I am ever challenged to try and present large and complex historical narratives in formats that are easier to digest. Here is an attempt to capture over 160 years of resistance by the Indigene Africans to European Colonialism. * Wars are distinguished from general resistance when hostilities are formalised by the involvement of the VOC Authority or British Authority, its Militia or Military forces and its Magistrates, or by organisation or pronouncement by Indigene leaders, as different from skirmishes between colonist Trek-boers and Indigines. In the case of such formal hostilities ending, treaties were often signed (and broken) except in the case of the San where there were no treaties.

 David 2David Stuurman

(Photographs: Barry Calder’s sculpture of David Stuurman as part of the National Heritage Monument – The long Road to Freedom)

1659-1660          (1)   FIRST RESISTANCE WAR OF THE KHOENA 

The War for Camissa – for water, land & freedom of movement

1673-1677         (2)   SECOND RESISTANCE WAR OF KHOENA 

War to counter consolidation of the Cape District                                                                   Dutch ‘Divide & Rule’ war


War to counter consolidation of the Stellenbosch District

1705 – 1707             Holding the new frontier line – Resistance to Trek-boer expansion                                   The inter-colonist conflict of the Van der Stel impeachment saga

1713                         The Great Smallpox Epidemic


War of Sustenance – contesting loss of water, land and livestock


War to counter expansion, massacre and cattle raiding

 1739               (6)    THE SIXTH WAR OF RESISTANCE OF THE KHOENA & SAN

                                 War to counter the consolidation of New Frontier                                                                 stretching along Cape, Stellenbosch and Swellendam Districts

1740 – 1770             A TIME OF TENSE PEACE:


The Rebellions of the Roggeveld and Hantam.

 1774                 (8)    EIGHTH WAR OF RESISTANCE OF THE SAN

War of the Curtain-raiser San Offensive


Seekoei Massacre and Koerikei’s Triumph


The Ten Year Offensive for Survival


The 1st Zuurveld Contestation


The 2nd Zuurveld Contestation

 1798 – 1799             THE NAMAQUALAND REBELLIONS

                                   Challenges to Trek-boer acts of aggression

 1799-1803     (13)    THE 3rd UNITED XHOSA & KHOENA WAR OF RESISTANCE

The War of the Klaas Stuurman & Chungwa’s Confederacy.

 1808                         THE GREAT CAPE SLAVE UPRISING

The ‘Jij’ Rebellion of 25 October 1808 led by Louis van Mauritius – the largest Treason Trial in South African history

1809                           Introduction of the ‘Hottentot Proclamation’ – The Caledon Codes

 1811-1812     (14)     THE 4th UNITED XHOSA & KHOENA WAR OF RESISTANCE 

The British Scorched Earth Campaign

 1818-1819    (15)     THE 5th UNITED XHOSA & KHOENA WAR OF RESISTANCE

Dlambe, Makhanda and David Stuurman’s War

 1823                           Chief David Stuurman banished to Australia

1828                            Introduction of Proclamation 50

                                    First step toward the declaration of Khoena, freed-Slaves and other                                     non-Xhosa persons of colour in the Cape Colony to be ‘Coloured’.

From this point rebellions and challenges such as that of the Kat River Rebellion, the East Griqualand insurrection and others, or further support in the Xhosa frontier wars of resistance such as that of Hans Branders in Mqoma’s war would continue but the deportation of David Stuurman and the death of Makhanda brought to a close a long protracted era of Warfare.

The amaXhosa Wars (war 6 to 9), the Zulu Wars and other resistance efforts continued the resistance war tradition first started by the Khoena and San. But those first more than 160 years of resistance was the longest, bloodiest and most resilient of all resistance to colonialism ever seen in Southern African history – yet it was largely omitted from history books and continues to be omitted. One is often astounded when one hears someone say – “But why did the southern Indigenes not fight the colonialists?”

The resistance wars greatest challenge was four tactics that the colonialists used successfully. Pacification of defeated Khoena after each war; Divide and Rule; drawing in collaborator Khoena into the Boer Militias and later British Forces. The RESISTANCE story lives alongside a COLLABORATIONIST story in history. The forth tactic was the use of religion in pacification and collaboration through the missionaries and mission stations. The exact same tactics were used with the other African resistance wars across the country and it was used under Apartheid too. Throughout our history the “Authorities” from colonial times to the present engaged in ‘buying’ loyalty of traditional communities by using financial reward, titles, recognition and providing various forms of “the Staff of Office”. This ‘buying-off’ tactic came at the price of selling-out others who rather followed a path of resistance. The worst case scenario was the engagement by pacified Khoena in the genocide massacres of the San and indeed of other Khoena resisters and of Khoena and Xhosa resisters in the Southeastern Cape. In looking at our history we have to be honest and comprehensive by looking a our triumphs, tears and shame, through one lens so that we do not keep making the same mistakes.

A Chronology of important markers in the heritage of the peoples of Africa South of the Gariep – PART TWO: 1740 – 1828

This is the second part of an education or teaching tool – A HISTORY AND HERITAGE CHRONOLOGY – developed as a heritage activism learning matrix for improving understanding of the progression of ethnic cleansing and controls asserted by colonialism on the peoples south of the Gariep and of the resistance thereto. It is the hidden story of what I call the Camissa Footprint in the bigger South African story. It is a neglected and largely suppressed history. Without understanding this progression much of South African history is distorted.

At the end of the chronology a reading list will be provided which also informed the content of this learning tool. You can skip to the end to see the reading list and read the end comments….. it may help to understand the framing of the Chronology. Part 1 is and earlier post which you can scroll down to look at covering 500BC – 1739AD.

A Chronology of important markers in the heritage of the peoples of Africa South of the Gariep –   PART TWO: 1740 – 1828


For the purposes of this chronology thus far, up to 1740 we have looked in a sense at one Cape Colony which had an ever changing boundary, largely controlled by the VOC authorities in Cape Town. The settler Trek-boer presence straddled the frontier which had an invisible line roughly drawn from the west coast to the fork in the Olifants River, then with a perpendicular line drawn from that point all the way down to Swellendam and then again with a straight line from Swellendam to the east coast. Both sides of this rough invisible border was occupied to lesser and greater degrees with opponents that were not simply two groups of antagonists struggling against each other. In the same period from 1702 already the reach of cattle-rustling raiders had gone way beyond the Swellendam District and right through to the Gamtoos and the Suurveld. Trek-boers too, were beginning to move into the eastern interior.

The entire forced expulsion upheaval of 1652 through to 1740 and particularly the latter years created many impacts on the formational life of the indigenes, breaking up old formations and creating new, breaking up old economic modes and creating new.  Goringhaicona, Gorachouqua, Goringhaiqua, Chocoqua, Guriqua, Chainouqua, and Hessequa had all largely been conquered, forced to seek refuge across the ever changing frontier or to become farm labourers and military conscripts. Initially the Dutch kept controlled chieftainships alive and even kept some kraals alive by anointing compliant chiefs with a ‘Staff of Office’. As time went on they dispensed with this practice and only used it as a pacification tool on the frontier.

The Maroon or Droster phenomenon arose out of the refugee experience and out of rebelling against the harsh treatment as farm labourers – indigene apprentice or slave, and out of desertion of conscripted indigenes from Commandos. The mixed offspring of indigene, slaves and sometimes Europeans were labelled Basters or Hottentot Basters and those who ran away formed gangs or clans known by an array of names – Basters, Orlam Afrikaners, Springboks, Witboois and so on – and were often collectively referred to as Orlam groups. They often were expert horsemen and were adept at fighting and use of arms.

After 1740 these groups took their place alongside the Khoena and San outside of the colony. At times all three groups co-operated in both attack and defense against the settler farmers and commandos and at other times they warred against each other or stole livestock from each other. The life on the frontier and beyond was quite complex. The Khoena cultures and practices and formations did not stand still in time and had altered dramatically from both precolonial times and the times of Jan van Riebeeck.  At times the Khoena and the Orlams also collaborated with the Trek-boer settlers against other Khoena and particularly against the San – later too against the Xhosa.

Over the next 60 years, starting with the assault on the Onder Bokkeveld, the Hantam, Roggeveld, through to the Sak Rivier and Nieuweveld, the Dutch went on to push against the San in the Sneeuberg and down to the Sundays River in the Eastern Cape where again they faced the Khoena/Xhosa Confederacy resistance.

early-4-districts By 1800, the Cape Colony frontiers were fixed roughly in line with much of the Western Cape today, with some infringement on what would become the Northern Cape. To the east the colonial forces faced a confederation of Khoena and Ngaika Xhosa forces and on the west they  were challenged by Namaqua/Guriqua,  Baster and other Orlams, and San opponents. The Khoena, Baster/Orlams and Swy Eis San were the challengers in the Roggeveld and beyond the Sak Rivier to the Sneeuberg were the Ubiqua San and other San groups.

Please note that many people jump to false conclusions about localities – there is a big difference in locating something in 18th century Stellenbosch District – a huge expanse which is not Stellenbosch  – the town today. Likewise with Swellendam and Graaff Reinet. Even the Cape Town District was different then.


It is important to note that the 1770s in the western frontier district on the Colony side there were still remnants of surviving pacified Khoena identifying as Guriqua, Gunjemans, and Cochouqua who now were active pacified collaborators with the settler Trek-boers. From Tulbagh over to the eastern regions of the Cape Colony, although some were pacified Hessequa and Chainouqua, some from these groups also became resisters who had drifted to join the Gonaqua, Gamtoos, Hoengeyqua and Xhosa resisters.

From 1792 to 1799 the colonial warfare against the indigenes and mixed Slave/Indigene groups (‘Hottentot-Basters’) was joined by warfare of a different type – the introduction of a missionary pacification campaign where under the guise of providing hope and refuge at mission stations, were nothing but strategically placed pacification centres established along the frontier of the now expanded Cape Colony from which indigenes had largely been expelled. The missionaries task was to de-militarise the indigenes and Baster/Slaves, and wean them from resistance to co-operation – pacify them.

Secondly they were to keep the indigenes from wandering about – establish a reserve mentality. Thirdly they were to create and use these pacified peoples as a buffer against as yet un-pacified Xhosa, Tswana and Sotho peoples on the borders of the Cape Colony.

In time the missions would successfully do all of this with some and, also be unsuccessful with others and a demarcation of resistance and collaboration emerged. However, as a by-product for the Khoena in particular, but not so much for the San, perversely it aided indigene survival to some extent and assisted in the creation of the revivalist Khoena formation out of refugee Khoena, Orlam groups, Basters, some San and runaway slaves – adopting the term Griqua.

In some mission stations a split also developed between those taken in by the theology of pacification and those who adopted an indigenised Christian theology of liberation.

From 1792 and gaining traction after 1825 similar mission stations began to flourish in the Western Cape in preparation for the emancipation of slaves and extending of freedom of movement for the mixed slave/Khoena known as ‘Baster-Hottentots’. Every small farming town developed a missionary dormitory town for purposes of slave and ‘Baster’ pacification.

In the Western Cape the purpose was to stop wandering bands of people of colour, to promote cohesion and a sense of a ‘coloured’ identity (among slaves – indigenes – indentures – other migrants of colour), to indoctrinate and bond people as cheap though emancipated labour for farms and to join the emergent working class in towns and cities.

Over the first 5 years of the post 1740 period, there were first a few scattered and far-flung loan farms, where there was a majority of marriages being between a Khoena woman and European farmers. Then over the next 25 years the Boer settler’s loan farms were close to 300 in the west and hundreds more in the east. Just like Cape Town had changed between 1652 and 1700, so did the new Districts of Stellenbosch, Swellendam and Graaff Reinet.

This ‘frontier-agricultural’ phenomenon and ‘resistance war’ reality shaped the Cape Colony in fact much more than the isolated Cape Town urban community had done, yet it is the story of the latter which dominates the history books and complete silence reigns over the ‘other history of the founding of the Western Cape’.


By 1740 there was a hierarchy of three distinct types of slave labeling at the Cape in terms of how owners perceived their value – the Negroes (Zwartes), Cape Malays, and Afrikanders (Creoles). The first being Africans from elsewhere in Africa, the second being a mix of South Asian and Southeast Asian slaves using the Portuguese-Meleyu language for communication (the lingua franca for Eastern slaves), and the third being locally born or creole slaves known as Afrikanders. The latter being the most valuable and, particularly if they were also sired by a European burgher.This mentality is where race classification’s roots are to be found.

The term Afrikander and the language Afrikaans emerged as an identity and language among slaves and Khoena. Afrikanders included the offspring of slaves and Khoena. Only much later in the 1870s was both the term and the language appropriated by the Boer intellectuals as a framework for their identity. The Boers established a “Genootskap van REGTE Afrikaners” to try and distinguish themselves from those people of colour who had previously been known as ‘Afrikanders’.

The political-ethnic notion of ‘bruiness’ as opposed to ‘blackness’ first developed from the class and financial values placed by slave-owners on lighter skinned creole slaves and Hottentot-Basters also known as ‘Afrikanders’, rather than any hard and fast skin-tone variation of Indigenes. The notion of ‘bruiness’ was further promoted by missionaries in pacification of the Khoena and if we fast-forward first to the days of the United National Party and Labour Party Pact government of the early 1920s we saw that the notion of ‘die bruine-Afrikander’ was used in electioneering to divide the ‘Coloured’ vote. Again in the mid-1970s under PW Botha the concept of ‘die bruine-Afrikander’ was used to deal a death-blow to the Black Consciousness Movement to lure ‘Coloured’ participants away from the BCM ideas. Essentially it was a tool of control and ‘divide and rule’.

While the Namaqua peoples had already been engaged directly by Simon van der Stel as early as 1685 and were declared by the VOC that they and their territory fell under the sovereignty of the Colony, the VOC were hardly in a position to enforce this and actually occupy the territory. Thus the north-western frontier boundary of the Colony was set by decree rather than by conquest.

Conflict between Indigenes and colonists were thus seen as revolts rather than wars. By 1740 all Khoena south of Namaqualand were subject to pacification and compliant recognised leaders were issued with ‘Staffs of Office’ by the VOC. From 1750, over the next 20 years, colonists streamed into Namaqua territory and established farms. The majority of the early colonist farmers all took Namaqua wives and had children with them. Commando leaders like Willem van Wijk had no qualms about massacring Khoena and San resisters one day and, taking a pacified Namaqua Chief’s daughter and going through a formal Namaqua wedding with her on another day, and of course children were born from such relationships. Often commando soldiers such as van Wyk may later also have had Boer wives and participation in such traditional weddings was simply to gain trust. In other cases it was genuine assimilation of non-conformist Europeans into Khoena society.  Thus many Namaqua today have Dutch and German surnames such as that of ‘van Wyk’.

This was a re-occurrence of the status quo of the early colony on the Cape Peninsula and surrounds. In the first 50 years in the Cape it was commonplace for there to be marriages and unions between Europeans and people of colour – Slaves, Khoena and Free Blacks, This repeated in the early years of Namaqualand in particular, but also in Swellendam and Graaff reinet districts. Thus where relationships with Indigenes and children born of such were recognised usually through baptism, a new category of people emerge called the ‘Gedoopte Basters’ or Baptised Bastards. Initial pacification by stealth took a different turn in Namaqualand. The Namaqua however were in constant conflict with the San with much aggression taking place and Namaqua and colonists sometimes banding together to massacre the San. A lengthy period of peaceful co-existence ensued between Khoena and colonist farmers until the conflict on the eastern frontier turned westward and until the area started receiving refugees and militant Orlam resistance groups.

In the late 1760s the Orlam groups of ‘Basters’ led by Adam Kok, Claas Barends, Klaas Afrikaner and Cupido Roggeveldt made their way into greater Namaqualand and the Gariep territory. They and their descendants in what became dynasties had a major impact on new identity formations which merged Khoena, Slave, Rebel Europeans, and even some San and amaXhosa into groups such as the Griqua, Orlam Afrikaners, and Springboks.

They entered the world of the Khoena and San of the Gariep where a range of organised communities existed with allegiances to the Namaqua, Einiqua, Korana and San – Nanningai, Naugaap Noe Eis, Ei Eis, Anoe Eis, Namnykoa, Klein Eis, Cammagakoa, KauKoa, Aukokoa, Au Nameikoa, Gyzikoa, Hoekeikoa, Noueikoa, Koow Einas, Naw Keis, Moncoboo, Kouringeis, Hoesing Eis Korana and Toenokoe Eis Korana. Various tensions existed between these groups, particularly between Khoena and San, and the arrival of horseback-riding Orlam Baster groups armed with guns and keeping cattle herds had a great impact in the region, before the push of the Boer colonists into the region.

By the 1790s in the outskirts of the region and among  the Little Namaqua people, the Khoena began to revolt, fearful of the stories that had reached them about the violent conditions and near enslavement of Khoena in the Cape Colony to their south and, seeing more and more Boers entering their territories bringing these feared practices.

1740 – 1770        

THE VEILED FRONTIER STRUGGLE OF THE KHOENA , ORLAM/BASTERS AND SAN: The period of 30 years from 1740 was characterised by prolonged low-key clash and counter-clash interaction by all forces rather than outright war. It was partially a continuation of low-level warfare, with some serious flare ups, and partially relations that resulted from sharing an area which was dictated by the weather and harsh environment resulting in continuous clashes over scarce resources. The area was vast and far removed from tight VOC control and the settlers few in number and spread out did not have a huge armed force to call upon. They created a series of militia called commandos that focused on different zones. The soldier-power of these commandos, were heavily reliant on pacified Khoena too.

The resistance terrain was no longer a two sided affair but resistance was still the major focus of Indigenes and expansion was still the focus of the Trek-boer settlers. As with Camissa 88 years before, control of the drinking-water (khamma ) was at the centre of the conflict. It was the most scarce resource in an area challenged by little rainfall. Other resources were wildlife and grazing grounds – all coveted by the different role-players. The fiercest and most uncompromising of the protagonists were the /Xam or San. They stayed away from treaties and negotiations and fought with determination and vigour. During this period there is evidence that battles – of a raid and counter-raid type was being waged and at times with high losses of life. These were the aftershocks of the 1739 war.


The first new loan farm signalling formal colonist expansion was granted in Hantam and within 7 years there were 31 such farms.


The cultural make up of slaves being brought to the Cape thus far was initially West African and from South Asia, then it included Madagascar and Southeast Asia, and some from such diverse places as China, Arabia, Borneo and Japan. Between 1731 and 1770 Southeast Asia probably provided two thirds of the slaves, but India and Sri Lanka over the longer period 1652 until 1780 provided more slaves than SEA. From 1780 however until 1834 in terms of slavery and from 1834 till the last of the prize slaves were brought to the Cape in 1856, mainland Africa and Madagascar provided more slaves than all of the other areas combined. When indentured labour was introduced to replace slavery over 80% of indentured labour was also from Africa. Over the period of slavery including the prize slave epoch around 78 000 first generation slaves were brought to the Cape.

The Southeast Asians came from Myanmar, Siam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Formosa and from across the entire Indonesian Archipelago. From South Asia were Indians, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis. Most of the Malagasy slaves were Africans from the West Coast of the Island. The Africans were largely from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Congo, Malawi and Tanzania, all shipped through Mozambique and hence got the name Masbiekers. The term ‘Masbieker’ does not refer simply to Mozambicans. Prize slaves were from West Africa and East Africa. West Africans were largely from Cabo Verde, Guinea, Dahomey, Senegal and Angola. Contrary to the popular myth, Bantu Africans were in Cape Town for as long as white colonists were in Cape Town, and probably 35% of people or more classified as ‘Coloured’ in Cape Town have Bantu ancestry, 30% Khoena and San, 20% Asian and Eurasian, and 5% European and other, and most have a blend of all of these cultures in our genetic heritage.

There had also always been a trickle of Chinese into the Cape most often as convicts and later some as exiles. By far the majority population in Batavia (Jakarta) were Peranakan (creole) Chinese who were very successful merchants. In 1740 the Dutch VOC forces massacred around 10 000 of these Chinese. Some captured opponents after this massacre were sent to the Cape as exiles. The Dutch were involved in many conflicts in Java and across Southeast Asia right through to India. People regarded as troublemakers were exiled to the Cape. High risk convicts likewise were sent to the Cape, and thus started other forced migrations to the Cape of persons of colour. All of these migrations forced and others voluntary of persons of colour would enhance a fusion culture that would develop among their descendants.

Through the next 60 years these cultures and Indigene cultures would blend in the course of resistance and through conquest and pacification, all the old identities would be hardly recognisable in descendants a few generations down the line. The two dominant forces that would emerge is resistance and collaboration and these forces cut through ethnicity.

War on the one hand and the Christian faith on the other hand would be the chief determinants of culture and group coherence and new group formation. In the Cape District and in that part of the Stellenbosch District near to the Peninsula, the Muslim faith too would grow and offer social cohesion to people of colour. The majority of forced migrants were not Muslim when brought to the Cape, but through the missionary work of the Indonesian exiles and the fact that only in the late 1820s did European Christians fall over themselves to convert slaves to Christianity. There were actually reported mass baptisms. Even missions to the Khoena and San only seriously got underway after 1792. Mythologies abound concerning missionary efforts allied to resistance. for the most part missions and missionaries were put in place to subvert resistance and pacify indigenes.


From the late 17th century slaves forms of protest and resistance had included sabotage, arson and desertion as the main manifestations of their quest for freedom. Successful deserters had to be careful of pacified slaves and pacified Indigenes who stood to gain much in return for selling out deserters, but if these could be avoided and they reached friendly Khoena and amaXhosa they would be embraced as their protectors found slave deserters to be the fiercest of resisters. They did not want to go back to slavery. The punishment on capture or voluntary return was horrifying and thus to remain free was a singular focus.

According to Robert Ross, in 1747 another observation was made that in the previous 23 years some 44 slaves from the VOC Slave Lodge were found to have escaped by stowing away on homeward bound fleets. The records show that slaves were by no means all passively accepting their enslavement. The records also show terrible punishments meted out including various forms of scourging and branding, crippling by hamstringing and cutting of tendons, mutilations and cutting off of hands or feet, using hot pincers to pull of pieces of flesh particularly from breasts, stretching on the rack, and being fitted with head horns or spiked iron necklaces. If injury or loss of life occurred in revolt, desertion or sabotage the forms of execution were particularly brutal – impalement, garrotting, crucifixion, racking and hanging, breaking every bone on the wheel before giving the coup de grace, and drowning were just some of the worst forms of public execution that was a hallmark of colonial “justice”. Through this culture of resistance and punishment bonds of resistance developed between indigenes and slave and this increased the numbers of the fighting Orlam and Baster groups beyond the frontier.


A further new loan farm underlining intentions of colonist expansion is granted in Calvinia. By 1770 from under 200 livestock farmers on the frontier, the Boer livestock farmers grew to 600 with their families. With each step of growth Indigene abode, grazing land, and control of water was taken away and their livestock stolen or forcibly traded for unequal exchange old or sick animals and glass beads and trinkets exchanged for healthy animals. In the period 1740 – 1750 Boer livestock had been dramatically depleted and this challenge was met by pilfering indigene livestock. Indigenes themselves had also experienced natural declines in livestock in this period and the combination of pilfering by Boers and natural attrition put further pressure on the Indigenes. (Nigel Penn) This fueled the armed struggle that ensued between protagonists.


The Cape Colony population had reached 6,867 Europeans/Locally born Settlers and 7,215 slaves and around 500 Free Blacks.


Because the north-western frontier was far away and cut off from the VOC in Cape Town and because the Trek-boer settlers were much of a law to themselves and their Commandos likewise, there was an extensive period where there were no records or records were sparse and only glimpses are to be had as to what was really going on. One such recorded glimpse gives an indication of the scale of what can be called THE VEILED STRUGGLE. Swedish botanist Thunberg reported that there had been a massacre of 186 San in the Roggeveld area in this year. Other evidence suggests bitter fighting in 1668. Nigel Penn in his extensive study – The Forgotten Frontier provides these facts. He also notes that between 1740 and 1770 there were 221 new loan farms registered in the Roggeveld.

1770 – 1772        

SEVENTH KHOENA AND SAN WAR OF RESISTANCE:  The years of veiled struggle turned from 1770 into rebellions or uprisings and a period of war in the Roggeveld and Hantam areas.  Nigel Penn notes increased San resistance from 1770 from which time a number of recorded attacks and counter attacks took place loss of life on the side of both settlers and their labourers of colour and on the side of Khoena and San, but with much greater retribution in terms of loss of life and theft of livestock on the side of the San. There was also great displacement of people all round during this war. Figures of 92 and 51 are quoted by Nigel Penn for just two battle losses of San at the hands of Commandos. Nigel Penn notes that the Khoena and the Basters were perceived as an enemy threat by the settlers and not just the San. Another factor was that this period saw desertions of pacified indigene farm labourers who armed themselves.

Some of the prisoners captured during the resistance were taken to Cape Town and put on trial by the VOC Council of Policy and sentenced to death. Kleyn Booij was crucified and broken on the cross from the lower limbs to head and, Kleyn Jantjie Links was hanged and their bodies left to rot as a public display and message of deterrence.

After 1772 instead of being deterred the indigenes became emboldened and resistance increased. But as much as Khoena and Orlam/Baster and San resistance increased, so did the division and the numbers of collaborator pacified Western Cape Khoena and Basters in the Commando system drawn from the defeated remnants of the Gunjemans and Cochoqua. The Commandos were led by white officers in all cases with less white commandos and more pacified Khoena commandos. The Khoena commandos were called auxiliaries and huge conscription drives were carried out across the Cape Colony facilitated by a number of the new mission stations, particularly the Moravians. The target first was increasingly the Cape San who became the victims of great waves of genocide and then the target switched to the Khoena-Xhosa Confederacy and then to the Xhosa. It was a very dirty continuous war with all the terrible features to be found globally where there is a collaborator or civil war component.

This war petered out because the Commandos had reached the ceiling of how many men they could muster and more and more they were relying on pacified Khoena and free Khoena-Slave soldiers.


The idea of a regiment of pacified Khoena first arose during the early days of the commandos but the first such regiment of 400 collaborator Khoena was formed in this year known as the Corps Bastaard Hottentoten and was based in Cape Town to be used at the behest of the VOC authorities.

Missionary stations particularly that of the Moravians, played a major role in pacification of the so-called Bastard Hottentots, such as that established at Genadendal actively facilitated the recruitment of Khoena soldiers who were used to carry out genocide attacks on the San and later in the wars against the Xhosa. The roots of the collaborator tradition that divided opinion among those who would later be classified as ‘Coloured’ which carried on right through to Apartheid was firmly established at this time.

The Corps Bastaard Hottentoten was disbanded a year later. By 1793 it was again established, this time known as the Corps van Pandoeren with 200 men including freed slaves. Once again it was disbanded and then reformed in 1796 with 300 men. These were then incorporated in 1801 into the Cape Regiment formed by the British. When the Batavian government took over from the British for a brief few years the Khoena regiment again went through a change and was called the Corps Vrye Hottentoten in 1803. Later its name changed again to the Hottentot Light Infantry. Once the British returned to take over the Cape permanently they formed the Cape Regiment in 1806 which included a cavalry element.

By 1817 there were two Khoena units – the Cape Cavalry and the Cape Light Infantry. In 1820 these were named the Cape Corps battalion of mounted infantry. After rebel Khoena soldiers participated in the Kat Rebellion in the early 1850s the battalion became a mixed white and ‘Coloured’ Corps and by 1870 it was decided to exclude ‘Coloured’ people from military service. In 1878 the all-white Cape Mounted Rifles was established. Only in 1915 during the First World War were ‘Coloured’ men once more recruited into a reconstituted Cape Corps and after disbanding it the Cape Corps was resuscitated again in 1940 and disbanded in 1945. The Coloured Service Corps started up in 1947 was closed down in 1950. In 1963 in an attempt to drive a wedge between those the National Party called Bantu and those now classified ‘Coloured’ the Cape Corps as a full part of the SADF. Ten years later it was renamed the South African Cape Corps Service Battalion, and then in again renamed the South African Cape Corps Battalion. These played a divisive political role in the community labelled ‘Coloured’ and became a vehicle for Apartheid anti-black propaganda which was spread within communities classified as ‘Coloured’ and to assert control and were used actively in the SADF wars and terror campaigns across Southern Africa. It is a shameful part of history that must be faced honestly.

In the early 1820s opposition to the conscription into these became a grievance among the rebel Khoena resistance on the eastern frontier. In this period too these military units were used with great devastation by the colonial authorities against the Khoena-San alliance and against the Khoena-Xhosa resistance Confederacy.


In the northern frontier zone another 192 loan farms were granted of which 109 were in the /Xam or San area of the Sneeuberg.  The San immediately increased their resistance and fiercely so. Veld Korporaal Adrian van Jaarsveld reported that the attacks of the Sneeuberg San had never been as fierce before as in that year. (Nigel Penn) The focus of the Commandos at this point became opposition to San resistance. At the same time although not the primary focus they continued to take on the diehard Khoena resisters.

Warfare from this point on was less favourable to the commandos.


THE 8th WAR OF RESISTANCE BY THE KHOENA AND SAN: By this time, whereas in previous times the progression of war was Khoena vs Dutch, then Khoena and San vs Dutch, this war and the next were largely Dutch and pacified Khoena vs San, though free Khoena resisters continued in their struggles on the frontier.

The Trek-boers shifted their expansion focus to the north east of the colony seeking to push forward the frontier to the Fish River in the Eastern Cape by moving on the Camdeboo, Sneeuberg, Bruintjies Hoogte, and Gamtoos areas. Fierce San resistance in the Sneeuberg result in over 500 San killed and 239 (children/young women) taken prisoner to become farm labour. (Adrian Leftwhich) By November, over a wide area 17 kraals were destroyed by the commandos of Nicolaas van der Merwe with 142 Khoena and San killed and 89 captured. The commando under Gerrit van Wijk moved into the north-east of the Sak River known as Bushmanland and killed 96 San and captured 21.

The Opperman commando went to the Snueeuberg, Camdeboo, Nieuweveld and the Koup where they killed 265 San and captured 129. (Nigel Penn) Many of the captured San women were given over as war-brides to the pacified Khoena serving in the commandos (who had killed their husbands and fathers). The San fought fiercely using poisoned arrows, usually choosing to attack at night and struck fear into the commando opponents and Trek-boer settlers and their pacified Khoena servants and slaves. The San style of warfare was guerrilla warfare in which they also drew their enemy into a terrain of their choosing, usually mountainous terrain. The San further realised that the commando power as a cavalry was their horse as well as the gun and understood the horses vulnerability to sickness. By studying the periods of horse sickness and choosing to attack during such periods they could develop an advantage. Likewise by drawing commandos far away from water they could also acquire an advantage. The San were adept at a science of warfare.

Soon the San also got the reputation of fighting to the death, having understood that from the pattern of commando behaviours they would be executed if captured. It is in this 1774 war that the practice by the commandos of genocide against the San became the norm. The commandos developed an entrench belief that they had to exterminate the San as it was impossible to ensure that they could not escape once captured. The settlers also believed that it was impossible to turn an adult San into a labourer on a farm. The 8th War of Resistance was a learning curve for both the San and the commandos and was a stalemate, with the San having the edge because the enlarge General Commando was not sustainable and also could not fight effectively across such a wide range against literally thousands of San and Khoena. The quiet that initially settled on the frontier at the end of 1774 was simply  calm before the storm that would break out in 1775 when an initial killing spree by commandos was turned into their defeat by the San.

1775 – 1777

THE 9th WAR OF RESISTANCE BY THE KHOENA AND SAN – FROM THE SEEKOEI MASSACRES TO THE SAN VICTORY: This indigene resistance war was very much a conflict between Dutch and pacified Khoena commandos and the San. The Van Jaarsveld Commando carried out a series of attacks and massacres of the Seekoei River /Xam or San. In February after capturing captured 19 San were shot trying to escape after 82 were captured. Then over the next six months 50 San were killed and 13 children taken prisoner. In August 122 San were killed and 21 prisoners capture of whom 5 escaped. This massacre was organised when Van Jaarsveld tricked the San to come to a feast and then attacked them. After this the campaign continued and another 61 San were killed and 15 captured. (Nigel Penn) The San responded in attacking farms forcing settlers to flee and attacking shepherds and capturing cattle, sheep and horses. A bitter resistance war was fought.

Over the next 28 months this pattern continued. In the early months the Commandos were less successful in the face of resistance. In three operations they killed 23 San in the Sneeuberg area. In the Camdeboo and Swarte Ruggens the Van den Bergh Commando Killed 45 Khoena and San and took 36 prisoners. In March in the Swartenberg the San were taking the upper hand in the war with commando leader Opperman calling for reinforcements and more ammunition. As a result the attacks on the San resulted in 111 deaths. In the course of these battles in the Nieuweveld farmers fled in their droves. Van Jaarsveld and his commando was forced to retreat from the Sneeuberg by June 1776 to Camdeboo where his commando also did not fare very well. From there he moved his commando to Agter Bruintjies Hoogte. (Nigel Penn)

The San had seriously pushed back the advance of the frontier, but at great loss. The war spread across the eastern frontier to link up with the Khoena resistance with the amaXhosa in close proximity. A new commando under Carel van der Merwe joined the fight by December 1776. On all of these commando more than half of the troopers where pacified Khoena. Between this time and March 1777 another 70 San were killed. The San still maintained the advantage even although another attack by the commandos resulted in a further 73 San killed. The leader of the San, who constantly evaded capture and casualty was a Chief by the name of Koerikei.

With the territories of the war now found unsafe and the commandos worn down, the Trek-boers made their way to the Bruintjies Hoogte. Effectively though incurring great casualties, the San had effectively won this war. The conclusion of the VOC authorities was that the frontier had to be fixed at a defendable point on the Seekoei River and that the only solution was within the Colony boundary where they needed to flood the area with settler farmers. He thus established the Graaff-Reinet district as the border connecting the western and eastern frontiers. Beyond the established borders at this time the Khoena and San were untouchable. For the first time since the 1659 war the Dutch were solidly halted in their advance.

1778 – 1789

THE 10th WAR OF RESISTANCE OF THE KHOENA AND THE SAN: Faced with their victory, the San, over the next decade went on the offensive and more attacks than ever before were made to drive out the Tre-Boers and established farmers. It was a protracted war of the flea. Both farmers and commandos were demoralised and made little headway in their fight. On top of these defeats the Khoena were now also invigorated with resistance increasing again and Khoena in the commandos deserting and making off to Namaqualand and the Gariep, or joining the amaXhosa and Khoena rebels in the Eastern Cape. Both the San and the Khoena were also increasingly using guns in their resistance. The nature of warfare had completely changed.

While the San were being victorious, the Khoena had opened up a resistance front in the Roggeveld, Nieeuweveld and Hantam at the same time, putting huge pressure on the commandos and farmers. Here the commandos and farmers faced both the Khoena and the San who now often operated in collaboration in contrast to earlier times. There was a revolt by Khoena to be conscripted and many Khoena commandos deserted. Pacified Khoena broke ranks with farmers and sought refuge among the Namaqua.

This prolonged war saw the Indigenes increasingly having the upper hand, causing both farmers and commandos to retreat along all the areas of the long Stellenbosch, Swellendam and Graff Reinet frontiers. For once the entire colonial push was halted and pushed back. The colonists just did not have the numbers or a military capacity to overcome the Indigenes at this point in history.

The San losses however, were great in the eastern territories. A huge price had been paid for these victories. The brutality of war was also carried back to the farms of the farmers who doubled up as commandos, where the behaviours towards Khoena and San on the battlefield were played out against slaves and ‘Hottentot-Baster’ labourers. The racist foundations laid by Adam Tas, Henning Huising and their followers in the beginning of the century was further built upon during this era. Violations and torture of farm workers became commonplace and resulted in further desertions and revolt.

Governor van Plettenburg toured the Cape Colony and noted that there were no indigene kraals left in the Cape Colony but that ‘Hottentot’ families were to be found living on white farmers properties. Plettenburg defined the Colony limits on this trip and recognised that hostile and able Khoena and San resistance was well spread along the north eastern frontier. The initial Shoreline Frontier held by the Goringhaicona at Camissa had extended war by war until it reached Namaqualand in the west and the Xhosa and Gonaqua Khoena in the Eastern Cape, and what was called Bushmanland in the north-central regions.

A degree of calm had settled on the western frontier, and Plettenburg took note that his new threat primarily came from the eastern seaboard frontier in the combined forces of Khoena and amaXhosa. However the western frontier which by this time included a large part of Namaqualand would also by the early 1790s, experience upheaval.

The entire frontier from the north-central region to the eastern seaboard would continue to remain unsafe and beyond the real control of the Dutch forces for much of the next two decades. The San proved to be the major resistance thorn in the side of the colonists like they had never experienced before or after. This sealed the practice of genocide against the San by the European settlers. Had the British not entered the South African environment and flooded the country with mobile troops and munitions, the Dutch would have had to accept a constant state of war in the region and were certainly no match for the amaXhosa forces inland. Bloody losses continued on both sides and the San continued to experience genocide.

During this time there was an increase in passive resistance too by those labelled ‘Hottentot-Basters’ and surviving Khoena in the colony. The Colonial authorities were concerned about the blurring identities of slaves and Indigenes, with deserting slaves passing themselves off as Indigenes who had greater freedom of movement. They were also perturbed by the fact that Indigene women were having lots of children by slave fathers as a result of the depletion of men through the war. These children when growing up were free because legally enslavement did not pass via the father but rather through the mother. The colonists pushed the authorities to extend a form of control to the children born of a slave and a free Khoena or ‘Hottentot-Baster’ woman.

This state of affairs  gave birth to these offspring being indentured to masters until the age of 25 and becoming a reservoir for conscription into commandos. This ‘Ingeboekte Bastaard Hottentoten’ system emerged from this war and resulted in many young men going on the run, thus boosting the numbers of Drosters and Orlam groups. Every action by the authorities caused a reaction with negative effects on the enemies of the Indigenes.

The ‘war captive’ Khoena and San, the latter mainly being children and young women, were also subjected to this status both prior to its legal enforcement and after. While this system was often projected as not being enslavement, the conditions of people of colour on frontier farms was a ‘de facto’ enslaved society with little distinction between legal slavery and supposed free-labour. Ethnic distinction between slave and so-called ‘Hottentot-Basters’ was also quickly eroding, with the term ‘Basters’ now becoming more commonly used. Later under the British rule this system was codified and formalised throughout the colony.

The conflict between commandos and San, and later the British and the San in the Sneeuberg and ‘Bushmaland’ would continue into the second half of the 19th century until all visible San communities were completely destroyed an genocide had taken its toll.

1779 – 1781

THE FIRST XHOSA AND KHOENA WAR OF RESISTANCE – The 1st ZUURVELD CONTEST: Moving on from their defeat by the San in the Sneeuberg, Swarteberg and Nieuweveld, the Dutch-Boer commando under van Jaarsveld moved into the territory occupied by very mixed Khoena and Xhosa communities in the Zuurveld district which was occupied by the Gonaqua, Gqunukhwebe, Ntinde, Gwali, Dinge and the Mbala, and by the Rharabe Xhosa which by this time were the dominant grouping. Later the son of Rharabe, Ndlambe would become regent to the young Ngqika who later rebelled against him and collaborated with the British Colonial authorities in return for bolstering his position.

Trek-boer farmers had moved into the area and van Jaarsveld’s commando attempted to assist them to establish hegemony in the area by expelling all traditional African communities from the area and appropriating their cattle. In 1779 the Trek-boers were fleeing the area along the Bushmen’s River as the Xhosa and Khoena took action to halt their forward movement, settlement and cattle theft. This resulted in the first armed clashes between Trek-boers and indigenes.

Adriaan van Jaarsveld and his commando arrived in October 1780 and from this point the low level war became intense. By July 1781 van Jaarsveld claimed to be victorious and said that all indigene African forces had been driven out of the Zuurveld territory. The war in reality ended with a stalemate situation As history has shown, the Zuurveld was only cleared by the British under Graham using scorched earth and genocide tactics in 1811. Effectively van Jaarsveld’s exaggerated claims were an attempt to save face after his earlier defeat by the San.

The proof of the pudding was in the eating in that it would take a few more wars over three decades before Van Jaarsveld’s fanciful claims could be realised.

1785 – 1795

From 1785 and over the next decade Commandos again and again launched campaigns. Conservatively researcher Adrian Leftwich puts the San war dead at 2500 San killed and 669 (children/young women) taken prisoner to become farm labour during this decade. The figure may well have been 2000 more given the frequency and extent of killing sprees. The conflict playing out with the San was occurring at the same time that colonial forces were fighting the second war against Xhosa resistance in the Zuurveld.

At the time of van Riebeeck the suggested figure for the Cape San was around 8 000 – 10 000 located in the Mountainous regions. Since the onset of the genocide practice in both war and peace times until 1785 it is likely that this figure of San was more than halved and by the mid-19th century the literal meaning of genocide was sealed.

The Cape Khoena within the Colony were by now concentrated in the Swellendam and Graaff Reinet district. Xhosa were also settled in Swellendam. In 1795 the total Khoena in the entire Cape Colony was around 15 000 now known as ‘Baster-Hottentots’ with the vast majority in The Swellendam / Graaff Reinet / Zuurveld arena. But the largest numbers of the Khoena were also now located outside of the Cape Colony in Namaqualand and the Gariep district and in the shared territory of Xhosa and Khoena just outside of the Zuurveld and beyond. Furthermore and in the territory still held by the dwindling San beyond Van Plettenburg’s border lines and all along the entire frontier region a Khoena, Orlam and the so-called ‘Hottentot-Baster’ presence was still a feature in the resistance.


At this time there was a recorded population of 12 742 Europeans/locally born settlers and 14 810 slaves with the majority being locally born slaves. From the 1770s the slaves being imported were less and less from India and Southeast Asia, and mostly from East Africa. Masbieker slaves coming from the slaver station in Mozambique came from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi Tanzania, Madagascar and as far as Congo. These slaves had assimilated with pacified Khoena over a wide area to such a degree that Khoena and apprenticed San could no longer be seen as being very different from slaves. The colonists called them ‘Baster-Hottentots’ or just ‘Basters’.


On 4 April 1792, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, France granted free people of colour full citizenship and this cause ripples across the globe.

A slave revolt that started in the French Colony of Saint-Domingue in 1791 turned into a full scale revolution in Haiti led by Georges Biassou, Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines and in 1793 the authorities on the island issued the first emancipation proclamation of the colonial world, later after more struggles leading to the independence of Haiti and its former slave population in 1804. France under Robbespierre abolished slavery in the French colonies in 1794 and the French Constitution of 1795 as part of the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’ abolished slavery but in 1802 counter revolutionary forces reinstated slavery in law and had military forces attempt to re-impose it in the colonies. They were determinedly opposed by the former slaves of Haiti and routed. Though defeated in Haiti it took until 1848 when the new Second Republic in France to declare the ‘Abolition of Slavery in French Colonies’.

In London the Slave Trade Act was passed by the British Parliament on 25 March 1807 which made the transoceanic slave trade illegal and abolished the slave trade throughout the British Empire. This was not the end of slavery in British Colonies, but only the official end of slave trading which continued illegally. But this legal move had a profound effect on the Cape Colony and elsewhere and would lead to the abolition of slavery three decades later.

On August 28, 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act was ratified in law and the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire was rolled out across the colonies. It was brought into law on 1 December 1834 and made effective in 1838.

After 1807 the Royal Navy began bringing ‘Prize Slaves’ to the Cape Colony to undergo 14 years of apprenticeship but some records show sales of these slaves. This was happening in dribs and drabs until the early 1840s when the Royal Navy had established bases and platoons in St Helena, Simonstown, Zanzibar and Aden to police the high seas so as to intercept slaver ships and liberate the slave cargoes. These ‘Liberated Africans’ or ‘Prize Slaves’ were brought back to the bases, branded and introduced to compulsory lengthy labour apprenticeships. At the Cape 8 000 – 10 000 of these ‘Prize Slaves’, the vast majority West and East Africans, were landed and taken into service. The ‘Prize Slave’ contribution to our ancestral gene pool is seldom acknowledged. After 1838 too, indentured labour was sought from Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho and Botswana and thousands of these migrants poured into the farmlands to avert the economic crisis in agriculture due to emancipation and the ‘great trek’. Many of these indentured labourers stayed on, particularly those that integrated with the former slave Masbiekers.

Besides the ‘Prize Slaves’ in our ancestry, there are also these Royal Navy seamen who were based at Simonstown for almost a century until 1939. These seamen were not Englishmen. They were West African Kroomen of the Kru tribe, Zanzibari Seedees and Indian Lascars. Many married and integrated into our society and are just one part of a much larger range of free migrants of colour who are part of our ancestral make-up.

The Bantu African roots of those labelled ‘Coloured’ is greatly underplayed and denied, but in urban Cape Town and the immediate rural surrounds it is most likely to be as strong a component in ancestral make-up as Khoena and more so than any other roots.

1789 – 1793

THE SECOND XHOSA & KHOENA WAR OF RESISTANCE – THE 2nd ZUURVELD CONTEST: Continuous raids continued on the herds of Xhosa by the Trek-boers and on the Trek-boers by the Xhosa. The Zuurveld was contested terrain where those that had been temporarily expelled quickly returned to challenge the European farmers. What ensued was a scenario of some Trek-boers making alliances with the dominant group against other groups also making their way back home after the last was. Barend Lindeque a Trek-boer and rebel frontier settler Coenraad de Buys joined Ndlambe, the regent of the dominant Rharabe Xhosa, established within the Zuurveld, who waged attacks against the Gunukwebe who had relocated back into the Zuurveld after having been expelled by van Jaarsveld’s commandos.

The Trek-boer frontier farmers who had returned to the northern Zuurveld in the face of unrest around them once again fled. Thus once again two government commandos from Graaff Reinet and Swellendam again tried to clear the Zuurveld of African communities. The attacks of these Dutch forces penetrated as far as the Buffalo River causing havoc in Xhosa communities and stealing their cattle.

This continued until 1793 when a peace treaty was signed with the Dutch forces ceding that the Xhosa could not be forced out of the Zuurveld. As a result, settlers began revolting against VOC officialdom in 1795. Parallel to these events a civil war broke out within the Xhosa between Ndlambe the regent and his nephew Ngqaika.


Between 1795 and 1806 the situation in the Cape Colony was in a state of fluidity. Both Britain and France wanted to capture the Cape when war broke out between Great Britain and France in 1793 so as to control the important sea route to the East. The British occupied the Cape in 1795 and ended the Dutch East India Company’s (VOC) role in the region.

With the British forces also came the first of the St Helena migrants. Later with the second British occupation a few more came to the Cape but from the 1880s to the 1920s a substantial number of people from St Helena migrated to the Cape Colony and Natal Colony as indentured servants and labourers. They are known in our heritage as the Saints. The Saints like the people of colour in Cape Town also had an ancestral make up of African, Indian, Southeast Asian, Chinese and British roots.

The British relinquished the colony to the Dutch in the Treaty of Amiens (1802) and the Batavian Republic (Jakarta) took over the administration of the Cape until 1806.

In 1806 the Cape was annexed as a British Crown Colony after the start of the Napoleonic Wars. The Khoena of the Eastern Cape thus found themselves first in conflict with Boer frontiersmen under the authority of the VOC, then under the British, and then again under the Dutch Batavian governors and then once more under the British.

From the beginning of the second period of British rule Cape Town became a magnet for migration of people of colour from everywhere where Great Britain had a footprint – from the Caribbean to India. This impacted initially on what was a very small Free-Black population of 1200 which grew and grew and, it later merged with the Khoena-Slave, Slave and Indenture populations which the British increasingly began to refer to in official documents as ‘Coloured’ – particularly after Ordinance 50 in 1828. More migrations of Chinese, and others such as the Manillas – refugees from the Philippines revolutions also swelled the numbers and mix of the population labelled ‘Coloured’.

The fluidity of the period of changes in governing authority between 1795 and 1806 favoured the Khoena resistance and alliances with the Xhosa at this time as had the temporal victories of the San against the Boer and pacified Khoena commandos.


At this time there was a recorded population of 18 079 Europeans/locally born settlers; 26 281 slaves; 1 200 Free Blacks; 14 883 Hottentot-Basters who no longer had land, cattle, freedom or community structures. The slave population in the entire Cape Colony had now surpassed all other groups as the largest single group. The largest numbers of free Khoena survivors, by now already, were outside of the borders of the Cape Colony along the Gariep numbering possibly up to 20 000. The largest numbers of pacified mixed Khoena-Slave populations within the Colony were in the Swellendam and Graaff Reinet districts. From around this time and particularly after 1806 new large waves of migrants of colour also entered the Cape increasing the Free People of Colour component of the Cape population.

1798 – 1799

THE NAMAQUALAND REBELLIONS: This was more of an eruption of conflict involving at times fights between three or four adversary groups at a time and then a coalescing of Namaqua, Orlams and San against the Boers as the influences of the eastern frontier upper had going to Indigenes trickled into the western region.. Tensions had been building up in Namaqualand as a result of the crossing of paths between various groups each with intentions to improve their fortunes one way or another and much of these intents at the expense of the Little Namaqua. The Namaqua and San frequently clashed and so did Boer adventurers and fortune hunters like Adrian van Zyl and his sons, Jan Wiese, Petrus Pienaar and others resulting in clashes and serious loss of life. New Boer farmers were taking control of water supplies and keeping Namaqua away from access. Orlam groups like that of Jager Afrikaner, the Koks and the Barends also played a role. All of the tension arose from plundering livestock and assaulting communities in the process. This tension was stirred into eruption when commando leaders started making a record of Namaqua names in a register of the population and they believed that this was the first step toward enslavement. The word went up that “they would defend themselves to the last or take flight rather than become slaves.” While these rebellions seemed to be ebbs and flows of flare-ups between different groups encroaching on each other it was a all driven by colonial expansion involving the pushing of various peoples toward the Gariep River. When the tensions dissipated the conflict visited itself on attacks and counter-attacks of different Orlam and ‘Baster’ groups on each other. And when that dissipated the aggression turned on the various Khoena and San communities on either side of the Gariep and in turn onto the Tswana and Sotho speaking groups northwards. The Gariep was now emerging as the potential border of the Cape Colony.


THE THIRD XHOSA & KHOENA WAR OF RESISTANCE – THE WAR OF THE CONFEDERACY: The new Government of the First British Occupation at the Cape sent a contingent of British soldiers under Gen T P Vandeleur to crush a revolt by Boers in Graaff-Reinet in 1799.

General Vandeleur had met the Khoena on the road near Algoa Bay. Barrow describes when the Khoena were making their case to the British about their ill-treatment by the Boer frontiersmen. He says of Klaas Stuurman:

“One of the Hottentots called Klaas Stuurman, whom they had selected for their Chief, stepped forward, and, after humbly entreating us to hear him out, without interruption, began a long oration, which contained a history of their calamities and suffering uder the yoke of the Boers; their injustice, in first depriving them of their country, and then forcing their offspring into a state of slavery, their cruel treatment on every slight occasion, which it became impossible for them to bear any longer, and the resolution they had therefore taken to apply for redress, before the English troops should leave the country (the district). That their employers suspecting their intention, had endeavoured to prevent such an application by confining some to the house, threatening to shoot others if they attempted to escape, or to punish their wives and children in their absence.” After showing the General a young Khoena boy who was wounded by the Boers, Klaas stated: “This act among many others equally cruel, resolved us at once to collect a sufficient force to deprive the Boers of their arms, in which we have succeeded at every house which had fallen in our way. We have taken their superfluous clothing in lieu of wages due for our services, but we have stripped none, nor injured the persons of any, though we have yet a great deal of our blood to avenge.”

In April 1799 a Khoena-Xhosa Confederacy had been established to resist the continued advance of Trek-boers into Khoena and Xhosa territory and the raiding of cattle by these invaders. The Khoena were also incensed about the brutal behaviour on farms bordering their communities where Khoena had been pressed into labour alongside slaves. The united Khoena and amaXhosa forces swooped on farms throughout the Zuurveld down to Swellendam and right through to Oudtshoorn.

Commandos from Graaff-Reinet and Swellendam were then quickly mobilised to counter the attacks and the British and Boers were forced into an alliance of expediency.

The Khoena-Xhosa Confederacy was a nightmare for the colonists because they had done their best to inculcate among the Khoena that the Xhosa were not their people but part of a foreign invading force who meant them ill. Most Khoena in the region did not buy this false story because they knew that they were integrated with Xhosa, had families with the Xhosa, had language ties to a degree and, had a common experience of loss of land and livestock. Their cultures, religion and folk-stories were the same in many respects too. (The false story is still spread by those who cling to the collaboration tradition today even although it’s now dressed in radical ethno-nationalist and anti-black racist rhetoric).

Many of pacified Khoena, Slaves and mixed Khoena-slave labourers and military conscripts were also deserting the whites and joining in the resistance, while whites were abandoning their farms in the face of widespread Khoena revolt.

In 1801 the rebel Khoena under Klaas Stuurman, Hans Trompetter and Boesak carried out widespread raids. In the face of these highly skilled Khoena rebel fighters the commandos made no headway, facing defeat wherever they tried to attack. Before the British government ceded the Cape Administration to the Batavian Republic in early 1803 a peace favourable to the Khoena was signed by Klaas Stuurman. Both the Khoena and the Xhosa could not be made to leave the Zuurveld and there was an agreement for all Khoena to have written contracts and better working conditions. Klaas Stuurman’s negotiation stance from a position of strength was:

“Restore the country of which our fathers were despoiled by the Dutch and we have nothing more to ask. We have lived very contentedly before these Dutch plunderers molested us, and why should we not do so again if left to ourselves? Has not the Groot Baas (God) given plenty of grass roots, and berries and grasshoppers for our use; and, till the Dutch destroyed them, an abundance of wild animals to hunt? And will they not return and multiply when these destroyers are gone?”

The issues of this war became socio-political and economic as Khoena were now not just fighting about land, livestock and resources. They also were making demands for an end to conscription of Khoena, for freedom of movement and for a halt to the violence and ill treatment of farmworker Khoena and slaves.


The first two decades of the 19th century at the Cape Colony was a revolutionary period among indigenes and slaves. It saw the emergence of great leaders, revolutionary movements and revolt of various types. Men like Klaas and David Stuurman, Louis van Mauritius, Makhanda Nxele, Jager Afrikaner, Cornelius Kok, Barend Barends and Andries Waterboer had changed the terrain of struggle in remarkable ways. They also left us a narrative or voice of their struggle as had not been as clear before this time. This voice showed a wrestling with ideas and an understanding of the world beyond the Cape Colony and the influences of struggles of oppressed peoples beyond our shores. The period also showed that indigenous communities were not locked in time, to the van Riebeeck era, or times before that, or in antiquity. Like all communities globally the Khoena and San were subject to the winds of change and adapted as people and adapted their cultures also to modern times. Certainly they too engaged modern weapons and tools of struggle. In some respects if we look at the Griqua political model, it was at one stage the most modern of developments of both the white and black opponents of British colonial rule.

Adam Kok I, was a manumitted Slave who had a farm called Stinkfontein, north of Piketberg  from 1771, where he amassed a following of his wife’s people the Grigriqua and refugee so-called ‘Hottentot-Basters’. A decade later he and his community were pushed off their farm by Boers and they moved north to settle at Kamiesberg in Namaqualand. By this time Adam Kok was a substantial leader of a large community of followers who were known as Bergenaar Basters who had very strong feelings about their independence. As the community grew, its original base which was Cape Khoena, Free Black, deserter slaves and descendants of relationships between these, grew further to include San, Sotho, Nama, Tswana, Xhosa, Korana and non-conformist Europeans.

In  1801  London  Missionary  Society  (LMS)  missionaries  William Anderson and Cornelius Kramer engaged the Bergenaar Basters of Cornelius Kok 1 who succeeded Adam Kok and his ally Barend  Barends who had married into the Kok family and by 1804 the combined followers of Kok and Barends moved  to  Klaarwater  where the LMS set up a mission. Klaarwater was later renamed Griquatown after the Bergenaar Basters took on a new name which revived that element of their roots that linked to the Indigene Khoena – GRIQUA. The independent minded Griqua and the missionaries continuously clashed because the missionaries were intent on entrenching their political cause of pacification on behalf of the colonial government. This ultimately led to a split between East and West Griqualanders with Andries Waterboer and his dynasty emerging as leaders of the West Griqualand people. Waterboer was of San lineage and was a teacher and mission agent.

Between 1801 – 1828 and beyond the story of the Griqua and the two Griqualands, their struggles, alignments and betrayals was a major part of the history of the Camissa Footprint and the resistance story of people of colour. Griqualand was the first manifestation of an independent modern proto-nation territory/state in Southern Africa of people of colour. Indeed of all people. The Boer Republics had not yet emerged at this time. It has been the most coherent and enduring manifestation too of Cape Khoena revivalism ever. Although having spawn two streams it also remains one of the most united of Khoena revivalist traditions.


Increasingly from this point on slaves too began to revolt. In the Roggeveld in December 1801 a combined force of pacified Khoena and Slaves involving 70 resisters rose up against their oppressive farmer. In these revolts the majority of slaves were now Africans from other territories across the continent. The difference between slave and those known as ‘Hottentot-Basters’, and difference between their working and living conditions was now negligible.

The slavery and Khoena interface gradually merged over the next 50 years when after the proclamation of Ordinance 50 giving Khoena freedom of movement and land tenure and, emancipation of slaves from slavery, together the survivors formed new communities alongside every white town. Along the routes of war and flight from the Colony, those now of mixed Khoena-Slave heritage survived on farms and in small towns, while surviving resister communities regrouped ultimately far northwest and northeast in either older communities like the Namaqua and Korana from which all Cape Khoena originally stem, or they formed new revivalist communities.


Governor Francis Dundas of the Batavian Commonwealth granted land to Klaas Stuurman and his Gonaqua followers to establish a permanent settlement in an attempt to buy them off. He also offered the Khoena better protected conditions of service on farms.  Klaas however, died before taking occupancy, but David immediately took charge and was recognised by the authorities represented by Captain Alberti as having a right to the location granted to his brother Klaas. The death of Klaas occurred during a buffalo hunting expedition.

The land given to the Stuurmans was situated on the Klein River east of the Gamtoos into which it flows. David’s people moved to the land in 1804. They were a group consisting of ten men and 32 women and children, but were soon joined by many others – Khoena seeking refuge and slave deserters. The Stuurman community were settled and lawfully entitled to own their land for the first time in decades. There were six other Kapteins who were awaiting similar settlement. A brief truce thus followed during which the Khoena resisters even returned some of the cattle taken in war.

The period of truce did not hold for long. Only one other Kaptein received land.

The frontier Trek-boers began making allegations against the Stuurmans from 1805 and these continued over the next few years. The land was referred to as a Gona kraal or Chief David Stuurman’s kraal and became a refuge for runaway Khoena farmworkers, slaves and conscripts into the militia. David Stuurman became a magnate for attracting displaced Gonaqua and at the same time developed close relations with Chief Chungwa of the Gqunukwebe.

The increasing recruitment of young Khoi men into military service was having a negative impact on Khoena communities and was pitting the Khoena against their amaXhosa allies and other Khoena and the San. The conscription issue was highly emotive for mobilising youth into the rebel fold. Chief David Stuurman’s small kraal broke every rule in the book and was a stumbling block for both the narrow interests of the Boer Frontiersmen and for the new British authorities in the Cape. David Stuurman’s vigorous anti-conscription efforts amongst the Khoena attacked the heart of a key strategy of the British who hoped to use the Khoena as a buffer against the amaXhosa.


The Cape now had ceased to be a Dutch VOC territory as in this year it fell under the Batavian Commonwealth as had all areas making up the Dutch company’s footprint from South Africa through to South Asia and Southeast Asia. The Batavian Republic had been established as a result of its attachment to France in 1798.

The Batavian Commonwealth representative at the Cape was Lieutenant-General Jan Willem Janssens who had just over 2000 soldiers including French marines and German and other Europeans. A major part of their forces were also people of colour – 600 Khoena troops in the Corps Vrye Hottentoten, 54 Free Black Javanese Mardijkers as vital artillery men with 16 field cannon and 100 slave auxiliaries to move the cannon over rough terrain. This dependency on people of colour for military defence was regardless of the fact that the European population was 25 000 strong.

In January the British arrived in Table Bay and proceeded to take the French aligned Cape of Good Hope by force. The battle of Blauuwberg ensued and Lt General Jan Willem Janssens, commander-in-chief of the military forces of the defence was forced to concede defeat to Lt General Sir David Baird, who had landed at Melkbosstrand.

The population of the Cape Colony was 25 000 whites, 29 000 slaves, 1 200 Free Blacks and 20 000 ‘Hottentot-Basters’ of whom 500 were in Swellendam, 5000 in Stellenbosch and 8 947 in the Gamtoos and Graaff Reinet district of the Eastern Cape. The other were scattered across the long western frontier. The British invasion force who remained temporarily were just over 5000 in addition to the resident white population.

By this time the Khoena culture and institutions of self-governance were destroyed in the Cape Colony and over time traces of these was panel-beaten out of existence, with Khoena, freed slaves and Free Blacks being merged by the colonial authorities into one entity labelled as ‘Coloured’ by the time slavery was abolished in 1834.


The abolition of the transoceanic slave trade came into being when the British Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act on 25 March 1807. This news and the stories of the impact of the slave revolution in Haiti and elsewhere reached the shores of Cape Town and spread among slaves and Indigene resisters alike. It impact was to be felt in Cape Town within 18 months.


In 1808 at Captain David Stuurman’s village alongside Bethelsdorp near the Gamtoos River he made a stand in refusing to accept the ‘Staff of Office’ from the local landdrost and spoke out about the pressganging of Khoena youth into becoming military conscripts in the colonial forces and the continuing mistreatment of Khoena farm labourers. Stuurman’s village was being used as a centre where war refugees, militia deserters and conscription dodgers were gathering to the consternation of the landdrost. Stuurman engaged in a face to face quarrel with a recruitment officer which antagonised the landdrost.

Bethelsdorp mission started by Dr Johannes van der Kemp differed from many other mission stations in that it attempted to blend with indigene culture and resisted the pressure asserted on it to facilitate military conscription and pacification. It was a small mission at that time that was fairly unsuccessful at attracting either Khoena or Xhosa, except those seeking refuge, largely because of the resistance dynamics of the time. The refugees would then move on to David Stuurman’s protection. It is from this unusual mission that a mythology of missions being refuges for Khoena escaping colonial oppression arose.

While a few temporal elements of the Bethelsdorp phenomenon can be cited for a couple of other missions, the general trend was that mission stations purpose was not as a refuge. Missions were clearly part of a pacification and control drive involving collaboration between church and colonial authorities. Rebel priests such as van der Kemp were curtailed and harshly treated. Dr van der Kemp was also an abolitionist of note who was hated by slave-owners and the authorities.


On 25 October 1808 a slave revolt took place at the Cape, remembered as the ‘Jij Rebellion’ led by the slaves Louis of Mauritius and Abraham van der Kaap and took on a military style campaign though short lived. The Haiti influence was clear to be seen. On two days, over 326 slaves, many Masbiekers, including a few indentured Khoena labourers and two Irish sailors participated in an organised rebellion plotted at a Camissa waterfront tavern and launched from the Swartland wheat-belt. The leader of this rebellion was a 30 year old slave by the name of Louis van Mauritius, who had first arrived at Camissa in 1881 as a 3 year old child.

In 1791 the slave rebellion that broke out in St Dominique in the Caribbean which by its successful conclusion in 1804 claimed over 300 000 lives on both sides. Led by Toussaint l`Overture against the French colonists the revolution established the first black republic of rebel slaves which they name the Republic of Haiti. In 1794 the abolition of slavery declared in France and the Maroon War in Jamaica in the same year by runaway slaves followed by the Feron Slave Revolt of 1796 in Grenada in the Caribbean against the British sent ripples throughout the slave-reliant colonial world including the Cape. Another conflict that had an impact on all British colonies was the United Irishmen`s Rebellion which erupted against British Rule in Ireland and the first British governor at the Cape in 1806 had been in Ireland during this rebellion in command of the Dragoons which later put down the revolt by Louis of Mauritius. These tales were related to Louis of Mauritius and Abraham van de Caab and set the scene for the Cape’s biggest slave revolt and subsequent largest ever ‘Treason Trial’ after it was crushed.

Those in revolt had in a short period and in a relatively well organised campaign, not without serious problems, taken over 40 farms and captured the farmers and their families, with little violence, covering Malmesbury and Swartland areas, Blouberg, and Tygervalley and managed to reach the outskirts of Cape The treason trial recorded the fine details and labelled the revolt a ‘rebellion and evil deed’. A statement by Abraham van der Caab was raised in court to defined the revolt –  “tomorrow when the bloody red flag of battle goes up and the fight for freedom is complete, you will be able to address your owners as Jij (you).” Slave owners were entitled not to be addressed as ‘you`. They were only to be addressed as ‘master` or ‘thou`. The central point in the trial illustrates clearly the motive for the rebellion – a fight for ‘equality` – symbolised by the expression of familiarity   ‘sij’ (she) ‘Jij`(You). It is the simple usage of the words ‘she’ and ‘you’ that became the baring of the standard in the fight for ‘equality and freedom`.

Sixteen of the rebels were condemned to death by the Court. The Governor, Lord Caledon intervened to commute 11 of the death sentences. Louis van Mauritius, Hooper – one of the Irishmen, Abraham van der Kaap and Jephta of Batavia were sentenced to hang for their leadership of the act of rebellion. Cupido of Java who had committed the purely criminal offence of rape was also sentenced to death. Louis boldly managed to escape from prison after he was condemned but he was apprehended and returned by a reward seeker. Louis’ wife Anna died during the trial after becoming ill with stress.

Another 46 slaves were given various heavy sentences including imprisonment on Robben Island. Many of these slaves were from Mozambique – the Masbiekers who were the most down-trodden of slaves at the time. The other slaves and Khoena who participated in the revolt were given over to their owners for “correction” by Governor Lord Caledon.

While the ‘Jij’ rebellion failed in its mission, it resulted in major changes in the Cape. Slaves began to stand up for themselves more and more. Slave owners were more aware that they could be challenged and that the slavery system had a limited shelf life. The authorities were forced to come up with systems to hear and deal with complaints of slaves. More and more smaller acts of challenge by slaves occurred and another revolt took place in 1825. An abolitionist movement even developed amongst the white settlers. History shows that Louis and the rebels made an indelible impact on slavery conditions and its eventual demise at the Cape.


In this year the Caledon Code or more accurately the Hottentot Proclamation (sometimes called the Hottentot Code) was passed to control the free so-called ’Hottentot’ or  ‘Hottentot-Baster’ labour force on farms by taking away their freedom of movement. The code said that all ‘Hottentots’ now had to have a fixed abode and required a ‘pass’ from the farmer controlling the fixed-abode to move about freely. Effectively it extended the pass regulations from slaves to Khoena. The code also made labour contracts compulsory and that these had to be registered by the farmers. It furthermore set conditions under which an employer could withhold wages for goods supplied by ‘Hottentot’ labour. The proclamation extended to all people regarded as ‘Coloured’ and further extended taxation to such. It was the first steps of the Cape Colony embracing Liberal Capitalism as its economic modus. It would only be repealed and replaced by a new Liberal Capitalist ordinance in 1828. But as with all British laws little proviso’s were later added to deal with child labour.

Just as Khoena society and its means of struggle and its cultures had now changed dramatically since 1652 and before, so too had the methods of control and oppression changed.


In an attempt to appease the growing protest and revolt among the Khoena about the cruelty and violence of farmers towards Khoena labour, the British introduced a Proclamation instituting ‘Circuit Courts to investigate and prosecute farmers engaging in violence and cruelty against the Khoena labourers on their farms.


In this year the ‘Hottentot Proclamation’ was varied by the ‘Apprenticeship of Servants Act’ that allowed for the apprenticeship and employment without pay of free ‘Coloured’ children if the child was an orphan, or destitute, or had grown up on a farm. This covered all children born of slave and Khoena relationships on farms and it also covered kidnapped San children after their parents were killed in genocide raids, until the age of 25. This was a codification of earlier apprenticeship controls introduced by the Dutch going back to 1775. War was not the only means that was used to control Indigenes and often government moves and legislation was dressed up in a manner to project that it was in fact ‘PROTECTING’ Indigenes whereas it was the opposite. This practice has continued right up to the present day and there were always those among the Indigenes who naively supported such moves.


THE FORTH XHOSA AND KHOENA WAR OF RESISTANCE  – THE BRITISH WAR OF SCORCHED EARTH: The British government at the Cape government sent Lt-Col Richard Collins in 1809 to tour the frontier areas and afterwards based on his recommendations a decision was taken to expel all Xhosa and Khoena from the Zuurveld and that this be densely settled by European settlers while the area between the Fish and the Keiskamma Rivers become an unoccupied land with no occupants whether settler nor indigenes.

In 1811, Lt Colonel John Graham allied with Landrost Anders Stockenstroom of Graff Reinet swooped on the Zuurveld with an army made up of British, Boers and pacified Khoena and drove out every man, woman and child numbering over 20 000 Gqnukwebes, Ndlambe Xhosa and other Khoena across the Fish River. They were supported by the local commandos of Swellendam, George and Uitenhage. Colonel Graham was recognised by the colonial authorities by having a new frontier town named after him – Grahamstown. Also joining the 500 British troops were 700 pacified Khoena troops in the Cape Regiment also under Col Graham’s command.

Governor Cradock instructed Lt Colonel John Graham to efficiently carry out a scorched earth approach so as to ensure, “the expediency of destroying the Kaffir kraals, laying waste their gardens and fields and in fact totally removing any object that could hold out to their chiefs an inducement to revisit the regained territory.”

Lt Colonel John Graham in his own words written to his father said, “The only way of getting rid of tem is by depriving them of the means of subsistence and continually harassing them, for which purpose the whole force is constantly employed in destroying the prodigious quantities of Indian corn and millet which they have planted…. Taking from them the few cattle which they conceal in the woods….and shooting every man who can be found… As to fighting, it is out of the question; we are forced to hunt them like wild beasts.” At another time he told Governor Cradock that “the most effectual measure….would be to pursue parties of plundering Kaffirs to the kraal they belong to, and if possible, burn their huts and destroy every man Kaffir it contains.” Record has it that the ageing Chief Chungwa was killed in his hut while asleep. It is a shameful blot on Khoena history that the pacified Khoena forces were brutal participants in these masscres, just as they had been with the San. Much of the present hostility by some ‘Coloured’ people in modern times against black people is rooted in this collaboration of some Khoena at that time with colonialists. Against other Khoena, the San and the Xhosa allies.

The British, Boer and collaborator Khoena forces did not have it all their way. The Xhosa and rebel Khoena forces put up much resistance. In one of the battles Anders Stockenstrom was killed. Word went out that Chief David Stuurman was said to have been responsible for the Stockenstroom death and thus his profile as a formidable foe increased. In January 1812 Stuurman’s ally Chungwa was killed and Stuurman then allied with Ndlambe of the Rharabe amaXhosa retreated across the FishRiver.

John Campbell of the London Missionary Society who visited the Zuurveld in 1813 said, “Formerly it was strewn over with Kaffir villages, but now not a living soul is to be found. Universal stillness reigns.” The prosperous settled southern Xhosa and Khoena and Khoena advanced farming communities were brutally destroyed to facilitate white settlement and left a legacy of poverty in the Eastern Cape.

Again the colonialists were able to hold the ground gained in war through the collaboration of the Xhosa leader Ngqaika who signed a treaty with Lord Charles Somerset. This resulted in the antagonism of Ndlambe and further civil conflict between Ndlambe and Ngqaika supporters. Out of this cauldron arose a remarkable spiritual and military leader known as an Itola – Makhanda also called Nxele, the son of a Khoena mother – a diviner, and a Xhosa father.

The British expelled massacred and pushed out of the Zuurveld its former 22 000 combined free Khoena and amaXhosa inhabitants. Although the fourth frontier war had concluded, David Stuurman and his men continued a war of the flea and he remained amongst the amaXhosa. Over the years snippets of information, such as an account by the missionary Read in 1816 continued to reach the authorities in the Colony which simply showed that Stuurman was still around and a force to be reckoned with. He continued to receive escaped slaves and deserters from the pacified Khoena in the colony.


THE FIFTH XHOSA AND KHOENA WAR OF RESISTANCE LED BY NDLAMBE AND HIS GENERAL THE KHOENA-XHOSA ITOLA MAKHANDA: Following Ngqaika’s defeat by Ndlambe in 1818, Nqgaika asked the colonial authorities for assistance in his efforts to gain ascendency in the civil conflict among the Xhosa. As a result in December 1818 the British colonial forces invaded the Xhosa territory agreed upon by the last treaty. By December they had defeat Ndlambe. When the British departed, a united force of Xhosa dismayed at Ngqaika’s collaboration with colonists against his own people, supported Ndlambe in defeating Nqgaika.

In December 1818 Ngqaika and the British forces launched an attack on Ndlambe’s warriors to teach them a lesson. When they left, however, Ndlambe was again able to defeat Gaika, and then assembled a large army led by the his now powerful and popular military adviser, Makhanda, and took the war of resistance into the Colony and with up to 10 000 men attacked Grahamstown in April 1819. The attack was repulsed with the help of a pacified Khoena collaborator Jan Boezak and 180 of his men returning from a hunting expedition. At a low point for the British garrison, running out of ammunition, Boezak saved the day for the British at Grahamstown and allowed British reinforcements to defeat Ndlambe and push their control back as far as the Kei River.

Makhanda, concerned about the Xhosa losses, surrendered and was imprisoned on a British ship and taken to Robben Island. Makhanda is quoted as telling the British “People say that I occasioned this war. Let me see if by giving myself up it will restore the peace”.

This was also the last of the great resistance war efforts of the Khoena now reduced to guerrilla allies to the amaXhosa. David Stuurman had also made his last stand against the British during this 5th Xhosa War of Resistance in which the remnants of the old Klaas Stuurman Xhosa-Khoena Confederacy continued a Guerrilla War against the British. Indeed right through the Xhosa Wars of Resistance there would always still remain a Khoena resistance element. This came dramatically to the fore during the Kat River Rebellion in 1853. It also came to the fore during the time

The 5th Xhosa-Khoena Resistance War was really the beginning of a different kind of resistance of Khoena, with the exception of the Kat River Rebellion, and as with the guerrilla warfare of Khoena Bergenaar commanders such as Uithaalder and Hans Branders who kept large British forces pinned down for two years. The Khoena rebels, though certainly not with mass followings, would continue to play a heroic role in a different kind of resistance in the Eastern Cape. They would remain allied with the amaXhosa throughout, understanding the need for united African resistance and thus breaking ranks with those Khoena who succumbed to missionary indoctrination that they were superior to other Africans and were a brown race, set apart.

Chief David Stuurman pioneered guerrilla warfare in this 5th war by bringing together the mixed band of Khoena, so-called ‘Hottentot-Basters’ and escaped slaves. This would bring to the end an era of 164 years of wars of resistance and opened a new era – from 1659 until Stuurman was sent to banishment in Australia in 1823. Great acts of Khoena, Orlams, Namaqua and Griqua resistance joined with revolts in communities in some mission stations would carry the resistance traditions forward in the 19th century, but war as defined as soldiers going head to head had come to an end for the Khoena and the San defending their own territory. The guerrilla cations that followed were by a people that no longer had a secure place to call their own, nor very well defined support communities.

David was taken to Cape Town along with Makanda and other amaXhosa prisoners of war on 22 December 1819 on board the ship Queen and sent to Robben Island.

In October 1819 the Xhosa leaders were forced to recognise Ngqaika as primary leader of the amaXhosa. Ngqaika and Lord Somerset then made a gentlemen’s agreement whereby the area between the Fish and the Keiskamma Rivers, with the exception of the Tyume Valley held by the Xhosa, would be a neutral zone free of both Xhosa or European settlers. No free Khoena or San land or communities or structures existed in the Cape Colony any longer.


In this watershed year the British landed 5000 British Settlers in the Eastern Cape to consolidate their hold over the resisting amaXhosa. In the same year all of the resistance leaders – Khoena and Xhosa were incarcerated on Robben Island.

In August 1820 a convict at the Robben Island Prisoner of War compounds, Johan Smit, planned a dramatic escape with Khoena leader Hans Trompetter and others. They overpowered and disarmed a sentry and then freed a number of other prisoners who broke into the armoury and released and armed even more prisoners. Amongst these was Makhanda, the great warrior prophet who had been captured in the fifth frontier war of resistance and the Khoena leader, Chief David Stuurman.

After a gunfight with the prison guards in which one was killed and others wounded, some 30 prisoners made their way to the whaler’s boat station. Here they split into three groups each with an escape boat. The boat carrying Trompetter, Stuurman and Makhanda overturned in the heavy surf at Bloubergstrand. Only four escapees survived, amongst them Trompetter and Stuurman. The great resistance hero Makhanda, the prophet warrior of Gonaqua and amaXhosa heritage was drowned. He is reported to have clung to the capsized boat, shouting encouragement to the others before disappearing under water. The boat commanded by Johan Smit made it to shore with all its escapees, but the boat commanded by Holmes also overturned and only three survived.

The escapees were hunted down. Of the 30 that escaped, fourteen had drowned, twelve were recaptured, two were killed and only two evaded capture. The main conspirators who had organised the break out were hanged while others were flogged and branded and had their years of imprisonment extended. Chief David Stuurman was spared death because of an act of mercy shown toward a Mr Bryant during the escape in which Bryant’s life was spared. However he was sentenced to be transported for life to the penal settlement in New South Wales in Australia.


Until the ship Brampton departed for Australia on 25 February in 1823, Chief David Stuurman was sent back to Robben Island for the third time. Chief David Stuurman was the only person to have successfully escaped from Robben Island – and he did so on two occasions. David Stuurman and Jantjie Piet were the only two Khoena at that time to be sent to Sydney on 22 April 1823.

A number of people argued for Chief David Stuurman’s release and return to South Africa. Amongst them the philanthropist Saxe Bannister and another philanthropist and journalist Thomas Pringle who wrote an article for the New Monthly Magazine in 1828 wherein he recorded the long struggle of David Stuurman with the colonial authorities. In 1831 there was an order for the release of Chief David Stuurman but it was too late. In 1830 a year after the relaxation of his prisoner conditions, the last of the great Khoena resistance leaders in the Eastern Cape had died.

In this year Lord Governor Somerset issued a proclamation liberalising conditions of slavery so that slaves could have the right to marry and be baptized as Christians. Working hours were regulated and slave children under ten years old could not be sold. The testimony of Christian slaves also was now accepted in a court of law. The issue of slave children not being sold made a mockery of the fact that the British Parliament had already abolished trading in slaves altogether, some 18 years previously and illustrates that one has to not accept legislation or records to be an accurate reflection of reality when evaluating the past.


In this year Galant, a young slave of 25, led a rebellion involving 12 slaves and ‘Khoena-Baster’ labourers, killing his master and two other Boers.

The Khoena in the Koue Bokkeveld had been defeated by the Trek-Boers and their commandos many decades earlier and much of the bitterness still remained as had the cruel behaviours of farmers first adopted on the massacre drives. Galant had regularly been beaten and locked up and had his property stolen by his master. Galant had reported this to the authorities repeatedly without redress. He could not take the abuse anymore and organised his fellow slaves and apprenticed Khoena labourers to revolt.

Galant and the others were captured after a fight in the mountains, put on trial, convicted and executed. The Galant uprising is simply an example of waves of such unrest that was occurring at this time.


Ordinance 50, came into practice, repealing the Hottentot Proclamation of 1809, allowing ‘Hottentots’ and so-called ‘Hottentot-Basters’ and all free persons of colour, freedom from carrying passes or adherence to pass laws (still in practice for other Africans), granting the right to land ownership, freedom from compulsory conscription into military service, and freedom from being flogged for labour offences. It also stipulated limitations on labour contracts. It would remain in place until 1841 when it was superseded by the Masters and Servants Ordinance.

Legislated controls over the lives of people of colour were now commonplace and this year marked an end of one era and beginning of another where political struggle would come into the ascendency. Politics was war or resistance by other means.


This chronological account answers that gap in history where the Khoena and the San just disappear and a colonial story ensued in popular history books, with a distorted narrative that simply said that the indigene population were wi ped out by a smallpox epidemic. There was a deliberate airbrushing out of the Khoena and San dispossession and resistance story with the connivance of academia to promote the notion that the Europeans took over a relatively population-free territory and met an alien black invasion force in the Eastern Cape and stopped it in its tracks. This chronology tells a story of the ravishing of communities and ethnic cleansing of territory, ethnocide and genocide. It speaks of resistance traditions and collaboration traditions among the Khoena, and the slaves. There has always been  this divide and it continued right through to Apartheid and a strong foundation stone of collaboration was the indoctrination that emphasized toenadering between the pacified and Europeans and the cultivation of the notion of ‘bruiness’ and antagonism toward those perceived to be ‘Black’ or ‘Kaffers’. The missions played a huge role in cultivating the deep antagonisms and toenadering doctrine.

The chronology tells the story of the systematic breaking up of communities and of death of social cohesion and, of the enslavement of the remaining original inhabitants of the Cape Colony. It tells of the integration of indigenes and of slaves who had experienced their own aberrations along with their displacement and loss of liberty. It tells the story of theft of land and livestock and a reduction of wealthy farmers of colour to become landless and stockless people struggling to exist. It tells how in the face of continuous violation and war there was continuous resistance and that there were always men and women who stood up for their right to freedom and dignity.

The peopling of the Cape Colony became more complex from 1750 onwards and particularly so from 1834 after the emancipation from slavery. Prize Slave migration, and the migrations of Manillas, Saints, Kroomen, Seedees, Indentured Masbiekers, Passenger Indians, Chinese labour, Caribbean sailors, African American merchants, African diaspora intellectuals, Lascars and other migrants of colour rivalled the numbers of European new settlers such as the 1820 settlers and others. The free population of colour, now labelled ‘Coloured’ in the Cape Colony was more of a social construct in the form of an umbrella of peoples brought together by circumstance.

This exponentially lowered the proportion of Khoena in the Cape Colony against the combination of slaves and migrants of colour and to a large extent for a long period restricted Khoena communities to the Northern Cape, and Free State. The majority of the now mixed Khoena-Slave (Hottentot–Basters) community recorded by the census by 1795 were largely to be found in the Overberg, Graaff Reinet, Swellendam and frontier regions of the Western Cape and in the Eastern Cape.

The majority of the population of people of colour in the Western Cape were now descendants of slaves and Free Blacks, and new prize slaves, imported indentured labour and free migrants of colour. Towards the end of the 19th century and in the early 20th century the East Griqualanders around Kokstad under AS le Fleur (De Kneg) went into diaspora across the Cape Colony but drifted to around five specific locations, one right in the heart of the Cape Peninsula and others in Touwsrivier, Mamre, Plettenburg and Pacaltsdorp. Over the 20th and 21st century there was also a further gradual drift of Khoena from the Gariep and small towns to the small West Coast towns of the Western Cape and to the City of Cape Town. Descendent communities of people who grew up on missions also moved between missions and from missions to cities.

The Cape San faced more genocide through to the end of the 19th century and were wiped out as a distinct people in the Western Cape. San young women and children, who survived the genocide, integrated on farms and assimilated into the apprenticed ‘Hottentot-Basters’ and Slave people who also integrated with each other. It is through this heritage that the Cape San heritage of the Western Cape survives of people with a multicultural heritage.

But in the Northern Cape and Free State the Nju and Khomani San survive and in the east near Swaziland the //Xegwi San survive in South Africa. There are also Khwe and !Xun in South Africa and the Angolan War San who were displaced to South Africa after being used as tracker soldiers by the SADF. Small San communities largely survive in Namibia, Botswana and Angola. There should be an increased consciousness about the tragedy and genocide that befell the San and, who all were involved in creating their misery. How people navigate identity politics in going forward should ensure that insult is not added to injury when claims are made by modern day communities seeking to assert their identity and heritage. Identity in the Western Cape clearly can never be a singular concept, nor that of race, nor ethnic group. It is much more complex and in that complexity is both a beautiful story and the emergence of a creole society with many tributaries.


This has not been an academic exercise, nor is it new information. It is a compiling of a coherent storyboard of the events that unfolded year after year with some perspective and context provided. Effectively it is ‘Teachers Notes’ for non-historian heritage activists, which hopefully will get readers to go to the recommended texts where the full story can be engaged in much more detail and nuance. In really understanding where we come from we can better plot the way forward.

There are many clumsy and retrogressive approaches to Indigene and salve heritage, which take us backward rather than forward and repeat the mistakes of yesteryear. The popularising of unauthentic, narrow and retrogressive ethno-nationalist approaches in replacing our appreciation of where we come from (heritage)and gaining strength to tackle the real blight suffered by our people in the present – of hunger, homelessness, landlessness, unemployment, health and wellness challenges, substance abuse and crime, poor education and undermining of cultural memory and pride. Ethno-nationalist trappings fanned by manipulative and corrupt government processes are repeating past undermining of the struggles of people of colour and blurring the real issues that require a focus for liberation to be realised.

Over time I will improve on the notes and fill in gaps.

The work below is informed by key academic reading where painstaking research was done by a number of dedicated academic authors. We have much for which to be appreciative to a really small number of individuals who at a time when it was not vogue and even risked ridicule and worse, spent long hours carrying out the detective work that began to frae a hidden and forgotten part of our heritage. This exercise simplifies down to a schooling-level text, a reading companion for those interested in exploring a story that has largely been hidden from the general public and purged from popular historical writing.

There are many books/papers which can assist those wishing to go more into depth on the subject of this Chronology but these few books/papers below are vital reading alongside this Chronology Companion and informs the chronology which simply is designed as a learning tool to navigate information available and provoke a different eye on our past. One will see from the chronology that how we frame the past matters in terms of how it is seen and appreciated.

  • The Forgotten Frontier by Nigel Penn; Ohio University Press; 2005
  • The Struggle for the Eastern Cape 1800 – 1854 by Martin Legassick; KMM, Johannesburg 2010
  • KhoiKhoi and the Founding of White South Africa by Richard Elphick; Raven Press, Johannesburg 1985
  • Seven Khoi Lives by Karel Schoeman; Protea, 2009
  • Early Slavery at the Cape of Good Hope 1652 – 1717 by Karel Schoeman; Protea, 2007
  • Breaking the Chains by Nigel Worden and Clifton Crais; Wits UP, 1994
  • Slavery, Emancipation and Colonial Rule in South Africa by Wayne Dooling; UKZN, 2007
  • Children of Bondage by Dr Robert C-H Shell; Wits UP; Johannesburg 1994/1997
  • Slavery in South Africa – Captive Labour on the Dutch Frontie; Elizabeth A Eldredge & Fred Morton; UNP, 1994
  • The House of Phalo by Jeff Peires; Johnathon Ball; Johannesburg & Cape Town, 2003
  • The Khoekhoe soldier by VC Malherbe; Military History Journal – Vol 12 No 3; 2002
  • David Stuurman: Last Chief of the Hottentots by Susan Newton-King & VC Malherbe; WUP; Johannesburg, 1980
  • The day Cape Slaves made themselves masters – The 1808 Rebellion a dramatic shift in the nature of resistance by Nigel Worden; Cape Times; 2008
  • Records of the Cape Colony by George McCall Theal (36 Vols); Slave Revolt and Trial-Volume 20; London; 1900


We cannot pick and choose which history we want to remember and which we want to discard. It became apparent to me that many have been simply framing their understanding of Khoena and San history and heritage either on Apartheid era text-books or simply on the really limited information around the era of van Riebeeck and the early Dutch VOC interaction with Indigenes, and the two Dutch-Khoena wars. This has led to many distortions.

The bigger story is much more horrific and it is also much more inspiring and illuminating on who we are in terms of our heritage. It is an integrated story of struggles by all our forebears – Indigene, Slaves, Free Blacks, Maroons, various migrants of colour and non-conformists among the Europeans who integrated with them. Without having an integrated approach to looking at the history and heritage of the people of colour who came to be labelled ‘Coloured’ there can be no proper understanding of our history and heritage which as at least three distinct, but yet integrated components of Khoena, San and what I call Camissa or African-creole components. (The latter sharing the full ambit of tributaries to our heritage make up, including San and Khoena)

Like the ethno-nationalist distortions there is another type of distortion of heritage which occurs under the umbrella of genealogical studies which while on face value seems very scientific, neutral and open about the past, but when looked at more closely it is dominated by a very white and superior in outlook-narrative paradigm, somewhat besotted with miscegenation and race and the Apartheid notion of Asian and Eurasian colouration vs ‘black’ ethnicity as defined by Apartheid conditioning. In this paradigm the chief pre-occupation is about the once taboo subject of a white population having roots ‘of colour’. An element of this is subliminally ideologically driven. Here we often see a drift from the purely academic to complex arguments of percentages of mixing come to the fore in a ladder of shades of difference with ‘black’ African placed on the lowest run, largely based on VOC record-keeping in a colony of such expanse after the first few decades of VOC presence that record-keeping of births, deaths, baptism, and marriages could certainly not be comprehensive.

There is also a strong tendency for slavery studies to be dominated by looking at the Asian dominated period 1652 – 1770 and downplaying the African dominated period 1770 – 1856 (Slavery & Prize Slave period) – likewise with the Free-Black period and the Free Migrants of Colour period. One often finds statement completely laced with white cultural and historical bias clouding evaluation and resulting in emphatic qualifying statement. Effectively for instance when the whole of the slavery period is examined, the Southeast Asian element is the smallest and the Indonesian subset, though the largest component of the Southeast Asian sector is relatively tiny in comparison to the whole of the slavery era from 1652 – 1856. Yet in cultural heritage studies slavery is most often equated to the misnomer of ‘Malay’ slaves now more frequently renamed ‘Indonesian’ slaves. It is also not factored in that toponyms in slave-naming most often denote slaver-stations than necessarily places of origin of slaves because Southeast Asian history was in most cases ignored. Hence today dna studies will show for instance that someone noted as van Bengal (the vast Bay of Bengal) could indeed have been from Laos or Myanmar.

For us to begin to get a better handle on our past these filters whether ethno-nationalist at the one extreme or the rigidity of genealogists operating within a white perspective paradigm at the other, exploration must break out of these narrow paradigms and we all need to been engaging with no holds barred, sharing our perspectives and not feeling that one is more authentic than the other. The free flow of knowledge is vital and the unpacking of knowledge into digestible formats is important for most folks to be able to engage.  The barriers set up to ensure that people of colour do not ‘taint’ academic research with perspectives considered to be outrageous must be overcome as must be the concepts of narrow ownership of knowledge based on liberal-economic ownership practices extended to the world of knowledge production (commodification of knowledge). It is only when these little boxes get broken down and respect for different learning traditions takes place that the necessary cross-fertilisation of ideas can get to work.

We cannot even begin to understand where we are now in South Africa if we can negate almost two centuries of struggle and war of Indigenes as happens in the white colonialist heritage arena which dominates our thinking – likewise with us just having a white perspective on slavery in South Africa. People of colour who lived these experiences and their descendants who felt the aftershocks must be able to impact the understanding of history and heritage. The barriers erected by colonial academia must be removed and it is in the best interest of all that we remove it together, rather than conflictual.



This is a piece which I wrote in response to a comment on Facebook by someone expressing irritation that we are, as he put it, “MOANING” about a book written by an unapologetic white South African woman – Rainbow Nation Navigation: A Practical Guide to South African Cultures in which she stereotypes and engages in insulting and hurtful remarks as to what constitutes ‘Coloured Culture’ in South Africa. The commenting individual, another white South African, critical of the protest voice, tells us that we should be countering by explaining what is the culture of people labelled ‘Coloured’ as if to say that it is our duty to educate the white South Africans who engage in such insult. We have no such duty….. we need to prove nothing to those who operate from a racist paradigm.

Here is simply, in the face of insult, how we can celebrate who we are as a people who are a vibrant part of South African life. Neither the stream of insults in this book nor our being labelled as ‘Coloured’ – a term that certainly does not say who we are, but rather emphasizes what we are not, will ever take away our part of the greater South African heritage and reduce it to the benal.



In Praise of Camissa Culture – “O’s is” / “We are!”

We are a people born in and of Africa, combining Indigene, Pan-African, South Asian and Southeast Asian coming together, with a touch of the qualities of those Europeans who accepted our embrace – our dna is the most diverse in the world.… “O’s is!”

We are a people inspired by the fortitude of our Indigene Khoena, San, amaXhosa and other African forebears and their ancient cultures and wisdom which beats in our hearts and soul and still stirs the passion in us which is infectious to all we encounter….”O’s is!”

We are a people of great endurance with an amazing ability to rise up above adversity having survived 14 Indigene wars of resistance over 164 years against an ethnocidal and genocidal colonial onslaught and, engaged in many acts of resistance and revolt against enslavement and the brutal existence as slaves…. “O’s is!”

We are the descendant people of the life sustaining Camissa River, with its many tributaries and springs, who, at the Shoreline Frontier, embraced and sustained all, but were brutally ravished by some…. “O’s is!”

We are proud that into the embrace of our stream came banished resisters from the territories with ancient cultures, stomped over by the Dutch VOC and, refugees and economic migrants of colour from afar –

  • skilled Southeast Asian craftsmen,
  • exiled scholars of faith from Indonesia,
  • Chinese with ancient cultures and medicinal skills,
  • Masbiekers with their way of the Ngoma and farming skills,
  • refugee Manillas with their revolutionary Philippine resolve,
  • the Kroomen, Lascar and Seedee Mariners who laid the foundations of our maritime industry,
  • Indian and Bengali traders, craftsmen, technicians and teachers,
  • The Saints from St Helena with their own tapestry of culture,
  • The African-American and Caribbean Pan-Africanists with their journalism and liberating ideas
  • Indentured labourers from across Africa and the British Empire who propped up a downward spiraling economy and turned it around

and so many more thousands of migrants of colour who built the foundations of South Africa’s economic success, but were treated with disdain and robbed of the fruit of our labours and our intellectual contribution denied….“O’s is!”

We are conscious that without the crucial input in terms of education, skill and back-breaking labour by our forebears and ourselves, there would be neither magnificent Cape Town, nor South Africa…. “O’s is!”

We are conscious that like the river and its tributaries we and our rich vibrant culture too were forced underground and layer upon layer of alienating superstructure hid ‘the real us’ from sight…. “O’s Is!”

We are conscious of the fact that like the underground river, we the people of the water (//amma) continued to have life and vibrantly flowed and gushed forth in springs across Cape Town, and our vibrancy could never be ignored… “O’s is!”

We are proud that in the Slave Lodge of old, our forebears came up with the first foundations of an education system for South Africa; its craftsmen left us with exquisite antique furnishings and finishes on buildings that leave beholders in awe;  the first local play was written here by a slave; and the oldest piece of local education literature was bequeathed us by a slave in his own handwriting…. “Os is!”

We are aware that we continued over the centuries in our creativity; we have a legacy of creating a language – Afrikaaps which others copied; we have produce literary giants; we have a cuisine legacy – unique in first putting fusion cooking on the map when we blended African, Malagasy, Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine; we have contributed a rich legacy in dance, ballet, opera, theatre, music composition and performance, creative writing and so much more – and others copied us.… “O’s is!”

We are conscious, whether in our homes, in educational institutions, in commerce and industry, on the stage, on the sports-fields or in the streets we notably stand out exactly because of the amazing and recognizably unique stamp of our Camissa Footprint in our land…. “O’s is!”

We are known as a spiritual people who pay great attention to our spirit through our diverse expressions of faith – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, Syncretic or Secular and the qualities in us, born of our faith interacting with our life experiences over time, often despite great pain and tears has given us strength, fortitude, joyousness and ability to laugh at and with ourselves in rising above adversity. “O’s is!”

And when we laugh and make others laugh with our ambidextrous take on life, we are not fools, we are celebrating amazing triumphs and deep wells of tears, and our survival from lives past and present that should have crushed us but didn’t. “O’s is!”

We are painfully aware that we have have struggled quietly with the pains of substance abuse, which has a long history rooted in a tot-en-tabac system first introduce by the Dutch VOC to the 402 child slaves landed in 1658 and copied to date by farmers intent on pacifying us; we have continuously wrestled with this artificially induced cancer and while it still wreaks havoc, most of us survived…. “O’s is!”

We are a people who are family orientated and love our get-togethers and celebrating our achievement and survival, even when dysfunctionality has often blighted us through the assault of slavery on family life, massacres of our indigene forbear families and enslavement of Khoena and San children, continuous forced removals over four centuries, substance abuse and other social ills that befell us as a result of ghettoization… “O’s is!”

We are always in hearty celebration of life. We laugh because there has been too much crying. We sing and rejoice and we love and we hope – and we are noticed for it – and if you ask us why, we will tell you…”O’s is!”

“O’s is!”    “We are!”

Wayde-van-Niekerk-2Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine making up the winning 100m team during the 2016 CAA 20th African Senior Championships at the Kings Park Athletic stadium in Durban, South Africa on June 24, 2016


chief_david_stuurman_495x769 louis_van_mauritius_495x769chief_klaas_stuurman_495x769

DAVID STUURMAN sculptured by Keith Calder
LOUIS VAN MAURITIUS sculptured by Barry Jackson
KLAAS STUURMAN sculptured by Keith Calder
DR JOHANNES VAN DER KEMP sculptured by Barry Jackson.
MAKHANDA THE ITOLA sculptured by Johan Moolman;



A few years ago I was approached by the National Heritage Monument of South Africa to assisted with realizing a vision to give recognition to our ancestors oveDavid Stuurmanr the last 400 years who were sidelined from official histories. I was asked to assist with two things – to provide advice to a range of sculptors on the appearance of these historical figures who in the majority of cases were not captured photographically or in sketches and paintings, I was also asked to research and write 20 of their biographies which could be used as a reference for various projects envisaged for the future. It was a wonderful privilege to be part of this amazing project which subsequently has evolved as a reality.

I engaged with the sculThe Crowd 3ptors in various ways to ensure the best degree of authenticity for the final products and they produced the most magnificent bronze life size figures which broke with the traditional sculpting norms for such work. For each figure I produced a ten page well-researched biography, from which shorter biographical briefs could be produced.


NOMMOA (DOMAN) sculptured by Sarah Richards

There are five contemporaries who are my favorite historical character from the same revolutionary period in our history and one earlier Khoena leader who led the first war of resistance – Klaas and David Sturman of the Khoena Resistance; Louis of Mauritius the leader of the 1808 Slave Rebellion; Makhanda the Xhosa/Khoena Itola (Prophet and military general); Dr Johannes van der Kemp the revolutionary missionary, abolitionist a defender of the Khoena who dared to say that his Jesus did not have to be adopted with a European cultural package; and Nommoa (Doman) the Khoena leader of the first war of resistance against the Dutch. I worked on many of the other historical characters too – 20 in fact.

There are 40 professional sculptors and assistants who have been involved in this project and 8 South African foundries involved in the manufacture. There have also been 5 less experienced artists who have been trained and mentored in the course of the project to the extent that they are now independently working and selling their own bronze sculpture works. Besides carrying out this mammoth task of filling a gap in our history and heritage where previously history and memory had been blotted out, this has been the largest arts empowerment project in the field of sculpturing fine arts in South Africa by a public and private partnership in funding.

I have often promoted that our artists in South Africa engage in “IMAGINING” the past and creating historical and heritage images where there are glaring gaps in imagery so that our public have the opportunity to engage with the past in a more tangible and meaningful manner. To those who question this exhortation of mine, I remind them about the famous artist Charles Bell who 200 years after the event, painted van Riebeeck’s arrival at the Cape, with all its imperfections and lack of authenticity, but that the image has endured and been embraced for the last 170 years. The image of that painting projecting Autshumao (presented as Harry the beachbum strandlooper) as an awestruck man dress in skins who had never engaged with whites is as unauthentic as they come. Autshumao who was an established trader and linguist of some 30 years standing made a point of dressing in European clothes when engaging newly arrived Europeans, and had already trained in Jakarta with the English. I also remind them of two plagiarized images from a Dutch Museum which the Colonial and Apartheid era projected authentically as that of Jan van Riebeeck and his wife Maria de la Quellarie. For decades these images served as fakery to present van Riebeeck as a handsome well proportioned Dutch hero with long wavy hair who appeared to us on stamps, coins, banknotes, history books and statues (one of these fakery statues still stands proudly in Cape Town). The images are indeed of a Mr Vermuyden and his mistress Ms Kettering. So the example of these great scultors should be emulated by our budding young fine artists across the country. Paint, sculpt, sketch, carve and work on the hidden history and heritage of South Africa.

Please visit the National Heritage Monument website to learn more. It does not feature all of the images, nor the full depictions – just the portrait views.

A Chronology of important markers in the heritage of the peoples of Africa South of the Gariep PART ONE: 500BC – 1740

I have here tried to distill lots of very dense, deep and complex historical information produced by excellent researchers into a coherent readable and digestible time-line of historical events, leaving out the overwhelming ‘white noise’ of the colonist focus in other histories, so as to give people of colour in the Western Cape a better idea of what happened to our forebears. It’s not the whole definitive story and for me it’s a work in progress – a framework to which more can be added. It weaves together the history of resistance and the attrition suffered by San, Khoena, Slaves, Free Blacks, Indentures and other migrants of colour, to give a clearer picture of a conflict-engineered peopling of the Cape which can give people in the 21st century a better understanding of what is their roots and identity. To get the full picture one will also need to read part two of the Chronology which I am yet to finish.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a work in progress and far from finessed.

The Goringhaicona Traders of CamissaSouth African history does a great injustice to the story of the Khoena (Khoi) and /Xam or San. It leaves a great hole in history, so we have ignorant people who say that the Khoena and San did not resist colonialism, put their hands up and left resistance up to the Xhosa and the Zulu. The latter are presented as the greatest and most valiant of African resisters, whereas even although they fought with distinction, their resistance and duration of resistance comes only third in line after the Khoena/San/Slave resistance and then the 100 years of Xhosa wars of resistance. The Khoena, San and Slave resistance lasted much longer and involved more resistance and greater sacrifices than any other in our history. The amaXhosa resistance wars lasted 100 years and nine wars. The first three of these war involved joint amaXhosa and Khoena resisters.

The earliest resistance of the Khoena against European forces was in 1510 and was a victory nothing short of amazing and great. A series of Khoena and San resistance wars between 1659 and 1825 mark 166 years of concerted resistance warfare by the Khoena and San, and this does not include later uprisings like the Kat River Rebellion by descendants of the Khoena and slaves. Also during the same period there was many slave resistance episodes and a significant slave uprising comparable to the famous slave uprisings around the world.

Our history books largely omit this story. Thus a very false colonialist history has been embraced unfortunately in certain circles of the new post-Apartheid order. This also unfortunately has led to  ludicrous assertions by some claiming to represent the Khoena and San without understanding the history of what really happened under the colonial onslaught. Effectively a denialist history and often dubious and divisive assertions which insult the memory of the Cape Khoena and San have gained popularity and ascendency.

People rightly ask “Whatever happened to the Khoena and San of the Western Cape”. Most historians dodge this question, but there are a few who tackle it head on in ground-breaking works such as that of Nigel Penn, Martin Leggasick, and Mohomed Adikari.  Other works have hidden gems in them struggling with ‘white noise’ to be seen and digested.

The true story is unpalatable to many and, dodgy assertions simply lend credibility to those who say that the Khoena and San and Slaves showed no real resistance to colonialism. The was also much collaboration from once resistant Khoena once they had been over-powered and started supporting colonists against other resisting Khoena as the battle lines constantly changed. The changing allegiances in war is an ugly story and challenges us today as to which elements of the past we are identifying with if we over-politicize past heritage. We have to come to terms with the shameful as well as that which instills pride. We have to beware of mistakes and opportunism that were repeated over and over again. We need to come to terms that all peoples develop from primitive modes of living, economies and cultural practices to adopt new ways over time and over the two centuries after van Riebeeck the Khoena people did not remain frozen in time but also changed. War itself was responsible for much change. The story of the Camissa Footprint and the resistance which flowed from the first shoreline frontier onwards is not a little subscript pinned onto history. It is the real history of the most long-lasting resistance ever in Southern Africa.

Without understanding what happened in the past in all its complexities we will always be dealing with identity issues in a manner which is a second rate caricature of reality. In the 18th and 19th century our ancestors grappled with many of the same identity issues that some people are reviving today, and they found resolution, and overcame much of the divisions brought about as a legacy of over a century and a half of ethnic upheaval, cleansing and war.

In the first decades of the 19th century the descendant Khoena and mixed Khoena groups firstly had to tacitly acknowledged the terrible truth that as a result of war, cleansing of territory and seizure of resources, most of the Cape Khoena clans were now gone forever. Cape Khoena survivors had largely gathered at the Gariep and at the outskirts of Swellendam and Graaff Reinet and had two choices to make. Some took the one choice and others took the other choice.

The first choice was to re-join the Namaqua and Korana (Gora) from which all Cape Khoena clans had originally descended prior to the migration to the southernmost regions of the Cape, and put behind them the many splits and divisions that had resulted in definitive ethnic formations along the way. Or alternatively in the east, join with their amaXhosa cousins as demonstrated by the Stuurmans who had led the Khoena into a confederacy of resistance together with the amaXhosa. (later repeated at Kat River under Matroos).

The second choice was to establish a revived and united Khoena formation as home to all Khoena refugees and others who wished to embrace it – and thus revivalists formed the Griqua. These two solutions proved resilient even although a few divisions again appeared. Some of the leading ancestors of this revived formation left us written accounts in their own hand about their confrontation of the vexing questions and how they tackled these issues. The same issues continue to be raised today but few have ever read the texts to which I here refer.

In the 21st century those two options still remain, but have been joined by an array of new and much divided revivalist manifestations too. This however does not provide a resolution to the search for identities of the majority of persons labelled “Coloured” who descend from a mix of the small enserfed Khoena, the slaves from Africa, India and Southeast Asia, the Free Blacks, the indentures and many other migrants of colour, as well as those non-conformist Europeans who integrated with persons of colour.

Those who are the descendants of migrants of colour and indigenes bonded by the Camissa footprint and the events that flowed from the events at the Shoreline Frontier will find some illumination from this chronology about the ‘peopling of the Western Cape’ in a time of war and resistance. This chronology addresses falsehoods about early migrations that are dealt with and also falsehoods about later attrition of war and, around migrations of peoples of colour that are not elaborated upon.

For those who wish to read the more in depth stories….. this chronology is informed and indebted to, among other works, by the excellent research of:

Nigel Penn – The Forgotten Frontier / Karel Schoeman – Early Slavery at the Cape of Good Hope / Robert C-H Shell – Children of Bondage / Nigel Worden, Elizabeth van Heyningen, Vivian Bickford-Smith – Cape Town: Making of a City / Richard Elphick – Khoihoi and the founding of White South Africa / Mohamed Adikari – The Anatomy of a South African Genocide

Here follows a chronology in TWO PARTS…. PART ONE: 500BC – 1740 and PART TWO: 1740 – 1825.

camissa-2A Chronology of important markers in the heritage of the peoples of Africa South of the Gariep PART ONE: 500BC – 1740

500 BC

Written evidence by Herodotus the Greek Historian suggests that the Phoenician sailors may have visited Southern Africa when circumnavigating the world, which he describes in a detail that gives it credibility.

360 BC

Further evidence suggests that the Carthusians travelled down the West African coast but only as far as Sierra Leone.

350 BC

Under the Mauryan Empire in India the continent of Africa was first engaged, with Indian shipping visiting North African harbours. At this peak in their technological abilities they were not able to venture further.

200 BC

Archaeological sites show that for many thousands of years the forebears of the San had been widely dispersed across Southern Africa from Angola to northern Zambia through to Kenya and way down to the southern reaches of South Africa, covering the whole of South Africa.

The earliest forebears of the Cape San people left markers for many thousands of years BC. Over time those refer to as /Xam or San and other groups all over Southern Africa (as far as Angola, Zambia and Tanzania) emerged during the stone age and early iron age development, as hunter-gatherer communities. They would influence and enter the bloodlines of both Bantu and Khoena pastoral peoples with whom they came into contact over time.

100 BC

From East Africa the forebears of the Khoena (Khoi) migrated into the south western regions of South Africa after a gradual drift  and engaged with the forebears of the /Xam or San people who were  already firmly established in South Africa. The Khoena  were pastoralists and also 500 years later engaged with the migratory drifts of the first Bantu peoples into South Africa.

The Khoena are related to the hunter-gatherer Hadza and Sandawe of Tanzania and may have originated as agricultural pursuits developed among hunter-gatherers in East Africa who then sought pasturing land and also through pressures from northern and western peoples moving into East Africa who forced these Khoena forebears southwards.

Notably the terms Hadza, /Xam,  Khoena, and Bantu all have the same meaning – “People”. Within each family of “people” are many tribal and clan names and none of these maintained absolute ethnic purity.

200 AD

The pastoral Khoena began migrating from the northern reaches of today’s Botswana and Namibia, southwards to the territory both sides of the Gariep River…. These Khoena came to be known as the Korana or Gora formations, of whom some drifted south eastward. All Cape Khoena formations evolved from the Korana and the Namaqua offshoot.

300 AD

The gradual migratory drift of early iron age cultivator Bantu people from the great lakes region of Africa moved south eastward and south westward, into South Africa and gradually over a long period dispersed in different trajectories engaging with both widespread San and the earlier migrations of Khoena peoples.

400 AD

The Indian Gupta Empire at this time evolved in India over the period 320 AD – 550 AD also known as the Golden Age. Under Chandragupta II (380-414) the Indian navy and seaports were expanded. With 1200 ships at its disposal the maritime trade was expanded from previous engagement with North African ports, now to down the East Coast of Africa  to Tanzania, northern Mozambique, the Mascarene islands and Madagascar. During this time the Indians may also have done limited exploration further down south or through limited overland exploration made contact further South with peoples of Zimbabwe and Limpopo. Maritime history suggests that their vessels at this stage would have had difficulty with the wild coast and advancing further south.

500 AD

The Khoena Korana pastoralists and Namaqua already well established in the Northern Cape split up in the Gariep into two migrations. Gradually over 500 years these migrations drifted down the East coast of South Africa and down the West coast of South Africa and into the furthest reaches of the Western Cape and by around 1200 AD were well established. The Their trajectories were followed by the Bantu early iron age migrants in the Eastern Cape long before the latter Bantu migrations in the 13th century. It is likely that the amaXhosa and all peoples to their south have the smaller earlier Bantu migrants as ancestors together with  Khoena and San as their first ancestors, before the 13th century Nguni migrants reached the area. The amaXhosa culture is too visibly similar in many respects to Khoena and San culture to disregard this heritage.


At this time the Persians and Arabs were trading extensively along the East African coast as far as Inhambane Bay (Sofala) in Mozambique. It was from here that in time trading for gold and ivory from inland Zimbabwe and Mapangubwe would flourish by the 11th century.


Archaeologists show that early Iron Age agriculturalist (cultivators) habitation sites can be found all over the coastal regions of KZN and as far as the Chalumna River near East London and the Mbashe River in the Transkei. These are linked to the older gradual drift of Bantu people from the Great Lakes region of central Africa who had moved down and crossed into South Africa connecting with the descendants of the San and earlier drifts of the forebears of the Khoena. All of these peoples engaged and had common descendants.


A bass relief on the temple walls at Borobudur in Indonesia suggests that Indians and Southeast Asians had by now experimented with sailing down to the southeast coast of Africa and it was feasible that they could have have rounded the Cape by this time. (in 2003 a replica of the Borobudur vessel successful rounded the Cape and went on to Ghana establishing the feasibility) The vessel technology of this time show that it could only have carried a very limited number of crew and little else.


The Chinese are recorded as travelling down the Cape Coast. Their vessels were much larger than any other maritime transportation known at that time or prior and, their technology more advanced. They were able to return to China with a giraffe and their maps already accurately showed features of the continent south of the Sahara.


Evidence suggests that by this time the Arabs had reached the south eastern coast of Africa.


Arab sea route maps indicate that they had relatively accurately identified Southern Africa at a time when European maps refer to any land south of the Sahara as Terre Incognito.


Tsonga (Kalanga) Bantu moved into northern KZN in a second Bantu Migration drift into South Africa. While there was probably a continuous trickle of migration since that of the 4th century when Bantu people from the great lakes first gradually came to reside in South Africa and mixed with the Khoena and San, this 13th century migration can be seen as a substantial migration giving rise to new tribal and clan formations and the beginning of the social history of the peopling of KZN.

At the same time another grouping who were a mix of those who became known as Sotho and Tswana language groups and also had descended from both the first and second migrations emerged as the Bakoni. The Bakoni were also a mix of Khoena and Bantu peoples   The Bakoni moved into KZN continuing to integrate with Khoena and San there and also with new Bantu migrations down from Mozambique. The mixed descendants of this coming together came to be called Nguni – a contested term. All people referred to as Nguni today are a mix of two Bantu migrations 800 years apart and which mixed with San, Khoena and Bakoni. (The Zulu phenomenon – a modern one, only emerged 600 years later.


The export of gold and ivory from inland Africa thrived at the port of Sofala and signs point to some of this originating at Mapangubwe on the south banks of the Limpopo. These northern regions of South Africa were well populated and economically thriving regions by this time.


After earlier Chinese voyages down the east coast of Africa, the Chinese under Admiral Zeng He rounded the Cape. The Drakensburg Mountains and Gariep River can be seen on their maps of this time. The journey was China’s epic rounding of the Cape and circumnavigation of the world before that of the Europeans.


Rise of the Munhumu Tapa Kingdom (Monamotapa) on the north eastern plateaux of Zimbabwe which did business with the Arabs and others from beyond Africa – India and China. By this time too, the lineage trees of various Eastern Cape people show that the Xesibe, Mpondomise, Mpondo, Thembu, Bomvana and Xhosa were all well established at the areas between the Mthatha River and the Kei River in the Eastern Cape and among their ancestors were earlier Bantu and Khoena migrant settlers from the fifth century.  From the 1490s right through to the mid-1600s European seafarers and shipwreck survivors all record sightings of people and repeat phonetically words spoken by people fitting the descriptions of people noted to be settled in this territory. Shipwrecked Asians and Europeans over the next two centuries also integrated with these groups and are part of their ancestry.


The first of the European explorers, Bartholomew Diaz rounded the Cape and landed at Mossel Bay.


Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape and reached Kilwa where he took on Arab navigators who assisted him to reach India, thus opening the European sea route to the east.


The mixed Xhosa/Khoena/San people inhabited many parts of the Eastern Cape – these were all descendants of the KORANA. The paramount tribe of all Cape Khoena was the COBUQUA who enjoyed good relations with and had familial links to the XHOSA (the Xhosa, were a mix of Korana, San and early Bantu migrations rather than later Nguni Bantu migrants who would join up with them later) and under which the Gonaqua, Hoengeyqua, Damasqua and INQUA (Hamcumqua) tribes resided.

The lNQUA had seven sub-tribal tributaries, Chamaqua, Omaqua, Hessequa, CHAINUQUA, Attaqua, Cauqua, Hotunqua.

In the Westcoast region the NAMAQUA stretched from the Gariep all the way down to Saldanha Bay. In the South a set of wandering herder groups known as the Guriqua (GriGriqua/Charigariqua), herding sheep and cattle for others, were under Namaqua patronage but also linked in to the Cochouqua sphere of influence.

The Cochoqua, was a second-tier sub-tribe of the CHAINOUQUA, and were the strongest clan formation in the South. In time they spawned two breakaway sub-clans – the Goringhaiqua and Gorachoqua. (This entire lineage traces back in time to the Gora and Korana in the Gariep). As a result of the later colonial onslaught, refugees from the Peninsula descendent clans would return to the mother bodies in the Gariep – the Namaqua and the Korana or Gora. Others created a new entity in the 19th century as a result of the diaspora of the Cape Khoena during the 166 years of war – the Griqua.


From this time to 1507 the ports of Kilwa and Mombasa in East Africa were seized by the Portuguese, where-after took over the major ports in India, Ceylon and Southeast Asia. By this time at the Southernmost reaches of the Cape it was well populated by Cape Khoena tribes and clans and by the Cape San people who occupied the mountainous regions.


Francisco d’Almeida the greatest Portuguese military hero of the times and all his senior officers and many soldiers suffered death and defeat in a battle on the beach of Table Bay, at the hands of the aggrieved Khoena, after the Portuguese violated their hospitality. For much of the 16th century the Portuguese then treated the Cape with much caution.


The Portuguese took control of the major ports on Mozambique Island and on the Mozambique coast.


The English under Sir Francis Drake rounded the Cape for the first time.


The new century saw a paradigm shift in European travel and in the engagement of indigene Khoena with the Europeans. The next fifty years changed the way of life and economy of the indigene Khoena dramatically. Europeans crossed the Shoreline Frontier and spent increasingly longer periods of time on shore with the indigenes, much of this without negative incidents.


McCall Theal in his ’History of SA 1486-1691’ tells us that Spilbergen makes mention in 1601 that the sick from their ship were conveyed to land where a hospital was established.


The United Dutch East India Company VOC was born and shipping around the Cape increased dramatically to India, Ceylon, Arakan, Siam and Batavia. Between this time and 1652 over 1071 ships flying Dutch, English, French, Portuguese and Danish flags stop-over in Table Bay for durations of a few weeks to many months. This had a dramatic effect on the people of Table Bay. From the late 1400s to the 1700s it is also recorded that many ships sank off the SA coast – many of these on the wild coast of the Eastern Cape. The European and Asian survivors largely assimilated into the bloodlines the African people who rescued them.


Raven Hart in his book ‘Before van Riebeeck’ provides the figures of 1,839 sheep and 149 cattle being traded to 4 ships between 1601-1608. Jean Baptista Tavernier in ‘The Six Travels…’ tells us “So soon as the ship arrives, they (the indigenes) bring their beasts to the shore with what other commodities they have, to barter….” This was only the start, as ships within the next decade would start to arrive monthly. The earliest roots of a trading economy had emerged among the Khoena and this began to change the way of life for some.


In the period 1610 to 1620, English ships alone increased to ten times the number of the previous decade.


An account by Aldsworth noted that their English East India Company vessel established a hospital ashore and they stayed for 20 days saying – – “we found the natives of the country to be very courteous and tractable folk, and they did not give us the least annoyance during the time we were there.” The durations of stay by Europeans  from this point increased and having travellers among them became the norm for the Khoena.


Chief Xhore of the Goringhaiqua was kidnapped by the English East India Company and taken to London for one year, after which he was returned to the Cape to act as an interpreter and facilitator for a British colonisation project which failed.


Over the period 1614 – 1616 the English under Lord Smythe attempted to establish a colony at the Cape using Newgate convicts but it failed. Their indigene point man, Xhore, turned the tables and drove off the 10 convict settlers under Captains Peyton and Crosse, after they became unruly and disrespectful to the indigenes. The convict settlers took refuge on Robben Island. There were only three survivors who returned to England. They were executed at Newgate after they had returned to lives of  crime in England.


Outward bound Dutch ships carried soldiers to bolster their military forces in the East and by 1615 already the ships masters were complaining that troops had to have time ashore at the Cape of Good Hope. The VOC at this time took a decision that it would be compulsory for all Dutch shipping to lay-over at Table Bay. In the period 1600 – 1652 some 200 000 travelers had passed through Table Bay just on the outward journey to the East.


Due to the increased shipping stop-overs at the Cape there was a formal exploration of a joint English-Dutch presence at the Cape but this did not succeed.


England formally annexed the Cape of Good Hope laying sole claim to the territory but nothing came of this venture. Chief Xhore by this time was doing a brisk trade with the English as well as the ships of other nations. It was a golden era of trade with the Europeans.


Chief Xhore was killed by the Dutch after refusing to continue assisting them because of ill treatment of his people. Historian Richard Elphick informs us that the impact of Xhore’s death on trade with the Europeans was negative and all European vessels suffered as a result of this slump which continued for a few years.


By this time two to three ships per month were arriving in Table Bay with stop-overs of anything between a couple of weeks to a few months. Recuperation of the sick, acquisition of timber for repairs, bartering for meat, taking on of fresh water and leaving communications for oncoming ships required the Europeans to implement new measures, so they each began the practice of recruiting ‘point men’ from among the indigenes.


Chief Autshumao who led a small group of drifters known as the Goringhaicona, was taken to Jakarta (Batavia) by the English for training as an interpreter and facilitator of port business. A year later he was returned to the Cape.


FOUNDING OF THE PORT OF CAPE TOWN: The English assisted Autshumao and 20 of his followers to set up a port facilitation settlement on Robben Island. This was the earliest foundation of the Port of Cape Town. The Dutch co-operated with this move in that they later brought over 30 more indigenes to complement Autshumao’s community.

Peter Mundy travelling on the English ship Mary refers to Autshumao (Haddah) on Robben Island, “Here the said Haddah lives with his kindred and allies numbering about 60 persons – men, women and children. They come all about us very merrily rejoicing at our coming, better apparelled than those on the mainland, though after the same manner, except for Haddah who on that day wore English clothes from head to toe. ”This practice of Autshumao wearing European clothes is mention by others too.


CONSOLIDATION OF THE PORT OF CAPE TOWN: By this time the Robben Island port facilitation settlement proved to have its limitations and was ineffectual for both the Europeans and the Khoena. The English then re-settled Autshumao and his followers on the mainland where they established their settlement alongside the Camissa River where it flowed over the beach into the sea. Here Autshumao and his followers were more able to meet the needs of the English and other visitors who were very frequently arriving in the Cape. Effectively Autshumao’s community operated as facilitators of maritime traffic as a port community. They had given up a pastoral economy and embraced trading and other forms of entrepreneurship. They are also likely to have among them, children born of relationships between indigene women and travellers as happens in any port settlement globally. Through this emergent new economy the first beginnings of a trader-class, market agricultural class, and working class arose. Autshumao was a monopoly trader. Independent big cattle farmers somewhat detached from tribe or clan like Ankaisoa carried on a thriving business with Autshumao the trader (and later an independent cattle-farmer. Between them and the ships were a whole range of tasks that required labour and from this activity the first labourers emerged. A class of ‘subjects’ or followers of men like Autshumao and Ankaisoa did manual labour and herding.


Robin Knox-Johnston in his work on maritime history notes “ the Dutch and the English also had their own trusted native who would keep letters and hand them over to the Captains of home-going ships. A ship on arriving in the bay would fire a cannon and this would bring the ‘Postman’ down to the beach…. A ship’s boat would be sent to fetch him and he would exchange mail and report any other useful information for a small reward.” He here refers to the fact that the Dutch copied the English practice and had their own point man.


Krotoa, the niece of Autshumao was born into the small Goringhaicona community. From recorded descriptions of her it is likely that she was born of a relationship between and indigene woman and a passing European traveller. Her early life around her uncle Autshumao exposed her frequently to the Europeans and their languages. It is likely that her flair for language began long before the arrival of van Riebeeck and this may be one of the reasons that Commander van Riebeeck took notice of her. She would later become an important interpreter for Jan Van Riebeeck. She also according to Jan van Riebeeck came to be untrustworthy in his estimation and was likely to have played a role in supplying information to her indigene kin and misinformation to him. Van Riebeeck accused her of ‘drawing the longbow’ in his dealings with her. Ie: exaggerating and telling him what she thought he wanted to know or worse. She would prove to be the greatest woman of her times in assisting in leaving a recorded legacy and for her pubic engagements.


The Dutch Ship, Mauritius Eylant, with 340 on board was wrecked and had to remain at Table Bay until rescued by a ship, the Tijger, which according to Thomas Aldsworth, “had to be despatched to rescue them.” They remained camped at Salt River for four months before being picked up. This camp put some respectful distance between themselves and the indigene settlement at the Camissa River mouth.

Jodocus Hondius III in a work ‘A clear description of the Cape of Good Hope’ published in Amsterdam in 1652 describes the Table Bay site and its river as follows – “A short distance beyond the tail of the Lion Mountain is the little fresh water river which is a stream rising in the foothills of Table Mountain, or in its higher slopes. The river usually flows quite strongly, but in most parts the water does not reach above the knees. In the year 1644 the crew of the wrecked ship Mauritius Eylant marked out a fort with 4 bastions across this Fresh River in order to protect the fresh water, but no building took place until this present year, 1652, when a fortress was begun on the eastern side of the same streamlet.” Here he refers to Van Riebeeck’s later appropriation of the Camissa, the exact spot being at Lower Plein Street near the Grand Parade.


A year long stay by the Dutch survivors of a shipwreck in Table Bay saw 62 men remaining at Table Bay. They built a fort near Salt River and they travelled around doing experiments and were treated well by the indigene Khoena. The leader of the shipwrecked community Leendert Janzsen in his report known as ‘Remonstrantie’ to the VOC states “the natives came with all friendliness to trade with us….bringing cattle and sheep in numbers.”

At this time the Indigenes continued in their dealings with all European vessels from the strategic spot alongside the river known in the local language simply as Fresh Water – Camissa (//ammi ssa). All visiting vessels saw this as their watering spot and the Dutch recognised this strategic watering place in 1644 already when plans were drawn to control this place with a Dutch Fort. The indigenes established their foundation settlement and port operation at that same place and it was clear that they recognised its importance. The Dutch knew not to occupy the place until such time as they could defend it. The Camissa settlement first of the indigenes and then of the Dutch would become the City of Cape Town because of its strategic importance. The Goringhaicona themselves were first dubbed ‘Watermen’ by the Dutch.


In 1648 a fleet of 12 ships stopped over for 18 days at Table Bay, which took Janzsen and his men back to Holland. On board the same ship carrying Captain Janzsen was the disgraced VOC merchant from the Dutch Factory at Tonkin in Vietnam that had been caught out stealing from the VOC – Jan van Riebeeck.  This man van Riebeeck showed a huge interest in Janzsen’s proposition that the Dutch should establish a permanent base at Table Bay. During the three weeks sojourn at Table Bay, Jan van Riebeeck also got a feel for the place and talked to the other survivors. In the process he developed a contrary view to those expressed by Janzsens and Proot in their report. It was on board the return voyage that Janzsen and his five senior men had prepared a proposal for a permanent Dutch presence at Table Bay  – known as “remonstrantie”. It  found favour with the VOC Chamber of Seventeen. To redeem himself with the VOC, the thief from Vietnam presented himself for the job of leading the settlement party after Janzsens turned down the post. At this stage the different approaches by Janzsens and van Riebeeck stood out in stark contrast:

Historian Richard Elphick points out that Janzsen said that a Dutch presence under “a good Commander, who would treat the natives kindly and pay them thankfully for all that was brought to them” would thrive.  Janzsen was very astute, realistic and no romantic.  He also said that those of his men who did not respect the indigenes and pilfered from them, deserved to be set upon by them, saying “farmers in Holland, were we to shoot their cattle or take them away without payment, if they had no justice to fear, would not be one hair different to these natives.” Elphick contrasts this to Van Riebeeck’s intemperately negative view when he said “these natives by no means are to be trusted but are a savage set, living without conscience…. Our people have been beaten to death without having given the slightest cause.” 


DUTCH TAKE-OVER OF THE PORT OF CAPE TOWN: Dutch VOC Commander Jan Van Riebeeck arrived in 1652, and over the first 8 months he built a fort right on top of Autshumao’s settlement at the strategic Camissa River, where the indigenes had hosted him and his men through the difficult winter. Van Riebeeck noted that after he had moved into the fort he could still see the forlorn Autshumao encamped by the river. According to Hondius, Jan van Riebeeck was given a clear instruction in this regard made by the VOC Chamber of Seventeen, “The skippers were directed to proceed to Table Bay, and to construct close to the Fresh River, a wooden building, the materials for which they were to take with them.”


The niece of Autshumao, Krotoa, was taken into the service of the van Riebeeck family at the Fort at the age of 10 years and over the next 5 years she was groomed to be an interpreter for Commander van Riebeeck.


THE COLD WAR: Over the next four years van Riebeeck wrested full control over the Camissa water and strategic beach-head from Autshumao and his people. Control of this spot was control of the Shoreline Frontier. Effectively this was a cold-war and Autshumao went head to head with van Riebeeck but his small band of Goringhaicona followers could only prove a thorn in the side of the Dutch plans.

An exasperated Van Riebeeck came up with one scheme after the other that did not find favour with the VOC. For instance, he first wanted to enslave all the Khoena on the Peninsula and put them in chain gangs for forced labour, and then he wanted to turn Hout Bay into a large concentration camp surrounded by redoubts into which he would drive all of the Khoena on the Peninsula. He further came up with another scheme to did a canal from False Bay to Table Bay, reate an island and expel all of the Khoena from the island. These were all forerunner schemes to create a white group area and indulge in forced removals.


Van Riebeeck by now had effectively tricked Autshumao and asserted hegemony and control in a series of steps that saw Autshumao’s port business, settlement and clan totally destroyed within a decade. In this process van Riebeeck used divisions among the Goringhaicona, the Goringhaiqua and the Gorachoqua to his advantage to such an extent that he was able to assert control over the Peninsula. The first restrictions on pastoral use of the land by indigenes was enforced. Autshumao is projected by the clear subjective bias of history books purely as a vagabond. A closer look shows otherwise. Historian Richard Elphick calls this period “the years of tense cordiality”. As a result of the ‘cold war’ the Shoreline frontier was expanded to include a more modest version of an isolated ‘Group Area’ for Europeans – a series of redoubts and an almond hedge planted by Jan van Riebeeck demarcated the line of defence.


Between 1653 and 1657 a trickle of slaves and Free Black migrants arrived in the Cape. By 1657 the slaves numbered only 15 and were mainly from India, Bengal and Madagascar. Among the soldiers at the Cape there were just a few Free Black Merdijkers. The settlers were made up of a few Dutch officials and various Europeans, mainly Germans and were predominantly men.

In the first two years of settlement van Riebeeck’s party numerically only just matched the numbers of Autshumao’s people. This apparent even match was not really even in that the balance of power remained with Autshumao because at his back were at least 8000 Khoena on the Peninsula.

Soon slaves would outnumber the European settlers. Over the next 100 years slaves and Free Blacks would continue to outnumber the European settlers. After 1834 migrations of people of colour to the Cape Colony, they would rival that of European settlers.


The Dutch VOC first released a number of its employees to become Free Citizen farmers and demarcated parcels of land for this purpose. This further restricted the use of the land for pasture by indigenes. Nommoa (Doman) was taken to Java by the Dutch for training and acculturalisation as an interpreter. He learnt much about the Europeans including their vulnerabilities and their long term intentions. He would become the leader of the first resistance war.


The largest ever number of slaves to cross the Shoreline Frontier at Camissa, arrived at one time from Guinea and Angola, numbering 402 Bantu slaves. These were mainly children and vastly outnumbered the Europeans.  Within months many died, some deaths hastened by van Riebeeck’s decision to give these children daily measures of alcohol and tobacco to pacify them. Then half of these were sent on as slaves to Batavia at the request of the VOC. By the end of 1658 the population was 187 slaves to 166 Europeans. There was also a further 7 exiles of colour at the Cape bringing the migrant non-white population to 194. Of the 166 Europeans 20 were women and children. Jan van Riebeeck himself owned 23 slaves.

The slave population now made the assistance of Autshumao’s Goringhaicona of Camissa dispensable as a group. Some were anyway assimilated into the labour forces. This would set the pattern for the future.

The indigene Khoena  population was around 8 000 on the Peninsula and its immediate surrounds. There were around 50 000 up through the central Cape and eastern regions of the Western Cape and at least 40 000 up the west coast to the Gariep where there were likely to have been at least another 20 000. The indigene Cape San were largely concentrated around the mountainous areas and are put at around 10 000 persons. The pastoralist indigenes outside of the Peninsula had cattle and sheep estimated in the 20 Dutch mile radius (65 kms) from Table Bay way in excess of 10 000 cattle and twice as many sheep. On the Cape Peninsula alone the conservative figure of van Riebeeck was that Peninsula Khoena had 3000 cattle and 2000 sheep. The Europeans at this stage had nothing.


FIRST RESISTANCE WAR OF THE KHOENA: When the first European farms were established in 1657 the issues of the control over the land and fresh water became the central features of the path to war. The leading figures among the Khoena on the Peninsula all objected to the unfolding Dutch settlement. This included Gorgosoa and sons  Osinghkhimma, Khuma, and Otego of the Goringhaiqua, Autshumao of the Goringhaicona and a fellow independent wealthy indigene cattleman Ankaisoa whom Autshumao formerly turned to for supplies for the ships, and Choro and Gakingh of the Gorachoqua..

After various agressions by the Dutch these different Khoena formations established a coalition under the military leadership of Nammoa (Doman) who had become their inside man while doing interpretation for the Dutch. The war for control of Camissa – the water supply and the surrounding land began in earnest in April 1659.Understanding the Dutch reliance on dry gunpowder, Doman launched his offensive during the wet winter of 1659. With literally a couple of horses and wet gunpowder the Dutch were vulnerable and the Khoena initially had the upper hand. Indeed by the time the war ended it was a stalemate scenario. The morale of the Khoena was impacted upon negatively when Nommoa was wounded in battle and they retreated with the onset of summer.

Van Riebeeck used the opportunity to engage in peace talks and employ some division tactics in the process. Before the onset of the next winter the Khoena had given way in an agreed peace deal that was advantageous to the settlers. The land and the waters of Camissa, their life-blood on the Peninsula, was lost. Soon Peninsula Khoena began making their way out of the Peninsula while others would start becoming labourers used by the Europeans alongside the slaves.


The harshness of slavery, an epidemic and the Cape winter had resulted in many deaths among the Angolan an Guinean slaves. Between 1658 and 1662 the attrition rate among slaves at the Cape who were not owned by the VOC company but by Free Settlers  is indicative of their conditions. Of 89 slaves in 1658 owned by settlers only 23 were left. While some escaped most of that number had died.

Oedasoa and Gonnema led the Cochouqua with their livestock close in to the Peninsula east of Table Bay and asserted hegemony over theindigenes of the Peninsula who the Dutch had defeated. They also sent a message of waning to the Dutch that they were a force to be reckoned with. In the process the Cochoqua subdued the Peninusula indigenes for the Dutch and were effectively the new primary traders with the Dutch. The Chochouqua also played a huge role in subduing the Chainouqua through a series of wars in which the Dutch clearly played a role.

The Dutch would continue to use ‘divide and rule’ tactics between the Cochouqua and the Chainouqua and also between the different groupings within the Cochoqua. As much as there were those ready to resist the Dutch, every Khoena group on the Peninsula and throughout the Cape of Good Hope District and later Stellenbosch District, and every leader, was prepared to compromise themselves and work at one time or another against their kin for recognition and reward from the Dutch. Colonialism had promoted ugly behaviours and for survival some were quite willing to betray others. Expediency was rife and the colonists benefitted.


In May 1662 van Riebeeck concluded 10 years at the Cape and bowed out, never to return again.


Founder of the Camissa port settlement, the forerunner to Cape Town, Autshumao, – linguist, diplomat, entrepreneur, community leader who presided over a change from pastoral economy to trading economy and first resister to the Dutch colonial settlement died. An era of a prospering indigene trading community at Camissa backed by the first independent indigene cattle farmer – Ankaisoa had come to an end. The Dutch had also learnt that in any future conflict mobile fire-power on horseback – a cavalry, was vital. They urgently ensured the importation and breeding of horses.

In December resistance war leader Doman also passed away.

The Dutch also took urgent steps to ensure that they were no longer cut off from inland tribes and clans and their cattle, nor would they be reliant on any interlocutors from the Peninsula clans who were by no means defeated at this stage. The first focus for the Dutch was to develop relations with those Khoena tribes and clans closest to the Peninsula – the Cochouqua under the leadership of Oedesoa and supported by his emissary Koukosoa as well as those under the leadership of another powerful leader of the Cochouqua leaders, Gonnema, leading the clan known as the Gorona later called Gunjemans; then there was the Chainouqua of which the Cochouqua was a sub-tribe.It was under the overall leadership of Soeswa, and also had leaders such as Goeboe, Chaihantima, Koopman and Dorha (Klaas); and then further there was a set of scattered clans of  extended sheep and cattle herder families under the patronage of the far-away Namaqua, known as the Grigriquas (Chariguriqua) or  Guriqa, where only one leading personality stood out namely – Kees. The southernmost Guriqua clanlets also had some patronage from and allegiance to the Cochoqua.

Then by this time another factor was that the Dutch were also encountering the San who were fierce and uncompromising resisters with whom no relationship could really be established by the VOC. As the traditional leaders were getting older and also as social disintegration was also setting in with the Goringhaiqua and the Gorachouqua on the Peninsula, these became fractured with leaders of smaller groups or clanlets emerging under leaders such as Dackkgy (Kuiper) and others.


The origins of the Dutch VOC company owned slaves were 30 from Guinea, 17 Angolans, 6 from Madagascar, 2 from Batavia and then 27 were children of various origins. Privately owned slaves by company officials and by free-settlers, are not part of this figure. Between 1658 to 1669 around 60 slaves were sold in private transactions with slavers; 30 from Africa, 21 from India/Sri Lanka and 3 from the Indonesian Archipelago.

1673 – 1671

Madagascar was the main source of slaves for the Cape at this time but the harsh conditions of slavery at this time in the Cape resulted in a huge casualty rate.

From 1670 – 1679 privately sold slaves the Cape numbered 216 of which 100 were from India/Sri Lanka. Those from Southeast Asia were 18 and Africa excluding Madagascar were13.  The rest of the slaves were from Madagascar. Most slaves were children or youths between 16 to 20 years old who when arriving on the slaver ships were naked and looked like thin skeletons barely covered by flesh.

The VOC company slaves were many more. In 1672 a large shipload of 184 slaves from Madagascar arrived at the Cape on the ship Helena of an original consignment of 270 captured people. Many other large consignments of Malagasy slaves destined to be company slaves arrived during this time. From 1679 – 1689 the slaves from Madagascar more than doubled.

It is important to note that of the 221 Madagascar Slaves to arrive in 1673 on one ship, the Joanna Catherina there were 129 who died in the next year and a half and in the case of two other shiploads of slaves to arrive between 1676 and 1697 of 376 enslaved people on those two vessels alone, just over 100 did not die within a year at the Cape. So while indigenes were being pushed out of the Cape and migrant slave labour being brought into the Cape, slaves were losing their lives in their hundreds and little was recorded to establish exactly how they died except to blame this on sickness and the weather.


Treaties were signed with Osingkhimma and Dackkgy of the Gorachouqua which formally ceeded all the land up to and including the Hottentots Holland Mountains to the Dutch and all claims to the entire Cape of Good Hope Distict to the border just beyond Saldanha Bay, through to Malmesbury. It is unlikely that either leader could understand fully the language and implications of what was on the treaty document. This document preceded the war with the Cochouqua and its application was not really possible with the Cochoqua having moved into the same territory that the Dutch now claimed to have authority over.


Second Khoena War of Resistance: The Dutch had employed a range of ‘divide and rule’ tactics of disruption and exploited the social disintegration that had been developing on the Peninsula since the first war ended. Their focus now was to ensure that the Cochouqua did not move into the resultant power vacuum and disarray caused by the terms exacted through the first war. They were also interested in getting their hands on livestock much further away from the Peninsula. Furthermore they had tricked the Goracohouqua leaders into ceeding to the Dutch the authority over their land, all people on the land and all resources therein. The Cochoqua thus were intruders as far as the Dutch were concerned.

There were huge divisions between the fractured Khoena clans and the Dutch allowed them to war with each other as the traditional spaces close to the Peninsula became crowded, watering spots overused and livestock numbers being depleted. The Dutch entered the fray through aiding and abetting in conflicts and involving themselves in war by proxy. The second war was a natural progression from this scenario of proxy wars and a means towards enforcing the authority the Dutch had given themselves in the treaties signed in 1672.

The Cochouqua under skilful leadership had already made a series of diplomatic moves and shrewd business moves to advance Khoena interests and curtail rampant settler domination. Oedasoa and Gonnema also moved their presence and that of their livestock into closer proximity to the Dutch both as a barrier against the Dutch moving beyond into the hinterland and to strengthen their trading hand – or so they thought. This led to the Peninsula Khoena losing their trading advantage and caused friction where the Dutch played ally, painting the Cochouqua as a common threat.

The Dutch were expanding the territory that they held and those Cochouqua who were under Gonnema were seen to be standing in the way. The entire Khoena community were suffering divisions and were manipulated by the Dutch against each other until a series of events took place, involving conflicts spilling over into the settler arena that led to the Dutch taking military action against the Khoena, by design. This resulted in the various Khoena groups forming alliances with the Dutch against the Cochouqua under Gonnema and a few of the Guriqua making alliance with the Gonnema.

Selling-out to the Dutch and framing up Gonnema increased on the part of key Khoena antagonistic to Gonnema. Effectively the Dutch launched the war on a pretext and then it lasted 4 years with much bitter fighting. The Dutch were victorious, seizing more land and almost 7000 sheep and cattle. They effectively used cavalry and also took the war up as far as the Guriqua allies of the Cochouqua in Saldanha Bay and beyond. The war was effectively used to create a cordon sanitaire around the settled colony and effect control over the territory claimed by the Cochoqua.

As a result of the defeat of the Cochouqua the Cape of Good Hope District border was ultimately fixed just past Vredendal in the northwest. In the south it was fixed at Cape Point running up to Muizenberg,  incorporating the sandy and marshy Cape Flats and extended eastward to Malmesbury.

The Chochouqua and the Gunjeman offshoot steadily were worn down and deprived of their cattle. They were divided and pacified in ongoing pressures and skirmishes. Divide and rule tactics were successfully applied by the Dutch.  Some either left the borders of the colony, others tried to survive as cattle and sheep farmers and others became assistants or collaborators in helping the colonists plunder the cattle of the Chainouqua and Hessequa.

The southernmost Chainouqua retreated with their cattle to behind the Hottentot Holland Mountains and resistant Cochoqua to the Roodezand and outskirts of the Land van Waveren. This allowed the VOC to extend to the foot of the Hottentots Holland Mountains and establish the towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl and open up a vast new District of Stellenbosch in a relatively short period of time.


This year saw the death of Krotoa, the niece of Autshumao, who had been taken first as a servant to work for Van Riebeeck’s wife at the age of ten, then trained to be an interpreter and excelled, but then later was seen to be providing false information to the Commander and ostrasized. Her final years were ones of misery. She had lived for only just over three decades and was the first of the Khoena to marry a European and to adopt the Christian faith.


By this time in addition to the VOC Company Officials, the Free-Burghers, the slaves and the Khoena in the Cape of Good Hope District another category of people were entering the census known as Free-Blacks. in 1670 there were only 13 Free-Blacks, by 1690 there were 48, 1730 there were 221 and then the figure grew so that by 1800 there were around 2000. The free Blacks included free persons of colour who made their way to the Cape as Mardijkers, seamen or trader migrants, or they were freed slaves, as were the initial numbers at the Cape. These are slaves who were manumitted from there owners usually as a service award, or they purchased their freedom. Later these included children of colonists born from Europeans having children with slaves or indigenes. Some Free-Blacks became successful market gardeners, traders and landowners. Some were good independent craftsmen and some volunteered to become settler farmers in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Jonkershoek, Paarl and further afield. Freed slave Adam Kok for instance went to farm near Pieketberg. Some Free-Blacks also owned slaves. Among these were slaves who effectively bought others in order to have them freely live and work with them. There were a couple of early slaves who attained their freedom also from assisting to recapture runaway slaves too. Entreprenuerial Free-Blacks also laid the foundations of the commercial fishing industry at this time together with German settlers.


At this point the reader needs to pause, or otherwise get lost in territorial details and details of which clans and tribes existed and in which territories and how did . In the chronology we are at a point where two districts had been created, making up the colony. The second district in many places was a contested ground, but much of this contestation was on the western front in the expansion of the Stellenbosch District which was ten times the size of the Cape of Good Hope District.


To be able to understand the flow of the resistance wars of the Khoena and San we need to understand the theatre or terrain of conflict and the location of different groups and the names of the Districts in the expanding colony at that time. Eg: What we call Stellenbosch today is only a tiny part of what was Stellenbosch of that time… can come to the wrong conclusions about which group was where if one confuses Stellenbosch District with the town. The Cape Colony by the end of the 18th century had only four districts – Cape of Good Hope, Stellenbosch, Swellendam and Graaff Reinet and much of the 18th century was about how the colonists stole this land and the livestock from indigenes by a step by step series of wars and ethnic cleansing.

The indigene African role-players

The Cape San strongly occupied the area of the Riet River, Sak River, Nieuweveld Mountains, Upper Gamka River, Swartberge, Sneeuberge, Sekoei River up to the Orange River. Thus much of Stellenbosch District (far away from the town we know as Stellenbosch today) and Graaff Reinet District was the theatre of war against the San with Trek-boers challenging the San for territory and scarce water resources.

The early years of the 1st Khoena War of Resistance up until the establishment of the Cape of Good Hope Borders by the end of the 4th Khoena War of Resistance involved the Goringhaiqua, the Goringhaicona, Gorachouqua, Chochouqua (and their Gunjemans offshoot) and some of the Guriqua and by the end of that period of war began to impact on the few Chainouqua that were not on the other side of the Hottentots Holland Mountains..

From the 5th Khoena and San War of Resistance in ……. until the fixing of the first Swellendam borders and the northern borders of Setllenbosch by the end of the 8th Khoena and San War of  Resistance. On the east this involved refugee Khoena from the Cape of Good Hope District plus the Chainouqua, Hessequa, Gouriqua, Inqua, Gamtoos, Hoengeyqua, and Gonaqua. On the northern border of the Cape of Good hope District this involved the Guriqua, Namaqua, Refugee Khoena and various Orlam groups, as well as the Ubiqua San and other central area San who would later be incorporated into Stellenbosch and Graff Reinet Districts without defeat but with huge casualties.

The final period of the great wars were the 9th Khoena and San War of Resistance which from then on meshed with the Xhosa Wars of Resistance, the first four of which involved a confederacy in action of the Khoena and amaXhosa while the San continued and ongoing resistance despite incorporation into the colony, having not been defeated. The San last stretch of resistance went well into the latter 19th century and was met with ruthless genocidal attacks.

From the 5th Khoena and San War of Resistance in ……. until the fixing of the first Swellendam borders and the northern borders of Stellenbosch by the end of the 8th Khoena and San War of  Resistance – on the east this involved refugee Khoena from the Cape of Good Hope District plus the Chainouqua, Hessequa, Gouriqua, Inqua, Gamtoos, Hoengeyqua, and Gonaqua. On the northern border of the Cape of Good hope District this involved the Guriqua, Namaqua, Refugee Khoena and various Orlam groups, as well as the Ubiqua San and other central area San in the area later to be incorporated into Stellenbosch and Graff Reinet Districts, without defeat but with huge casualties.

The final period of the great wars were the 9th Khoena and San War of Resistance which from then on meshed with the Xhosa Wars of Resistance, the first four of which involved a confederacy in action, of the Khoena and amaXhosa while the San continued an ongoing resistance despite incorporation into the colony, having not been defeated. The San last stretch of resistance went well into the latter 19th century and was met with ruthless genocidal attacks. By the end of the 5th Xhosa war of resistance in which much fewer resisting Khoena played a role, the Khoena and the San’s ability to go to war was no more. The world of the Khoena as an organised people had shifted back to the Gariep…. But even there by the fourth decade of the 19th century, the British Colony caught up with the Namaqua and its offshoots, the Orlam groups, the Korana and its various offshoots, the Eat and West Griqua and the tiny number of San who thus far had survived genocide. But the story of all of these is not covered in this chronology and is left for another exploration.

The contested boundaries of the Four Colonial Districts

Cape of Good Hope District stretched from Cape Point  to just past Muizenberg through to Malmesbury and curving up to the first fork of the Berg River and along the Berg River to its mouth on the Coast past Vredenburg.

Stellenbosch District at that time stretched from Vredenburg up to the Buffels River on the West Coast, then down to the Graaf Reinet boundary at the Nieeuweveld Mountains and Gamka River, then in almost a straight line until past Touws River curving in an arc to Cape Agulhas back through to Muizenberg.

Swellendam District was everything below the long line cutting through the Swartberge to the coast from Cape Agulhas to the Gamtoos River.

Graaf Reinet District started on the border of the Swellendam District in the Swarteberge, stretching along the Stellenbosch District  Gamka River border to the Riet River and Nieuweveldberge border of Stellenbosch, in a straight line to Plettenburg’s Beacon on the Sekoei River  below the Orange River, incorporating the Sneeuberge, along the Stormberg and curving down to just over the Bavians River (incorporating Bruintjieshoogte and connecting up to the Fish River and down to the sea on the east coast, laying claim to all of the still contested territory between the Gamtoos River and the Zuurveld to the Fish River.



While the Chainouqua had collaborated with the Dutch against the Cochoqua, the Dutch and Cochouqua also collaborated against the Chainouqua. The Chainouqua also collaborated with the Dutch against the Ubiqua San and within the Chainouqua the Dutch stirred up antagonisms bewtween different leaders. They gained favoured trading status with the Dutch just as the Dutch had cultivated each previous group of indigene collaborators before, but by the end of the century Dorha the leader of the Chainouquas was outplayed by everyone and isolated and the Dutch turned on him and his rival Koopman and killed him. The Chainouqua’s livestock wealth dried up too because the trade was unfair and the stocks depleted.

Dutch records indicate that the cattle rich Chainouquas livestock were so depleted and the people impoverished in the face of marauding commandos of colonist cattle rustlers  going further inland. They were first coerced into trading at unfair exchange and this quickly gave way to abuse and theft and killings. Having depleted Chainouqua livestock the commandos moved on to barter with the Hessequa and in turn raid their cattle,  Trek-boers moved into place and seized the land. Once permanent farms were established, new Trek-boers moved on, and this would be the standard approach.


There were four different types of slave categories at the Cape – VOC Company Slaves, Slaves of free-burghers; Private slaves of Company Officials; and slaves own by Free-Blacks. The largest single number of slaves was own by the United Dutch East India Company and were tasked with company work and public works. A special slave lodge was built for these VOC slaves which on average housed up to 476 slaves, convicts and mentally ill patients. In the mid 1700s it was overcrowed and held up to 1000 slaves.It also was home of the third most earliest school which ran for the longest period of time with the best of teachers. As a result, the VOC company slaves, outside of the European gentry, were the best educated at the Cape for a long time. The Slave Lodge school provided the first solid foundations for education institutions in the Cape Colony.

In 1658 the first slave lodge was completed as part of the temporary Fort and housed 98 slaves. Another lodge was later built near the VOC company garden but it was delapidated by 1669. The Comany Slave Lodge which still stands today, though many times renovated and had additions constructed was completed for occupation in 1679 and was fully occupied when the old lodge was destroyed in a fire in the same year. The Europeans used the Slave Lodge also as a brothel in the evenings and many children were born of these liaisons.

1679 – 1688 

Over 40 farms were established from Stellenbosch through to Klapmats and Jonkershoek with another three farms in what would become Franschhoek and 23 farms in Paarl. Many of the first farms were established by Free Blacks and many Free Blacks were skilled craftsmen who worked on the farms and in the developing town of Stellenbosch. Other Free Blacks were married to European farmers. These people of colour paved the way for the French Huguenots who joined them after 9 years of breaking the soil. Many French Huguenots actually took over the farms from those who first started them. Khoena kraals in the area had to be dismantled and free Khoena farmers were pushed out. Those Khoena who did not move on were pressed to work on farms or to join commandos to attack other Khoena.


Gonnema died after a few years of cooperative relations with the Dutch while his people gradually became impoverished and livestock decreased. Many of his people had drifted away from his sphere of control with most now beholden to the Dutch as collaborators and some having fled to join the frontier resistance.

By this time, the Chainouqua were a spent force and Hessequa cattle had changed hands to the Dutch by up to 250 per trip and sheep by up to 1000. By now the Hessequa cattle were also near to depletion and resistance broke out in the eastern regions beyond the Hottentots Holland Mountains and far inland.

European cattle barterers and already been engaging with, and bullying and raiding cattle from the Inqua, the Gonaqua  and the Briqua up to the Gamtoos River


The French Huguenots settlers numbering 180 arrived and were sent to join the farming settlements first established by Free Black farms in the Franshhoek, Stellenbosch, Klapmats and Jonkershoek districts.


Oedasoa died leaving the paramountcy of the Cochouqua to his brother Hanibal. With the strong old leadership gone and the Dutch consolidation of power and control, the Cochoquas social cohesion began to rapidly fall apart.

A record by Schryver on bartering interaction with the Inqua in the eastern districts showed that bartering had given way to bullying and raiding and loss of life where on one occasion the Dutch opened fire with a general volly of shots killing 30 Khoena.

The territory beyond Saldanha Bay, the Berg River, the Groene River and the Olifants River became the new frontier conflict area as the Peninsula and surrounds experienced tighter control by the Dutch. The Nama and the Guriqa now directly faced the Dutch might. Nearer to the Dutch there was still the reformed Cochouqua now known as the Gunjemans who still had a spark of militancy. The Chainouqua threat was gone and the Hessequa posed a much greater threat to the Dutch in the eastern regions beyond the Overberg mountains and the Keurbooms River district close to the new small settlements in the stretched out  Swellendam District. In this area unlike on the Peninsula and surrounds there was much greater unity among the Khoena. This had effectively become the new frontier.

Militant refugees from the earlier wars had also joined these communities. The Hessequa and groups beyond like the Gonaqua had strong leadership and they were not concentrated in one area. The Dutch changed tactics while maintaining the ‘divide and rule strategy. The new tactic was to identify strong leaders, buy them off and change allegiances when conflicts heightened due to their interventions.


Slowly the system of trading and bartering gave way to the indigenes being forced or compelled to part with their livestock. The scenario was by this time a three corner situation of VOC company, settlers and indigenes with the settlers increasingly through rustling livestock from indigenes now becoming the controllers of cattle and sheep. Indigenes were already becoming impoverished people in fear of life and limb and increasingly landless. Many Khoena in the tightly controlled heartland of the colony by now had no clans or tribes to belong to and were forced to become labourers on European farms. The Camissa traders, the Goringhaicona were the first group to become enserfed into servitude and the next were the Goringhaiqua and Gorachoqua. Militants fled beyond the reach of the VOC to regroup and fight in the new wars that would take place on both the eastern and north western frontiers.  The three clans – Goringhaiqua, Gorachouqua and Goringhaicona now no longer existed as coherent formations.

While post the first war the Cochouqua moved within proximity of Table Bay,  after the second war they were expelled to the far reaches of the Stellenbosch District up in Land van Waveren and Roodezand (Tulbagh), also southwest of the Berg River. Some were beyond Saldanha and Vredenburg where they interacted with Guriqua in the West, and in the East and Central areas with Hessequa and Chainouqua.

The bullying and raiding cycle had come full circle. and in the next five years the cattle rustlers had reached the Xhosa herds far up the east coast.


By 1699 forced migration of people of colour to the Cape as a result of slavery now made migrants of colour a larger group than the white settlers with slaves numbering 1038 and Free Blacks around 300. By 1715 the European population was at 1,870 with slaves at 1,771 and Free Blacks around 400. By 1731 both populations showed a decrease in numbers in the census, even although there was a huge increase in numbers of slaves being brought to the Cape. Up to two thirds of large shipments of Slaves to the Cape were dying within 18 months of arrival. (The 1731 Census omits to include slaves owned privately by company officials)

Over the past 47 years the array of persons of colour in terms of places of origin was widely diverse – India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Siam, Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Indonesian Islands, Borneo, the Philippines, West Africa, East Africa, Madagascar. They came as slaves, Mardjikers, banishing exiles, refugees, sailors, traders, and travelling adventurers. This diversity would extend much more over the next century.

From 1652 through to 1700 and beyond many formal marriage unions were entered into between Europeans and persons of colour. In addition to this the practice of women of colour becoming concubines to Europeans was widespread and many children were born into slavery as this status passed through the woman and not the free father. Records also show that on the slaver-ships sexual relations took place between female slaves and sailors to receive extra food rations. Table Bay as a port with 1071 ships visiting between 1600 and 1652 also must have experience many sexual liaisons from which children were born and raised in indigene communities.

In this year too Willem Adrian van der Stel became Governor at the Cape, succeeding his father. He and his father were the first gentry of colour to assume high office at the Cape.

Simon van der Stel in giving advice to his son, charged that many of the Free Burghers were lazy and idle and preferred to engage in illegal and forced trade with indigenes and also had insatiable demands for land which if not curbed would create serious problems.


By this time the court records were full of acts of resistance, insubordination and desertion by slaves including assaults and murder. The records also show a range of punishments from scourging and dismembering to an a range of tortures and executions by grizzly means including crucifixion, garrotting, drowning, stretching and hanging.

1701 – 1705

Third War of Resistance involving Khoena and San: With the Settlers rapidly creating farms and small towns and forming commandos ever pushing the Khoena ahead of them to the far reaches of the Stellenbosch District, the besieged Khoena and San faced with subservience or ruin had no option but to resist and fight back and a new war of resistance continued for 5 years. Less and less rivers and watering holes were available to the indigenes who had to fight for them. Livestock rustling by the settlers contributed to the ruin. Due to the fact that the Khoena now had less and less cattle and sheep and had been separated from their pastoral lands and water on the Peninsula and its immediate surrounds, as well as the town of Stellenbosch, the Drakenstein area, Swartland and Saldanha they found themselves pushed into the traditional fairly arid and mountainous lands of the San. Here some began to make co-operative battle alliances with the San where previously there had been hostility.

The uprooted militant individual Khoena not only made common cause with the San but to some degree temporally integrated with San groups. The new battle lines were drawn when the Dutch encountered the Ubiqua San resisters and among them Guriqua and Cochouqua diehard Khoena resisters. The Grigriqua or Guriqua (or Charigriqua) and militants who had fled in the aftermath of the Peninsula Wars at this stage occupied the area around the Berg Rive, Knersvlakte, Sandveld, Piketberg, Koue Bokkeveld, Cedarberg, and could be found just beyond Saldanha Bay. They were a mix of Khoena and Sanquase San who together with the Ubiqua San and took action to defend themselves and their livestock and to retrieve their livestock.

The VOC gave orders to launch attacks and so a war of attack and counter-attack ensued over five years and the social cohesion of the indigene Khoena and San together with their land and water was again steadily eroded.

On the eastern frontier van der Heijden records in 1702 that the Dutch had attacked the Gonaqua. A low level war was continuously ensuing in the territory of the Inqua and Gonaqua, as well as in the area beyond the newly established Swellendam District to the northeast of the Stellenbosch Dirstict where the Hessequa were still resisting the Dutch encroachment. Thus the third war stretched across a wide expanse from the West Coast to the East coast covering both of the two new Districts alongside the Cape of Good Hope District.

In the wake of the war came further expansion when grazing permits were introduced for colonists to enter the Khoena and San areas of retreat and this was followed by a loan farm system that was introduced. Regardless of the worthless peace treaty signed by some of the Khoena in 1705, the settlers continued to expand into Khoena and San territory spearheaded by informal commando gangs who continued making war. The Dutch VOC then as part of the peace started to appoint or sanction the leaders as extension of company authority.

1705 – 1707 

Records show that by this time the Dutch sphere of control of many Khoena people stretched as far inland as the Suurveld Xhosa/Khoena, where they had issued a ‘staff of office’ to a chief by the name of Hoeza. Dutch cattle rustlers were operating so far away from the town of Stellenbosch and were also taking captives.

The cattle barons and wealthy farmers at the Cape who were already antagonistic to the VOC found Willem Adrian van der Stel to be too aloof and high-handed with them and they believed that he and other officials were amassing too many slaves and properties to themselves. Willem van der Stel’s curtailment of their raids into the interior to steal and plunder from indigene communities and meeting out harsh punishments to offenders was probably one of the major real causes of the resentment that ultimate led to them to petition the VOC in Holland to impeach the Governor.

Within this fray there emerged an exchange of blatant racism on the part of the petitioners and the first foundations of what many years later would be called Apartheid. The petitioners highlighted van der Stel’s eastern slave lineage through his father’s mother and grandmother. Willem Adrian and those who signed a counter petition in greater numbers that than against the governor, were accused by the anti van der Stel grouping led by Adam Tas and Henning Huising as being “the black brood among us”. The correspondence of both the diary of Adam Tas and the petition responding to the pro-Governor petitioners is peppered with racist slurs against van der Stel  and other petitioners where class and ‘blackness’ is emphasised with reference to their eastern ethnicity. As a result Willem Adrian van der Stel was impeached and recalled from the Cape in 1707.

But the true intentions of these settlers was to gain license to raid for indigene cattle unhindered, to enact pass laws against the Khoena to curtail their freedom of movement and, to disempower what they referred to as ‘the children of Ham’ specifying  – “Caffers, Mulattos, Mestizos, Castizos and all that black brood living among us, and related to European and African Christians by marriages and other connections, which have to our amazement increased in property, number and pride…”

The antagonists had in their statement defined for themselves those who had to be cast out – the children born of the Camissa embrace.

1705 – 1707

Informal Settler aggression against the Khoena and San: The VOC effectively during this period lost control of many of the settlers who pursued acts of aggression and cattle theft on a grand scale against the Khoena for up to 100 Dutch miles (350km)  past the new frontier district. The frontier farmers began pasturing their livestock to the north of the Berg River around Piketberg. The European farmers were also eyeing the territory south of the Olifants River Mountains. Though this was not a formal war it was a period of great devastation and expansion of the frontier.

It was during the seven years from 1700 that the Khoena to a large degree lost their livelihoods and cattle en masse. The VOC also underwrote the settlers ill-gotten gains by giving them land tenure in the territories they conquered. In 1708 again peace ceremonies were held with the Khoena. It was in this period of conflict that the Dutch VOC started a practice of giving a staff of office with a copper hand-piece of recognition to compliant Khoena leaders who signed treaties.

The pressure mounted on the Khoena in the Tulbagh, Ceres, Waveren, Riebeeck Kasteel, Piketberg, Sandveld areas as well as to Cedarberg, Kouebokkeveld and Saldanha. The colonists wanted their cattle and would do anything to rustle cattle from the Khoena. The two Governors van der Stel, at first tried their best to stop cattle rustling and murderous attacks on the Khoena and San and introduced harsh punishments against settlers and even death sentences to put an end to this state of affairs. The errant colonists did their utmost to oppose particularly Willem Adrian van der Stel, but the VOC in Europe decided that he was being too harsh on the colonists and that they should legally be able to trade with the Khoena. Willem Adrian van der Stel was removed from office by the irate cattle barons among the settler elite.

This was a de facto license to go and do as they please. Interestingly the attack by the white colonialist cattle barons on the van der Stels emphasised that they were considered to be persons of colour who could not be trusted with the affairs of white colonists.

The company officials also now had to compete with the colonists in the bartering and they were no saints either. It was in the aftermath of the war and during the time of the granting of grazing rights to trek-boers, that in 1713 a visiting Danish ship that had arrived in Table Bay brought a devastating epidemic of smallpox. By all accounts it killed off settlers, slaves, Free Blacks and Khoena. The growing and increasingly more powerful Free Black community was decimated and never really recovered. The Khoena were hardest hit with reports of hundreds laying at roadsides as far as Saldanha Bay and the Drakenstein and beyond. While this tragic event, repeated again in 1755, does not account for the huge decline of Khoena and San by 1798, it is acknowledged that it was a significant contributing factor, along with cattle theft, war, land appropriation after forced removals and genocide. (The 1713 smallpox event though devastating and resulting in huge population losses, was always used by white historians to falsely suggest that this is what ‘wiped out Khoena in the Western Cape).

1711 – 1712

In 1711 the VOC alarmed by the rate of desertions and other forms of slave resistance decided on much more severe punishments of deserters so as to deter others who may wish to follow this practice. This was a progression on the penalties established in 1686. This chronology would be much too lengthy to capture all incidents of revolt, desertion and other forms of resistance by slaves and the co-operation of slaves and Khoena. This is but one example of resistance in the continuum.

In 1712 a large escape bid occurred when 23 slaves and exiles ran away from the Cape on October 20 after a rendezvous  at Constantia. They were aided and abetted by two exiles from Southeast Asia who had been banished to the Cape for resistance to the Dutch in their homelands.

Lampi was an exile from Indonesia and Santri was an older exile who came from a village called Chiribon in Batavia who lived in isolation in Constantia. They both came from revolutionary backgrounds. It was in Chiribon that the famous Sheikh Yusuf from Macassar was hidden after the revolution which he had led was put down by the Dutch. Sheikh Yusuf was banished to the Cape in 1696, and Santri in 1707. The deserters were spotted very early and were betrayed by other more passive slaves and thus the escapees were almost immediately pursued. Santri had already organised another rendezvous with a group of friendly Khoena who were to assist the escape party into the interior. Santri however got separated from the group and the others turned in desperation to first Khoena that they met. This group of Khoena assisted them with food and rest, but when they proceeded on a conflict developed with another group of Khoena who captured the party (some had been killed including Lampi) and handed them over to their pursuers. Both Khoena and slaves over time could always be split into two – collaborators and resisters, and in each epoch involving all other resistance struggles whether by the amaXhosa, the Zulu, Tswana, Sotho et al the same division arose.


The trial and punishments were illustrative of the brutality of the time. Santri had his tongue cut off and his body broken on a wheel and left to die slowly where after it was place on a wheel in a public place to rot as a deterrent. Two others were hanged and their bodies dragged through the streets and left to rot as a deterrent. Yet others were lashed on their bare backs, after which their noses and ears were cut off and they were punitively branded and others lashed and set to work in chain gangs.

1712 – 1716

The Fourth War of Resistance involving Khoena and San: This was not an all-out war but rather a similar wave unrest to that launched by settlers from 1705 -1708, which gradually upped tempo into open hostilities by 1716 and involved formal VOC government participation before it ended. The war started as a result of a rumour spread by trek-boers, but which proved to be false, that the Namaqua were planning an invasion and accusations by trek-boers that indigenes were stealing cattle whereas the Namaqua and Sonqua San had accused the trek-boers of exactly that aggression.

During the first two years the war was a ‘cold-war’ of raids and counter raids between indigenes and settler trek-boers but this changed into formal hostilities when the attacks authorised by the VOC started in November of 1715 and steadily got worse with increasing loss of life. This low-level war was also disturbed by the 1713 epidemic which saw huge numbers of deaths of Khoena which had a devastating effect on the Khoena already in disarray through four wars to remove them from the Peninsula and surrounding areas.

When all the factors are put together this period of war was one of the most devastating for the Cape Khoena.


A Danish ship arrived in Table Bay bringing smallpox. The smallpox ravaged its way through the town and beyond, affecting everyone. The hardest hit were the indigene Khoena with thousands of lives lost over a wide area extending through the small towns and the contested area to its furthest reaches. Witnesses spoke of hundreds of bodies laying about, piled high.


Between 1701 and 1716 the surviving Khoena across the Peninsula and including Stellenbosch, Drakenstein, Paarl, Franschhoek, Tygerberg, Malmesbury and the Swartland, had two choices – to flee and seek refuge inland or to become servants and labourers. Now without leaders and with clans including the Cochouqua, Chainouqua and Hessequa in total disarray, some also in deep collaboration with the Dutch, and with many fleeing inland to seek  refuge with the Namaqua and Korana in the West and with the resisting Cape San, Inqua, Gamtoos and Gonaqua in the Central and Eastern districts of the Western Cape, the small numbers of survivors remaining among the colonists also became ‘contract’ or ‘indentured’ labourers alongside slaves and were treated not too differently than slaves.


The VOC Chamber of 17 recognised formally that without the importation of slaves to the Cape, the colony would not grow economically.


The ‘Land van Waveren’ and the Roodezand  became a place of last stand and refuge for may Cape Khoena but they did not survive for long. Many Khoena and San men in Waveren, Piketberg and Roodezand (Tulbagh) were killed in battles and raids by commandos. Their women and children were then taken off deep into the colony and scattered about farms as ‘indentured’ servants and labourers. Young boys were brought up to serve in militia as conscripts.

Nominally the Khoena labourers and servants were not enslaved but formally were free people under contract. As children of slave men by slave women would also become slaves that could be bought and sold, Slave men had relationships with Khoena and San women, who were often widowed by war, knowing that their children would be born free and were likely to grow up around them. Khoena women also knew that the terrible things that inevitably awaited their Khoena and particularly male San male children were less likely to befall them if they were regarded as Baster-Khoena.

It was a survival tactic and it did work for them. Khoena, San and slaves co-operated as oppressed people, under the same oppressor at a range of levels and often innovatively. This included fighting alongside each other as resistance fighters. Many slaves ran away to join the Khoena and Orlams resistance groups in the north across the frontier and across the frontier in the east.


1719 – 1726

The Fifth War of Resistance by the Khoena and San: This was a different kind of war – a continuation of the low-level unofficial war during the first half of the fourth war. It was often way beyond the frontier that was piecemeal and involved conflicts of acquisition of cattle much further inland than just on the frontier.  It involved acts of robbery and retaliation for the scarce resource of livestock where both company officials and settlers journeyed to far off Namaqua territory in the West and Gonaqua territory in the East near to Algoa Bay. This war went way beyond cattle thieving and involved large scale massacres.

It was this period of war that pushed and set the boundaries of both the Stellenbosch District and the Swellendam District, and was the beginnings of what would eventually become the Graaff Reinet District.

The massacres of indigenes that took place were of ethnocide proportions and theft of their livestock. Indigenes noted that they had never before seen so many corpses and counter attacked. The Dutch had decimated the cattle and sheep rich Western Cape over their 70 years of occupation and did everything to ensure the expulsion of indigenes from the territory.

Where once there were herds of tens of thousands of cattle and sheep, the fleeing Khoena survivors had little or nothing left. The Boer settlers too had greatly diminished stocks of cattle and sheep through poor management, animal sickness and the new resistance practice by Khoena and San. The indigenes facing defeat, took to slaughter their livestock rather than let them fall into the hands of the enemy.

A new resistance grouping emerged under these conditions. Maroons or ‘Droster’ groups of Khoena and escaped slaves and Free Blacks who were expert horse riders and shottists also entered the fray of looting for cattle, as did those who were already being called Baster Hottentots (mixed indigene and slave) by the Dutch. Out of this emerged the Orlam groups – orlam referring to the experience in skills and technologies associated with the farmers and officials of the Colony. The further away the Khoena moved the upshot was that the Trek Boer farmers chased after them for their cattle. The San however moved into the mountains and fought off the Europeans to the bitter end.

The conclusion of the war did not stop the Europeans pursuing the Khoena because they were after livestock due to their own perishing. The stolen livestock of the indigenes who were now also in inhospitable territory further disrupted communities, who in turn again fled northwards. Even the VOC could now see that the license given to colonists to trade was having a devastating effect on those whom the VOC too had to trade with. So in 1727 the VOC returned to the practice that they had condemned the van der Stels for implementing and instituted a new ban on colonists from trading with the Khoena. Of course the VOC was also short of meat and found that regardless of the new ban the Khoena stocks could no longer yield for anyone.


The VOC Chamber of 17 in Holland were informed that there were now no longer any Khoena clans left in the Cape Colony within 200 km (60 Dutch miles) of Cape Town all round, apart for a single hut or two. All social cohesion of the Khoena tribes and clans had been driven from the Colony … “ in order to save their trifling herds of cattle from besides their having died of considerably, the small remnant has receded far inland the mortality which has been raging here for some years.”

This was a rather dishonest report in a number of respects but it does indicate the result of the ravishing of the indigenes by the settlers in the first 75 years of settlement. The Khoena left in the territory were now apprenticed to farmers as near-slave farm labour, or conscripted into Commando militia and, the practice against the San was genocide where the entire adult populations were killed in any conflict and their children apprenticed to farmers. The only survival for these Khoena and San was to integrate with the slaves on the farms. The Khoena beyond the Colony in the northwest and northeast took in the refugee resisters waiting to fight another day. From this time and through 1728 the Sandveld slowly began emerging as the new target for settlement.


By this time migrants of colour, forced through slavery, banishment, convictions by VOC courts, or voluntary travellers now slightly outnumbered the European migrants at the Cape Colony. Migrants of colour in the census are recorded at this time as Company slaves, privately owned slaves, Free Blacks, Exiles and Convicts. In the census of 1731 Europeans number 1544 and Migrants of colour 1613 in a total Cape Colony population of 3157. There however was a huge omission from the census – that of privately owned slaves of Company Officials. Given the large imports of slaves which is at odds with the figure in the census, there is a likelihood of the omission of at least 800 slaves. This means that there were 2,413 persons of colour out of a total population of 3957 – the Europeans being only a third of the population.

The Khoena remaining as labourers in the Cape Colony are not recorded at all. The trend of people of colour outnumbering whites continued to increase.


During the entire period of the destruction of the Cape Khoena and the Cape San in the Western Cape there was only one attempt at missionary activity in 1737 and this was quickly halted by the VOC. This was the first attempt by the Moravians, under George Schmidt and it was abruptly shut down in 1743. It would only re-open in 1792 when a spate of missionary activity was initiated by the Moravians, Rhenish, and London Missionary Society as an acculturation and pacification campaign for the new onslaught against the Khoena in the Eastern Cape, Gariep, Transorangia and Namaqualand.

There is often a projection of a false argument that the Western Cape Khoena tribes and clans were rescued as refugees by missionaries. There were no missionaries to do this for the first 136 years of war, except for the failed case among the Hessequa who in 1737 were still numerically strong but already impoverished and subject to Dutch control. Many Hessequa more did not become farm labourers fled to join the Khoena in the more populous area beyond Swellendam and inland where the resistance was strongest. Resistance in the mountainous regions and on the eastern frontier continued relatively unabated right through to the first decade of the 19th century but the social group demarcations between the different Cape Khoena faded over time and the names of many clans were lost or barely kept alive in oral tradition.

Missionaries did not come to save or give refuge to the Khoena when they did arrive. They came to pacify the Khoena and integrate, assimilate and steer them away from conflict. This was not always successful as in some communities later there would arise a ‘theology of liberation’. A few of the very early missionaries, like Dr Johannes van der Kemp also did not follow the pacification line but he only reached a few of the Khoena largely among the amaXhosa of Ngqika. His own brand of radical theology had but a minor impact on the rebel Khoena forces of the Stuurmans and Makhana. His greatest impact was in dealing with aberrations against enserfed Khoena on farms and his stand on emancipation of slaves. The mission station at Bethelsdorp was part of a direct strategy to divide resistance in the Zuurveld district.

For the Khoena who were enserfed on white farms and in small settler towns, and even those refugees in the far flung missionary catchment areas far north of the Western Cape – the Eastern Cape, Gariep, Transorangia and Namaqualand, whose social cohesion had been eroded by colonialism, the response to missionary pacification and acculturation was positive, but among the free and as yet unaffected Khoena communities there was little interest in the missionaries. Rebellions in the mission stations would also occur later. The wave of mission stations established in the Western Cape only flourished under British rule, long after the conquest, ethnic cleansing and pacification of the Khoena and genocide against the San, in preparation for the emancipation of slaves and those mixed Slave-Khoena enserfed on farms.

The missionaries have often misrepresented their work in communities of colour in the Western Cape, but the historical record of their origins are there to see.

Post 1792, this chronology will show the complimentary role of missionary pacification alongside military conquest.


The Sixth War of Resistance of the Khoena and San: The war of 1739 actually began in dribs and drabs from 1731 starting in Piketberg and throughout the western frontier district. The Burgher Commandos, many informal, carried out attacks on indigenes with loss of life usually around disputes about land and livestock.

Having established Stellenbosch District and Swellendam District, this was the ‘mopping up’ war. But the conduct of war, particularly the resistance was radically changing.

An added element now became the more frequent theft of guns from settlers when cattle raids took place by indigenes. The resistance by indigenes upped tempo and settler farmers began deserting their farms. The tables had been turned with an indigene advance and Europeans looked as though they would be the refugees. A state of war ensued with gun against gun and the colonists also began to disregard the VOC authorities rules in the ferocity of their attacks on indigenes.

In the midst of this war the authorities also had to deal with a non-conformist white rebellion led by Etienne Barbier who led poorer colonists against the more wealthy cattle baron colonists and against the VOC gentry in Cape Town. Lines of war became blurred for a while because of the Barbier affair but nonetheless this war was probably the bloodiest of the resistance wars so far and certainly had more battles in a shorter period of time.

With Barbier captured and brutally executed, the focus of the colonial forces was fully on the indigenes with full- scale attacks on indigene kraals. Over one hundred indigenes were killed in the final battles and the leaders hunted down. Afterwards the settler ‘refugees’ were able to go back to their farms. The remaining Khoena and San were now broken and the VOC anointed new compliant leaders with the ‘Staffs of Office’. The trek-boers moved into the Onderbokkeveld, the Hantam and the Roggeveld and this underlined that power had shifted from the Dutch VOC to the colonists.

The commando system at this time became the real power. The Khoena in the Cape Colony by 1740 were a spent force, defeated and depleted considerably. Those who did not take the Freedom Road to the Gariep to take refuge with their Namaqua and Korana kin, or who joined the resistance bands just away from the reach of settlers commandos, were compelled to join the slaves on farms as exploited labour. There were very few Khoena in Cape Town with most that remained as labourers being integrated into far flung rural farms. The arena of war now shifted to the Eastern frontier Khoena and also to the San in the arid Cape interior and mountains.  Rebellions would continue over the next 30 years and the fight was far from over. In the colony the numbers of slaves steadily increased either through procreation or by new imports and they became the majority population of colour   outside of the eastern and western frontier regions


After the Sixth War of Resistance by the Khoena and San, 88 years of continuous resistance had gone by. But this only represented the halfway mark in Cape Indigene warfare of resistance and the depths of the worst colonist violence against indigenes was yet just in its opening phases.

With the Khoena largely subdued or expelled from the Colony boundaries (Cape of Good Hope, Stellenbosch and Swellendam districts) of that time, colonists began to focus on dealing with the Cape San within the Western Cape. who remained a threat to farming expansion, and also with the tensions on the eastern frontier. The white colonists embraced genocide to deal with the San who were exterminated as though they were vermin in a deliberate ethnic cleansing campaign. This will unfold in Part 2 of this chronology.

The San unlike the Khoena did not entertain peace treaties and fought to the bitter end. Commandos killed all adults taking no prisoners but young women and children. These too increased the labour pool alongside the slaves as ‘indentured’ labourers. The Sneeuberg Camdeboo and Swart Ruggens saw the greatest indigene resistance of all time. It became the killing fields of the Cape Colony that went beyond any definition of war. This carnage is what gave birth to the modern Western Cape and its trauma has been passed on from generation to generation. The same genocide would later be adopted against the southern amaXhosa where all adults were shot and all crops and livestock burnt in a scorched earth approach adopted by the British in the early 1800s.

This chronology of the resistance to colonialism by the Cape Indigenes will continue up to the adotion of Lord Caledon’s Hottentot Code, the last great uprisings under the Stuurmans and the adoption of Ordinance 50 in 1828 which was a flicker of freedom similar to that of the emanicpation from slavery 6 years later for slaves…… But far from Freedom.


Please note that this chronology acts as an education tool, to simplify much detailed academic work that exists on this subject and is not new research. Readers are encouraged to read the in-depth studies of Penn, Leggasick, Leftwhich, Adikari and so many others. I here act simply in the role of teacher and heritage activist providing a flow and simplication of the accounts of wars for freedom.

HERITAGE DAY 2016: Migrants of Colour who crossed the Cape Shoreline Frontier – Forced or Voluntary

cropped-kaggen-music-culture-trust-e1472116180809HERITAGE DAY 2016 – I have written extensively about our indigene roots in previous posts. Here I want to focus on another dimension of our heritage that receives less attention in public discourse. On Heritage Day 2016 Camissapeople Blogsite has joined in a partnership with THE KAGGEN MUSIC & CULTURE TRUST so that together we can bring and foster greater understanding of our hidden history and heritage. You are able to link through to the trust by clicking on its icon.


Lydia Williams was born to Mazbieker slave parents and was 14 years old when emancipation from slavery was declared. She associated with St Phillips Anglican Church in Chapel Street and with the Cowley fathers and dedicated herself to counseling the many traumatised freed slaves over the rest of her life. She died at the age of 90 at her little home and prayer centre which like everything else in District Six was demolished.

In proceeding let me first say that the best way in which we can celebrate heritage day is to end our pre-occupation with race, colour and ethnicity as pseudo reference-points for identity and to replace this focus with a heritage-experience focus in South Africa and move towards celebrating the ties that bind us. It is about time that the race-paradigm of silos of black, white, and coloured are put behind us. The narrow South Africa segregated ethnic notion of Indian likewise does not reflect the full spectrum of Asian heritage. All of these do not speak of heritage and are fundamental pillars of Apartheid which still govern our society in so many ways.

In saying this, less there be any misinterpretation, I am certainly not saying that we should bury our heads in the sand about the vicious racism in our history, the deeply painful experiences of all people of colour, and our valiant resistance which is also our heritage of rising above adversity. This memory however, must be fashioned into a tool that ensures these aberrations never happen again. In the 21st century, for many, there remains the reality of ‘black lives’, meaning ‘the black experience’ – a global experience and, the lives of people of colour still does not matter to many of our white fellow human beings. But this is no justification for perpetuating the pseudo-science of race, concepts of race-purity, race silos and the continuation of embedding the concept of race as a holy grail in our minds. None but ourselves can free our minds.

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Afro-Europeans have many sub-cultures based on a combination of European lineages – Dutch, British, French, German etc, and a variety experiences of being born and brought up in Africa over generations. Afro-Asians also have had different experiences of Africa over generations mixed with lineages going back to India, Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and an array of Southeast Asian countries. This is heritage and not race and, it is within the creolisation experiences between all of these cultures that the South African tapestry emerges and, whereby we can celebrate our unity in diversity – as expressed on our national coat of arms. Ours is a complex modern society and nowhere on this planet has any good come of trying to suppress heritage – it is something to be celebrated. We cannot turn back the clock and, to borrow a distasteful expression – to ethnically purify our past. Indeed none of the modern social constructs in South Africa – and all are born in the modern era, are without the coming together of different streams. Variation in cultural heritage is enhancing and challenges us human beings to understand each other and the many dimensions that make up human complexity in all its beauty. No part of the whole can be cut off and discarded without injury to humankind.

In highlighting this fundamental truth about our society, where I sincerely believe that if we do not embrace it and jettison the race-silo nonsense and narrow ethnic-identity nonsense, my message is that we will never overthrow the racist monster which consumes us.

On this heritage day I want to caution against the twin of race division – an equally dangerous monster threatening to devour us. This is the misguided romanticism and championing of ethnic and tribal nationalism which has become more and more vogue over these unfortunate ‘Jacob Zuma years’ and has brought back some of the worst features of the Apartheid Bantustan era. I particularly caution those of us who celebrate our proud heritage of Khoena and San indigene culture, and those who celebrate our Camissa roots. I do believe that we can and should celebrate this precious heritage of ours, but without entertaining narrow ethnic and tribal nationalism. Along with this pernicious deviation, the Apartheid notion of ‘PURITY OF GROUP’ has again also become vogue. Most absurdly some even talk of being ‘Pure Coloured’ or ‘Pure Bruines’ and sound alarm bells about ‘CONTAMINATION’ and thus pit themselves against others. We can and must reject this approach as being equally destructive to our heritage as colonialism was and those who go down this root are courting further disaster for our heritage for the illusion of short-term gains.

Having said this – today I have chosen to celebrate heritage day to highlight as passionately as I do about our indigene Khoena and San roots – our other roots of ‘THE MIGRANTS OF COLOUR WHO CROSSED OUR SHORELINE FRONTIER UNDER FORCE SOMETIMES AND SOMETIMES VOLUNTARILY’. This is a huge part of who we are and to deny this past or to cut this aspect of our heritage off from ourselves will condemn us to perpetually question ourselves because the spirit and culture of these ancestors are deep within us, and manifest in so many ways.

I here not only talk of the slaves forced to come to our shores from other parts of Africa, India, Sri-Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia and China. I am also talking about those who were called the Mardijkers, the Peranakans, the Saints, the Manillas, the Mazbiekers, the Prize Slaves, the Indentures, the Kroomen, the Siddis, the Oromo, passengers of colour, the black diaspora from the US and the Caribbean – all of whom made their homes in the Cape before the 1910 Act of the Union of South Africa. Most are very ignorant of how big a part of our heritage and identity these tributaries and the numerical significance of the infusion of these tributaries.

The original Cape indigene population of over 100 000 had through a process of forced removal, war, genocide and to a much lesser extent, imported disease, been killed and chased out of the Cape Colony by the end of the 18th century to the north western frontier territories of the Gariep where they had to regroup under very difficult circumstances and integrated often with others. In 1805 the surviving Khoena in the colony, integrated with now grown San children who survived their parents extermination at the hands of commandos, and also with slaves of various origins were now referred to as the ‘Hottentot-Baster’ population and were only 20 000 strong in the census. Devastatingly colonial expansion through force of arms and ethnic cleansing had removed over 80 000 people by killing or by driving them from their traditional lands. Their rich herds of livestock generally regarded to have been in the region of 10 head of cattle to one person and twice as many sheep were stolen along with their grazing grounds.

Along with this clearing process, the Europeans forcibly brought into the Cape over the same period until 1807, a recorded 63 000 slaves, probably much more unrecorded. Then from 1807 to 1856 around 12 000 more prize slaves also probably more unrecorded. During the same period various other migrations of people of colour occurred, further increasing these figures by a probable 15 000 plus. This was followed post 1856 by various other migrations of people of colour going into many thousands. The vast majority of these migrants came from the African continent. This migration far outstripped European migration (even that of the 1820 settlers), in the same period and it clearly impacted dramatically on the people of colour in the Cape Colony and later the Natal Colony with spill-over into the Orange Free State and Transvaal Republic. This is as much an important part of the ancestral and cultural heritage of all people of colour as is that part of our heritage represented by our Indigene forebears. Indeed it was a vital component to the survival of Cape Indigenes that they embraced the migrants of colour, and important to the mental survival of the migrants that they in return embraced the Cape Indigenes.

This discussion in all its variant cameos is, to use a new popular term, the ‘MISSING MIDDLE’ in our story and getting to know this part of our ancestral continuum would certainly cause us to want to halt in our tracks on these dubious roads that some are trying to lead us down – in embracing Ethno-Nationalism.

The story is too long to handle in this short piece so I will just have to set aside going down too many cameo stories and stick to the main descriptions of the different migrant groupings. I encourage all to delve into their family trees and into the histories of each of these tributaries to our heritage make-up.

The story of slavery in our heritage involves three streams of people who were enslaved in far off lands and forcibly dragged across our shoreline-frontier to labour and use their skills under cruel conditions to develop this country – as did their generations of children and grandchildren. Within these three streams – African (approx. 58%), Indian (approx. 24%) and Southeast Asian (approx. 18%) there were people from a wide array of the modern countries we know today. Those from Africa initially came from two regions in West Africa and then largely from a range of East African countries and parts of some southern central African African countries and Madagascar. Those from the Indian sub-continent included India, Sri-Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Those from Southeast Asia included people from Indonesia, Borneo, Formosa, Southern China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Myanmar. These peoples, their creole descendants and cultures are a major part of our heritage. (creole simply means a new-creation or localy-born)

From before the time of Jan van Riebeeck and through the colonial years Mardijkers from Ambon and other sailors, soldiers, adventurers and economic migrants of colour who were then called ‘Free Blacks’ and largely came from Asia and other parts of Africa also voluntarily crossed the shoreline-frontier. These too became a tributary into our heritage. The year 1652 was not a magical date for engagement between our indigene forebears and external visitors including the Europeans. In the 52 years prior to van Riebeecks arrival over 1071 ships dropped anchor and more than 215 000 visitors passed through Table Bay. Like in all ports there was certainly human interaction and children were born from relationships of various sorts. From 1488 until 1600 there were also visitations. Prior to this indicators exist to show Phoenician and Indonesian visitations hundreds of years previously and Chinese visitations at least by 1421. Our heritage is not as cut and dried as some believe. (a word of caution however – recognition of this interaction does not mean support for supremacist ideas that attribute all signs of ‘civilisation’ in Africa being brought here by superior Dravidians or others).

Because of the huge impact of the Europeans, particularly the Dutch, across East Asia, and the wars they waged, they found it convenient to use the Cape of Good Hope as a place of banishment and punishment particularly for resisters and convicts. Two groups of resisters were targeted in the main. These were the Indonesian Muslim religious leaders and the Peranakan Chinese resisters from Batavia where the Dutch had carried out a huge massacre of middle-class creole Chinese. These exiles made a huge impact on our heritage. For instance the Indonesian exiles through their missionary work among local slaves laid the foundations of today’s Muslim community in South Africa.

St Helena Island shares a long history with South Africa through connections that go back to the 1620s. Like the Cape Colony the majority of its population were made up of slaves and indentured labour, alongside the European settlers – mainly English. There were no indigenes on the island. The slaves and indentured workers were from Africa, India, Southeast Asia and many from China. Significant numbers of St Helenians first came as part of the English armed forces in the two invasions at the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century. Then later in the last decades of the 19th century and into the 20th century over a period of time the Saints, as they were to become known, came to the Cape and Natal as indentured labour. Many families share a heritage with the Saints.

The Mazbieker heritage stands out as the least talked about element of our heritage, yet it is one of the strongest in our lineages affecting many more people than want to acknowledge it. Mazbiekers flowed across our shoreline frontier into the embrace of Camissa both as slaves and as indentured labourers from the 1780s well into the 1880s. These were slaves and indentured labourers who came to the Cape largely as agricultural labour in the rural areas of the Colony and as dock-labour. They came via Mozambique – thus the name Mazbieker, but these included Mozambicans, Malawians, Zimbabweans, Zambians, Tanzanians as well as people from the norther areas of KZN. They integrated with other slaves and with surviving Khoena and San. Communities in the Swartland, Paarl, Worcester, the Karoo, Overberg today labelled ‘Coloured’ have as part of their heritage – a strong Mazbieker infusion. So do many of those in Cape Town where Mazbieker influence was strong in District Six and Bokaap and across the Cape Flats. Mazbiekers were used extensively for the most back-breaking work in public works and the docks.

Another large infusion of African people in our heritage in the Cape were those called ‘Liberated Slaves’ or ‘Prize Slaves’ also called ‘Prize boys and girls’. These were both West African and East African slaves seized by the Royal Navy after the abolition of slavery from slave-trader ships on the high seas. The ‘Prize Slaves’ were then taken to Royal Navy bases at St Helena, Zanzibar, Aden and of course Simonstown. Among these were also slaves who survived shipwrecks on our coast at Woodstock and Clifton. ‘Prize Slaves’ were not really liberated if they were brought to the Cape. Here they were forced to undergo a 14 year indentured labour period which most often lasted much longer than slavery did, into the 1870s, and was no different to slavery. The ‘Prize Slaves’ are also part of our family trees. Long after 1856 when most of the last ‘Prize Slaves’ were brought to the Cape an event occurred that was linked to the ‘Prize Slave’ phenomenon. In 1890 a shipload of children were transferred to the Cape from the Royal Navy base at Aden.
These children were seized from a slave-trader ship by the Royal Navy off the high seas of North Africa. The slavers had captured these children from the Oromo in Somalia. When the children were brought to the Cape, the enforced indentureship era was over and instead the children were sent to further their education at the Lovedale Mission in the Eastern Cape. After this some at their request were repatriated but most stayed on and integrated into the South African population. Our great outstanding intellectual and fighter for liberation, the late Dr Neville Alexander’s grandmother was one of those Oromo children.

Also linked to the ‘Prize Slave’ story is the fact that the vast majority of Royal Navy sailors making up those patrolling the high seas along the African coastline, were in fact African sailors – either Kroomen or Siddis from West Africa and East Africa respectively. They were based at the Simonstown dockyard for almost 100 years. These sailors lived here and they died here and they married and had children with local women. Their gravestones remain as markers in Simonstown boldly emblazoned with the word KROOMAN denoting that they were from the Kru tribe. Some helped to build the Royal Observatory. Our late great professional dancer and choreographer Christopher Kindo was a descendent of the Kroomen. Many in Cape Town share this heritage.

Then there are those we call the Manillas – the refugees from the revolutionary uprisings in the Philippines in the latter half of the 19th century who were part of a global diaspora spanning 30 years of upheaval in that part of the world. They largely settled in Kalk Bay but as time passed their descendants spread across Cape Town. Many today carry their surnames such as Fernandes, de la Cruz, Flores, Manuel, Padua etc. Filipinos themselves were of mixed ancestry including Chinese, Indian, Spanish and Indigenes and here in South Africa they inter-married with descendants of an array of indigene Africans, and with diverse slaves, indentured labourers, Kroomen et al.

Post the emancipation from slavery in 1834 a labour crises developed in the Cape so that in addition to ‘Prize Slaves’ being used as cheap indentured labour, Cape farmers were assisted to bring in in indentured labourers from Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Huge numbers of these economic migrants settled in the rural areas and farmlands and largely integrated into the populations labelled ‘Coloured’ in those areas. As migrations from the Eastern Cape to meet the need for both farm and urban labour also grew, so new locations sprung up and over time the African indentured labourers integrated with amaXhosa labourers in the Western Cape as well as with Sotho, Tswana, Korana and Xhosa communities elsewhere. The amaXhosa relationships with the Khoena in the Western Cape go back in time to before European explorers set foot on the shoreline-frontier, and the stronger presence in the Western Cape goes back to around 1700 when European cattle raiders first engaged the Khoena-Xhosa communities. Since then ama-Xhosa made their way into the Cape colony and this picked up during the so-called frontier wars when prisoners of war were interred in Cape Town and labour gangs were brought to the docks. They too inter-married and had children across the ethnic lines demarcated by officialdom. There had also always been inter-marriage between Khoena, San and ama-Xhosa as attested by dna studies and by isiduko records. Indentured labour, followed by migrant labour systems, resulted in much crossing of tribal and clan lines and Camissa was embraced and Camissa embraced in return.

Over the entire 18th and 19th centuries there was a constant trickle of passengers of colour who migrated to the Cape to start new lives. Those that stood out the most were passenger Indians and Bengalis who came to the Cape and applied themselves to all sorts of trades from shoe-making, tailoring and barbering to running fruiterers and general dealerships. By the 1860s indentured labour became the greatest lure to South Africa from the Indian sub-continent and Sri Lanka and thousands of labourers were brought to work on the sugarcane plantations of KZN.

In the late 19th century and the early 20th century Africans in diaspora as a result of slavery and now in the USA, the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe made their way by sea to the Cape Colony as part of their voyage of self-discovery. Many settled and got married and engaged in the exciting world of politics of that period. Henry Sylvester Williams from Trinidad and Tobago comes to mind and the larger than life flamboyant Zacharia Perigrino too – strong Pan-Africanists.

With all of these rich threads in our heritage we would be fools to not want to trace the cultural contributions to who were are today. Our base in the indigene Khoena and San, and in other indigene Africans too, is enhanced by these different tributaries that resulted in a new creation in Africa and of Africa. Not to be forgotten were the many non-conformist and rebel Europeans who crossed the boundaries of race and colour and chose to assimilate into the Camissa Footprint. While many children were born of violence and abuse towards women of colour, there were many, many, wholesome relationships of love and care across the boundaries of colour where couples paid a huge price in social stigma and aggression. We should not be one-sided in our view of our past. Already by the time of the two governors van der Stel, who were of slave and European lineage, the ugly face of racism had began to be entrenched at the Cape – whereas prior to this the most of relationships at the Cape crossed the colour-line.

The Camissa embraced all of these and we are challenged to rediscover the Camissa in us and to celebrate our wholeness at this time of the year when we focus on our rich heritage. Our Indigene forebears at a time of assault and all sorts of pressures reached out to these other victims of colonialization and the slave trade and the integration processes became part of the strategy for survival. Our lack of acknowledgement of this part of our heritage needs to be addressed in our heritage discourse as does many more elements lost between the cracks and noise.

Migrations forced and voluntary, by people of colour, still flow across our shoreline frontier and continue to enhance our society. Camissa will embrace these too and in time these will embrace Camissa. We need to be careful of bigotry, xenophobia, racism, tribalism and ethno-nationalism and nativism. This is all cut from the same poisonous cloth. This is not heritage and the difference between these and heritage should never be confused. We have many pathologies that play out among us in antagonisms between various groups – the artificial black and bruin arguments are a part of these. Most often when closely examined, one finds ideologically skewed understanding of history and false social constructs that are revived over and over again.

(For those who have not read my other work on the Camissa Footprint and want to understand what is meant by this term…. Please consult )
May all on this heritage weekend stop awhile and think about the ties that bind us, and celebrate your heritage / our heritage – whether African in all its diversity from amaXhosa, Khoena, San and Camissa to Venda, Lembe and Korana – or Afro-European celebrating the best of European diversity and the Africa that you and yours embrace – or Afro-Asian celebrating the meeting of the deep ancient values of eastern diversity and the equally deep spirit of Ngoma and Ubuntu of Africa. Have a great Heritage Day.



The Camissa foundation of the Port City of Cape Town

Patric Tariq Mellet (Sept 2016)

camissa-2For a long time there has been an unbalanced approach to recalling the past in which the indigene experience has been but a footnote in an otherwise European dominated narrative. Even the critical view of many European commentators of the time had been marginalised. Effectively the indigenes are simply presented as incidental to the founding of the port settlement of Cape Town and presented as playing no significant part in the founding of one of Africa’s most important cities. Indeed not only were the Dutch responsible for dispossessing them of their land and livelihoods but indigene people also found themselves robbed of their history as the true founders of the City of Cape Town.

Much amplification is given to the many traveller texts and to Jan van Riebeeck’s narrative that are quite disparaging of the indigenes of Table Bay. These refer to the indigene Khoena as temporal inhabitants, dirty, smelly, lazy, good-for-nothing, thieves, scavengers unaware of the broader world beyond their shores and, they are likened to beasts.

This unfortunate view is deeply embedded in the minds of scholars and generally of South Africans in particular. However, there are other accounts of seafarers and scribes which tell a different story of an enterprising and helpful indigene people, some of whom had travelled abroad and, of trading and port operations in a busy port that precede the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck by at least 52 years and effectively constituted a settled proto port trading community.

Even the better historical accounts present the maroon Goringhaicona community as a kind of mystery phenomenon without ‘joining the dots’ between increased shipping and its impacts on indigene modes of living and economy. Entrepreneurship is simply brushed off as scavenging and begging practices by primitives.

Also deeply embedded in social history enquiry is the notion that the story of people of the Cape people’s mixed ancestral heritage starts in 1652, whereas the circumstances of the 52 years prior to the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck, and the dynamics of any port settlement globally suggests otherwise.

Further consideration of the first fifty two years of the 17th century is that it offers an alternative version of the foundation of the port, the city of Cape Town and its people. All of the considerations taken together also provide a positive and non-racial ‘heritage anchor’ for those labelled ‘Coloured’ and indeed all who cherish what can be referred to as the ‘Camissa footprint’. Passing scribes, Tavernier and Mundy, make clear references to indigene children who in their eyes are described ‘white and beautiful’, ‘European looking’ but with both indigene African as well as European features and in reference to appearance as ‘some well-favoured as it could not be expected’.

For example, the accounts also show that Europeans consistently spent lengthy stays at Table Bay from as early as 1601 during which time they interacted extensively with the indigenes. McCall Theal in his ’History of SA 1486-1691’ tells us that Spilbergen makes mention in 1601 that their sick were conveyed to land where a hospital was established. He also talks of ships ‘wintering in’ at Table Bay. Raven Hart in his book ‘Before van Riebeeck (1967) provides the figures of 1,839 sheep and 149 cattle being traded to 4 ships between 1601-1608. Jean Baptista Tavernier in ‘The Six Travels…’ tells us “So soon as the ship arrives, they (the indigenes) bring their beasts to the shore with what other commodities they have, to barter….” After being shipwrecked with 62 men in 1647 and remaining at Table Bay for almost a year, Leendert Janzsen in his ‘Remonstrance’ to the VOC states “the natives came with all friendliness to trade with us….bringing cattle and sheep in numbers.”

Richard Elphick in ‘The Khoikhoi and the founding of white South Africa’ emphasises “In a sense, the VOC Company’s frontier had reached the Peninsulars (indigenes) fifty years before the Colony was established.” This statement was a great leap forward on a previous blanking-out of any perspective prior to 1652 that cast indigenes in a favourable light or gave any credence to what may be called modern social organisation or ‘civilisation’.

In contrast to Elphick’s cautious but advanced exploration, most studies still do not draw all of the many elements together that stand out during this period and none make the conclusion drawn about the indigene founding of Cape Town and the heritage roots of those who can refer to themselves as the ‘people of Camissa’ or descendants of ‘the Camissa footprint’.

To arrive at different perspectives or conclusions, a combination of the perspectives and experiences of both sides of the ‘shoreline frontier’ – looking from inside outwards and outside inwards, is required. While we are challenged by the fact that there is no written record by indigenes, in the absence of any written record from within, there is a greater onus to look at overlooked texts, the omissions, contradictions, obvious embellishments, and ideological overlay in the many views and records of the time. Then there is a need to listen more carefully to the voices recorded and raised in opposition among the indigenes at the time of initial dispossession – even though recorded by the beneficiaries of dispossession. Empowering the eye or perspectives of the marginalised and those denied their own self-determination of heritage and identity in our time is a further factor that motivates a fresh view of this period.

Lengthy stayovers at the Cape increasingly became the norm from 1600. This is not shown in the general historical narrative to the degree that it ought to be shown, because it is in fact much larger and had greater impacts than previously acknowledged. Historical narratives often deliberately give an impression that the trading activity in Table Bay was there but minimally so and largely sans real indigene interaction. In other words they suggest only opportunistic individual trading took place and that only now and then was there very limited interaction between Europeans and indigenes and that the latter were child-like primitives if not noble beasts.

Records however show that stayovers could be anything from a week to six months and in the last decade prior to 1652 arrivals of ships were up to 3 per month. This would substantially alter the narrative of the state of the situation on the arrival of van Riebeeck, himself a much more controversial figure than is acknowledged. Contradictory perspectives among the Europeans allow us opportunity to question dominant narratives. Overall it is almost as though in the two decades before European settlement that European presence was semi-permanent with few gaps in between.

In 1644, 250 men survived the wrecking of the Dutch Ship Mauritius Eylant and remained at Table Bay until rescued by a ship, the Tijger, which according to Thomas Aldsworth, “had to be despatched to rescue them.” They remained camped at Salt River for four months before being picked up and the number of people were almost twice as many as Van Riebeeck’s later 1652 settlement party.

Earlier than this, it is noted that as early as in 1611, another account by Aldsworth states “the climate is very healthy, insomuch that, arriving there with many of our people sick, they all regained their health and strength within 20 days”. Furthermore he says that a report to the directors of the English East India Company says – “we found the natives of the country to be very courteous and tractable folk, and they did not give us the least annoyance during the time we were there.” As a result of the frequent stayovers many make-shift forts and redoubts were built over decades. Indigenes became quite accustomed to the European and other visitors.

The anecdotal accounts are backed by maritime records showing that from 1590 until 1700 there were 2632 ships that called at the Cape, involving 5 nationalities, and of these 1071 ships dropped anchor in Table Bay between 1600 and 1652. Stay-overs could be anything between a few days and a couple of weeks.

In reading works such as Robin Knox-Johnston’s “The Cape of Good Hope – A Maritime History” and “The Dutch East India Company’s Shipping 1602 – 1795 in a comparative perspective” by FS Gaastra and JR Bruijn from Leiden University, one is also able to glean other facts that call into question the traditional amplified narrative on the beginnings of the port of Cape Town, the depth of services rendered before 1652 and, the negative characterisation of the indigene people of Table Bay.

The latter provides a full list of sea-traffic broken down per nationality for each decade of the 17th century and interrogates what they were carrying, and shipping attrition rates. While the Dutch dominated the numbers of ships doing lay-overs, from the first decade of the 17th century England followed with significant numbers of vessels, followed by  France, Portugal, Denmark – all dropping anchor and having lengthy stay-overs in Table Bay.

In the period 1610 to 1620, English ships increased to ten times the number of the previous decade and this strongly indicates why the English considered colonization at this point in time and then later opted to support local development of indigene support infrastructure after their attempt at colonisation with Newgate convicts in 1614 – 1616 failed. In 1619 they even formally explored a joint English-Dutch presence at the Cape and in 1620 England formally annexed the Cape of Good Hope but nothing came of this venture.

When one looks at the comparative maritime records of that time one gets a good picture of the competitiveness between the different European powers, the dominance of the Dutch, the size and shape of their vessels and changes over time to this technology due to the cargoes carried. One further needs to examine the attrition rate that faced vessels and the dire need for passengers especially the sick to have breaks ashore. What nobody really interrogates is the effect of all of this on the local population at the Cape and on their way of life. Indeed it is projected that for two centuries the indigenes dozily and idly sat and watched all of what was happening at the Cape since 1488 when the Europeans first entered their space, or 1421 when the Chinese fleet of Zeng He passed by. Indigene social history has been overwhelmed by purely anthropological and archaeological approaches until Elphick dared to present his work outlining a pre-1652 meeting of indigenes and Europeans at the shoreline frontier of South Africa.

One needs to examine not just what the huge shipping traffic carried from the east, but what they carried to India and Southeast Asia. Likewise, one needs to understand the powerful dynamics in that region which lent strategic importance to the Cape. One also sees a dramatic and striking attrition rate of ships by examining the number of ships that made the return journeys. The attrition rate through wrecks and wear and tear on vessels shows in that only around 50% of these vessels returned to Europe. It spurred on the development of shipbuilding technology and the need for advanced stop-over repair stations en route. The attrition rate of 50% of the ships being unable to do the return voyage was one of the chief drivers for the need for sophisticated stop-over points starting with refreshment posts and graduating to ship repair facilities. It also became the chief driver to replace the indigene proto-port operations with a more sophisticated port operation.

The international records show an almost studious omission in our South African history books to mention that the main outward bound role of the shipping from Europe was to carry company officials and huge loads of troops to supply the wars in South and South East Asia with soldiers. When we look at the numbers surviving the wrecks and multiply this with the number of ships that stopped at Table Bay, as many as 215 000 people travelled through the Port over half a century. In the east the Dutch were fighting the English, French and Portuguese, indigenes and Muslim Sultanates at different times and they needed to fortify their factories and huge bases in India, Sri Lanka and at Batavia.

Factories stretched across the long Indian and Bengal Coast and from Arakan (Rakhine State) in Myanmar, to Thailand (Siam), Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, through to Formosa, and Japan and then throughout Indonesia. This was a scenario thirsty for thousands of armed troops.

The United Dutch East India Company had all the powers of state ceded to them by the Dutch States General. These troops, to be deployed in active combat in the east, needed time ashore at strategic stops. After a stop-over at St Helena, the voyages were long and arduous with the soldiers and officials getting sick and dying on board. They also grew grumpy and fights broke out. It was most certain that by 1615 already that the ships masters were complaining that troops had to have time ashore at the Cape of Good Hope. The VOC then formally took a decision that in 1616 it would be compulsory for all Dutch shipping to lay-over at Table Bay. This raises the fact that the contact with indigenes at the Cape must have been greater than many historical accounts project and that the impacts on indigene way of life in Table Bay must have been great. It is this that is the most likely factor to result in two Khoena groups splitting from the Cochouqua (≠Ōxōkhoena) and later the split from the Goringhaiqua (!Uri//aekhoena) all of whom permanently lodged themselves on the Cape Peninsula.

This kind of sea traffic through a port creates stowaways and stay-behinds; shore-leave by men leads to sexual encounters and relations becoming a norm of port; ship repairs would have needed the gathering of repair materials and therefore negotiation of terrain, cutting and gathering timber and this would have led to job creation and further trade. The ships themselves required supplies of fresh water, meat, salt and other edibles and the indigenes, particularly inland were well known to have large stocks of cattle and sheep. Over half a century trade and service patterns grew and grew. There are a number of records of long-term stays by substantial numbers of stranded as well as sick Europeans at the Cape. On the whole, given the recorded numbers involved, (much larger than van Riebeeck’s initial compliment) living in much more rudimentary conditions, shows that conflict with indigenes was not the order of the day. The few incidents of conflict are easily explained as was done ably in Leendert Janzsen’s ‘Remonstrantie’ to the VOC Chamber of Seventeen.

All indications, and a number of seafarers accounts, show that there was a major impact on locals through the influence of large numbers of ships stopping at the Cape, the frequency of these ships long stayovers, the different nationalities involved, the need for repairs during stop overs, the need for soldiers and officials to go ashore in large numbers, the need for diverse supplies, probable occasional need to leave the sick behind, the required postal and news communication services required and so on?

The impact on the people of the Cape Peninsular (//Hui !Gaeb) was so great that we see the emergence first of an indigene clan with the name Gorachouqua (!Ora//khaukhoena) and then an offshoot of this clan called the Goringhaiqua (!Uri//aekhoena) who become permanently settled in the areas later named Liesbeeck, Mowbray and Rondebosch, and then a maroon clan which established themselves in a trading village first on Robben Island and then on the banks of the Camissa River (//ammi ssa) in Table Bay, called the Goringhaicona (!Uri//ae/goena). Interestingly the name Gorinhaiqua (!Uri//aekhoena) means ‘white coming together with (indigene) people’ when you linguistically break down the three components in the name. The Goringhaicona means ‘the children of the Goringhaiqua’. These even seemed to have stopped keeping their own cattle, supplementing their food intake with fish, shellfish and birds, when not partaking in surplus bartered livestock provided for shipping. Much social history may be hidden in these giveaway clan names and by the acquired practices that set them apart from other indigene communities. The indicators of proto-urbanisation are clear to be seen.

It would in fact seem that originally there was just the Cochoqua (≠Ōxōkhoena) who visited the Cape Peninsula in a transhumance pattern moving along the West Coast to the Penisular and back cyclically according to weather patterns and herding their livestock. The impact of European visitation changed both the way of life and the economy of the indigenes and a permanent presence emerged at the Cape Peninsular with first the Gorachouqua and the Chariguriqua (Xririkhoena) emerging as breakaways and then the Goringhaiqua and the Goringhaicona. Signs suggest that the emergence of the latter two coincide with the engagement of Xhore (Coree 1613) and Autshumao (Haddah 1631) by the English and the trade relations with European ships that follow those events. With these changes also saw the development of rivalries and conflict and records show that the different clans were not averse to seeking superiority in their conflicts by asking Europeans to back them up.

The English in particular made interventions that catapulted changes in modes of living and economy for the indigenes by taking key personalities abroad to London and Bantam and Jakarta. This practice was then copied by the Dutch. Written accounts show that at least five verifiable Khoena had been taken abroad to gain experience and training, if not more, between 1613 and 1655. With these interventions new commodities became available and a chain of value attached itself to those commodities – skillets, knives, spoons, iron, copper, brass, tobacco, clothes, and alcohol. The commodities themselves introduced new social problems and they skewed the trade in and ownership of livestock.

Xhore and a companion were kidnapped and taken to London aboard the Hector in 1613 but only Xhore survived the trip. Sir Thomas Smythe of the English East India Company had hoped that after requisite training Xhore may facilitate his other plans for Table Bay. This involved establishing a colony initially using ten Newgate convicts under Captains Peyton and Crosse after they returned the kidnapped Xhore (Caree), to Table Bay. After three disastrous years for those earliest of European settlers, the colony experiment was abandoned.

The English fell back on a ‘plan-B’ and Xhore became the first of the formal traders used as trade and service facilitator by European shipping. He thus became an authority figure or Chief of a clan which amassed wealth as a result. He is said to have been murdered by the Dutch for non-cooperation in 1626 and thereafter according to Elphick there was an immediate down-swing in economic relations at the Cape as a result.

Even although Xhore served other European nationalities too, with Xhore gone, the English suffered the most, as they enjoyed the best relations with Xhore and his people. It is clearly too, that because of this loss, the English made a second major intervention in taking Autshumao to Bantam in Java and to Jakarta in Southeast Asia for observations, training and orientation. Thirdly, and most importantly, on returning him to Table Bay, they to the unprecedented step to set him with his followers on Robben Island to run a formal supply and postal station. He did this ably, engaged with other nationalities and even with authority once directed the French away from what he called an English station. But after a few years the Robben Island station proved inefficient and too restricting for Autshumao and, by request of the indigenes, this community was assisted to move back to the mainland.

Peter Mundy travelling on the English ship Mary refers to Autshumao (Haddah) on Robben Island noting that he even wore European clothing, “Here the said Haddah lives with his kindred and allies numbering about 60 persons – men, women and children. They come all about us very merrily rejoicing at our coming, better apparelled than those on the mainland, though after the same manner. Except for Haddah who on that day wore English clothes from head to toe.” There is another text where an observer again notes that Haddah (Autshumao) was wearing English clothes.

The English then re-established Autshumao and his 60 followers on the mainland approximately in 1638 where they established their settlement alongside the Camissa River where it flowed over the beach into the sea. So about 20 years before Jan van Riebeeck settled at the Cape in 1652, it is thus undisputable that Autshumao and the Goringhaicona ran a proto-trading and servicing community which interacted with European shipping. This was the true foundation of Cape Town.

There are many signs that Autshumao performed his trader and port master role ably, was a proficient linguist, was shrewd and astute and, also knew the value of playing off the English and their enemies, the Dutch and French. The large formations of Khoena also knew to keep their main herds of thousands of cattle and sheep cattle, and their families far inland away from the Europeans so Autshumao was not simply an opportunist go-between trader but served a very useful defensive buffer role. Regardless of the basic nature of the services provided Authshumao offered post and communications, stevedoring, ship’s chandeliers, and trader services.

Robin Knox-Johnston notes “ the Dutch and the English also had their own trusted native who would keep letters and hand them over to the Captains of home-going ships. A ship on arriving in the bay would fire a cannon and this would bring the ‘Postman’ down to the beach…. A ship’s boat would be sent to fetch him and he would exchange mail and report any other useful information for a small reward.”

Jodocus Hondius III (1622–1655) in a work ‘A clear description of the Cape of Good Hope’ published in Amsterdam in 1652 describes the Table Bay site and river as follows – “A short distance beyond the tail of the Lion Mountain is the little Fresh River which is a stream rising in the foothills of Table Mountain, or in its higher slopes. The river usually flows quite strongly, but in most parts the water does not reach above the knees. In the year 1644 the crew of the wrecked ship Mauritius Eiland marked out a fort with 4 bastions across this Fresh River in order to protect the fresh water, but no building took place until this present year, 1652, when a fortress was begun on the eastern side of the same streamlet.” Here he refers to Van Riebeeck’s appropriation of the Camissa, the exact spot being around the backside of the Golden Acre Centre, Strand Street, Plein Street and the upper end of the Grand Parade.

It was at this spot alongside the river known in the local language simply as Fresh Water – Camissa (//ammi ssa), that the indigenes established the foundation village and port operation that would become the City of Cape Town. The Goringhaicona themselves were dubbed ‘Watermen’ by the Dutch. This was about 14 years prior to the European settlement in 1652.

When van Riebeeck arrived in 1652, over the first 8 months he built a fort right on top of Autshumao’s village at the Camissa which had hosted him and his men. Van Riebeeck notes that after he had moved into the fort he could still see the forlorn Autshumao encamped by the river. According to Hondius Jan van Riebeeck was to act on a clear instruction in this regard made by the VOC Chamber of Seventeen, “The skippers were directed to proceed to Table Bay, and to construct close to the Fresh River, a wooden building, the materials for which they were to take with them. They were then to select a suitable site for a fort, to contain space for the accommodation of seventy or eighty men, and to this fort when finished they were to give the name Good Hope.”

The term //ammis or gammis or kamis or kamma which is the root for ‘Camissa’ is the old indigene language of the Nama and !Ora as per Haacke & Eiseb (2002: 246) and Krὃnlein & Rust (1969: 80) is the term for any fresh-water river as noted by Portuguese cartographer Lazaro Luis in 1563 on his map as – ‘de Camis’ alongside the name ‘Aguada de Saldanha’ for the same river flowing through Cape Town. The Khoena did not have affectionate or honorary names as in the European tradition of naming places. Words used were utilitarian and simply descriptive or for verbal route-mapping.

Hence the name gammi, kamis or kamma or cumis (water) pops up at many other places too, meaning the same thing – fresh water. For example – Tsistsikamma = tse-tsesa + kamma referring to the river means ‘clear water’ or ‘place of much water’ or the ‘place where water begins’. (Dictionary of Southern African Place Names – P E Raper, Head, Onomastic Research Centre, HSRC and Tsitistsikamma National Park). In cross-referencing the cartographic reference of Lazaro Luis we can also look at an entry on 24 April 1682 by Governor-General van Goens captured in Moodie’s Record (1959) page 387 which notes the inland Khoena people referring to a fresh-water river as ‘Camissa’ or ‘Cumissa’. In Cape Town the main fresh water tributary – kamis or kamma – that ran from the mountain Hoerikwaggo to the sea was given many names by the Europeans and three of these coincided with that of the indigenes – Camis on Luis’ map, Agua de Saldhana (water of Saldhnana – the original Portuguese name for Table Bay) and Soetwater Rivieren (Sweetwater) – freshwater as distinguishing this from Zouten Rivieren.

It should be noted that although in 1644 the survivors of the Mauritius Eiland had mapped out a fort plan at the same spot, when in 1647 a shipwreck occurred at Table Bay the Dutch did not build their fort at this spot where the Goringhaicona were settled but rather did so near the Salt River and dug and well for fresh water. The Dutch ship Nieuwe Haarlem on its way back to Holland was wrecked in the vicinity of Woodstock beach.

The 62 survivors under Leendert Janszen built a small wood and sand fort called Sandenburg at Salt River and built a deep well to access underground fresh water. They remained at the Cape for the best part of a year until 1648. Leendert Janszen, Matthijs Proot and Jodocus Hondius III (a scientist) used their time to gather intelligence on the terrain, its vegetation and animal life, the indigenes, their cattle and sheep herds, and their trading practices, as well as the visitations of other vessels and the mapping of the Table Bay peninsula.

What Janzsen and Proot had to say about the indigenes and about how relations with them should be conducted would later be contradicted by Jan van Riebeeck. They note – “the indigenes came with all friendliness to trade with us….bringing cattle and sheep in numbers…. Yes it is true that some of our soldiers and sailors have been beaten to death by them, but that happened with good cause so as to exonerate such actions by the indigenes where the cause resulting in retaliation is as always being concealed by our people; for we firmly believe, that if the farmers in this country – Dutch States General – were to experience their cattle being shot or taken away without payment, and had no protection from an organised justice system, they would not by one hair’s difference act in any other manner than these indigenes had acted.   The indigenes are a people without such institutions or forms of government as those of India, but they are peaceably disposed and capable of being taught. There was no doubt that the indigenes could learn the Dutch language, and in course of time could be educated in the Christian religion.”

In 1648 a fleet of 12 ships that stopped over for 18 days, under the command of Admiral GW de Jong, took Janzsen and his men back to Holland. On board the same ship carrying Captain Janzsen was the disgraced VOC merchant from the Dutch Factory at Tonkin in Vietnam that had been caught out stealing from the VOC – Jan van Riebeeck. The disgraced official showed a huge interest in Janzsen’s proposition that the Dutch should establish a permanent base at Table Bay. During the three weeks sojourn at Table Bay, Jan van Riebeeck also got a good feel for the place and talked to the other survivors. In the process he developed a contrary view to those expressed by Janzsens and Proot in their report. It was on board the return voyage that Janzsen and his five senior men had prepared a proposal for a permanent Dutch presence at Table Bay  – known as “remonstrantie”. It  found favour with the VOC Chamber of Seventeen.

Van Riebeeck, described as having that dangerous cocktail of characteristics – a fiery temper, resoluteness, untiring energy, unbounded zeal and needing to redeem himself with the VOC offered to lead a settlement expedition to establish Dutch control at the Cape when Matthijs Proot took a decision to not avail himself for the post.

The Dutch needed to maintain their dominance in the east and hence the control of the strategically positioned Cape was seen as vital and that there needed to be a more technologically advanced port operation to achieve the much needed ship repair and servicing required so as to halt the huge attrition rate experienced by shipping.

Janzsen and de Jong’s views of the indigenes projected highly favourable and respectful in comparison to that of Jan van Riebeeck’s approach and also of many of the disparaging views that painted the indigees a liitle more than beasts, or at best in the later words of Jean Jacques Roussouw – ‘nobel savages’.  Janzsen’s approach notably mirrored that of the English, who built a system of cooperative relations with indigenes. Janzsen spoke glowingly of the Khoena in Table Bay who were of great assistance to him during his long sojourn. He recommended that the VOC accept and respect the existing trading and servicing role of the indigenes by ensuring that any settlement is based on cooperation rather than conquest.

Van Riebeeck however was bent on conquest and dislodging any form of intermediary trading by indigenes. He wanted a simple direct cost-effective trading relationship as a stepping stone for ultimate company control over resources. As such, the Camissa community’s entrepreneurial approach as a proto trading class of local people of colour was out of the question for van Riebeeck. He was also wary of the fact that the local kingpin, Autshumao had a very strong relationship with the English and was not shy in projecting veiled threats to call for assistance from his English friends.

The report to the VOC presented the statistics of how many vessels were stopping over, how many people going ashore, the trade that was being done and importantly that no European power had established themselves at the Port where trading was only organised by the indigenes under an English trained and sympathetic Autshumao and a relatively small settled group of indigene ‘Watermans’ next to the Camissa which they called the Soetwater Stroom (also known as Rio Dolce, Rio de Camis and Platteklipstroom). Van Riebeeck saw this scenario as a push-over and thus the die was cast. Although instructed by the VOC to tread carefully and show respect to the local operations of the indigenes, he believed that while the VOC and Captain Janzsen had their ideas, he was his own man. Effectively van Riebeeck went head to head with Autshumao, treated his trading practices as thievery, undercut his business and made a hostile take-over of Autshumao’s business and modest settlement at Camissa. The maroon Goringhaicona were totally disrupted. Van Riebeeck took Autshumao’s 10 year old niece Krotoa and a number of other indigenes as servants. They would live and work in the Fort de Goede Hoop alongside the Asian slaves imported to serve the VOC officials.

History has been most unfair to Autshumao and the Goringhaicona trading mission at Camissa and has never properly analysed what happened in the 52 years prior to van Riebeeck’s arrival or the 20 year old human trading settlement at Camissa and the impacts of the large scale visitations of ships, sailors, officials and troops who were adequately catered for by locals. The social history of this port has never been properly recorded as a village community with its sizable yet relatively small population. This community was born of a people who had changed their mode of living, economic and social habits as had happened in every other port across the African coastline and globally. Why should the Cape indigenes and their ‘Tavern of the Seas’ settlement be viewed any differently?

In a paper by David Johnson in 2007 published in ‘18th century studies Vol 40’ by John Hopkins University Press, entitled ‘Representing the Cape Hottentots –  from the French Enlightenment to Post-Apartheid South Africa’, two French traveller-writers, Levaillant and Grandprè, comment on the dispossession of the indigenes of the Cape by the Dutch.

Levaillant levels a similar critique to that of Janzsens in 1648 – “ It is without reason that he (the Cape indigene) is accused of being cruel. . . . Can anything be more sensible than to repel force by force?. . . Wherever we have sought fit to establish ourselves, we have reduced the unhappy nations to slavery or flight; we have appropriated to our own use, without scruple, whatever appeared to answer our purpose”.  Grandpré’s description of the colonial encounter moves on to describe the genocide of the ‘Bushmen’,  arguing that the Dutch exceeded the cruelties of Cortés and Pizarro in the Americas, as “they have hunted the Boschis as one would hunt hares; their dogs have been  trained for it. Hunting packs of dogs, horses, slaves, children, women, men; all are put to this dreadful purpose.” He goes on to say – “The Dutch will always be to blame for the ruin of the Hottentot nation in the eyes of sensitive men; they have repeated at the tip of Africa the same bloodied scenes as the Spaniards first enacted in America. Perhaps they only lacked a Las Casas to make a formal complaint against them before the tribunal of the whole of Europe. When they did not slit the throats of these people by the thousand, they wiped them out one at a time. If they did not train their dogs to hunt them down initially, they did so in due course. . . . The Dutch government failed its obligations to these destitute people. . .”

We know that across the Peninsula and Cape Flats there were up to 40,000 indigene inhabitants, mainly Khoena and over the broader Western Cape up to 50,000 more, both Khoena and San. These made up around 16 Khoena clan groupings and at least five San or /Xam groupings of different strengths, and they were very rich in livestock. After the 1713 smallpox epidemic and as a result of forced removals, war, pass laws, genocide and forced apprenticeship on farms only some 15, 000 Khoena and San indigenes were scattered across the Cape Colony, mainly in servitude by the second half of the 18th century –  about 16,74% of the original population. From the 1670s already many indigenes began fleeing in the direction of Namaqualand and the Gariep River. Many try to paper over the ethnic cleansing of the Western Cape by blaming the Smallpox epidemic, which although being a contributor to the loss of numbers, was only one small factor.

Van Riebeeck left a record of lesser known correspondence, other than his famous diaries. While the latter tended to portray him favourably by his own hand a wider view of his correspondence and the views of others, sheds a different light on the man. It was he and his cavalier attitude towards the indigenes that laid the foundations for the 160 years of wars that lead to the flight of the Cape Khoena to the northwestern Gariep district and to the mass genocide of the San despite their valiant wars of resistance.

Elphick notes that shortly after arriving at the Cape, Van Riebeeck in 1653 wrote to the VOC imploring them to allow him to round up all the Peninsula Khoena, put them in chains and force them into labour. The VOC refused his request. Then in 1657 he again wrote to the VOC outlining a plan and seeking approval to build 5 ‘redoubts’ in Hout Bay to form concentration camps into which he would lure the Peninsula Khoena and their cattle and then keep them so imprisoned so that they may continuously be forced to supply cattle to the company.

This concept was initially considered by the VOC but was rejected only because it would have cost too much and required many soldiers. This was the complete opposite of the approach that Captain Janzsen had promoted. Van Riebeeck’s ideas set the paradigm of European-Indigene relations that has remained to this day. Forced removals and the “redoubt” concept which essentially translated into group-areas and reservations lasted well after Jan van Riebeeck, right up to the imposition of the Group Areas Act under Apartheid. From these initial concepts of visiting aberration on the indigenes, a 160 year war lasting into the second decade of the 19th century against the Khoena and San ensued and dovetailed with the 100 years’ war against the amaXhosa in the Eastern Cape. Nigel Penn in some detail in his book ‘The Forgotten Frontier’ how this ethnic cleansing process included well-recorded genocide campaigns by Khoena conscripts in European led Commandos.

Record of the early foundational human endeavour of a Khoena settled trading community which embraced visitors and whom no doubt some visitors embraced and remained and assimilated into deserves more recognition. Certainly the first children to have been born from relations between the indigenes and  sea-travelling Europeans, free-black travellers and slaves occurred in those 52 years prior to European settlement and requires much, much more research and evaluation attention. This Camissa (//aami ssa) village where the Grand Parade, Castle and District Six stands today on the Cape Peninsula known to the Khoena as //Hui Gaeb! can give us all a whole new take on our past. It is this Camissa Footprint and all that was born from it pre-1652 and post-1652 that informs our sense of identity.

It is also of importance to note that the earliest organised and persistent resistance to the machinations of the European settlement actually was led by Camissa indigenes that had to some degree embraced change, new economies and new modes of living. Each had engaged intimately with the Europeans and had to a great extent broken with tradition. It was unfortunate that it was these people who had learnt the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the Europeans, when entering their social order, to the extent that they could craft oppositional strategies, had at the same time become alienated from their broader kinfolk. Their very engagement with the Europeans led to suspicion, envy and antagonism between each other and between them collectively and the people from whom they had become marooned. Xhore, Autshumao, Krotoa, Nommoa and Das each developed their own resistance strategy and each experienced defeat on the one hand and alienation on the other. All found themselves between the wire and the wall. These interlocutors knew that their world was changing and that change could not be held back and tried to navigate the tide as best they could. They tried to alert the other indigenes around them to this new reality and in vain tried to show leadership but the powerful force of ‘divide and rule’ came to overpower them during a time of a great paradigm shift.

We certainly cannot ignore this overwhelming evidence that 1652 was not a magical date of Khoena and European interaction….. nor can we ignore the vast numbers of vessels and people from abroad who came here and interacted with locals…. Nor can we ignore that key notable indigene figures had travelled abroad and returned and engaged with new technology and trading and new ways of living and were not merely ignorant ‘primitive’ beach scavengers. With all of this information at our fingertips we cannot accept uncritically the European writings that have marginalised and robbed South Africans of a fair view of their forebears.

Genetic enhancement in South Africa continued after 1652 when the heritage of the Camissa footprint continued to be weaved as indigenes, slaves, Free Blacks and European non-conformists continued to embrace each other and their struggles to overcome adversity. Historian Mansell Upham tells us that while formally Jan van Riebeeck forbade European company officials for having “carnal conversation” (sexual intercourse) with slaves and indigenes, privately he is on record as telling officials to go forth and “fruitify” them. This injunction too is a part of the story of the Camissa heritage as is the over four centuries of experiences of the children of Camissa in rising above various forms of adversity including Apartheid.

Today the Camissa River still flows vibrantly underground through Cape Town and into the see just as it always did. But now it is hidden from view, covered over by layer after layer of superstructure that makes up the City of Cape Town. So too has layer upon layer of obscuring overlays, been placed on the identity of those labelled ‘Coloured’ by successive administrative regimes. Both the river and the people have been covered over. The first step in uncovering these layers is to acknowledged that once, long ago before colonial settlement, a people who had set up on the banks of the Camissa River formed a trading and service community and in so doing they lay the foundations of a city and a creole people.

There are much more complexities in our past than many care to acknowledge, but also a wonderful focal point arises for us to move away from racial terminology and exclusive terminology in anchoring our local identities alongside our national, regional and pan African identities. An understanding of this early heritage should encourage us to move away from race terminology of using terms like – Coloured, White, and Black as a reference. There are three broad heritage streams that flow through people in South Africa and no rigid walls separating us – African, Afro-European and Afro-Asian. This is heritage and not race. The African family of communities is diverse as much as is the Afro-European and Afro-Asian heritages. As part of African identity, Camissa people (not ‘coloured’) have a heritage that incorporates the embrace between indigenes, slaves from India, Southeast Asia and Africa, as well as Free Black travellers, indentured labourers, exiles, refugees, economic-migrants and non-conformist Europeans. The Camissa heritage brings all of these wonderful tributaries together and the Camissa people can take rightful place alongside other African communities – Zulu, Xhosa, Cape Khoena, San (/Xam), Sotho, Korana, Tswana, Venda, Pedi, Nama, Griqua, Shangaan, Ndebele, Lembe, Swazi and others. All three heritage streams – African, Afro-European and Afro-Asian have many sub-community identities in the diverse South African family of peoples. Thus the story and the heritage of the original founders of the port and the people that they embraced gave birth to the creole descendants who were labelled ‘Coloured’.

On a personal level when explaining my heritage I express that I am born of a people who over successive generations rose above adversity. I go on to say that I am an African from Southern Africa and I have a Camissa heritage. I am Camissa and am a citizen of South Africa which embraces a diversity of heritages. The Camissa people and village at the fresh water river flowing from the mountain to the sea in Table Bay was the foundation of Cape Town in the first half of the 17th Century. Indigenes with a new mode of living shaped through their trading with passing ships over time embraced a diversity of peoples who crossed their shoreline threshold. Later through resistance to colonialism and the adversity visited upon them the indigenes and the Camissa footprint also embraced other resisters – slaves from India, Africa and Southeast Asia; Free Black travellers, non-conformist Europeans, various maroons, exiles, refugees and economic migrants. These tributaries and their interactions is what shaped me as an African. This and the many stories within this frame is my proud heritage. This is more powerful that the race label – ‘Coloured’.


In addition to works noted and sited in the text, the following works were also consulted:

John Cope- King of the Hottentots, Howard Timmins, Cape Town (1967); ML Wilson – The Strandlooper concept and its relevance to the study of the past inhabitants of the Southern African Coastal Region, Annals of the South African Museum – vol 103 – Part 6 (Dec 1993); Barbara Watson Andaya & Leonard Y. Andaya – A History of Early Modern Southeast Asia 1400 – 1830, Cambridge UP (2015); Kerry Ward – Networks of Empire: Forced Migration in the Dutch East India Company, Cambridge Up, (2009); Richard B. Allen – European Slave Trading in the Indian Ocean 1500 – 1850, Ohio UP (2014); Donald Moodie; The Record (May 1888), AA Balkema, Cape Town (1959) HB Thom edt;  Journal of Jan van Riebeeck 1652 – 1662; Van Riebeeck Society, AA Balkema, Cape Town / Amsterdam (1958); Karel Schoeman; Seven Khoi lives – Cape biographies of the seventeenth century, Protea, Pretoria (2009); Dictionary of Southern African Place Names – P E Raper, Head, Onomastic Research Centre, HSRC and Tsitistsikamma National; Mansell Upham; Made or Marred by Time;;  Adrien Delmas & Nigel Penn  –  Written culture in a Colonial context: Africa and the Americas 1500 – 1900, UCT Press (2011);; Nigel Penn – The Forgotten Frontier:Colonist & Khoisan on the Cape’s Northern Frontier in the 18th Century , Ohio UP (2009); Written culture and the Cape Khoihhoi – From travel writing to ‘full description; UCT Press (2011);   William Crooke edt –  Tavanier -Travels in India, transl V Ball (1925); – Sir Richard Carnac-Temple; The travels of Peter Mundy in Europe and Asia 1608 – 1667; (1967) – JP Cortemünde; Adventures at the Cape of Good Hope (1962); HCV Leibbrandt- Precis of the archives of the Cape of Good Hope, Journal 1662-70, 1671-74, WA Richards & Sons (1901, 1902);  Henry Trotter – Sailors as Scribes; Travel as discourse and the (con) textualisation of the Khoihoi at the Cape of Good Hope 1649 – 90, ; The early Cape Hottentots, Olfert Dapper, Willem ten Rhyne en Johannes Gulielmus de Grevenbroek Editie I.Schapera en vertaler B. Farrington (1933);