situation. This can be seen in church proclamations that called on Europeans to baptize all their slave children, and secular laws that sought to regulate the living conditions of slave children, especially of mixed race. In the following excerpt, it is noteworthy that the “children of free heathen” are also mentioned. These “heathens” were probably not Khoikhoi, but rather former slaves, either from East Africa or Asia, who bought or earned their freedom and were known as Free Blacks. In this case, the designation “heathen” might also refer to followers of Islam.

Source: "Laws and Regulations Respecting Slaves at the Colony the Cape of Good Hope since the Year 1658 till a. 1805." In Dutch laws translated into English. 1806. James Ford Bell Library. University of Minnesota.

20 June 1766
That in future the Statutary Law that no Children of free Heathen begotten on their female Slaves, whether the Estate be beforehand or not, may be sold, nor the Mothers of those Children, should the Estate be solvent, shall be observed, and it is likewise understood to forbid all Executors and Administrators of Estates without Exception and they are hereby forbidden accordingly to sell Children begotten by Christians on their Slaves whether the Estate be solvent or not; with authority to allow such a Child or Children to follow those who may apply for them and be willing to bring up those otherwise Unfortunates in the Reformed Religion; or in default of such should the children be descended from European Blood, but not otherwise, to give them to the Deacons of the Reformed Congregation in order to be brought up in the Poor House & instructed in the above mentioned manner.

That towards the Encouragement of Fidelity among the Slaves, with regard to those who possess them in property, such of them as rescue their Masters or Mistresses from any great Danger of their Lives or save them from being murdered, or use their utmost endeavor thereto at the risk of their own Lives, must immediately be made free and above all may not be sold either by their Masters, or by Executor or Administrators of Estates.

In Part 6 we will look at the Slave Lodge opened in 1679 in the Cape Colony (present day Cape Town), we will attempt to walk in the footsteps of slaves and hopefully describe their daily movements in and around the Cape Colony away from their places of work, and also look at slaves owned by slaves (you read correctly) as well as slaves placing requests with the authorities “praying to be manumitted” and proposing to give a fellow slave in exchange for their freedom! We will also briefly look at slavery being abolished in 1838! Until the next time,

Soli Deo Gloria

_____________________

Footnotes:

[1] Precis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope, December 1651 – December 1655, Riebeeck’s Journal – by H. C. V. Leibrandt, Keeper of the Archives. Part I. Cape Town : W. A. Richards & Sons, Government Printers, 1897. pp100-171.

[2] Krotoa, called Eva by the Dutch, is the first Khoikhoi woman to appear in the European records of the early settlement at the Cape as an individual personality and active participant in cultural and economic exchange.

[3] Krotoa (Goringhaikona) Meerhoff (abt. 1642 – 1674): WikiTree Where genealogists collaborate https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Goringhaikona-1

Related Blog Posts:

The Gospel comes to South Africa (13 December 2012)

Answer to Sandile ~ Part 1 (3 June 2013)

The Gospel . . . Racism and South African History (8 March 2016)

365 Years Ago Today . . . (6 April 2017)

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