.When going over a historical account there is always just a little overlooked fact that will be the dead give-away tell-tale fact that will suggest that behind what is being served up as a historical “truth” is a much more interesting story.

Die Afrikaners

Jan Jonker Afrikaner and a group of the Orlams Afrikaners

So is the case of an organisation established in 1875 by Boer intellectuals in Paarl called “Die Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners” (GRA -The Association of Real Afrikaners…. or True Afrikaners).

Their starting point was that they recognised that what was referred to as Cape Low Dutch had emerged as the lingua franca of most Boers who could no longer speak pure Dutch and they christened their observation of this language variant – Afrikaans. Shortly after, they launched their newspaper “The Patriot” which made it clear that their mission was not just a language claim but that they were also founded on a claim to a “God-given land”.

The Association and their newspaper was deeply rooted in three things – language, land and people (language, country and nation) and thus became the early standard bearer of Afrikaner Nationalism. In 1881 a Boer protest movement known as the Zuid Afrikaansche Boeren Beschermings Vereeniging (South African Farmers’ Protection Association) of Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr emerged as a proto political party and joined with the GRA and formed a political party called the Afrikaner Bond which took its place in the Cape Parliament.

So why in seeking a more inclusive and respectful term as an aspirant and emergent national group did they not just call themselves “The Association of Afrikaners”. The answer lies in the tell-tale use of the term “regte” meaning “real” or “true”. In asking why they needed to do this, the obvious answer is that there must have already been people that called themselves “Afrikaners” and a language ‘Afrikaans’ that the new association wanted to both distinguish themselves from and lay claim to the term and language for themselves. It is this political usurping of the term “Afrikaner” or “African” and the language of “Afrikaans” that is the more interesting story than what became the dominant narrative.

There were immediately opponents of the announcement of this “new language” and use of the term “Afrikaander” later modified to “Afrikaner” and it came from within the Boer constituency from those who wanted to maintain High Dutch as their language despite the fact that youth were more and more taken by English or spoke the Cape Low Dutch. The reason that they gave for their opposition spells out why they were so opposed. They said that the adoption of this “Afrikaans patois” was nothing but an adoption of the “Hotnotstaaltjie”. Afrikaans was regarded as the language of those regarded as Khoena and ‘Coloured’….. the people derogatorily called “Hotnot-Basters” were those who called themselves Afrikaners and everyone knew it.

A popular story was partially related by the Afrikaans language movement to try to track the genesis of the term Afrikander to European settlers by referring to an utterance by a 16 year old boy, Henrik Biebouw. Detlef Biebouw was a German labourer (knegt) who had a child with a slave, Diana van Madagascar, belonging to Cornelis Linnes. Detlef then later bought Diana when their daughter Susanna was around 6 years old but he married an orphan girl Wilhelmina de Wit shipped from Rotterdam and they lived on the fringe with the mixed Khoena, slave and knegt lower class of Stellenbosch.

In 1694 Wilhelmina bore Detlef a son, Hendrik who grew up in this mixed community shunned by the settler mainstream. In 1710 the 16 year old Hendrik was brought to court after a drunk and rowdy disturbance of the peace the night before. Hendrik basically told the magistrate where to get off by implying that as a foreigner the magistrate had no right to be telling him how to behave in public – “because I am an African (Afrikaander)”, in reference to the locally born in his mixed community. The term was quite clear at that time and no respected European settlers would allow themselves to be referred to us such. The fact of the matter is also that by the time Hendrik was 20 he got on a ship and left the Cape for good.

Before 1710 the term was already well used by people of colour at the Cape as can here be illustrated. There were already a proto national group called the Orlam Afrikaners who were descendants of Khoena and Slaves who had trekked up from the Roodezand (Tulbagh) to the Gariep region and had left an indelible mark on the Southern African landscape. This Afrikaner dynasty had been using this term “Afrikaner” as their surname going back to their progenitor Oude Ram Afrikaner since the late 1600s. From a surname the term broadened to mean all of the followers of Jager Afrikaner – the fighter in the Gariep district. His cousin Jonker Afrikaner was the man who founded the city of Windhoek. Jager’s brother Afrikaner Afrikaner died in incarceration on Robben Island.

Some of my own forbears in the Roodezand (Tulbagh) were from this community of “Afrikaners of colour”. One of my 6th great grandmothers (paternal) had the inscription in her baptismal record – Kaatje Hottentotin. Her name was Johanna Catharina Voortman van de Caab. She had a long marriage with Heinrich Voortman, a German, and two of their daughters married two sons of French Hugenot settlers, the le Cordiers. Both sisters make up different lines in my family tree up to my paternal grandmother Elsie Petronella le Cordier who married my grandfather Pieter Francois Mellet in District Six in the 1920s where my father and his siblings were born. Many of today’s le Cordiers, le Codeurs and Kortjes all descend from these three mixed relationships at the Roodezand.

The term “Afrikaner” goes back to the early use of toponyms to denote where slaves were taken from…. Eg: Anthonie van Angola, Angela van Bengal etc. First generation slaves born in the Cape Colony were referred to as Eg…. Catherina van de Caab (Kaap). Persons born out of unions of slaves and indigene Khoena were given the toponym Eg…. Klaas van Afrika which then simply became Klaas Afrika or Klaas Afrikaander. It was thus that the old progenitor of the Afrikaner clan, born circa 1690, became known as Oude Ram Afrikaner whose son was Klaas Afrikaner. Around that time it became common to also refer to people born of mixed Khoena, slave and European relationships as Afrikaanders also known as Free Blacks. But it was considered a term for the low class labourers of colour.

Thus in the Cape as had occurred elsewhere in the colonial world the term “African” was used in the context of slavery. It had never been used within Africa as a term of identity except in North Africa in the town of Afariqa by the Afars. If one thinks through this it makes common sense. Why would anyone in Africa even know the term or think of a continental land mass until people were forcibly taken away and could look back to from where they had been taken into slavery. Each slave had their own locality from which they had been taken to coastal towns and then loaded onto ships and taken to new places. Collectively they began to refer to themselves by the continental name used by their captors – Africans. In the Cape which was the only place on Africa to which the Europeans had brought slaves, the terms van de Caab and van Afrika took its own unique twist. Afrikaner was a term denoting class, colour and mixing.

Afrikaans too, as a written language, predates the translation of the Bible into Afrikaans by a century and the publishing efforts of the Association of True Afrikaners by at least a half century. Texts from the Koran and Madrassa lessons written in phonetic Afrikaans using Arabic script exist to prove this assertion that the earliest written Afrikaans emerged from among the slaves at the Cape.

The first usage of the term Africa and African in South Africa as self-identifying terms for people and language is rooted amongst the Khoena, San and the slaves. Thus the term “Regte” meaning “True or Real” was an unfortunate subterfuge when adopted by the Association of True Afrikaners. Perhaps one day the children of the “Afrikaners of Colour” and the children of those who saw themselves as “Regte Afrikaners” may reconcile and “AfriKaaps” and “Regte Afrikaans” may reconcile too. Perhaps this approach to our history and the tense ties that bind us may hold the key for the resolution of the vexing issues of the future of both the Afrikaans language and those who still see themselves as “Regte Afrikaners”. It is wonderful to see that many young white Afrikaans speakers are exploring those aspects of history that have as Elna Boesak once put it ….fallen “tussen die kraake” and in so doing, finding liberation and connectedness with Africa and the Africans their forebears once rejected.

Where have all the Cape Khoena gone?

What happened to the more than 16 Cape-based Khoena clans  and where have the four large concentrations of San gone? Is it true to say that it is simply a case of the majority of today’s people labelled ‘Coloured’ are the only true descendants of the Khoe and the San? The complex answer to the former is the subject of this article and the answer to the second question is that this formulation is both simplistic and incorrect.

Khoe JJ

Notwithstanding the fact that probably around 35 – 40% of those that the Apartheid regime had classified as ‘Coloured’ are descended from the Khoena and the San in the Western Cape, the historic and scientific demographic of the Western Cape shows that the impact of slavery more than anything else has fashioned identity along with indigene heritage, imported indentured labour and the European/Eurasian tributary.

Indeed in the rural districts of the West Coast region as well as in the Northern Cape the figures may be as high as 70% among those labelled ‘Coloured’ and in the urban and peri-urban sprawl of the Cape Peninsula, and the rural districts of Boland and Overberg as low as 20% of people labelled ‘Coloured’ are of Khoena and San descent.

These assumptions are based on a large DNA study (The Living History Project that have been done on self-identifying individuals where 30% of those labelled ‘Coloured’ had Khoe and San mtdna (and 2% Y-Chromesome dna). The same studies interestingly showed that 17% of those labelled ‘Black’ also had Khoena and San mtdna (6% Y-Chromosome dna) and, those classified as ‘White’ and those classified as ‘Asian’ had 8,5% (0% Y-C dna) and 16% (0% Y-C dna)  Khoe and San mtdna. Notably those labelled ‘Coloured’ had 32% Bantu mtdna (22% Y-C dna); 22% Asian mtdna (16% Y-C dna); 13% Eurasian mtdna (48% Y-C dna); and 2,5% European mtdna (12% Y-C dna).

The question then is whether there is a historical explanation for why science shows us this evidence? Resoundingly, YES there is an explanation if we set aside the traditional propaganda history books and the racist ideas of ‘pure’ and ‘uncontaminated’ peoples as propagated by the Apartheid National Party ideologues. It is unfortunate that some today still tout these false notions as fact.

In the Western Cape we have 7 main historical tributaries into our ‘peopling’ identity today. The indigenes (Khoena, San and Bantu); the slaves (African, Indian and South East Asian); the Free Blacks (freed slaves, mixed Slave/Khoena and free black travelers; Europeans (from a range of countries); Maroons (runaways or drosters from the previous 4 groups); Exiles and Refugees; and Indentures and Migrants. By studying the interaction of these and the historical events involved, we are able through scientific dna studies show the relationship of history and science that underpins understanding of identity in the Cape. Along with this we have fairly advanced genealogical studies that also provide un-challengeable facts that record actual marriages, unions, births, deaths and descent that underpin the scientific evidence and the historical evidence that underpins the unraveling of ‘Coloured’ identity in the Western Cape as well as other identities. Purity of ‘race’ is totally debunked by these inter-related studies.

To understand what happened to the Khoena clans and the San of the Western Cape we have to go on a journey of persecution, war and resistance. It has been the covering over of this tragic story and fabrication of myths that has both insulted the memory of these our forebears and has denied us an proper understanding of this important element of our identity. For some who are the surviving direct descendants of the Khoena and the San it has denied them restitution and the opportunity to rebuild their social and clan identities. For those of us who have a strong affinity based partially on descent and wish to revive a broad sense of identity rooted in both our Khoena and San roots, the lack of clarity on the past is an impediment of how we move forward. And for those of us who simply wish to celebrate our Khoena and San ancestral roots as part of a tapestry of origins, likewise it is an impediment for us in moving forward, not to have all of the pieces of this puzzle.

Historical researcher Nigel Penn in his devoted work towards understanding what he calls the FORGOTTEN FRONTIER has provided us with the most useful and comprehensive  account of the hidden history of the ethnic cleansing of the Khoena and San of the Western Cape.

Four of my favourite characters in history were freedom fighter contemporaries in the closing years of a 160 year series of wars of resistance by the Khoena, San and Slaves to Dutch and subsequent British colonial land grabs and genocide. Khoena Chief David Stuurman, the enslaved Louis of Maritius, the rebellious priest Dr Johannes van der Kemp and the Itola warrior prophet Makana whose mother was Khoe and father was amaXhosa. They all died between 1807 and 1825 and each has an amazing story.

It is not their stories that I will relate here but rather the story of a 160 year conflict in which they were just the closing players. As the 160 years of war came to an end it over lapped with another 100 years war in the eastern Cape where Khoena, Slave Drosters and amaXhosa often also stood together. That war is fairly well covered by historians, albeit with terrible slants, while the 160 year war is not. In understanding this period we can better understand a complex process from which our identity rises like a phoenix. The story addresses the question of WHERE HAVE ALL THE CAPE KHOENA GONE?

Our history books give a distorted impression as to what happened to the Khoena (Khoi) and the San in the Cape Colony and writes out their resistance and survival strategies. Because of these deficiencies, distortions continue to this day. But thanks to ground-breaking research by people like Nigel Penn in his comprehensive work – ‘The Forgotten Frontier – Colonist & Khoisan on the Cape’s Northern Frontier in the 18th Century’ ((2005) we have a much better picture of the facts. I draw heavily on this work for this article

Is the Khoena and San story just a matter of understanding two wars of resistance ending in 1677 and then along came two devastating Smallpox epidemics in 1713 and 1755 and “poof” there were no more Khoena and San from that time onwards? That story ranks as taking joint first-prise as an absurd untruthful account alongside that other myth that Chief Autshumao the trader who had travelled to Jakarta and back and, ran a successful trading post at the Cape for just over 22 years, was just an ignorant thieving beach-bum called Harry the Strandlooper.

What actually happened and the scale of what happened is a really horrible story that cannot be swept under the carpet.

When the United Dutch East India Company (VOC) set up its fort right next Autshumao’s settlement at the Camissa in Table Bay on the Cape Peninsula (//Hui !Gaeb) there were 16 or more Khoena clans in the Western and Central Cape reaching to the lower reaches of the Eastern Cape. Likewise at least 5 large San communities were also living across the same territory. The Khoena and San living within the boundaries of the then mapped Cape up to the Piketberg in the West and to outskirts of Swellendam district in the East was estimated at 50,000 and with further later estimates of 40 – 50,000 more beyond and up to the Gariep River on the North West and the Fish River in the Keiskamma in the East.

What then actually happened to result in the figure for Khoena and so-called Bastard-Hottentots together being given as 14,883 in 1798 in the census of all within the Cape Colony? WHERE HAD ALL THE CAPE KHOENA GONE?

The white population in 1658 was 166 and the slave population was 187 and 146 years later in 1798 the white population had grown to 21,300 while slaves were at 25,754. (In the period 1653 to 1807 63,000 slaves were imported and between 1808 and 1856 another 8000 Prize Salves arrived. Both the European and the Slave populations had grown dramatically but Khoena together with mixed Khoena-Slave were drastically down to under 15,000 from 50,000 and many were now the offspring of mixed relationships between male slaves and captured Khoena and San women after being taken by commandos in raids where their male partners were slaughtered. It is this puzzle that remains hidden in various histories. (Ref:AT Brenner 2006 –Appendix A ‘Slavery and Khoisan Indentured Servitude in 18th Century Dutch Cape Colony)

The starting point of course is the two anti-colonial wars of resistance by the Khoena ending in 1660 and 1677 respectively. While the first war ended in a stalemate the second war had grave consequences when the Cochoqua were defeated and faced economic, political and social disintegration. Loss of life, restrictions on land and confiscation of livestock (1765 cattle and 4930 sheep) was a huge blow. By the time that Chiefs Gonnema and Oedosoa died in 1685 and 1689 respectively, the Cochoqua were pushed back towards Roodezand (Tulbagh) and their fragmentation had accelerated.

In 1686 when other groups of Khoena were also under pressure from the colonists the San and the Grigriqua also clashed with the Cochouqua further weakening them. Other Peninsula Khoena such as the Goringhaiqua, the Gorachouqua and the remnants of the Goringhaicona migrated northwards, staying for a while with the Namaqua and eventually making new formations at the Gariep such as the Korana, Witboois, Griquas and Orlam Afrikaners. By the time of the expansion to Stellenbosch and the Drakenstein, the Khoena Klapmats were moved on while remaining Peninsula Khoena went into servitude alongside slaves on white farms or in the case of the males many were forcibly conscripted into informal commandos which rode out under white command to raid cattle from Khoena groups deep in the interior.

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 and even death sentences to put an end to this state of affairs. The errant colonists did their utmost to opposed 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. This was a de facto license to go and do as they please. The company officials also now had to compete with the colonists in the bartering and they were no saints either. The besieged Khoena and San faced with ruin had no option but to retaliate and a 7 year period of war broke out from 1701 – 1708. In the wake of the war came further expansion when grazing permits were introduced for colonists to enter the Khoena areas of retreat. By 1714 this was followed by a loan farm system that was introduced. This in fact ran rough shod over the peace treaty with the Khoena signed in 1705.

It was in the aftermath of the war and during the time of the granting of grazing rights to trekboers, 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.

Between 1714 and 1717 more surviving Khoena now without leaders and clans became ‘contract’ or ‘indentured’ labourers alongside slaves and were really treat not too differently than slaves.

The Khoena and San who bordered on Waveren, Piketberg and Roodezand (Tulbagh) at this stage still maintained their strength and coherenance and a resistance war again flared up from 1715 -1716. Hundreds of Khoena and San men were killed in battles and raids by commandos. 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.

From 1717 – 1725 a combination of illness among livestock affecting both the indigene communities and the colonists resulted in a retreat by Khoena inland particularly after the 1716 war. This 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 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 state of war however did subside for a while. But by this time the colonial held territory under the VOC had literally been ethnically cleansed of free organised Khoena through the brutality of war and the Khoena on the borders of the Colony were facing impoverishment.

By 1732 colonists now had farms all along the entire Olifants River territory. From 1738 to 1740 a war of resistance again broke out as colonist trekboers moved beyond Piketberg to Namaqualand and from the Westcoast to beyond the Bokkeveld. The defeat of the Khoena and the San and the resultant peace treaty, which everyone knew was not worth anything opened up further expansion into the north east. But now the settlers were on their own as the VOC was too weak to extend its support so far. The trekboers and farmers became a law to themselves and their commandos had free reign. From 1740 through to 1770 settlement continued but the settlers were few in number in relation to the Khoena so far inland and things were relatively peaceful in the latter years and the scene for conflict shifted to the Roggeveld in the 1750s and the nature of the conflict changed. The Khoena and trekboers now cut off from the VOC found common ground and created joint commandos and attacked the San. The records show that these raids against the San were vicious and genocidal in nature. Single attacks resulted in deaths of between 50 to 90 San. But these, bad as they were, were just a precursor to what was to happen next.

In 1774 the VOC decided to formally adopt the commando system as part of its military apparatus and thereby give it further reach. While all of this expansion through killing and raiding had been going on in the west and central regions of the Colony, there had been gradual encroachment and pushing of the Khoena eastwards as well. In the east the Khoena had strong and friendly networks with the amaXhosa and there was strong familial relationships and mixed clans too. The san too were also very strong in the mountainous areas such as the Sneeuberg and the Bruintjieshoogte. The settler expansion was halted at the Fish River, the Sneeuberg and Bruintjieshoogte. The most formidable resistance came from the San and the colonists were not doing very well. With the trouble in the Nieuweveld and Roggeveld intensifying too, the new formal commandos were dispatched by the VOC. This was imperative for the VOC because it had granted almost 200 new farms to settlers stretching from the west to the east so as to consolidate the Cape Colony. The Commandos despatched against the San and the Khoena Resisters were literally extermination machines. They were under white command but were roughly made up of 50% whites and 50% Khoena conscripts brought up on farms and trained while still young. The San were referred to as Vermin and the kill rate increased more than three-fold from 1773 to 1774 to figures like 260 deaths in a single attack.

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 ‘indetured’ 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 Western Cape and its trauma has been passed on from generation to generation. The resisting Khoena faced the same fate in which civil war elements entered to fray. 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.

The Eastern Frontier and the North Eastern mountain people saw a brave and defiant fight to the last man and woman. In the 1780s a resistance history played out in the Cape like nowhere else in South Africa, before or after. Those who say that the Khoena and the San gave up the fight without resistance are just displaying their own ignorance. The history books have remained silence on how the Western Cape was won by the colonists and about the brave resistance. White settlement only occurred as a result of the wanton murder of indigene inhabitants across the Western Cape. The people and clans that occupied this territory did not simply get whipped out by disease, or magically disappear in a peaceful migration elsewhere. They were decimated by force in a colonial holocaust. Though the smallpox epidemics played their part these paled against the slaughter. By 1798 the now mixed Khoena / Khoena-Baster population was 14,883 and no longer had land, cattle or freedom. These survived with the assistance of their enslaved comrades and still fought and resisted in different ways. In the Roggeveld in December 1801 a combined force of Khoena and Slaves involving 70 resisters rose up against their oppressive farmer. In 1808 over 340 slaves and Khoena under the leadership of Louis of Mauritius rose up in the biggest slave rebellion ever. These events, and many of them, is what built a very special resistance relationship between two groups of people who by now share familial ties of ancestry.

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 migration routes Khoena and mixed Khoena heritage survived on farms and in small towns.

But many exiles from the Colony also would become new resisters fighting other battles for survival as they fled from the South to the West to the northern Gariep territory also joined by those who fled from the East to join them. Migrants poured into the Gariep territory and after years of struggle formed new communities with a solid Khoena base but also took in resisters from other groups including slave drosters and a few non-conformist Europeans. Just north of the main Namaqua groups along the Gariep river from Pella to Prieska a number of San and Khoena groups lived side by side, sometimes peacefully and sometimes in conflict. They had brought many traditions from different parts of the South with them.

The Gariep communities running from Pella eastwards were the Nanningai San, Naugaap Khoena, various Eis San groups, Kaukoa Khoena, Gyzikou Khoena, Au Nameikoa San, Koow Einas San, Naw Keis San, Hoekeikoa San, Noueikoa San, Moncoboo San, and Khoena groups – Kouringeis Korana (or Gora), Husingais Korana (Gora), Kay Kora Korana (Gora).

They were joined by the Kok and Barends descendants of the Grigriqua and Bergenaar Basters who also entered the Gariep territory, followed by the Witboois who had found refuge with the Namaqua, and the Orlam Afrikaners. The Korana (Gora) largely are said to be from the fragmented maroon Khoena from the South such as the Gorachouqua and Goringhaiqua who also regrouped at the Gariep.

By 1800 the largest groups of Khoena now resided far away from the VOC rule and the Cape colony frontier. At the Gariep the Khoena were to thrive until the next major upheavals came. British rule, missionaries, the Boers from the Great Trek and the discovery of diamonds as well as Mfecane all would impact negatively and violently on these Khoena and San communities which had found temporary sanctuary. Many would migrate west into Nambia, North into the Free State, across the Drakensburg to the East and elsewhere. A few of those from Griqualand East followed their leader De Kneg, AAS le Fleur to the Western Cape and scattered to Mamre, Goodwood, Touws River and Plettenberg Bay. A few gravitated over a long period back to the Western Cape in search of work but had to compete with new indentured labourers from St Helena, Asia and other African countries as from 1856 the Prize Slave indentured labour stream that had continued after slaver was abolished now dried up. Mostly the Khoena exiled to the Gariep remained frozen in small rural communities in the Northern Cape.

Post liberation from Apartheid Khoena and San survivor communities often against great odds in rural communities and a few in cities have struggled to reclaim their past. Some others have created KhoiSan revivalist movements to do the same. Yet others celebrate with pride their Khoena, San and Slave Heritage and the heroic resistance of their forebears as a tapestry part of who they are today. All call has been made for recognition of the historic injustice against San, Khoena and enslaved forebears, land reparation and restitution of the memory of our forebears particularly in the Western Cape which has been stripped of all acknowledgements of the Khoena and San. Others look at us incredulously and say “What on earth are they talking about. They are making up history.” In the face of hostility on the one hand and very confused and inaccurate narratives on the other hand, there is an urgent need to develop a simple popular narrative on this history so that even kids can articulate this free from ridicule.

Our children should be learning about these atrocities and about the amazing resistance in schools. Our public places should have exhibits and names that speak to this heritage. South Africa as a country should acknowledge this stolen past and put a stop to the stunted and covered over histories from whatever quarter they emanate. From the 1510 first victorious military engagement with the then world super-power military force under Portuguese General d’Almeide to the 160 years war and beyond…. through to such modern liberation heroes as Basil February, Ashely Kriel, Anton Fransch, Coleen Williams and Dulcie September…… the sons and daughters of the Khoena, San and enslaved…. we can really be proud…. They rose up above adversity.

To read a more in-depth account please reference – – ‘The Forgotten Frontier – Colonist & Khoisan on the Cape’s Northern Frontier in the 18th Century’ ((2005) by Nigel Penn.


The Amazing Story of Cary and Harry – the founders of Cape Town

There are many injustices, falsifications and cover-ups in our South African history that indeed has also had everlasting impacts on us, how we see ourselves and how others perceive us. Of all of these many stories there is one to which I return again and again because without recognition of this cover-up which stands out from the rest, the erroneous accredited foundation of our City of Cape Town and indeed modern South Africa will go on for perpetuity and with it an everlasting negative impact, particularly on descendants of indigenes in this region of South Africa.

The story I refer to concerns two remarkable men whom the Europeans called Cary and Harry. Their real names were !Xhore and Autshumao and both originated out of the Goringhaiqua, a Peninsula based Khoena clan which settled on the banks of the //Gam i Ssa river (Camissa – sweet water/ Cape Town) in Table Bay, on the Cape Peninsula (//Hu !Gaeb). Both men contributed to the emergence of a new clan of maroon Khoena which became known as the Goringhaicona (!Kuinj//ai /kona).

Doman -

Later resistance leader Nommoa ‘Doman’

The name Goringhaicona meant the “children of the Goringhaiqua” and these were made up of entrepreneurial drifters and members of other clans – Gorachouqua (!Korakhwekwa), Goringhaiqua (!Kurinj//aikwa) and , Cochouqua (!Kukhwekwa) who for various reasons had branched off from other clans or suffered misfortune resulting in displacement or who were exiles from those clans. The Dutch had earlier labelled the Goringhaicona as the ‘Watermans’ (guardians of the freshwater //Gam I Ssa supplied to European ships) and then began using the first of the terms that blotted out their history, namely ‘Strandloopers’.

The story of how this //Gam I Ssa settlement of Goringhaicona came about is quite remarkable and indeed is the true story of the foundation of Cape Town, before the arrival of van Riebeeck in 1652. Though it has always been a very well documented story, it was covered up by constructed falsehoods and replaced by the story of the so-called Dutch founder of Cape Town, Jan van Riebeeck. This story was later dramatized and romanticised by visual misrepresentations of Jan van Riebeeck and his wife Maria de la Quellerie using the images of two unrelated Dutch figures , Bartholomeus Vermuyden and the woman said to have been his mistress Catharina Kettingh (These can be seen at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam as can be seen the portrait of the real Jan van Riebeeck).

I have on a previous occasion told the true story of Jan van Riebeeck, the disgraced VOC official caught out defrauding the company while serving in Hanoi (Tonkin) in Vietnam and Deshima in Japan. On his voyage of disgrace he passed the Cape of Good Hope and noticed that instead of any European power controlling this halfway shipping refreshment station, it was instead in the hands of local indigenes. He used this fact and the offering of his services to pioneer the establishment of Dutch control of the Cape refreshment station to redeem his honour. It thus came to pass that he wrested control of the trading station from the indigene Gorighaicona traders.

The real story of !Xhore and Autshumao – Cary and Harry, should be a red-letter or prominent story in history if only for the fact that these are the first recorded South African indigenes to have travelled to London and Jakarta and back in 1613 and 1630 respectively. The facts of these cases challenge the false story that speaks of ‘Harry the Strandlooper’ – a troublesome ignorant scavenging beach-bum of no real significance.

There had been regular shipping first by Chinese explorers dating back to at least 1421 and European shipping since 1488 that passed through Table Bay. By 1652 local indigenes hardly raised an eyebrow in their interactions with Europeans as they already had 200 years of engagement with peoples from beyond their shores. There was nothing magical about 1652. Up until 1590 relations were particularly precarious with the Portuguese due to the dramatic defeat and killing of Portugal’s greatest military commander and much of his army in 1510 by indigene Khoena when the Portuguese tried to teach the Khoena a lesson for daring to punish some Portuguese thieves.

From 1590 and for the next 62 years a brisk trade was carried out between a range of Europeans directly with the indigene Khoena at Table Bay. By the end of the 1590s Portugal’s dominance was overturned in the Eastern trade with the United Netherlands States, England and France making major inroads. The Dutch quickly took the lead by establishing the first powerful multinational company the United Dutch East India Company (VOC) and England, ever the rival, followed suit with the establishment of the English East India Company. By 1605 there were 25 Dutch ships alone, not counting the Portuguese, French or English vessels, stopping at Table Bay to trade for fresh provisions with the Khoena. First Iron was the main exchange for salt, water, meat (sheep and cattle), and hides, but this quickly changed first to copper and later to brass. Various documentation resources record the various rises and falls and rises of this economy and who the key roleplayers in this were.

It is in 1613 that the records first introduce us to the man who changed the face of trading with the Europeans – Cary (!Xhore) and introduced the modern economic foundations for what would become the City of Cape Town. In 1630 the records first introduce us to Harry (Autshumao) who established the first physical human and trading station in Table Bay at //Gam i Ssa which became the human and built environment foundation of Cape Town. In !Xhore’s case it was in 1613 that he was kidnapped and taken to London and returned to the Cape over a year later. In 1630 Autshumao it would seem of his own volition travelled with the English to Jakarta and back.

The English East India Company ship the Hector kidnapped !Xhore and another Khoena man in May 1613. The companion of !Xhore died at sea but he was delivered to Sir Thomas Smythe of the EEIC whose intention was to train !Xhore and return him to Table Bay to act as an intermediary to support trading with EEIC shipping. The experience of !Xhore in London was a torrid one for him and the full account can be read in “King of the Hottentots” by John Cope (1967).

On being returned to the Cape with what was seen by the English as “a small treasure” in June 1614, !Xhore established himself defensively inland and used his experience to his and his people’s advantage. A year later an English Fleet arrived under King James 1 envoy Sir Thomas Rowe who landed a party of settlers made up of released convicts from Newgate Prison under Captains Crosse and Peyton and the 19 Convict Settlers to establish an English Colony. !Xhore initially attempted to establish a mutually beneficial alliance with these ill-disciplined riff-raff but soon the Khoena and Convict Settlers clashed as they engaged in abuse of their indigene hosts. Notably there were no women amongst the settlers who quickly and indiscriminately in terms of status of relationships in the indigene community sought out Khoena women. Xhore who had an armed force of 1000 chased off the Newgate survivors of the conflict who took to longboats and sought refuge on Robben Island. Only three made it back to England 3 years later, were reconvicted and hanged on Newgate Gallows.

!Xhore was wary of the Dutch and although he generally traded with all the European powers was more consistent in his trade with the English. In 1626 he refused to assist the Dutch who visited in large numbers of vessels that year while he generously service English ships. It was in that year that a Welsh sailor recorded that “Cary who had been in England had been killed by Dutch mariners because he refused them food”. It was also noted that the reason Cary refused to assist the Dutch was “because of their ill-treatment of the blacks”. !Xhore’s abduction and return to the Cape actually backfired on the English and the Europeans as a whole. The indigene Khoena came to really understand the value of their livestock and also realised that they had been making a mistake in providing livestock to ships in such generous numbers as they had done before 1613.

Never again did the Khoena part with so easily and in such large numbers their sheep and cattle even although !Xhore’s own herd was 5000 strong. After Chief !Xhore’s demise for the next five years there was a dip in relations and trade between the Europeans and the indigene Khoena.

Then at the end of 1630 the English befriended a young cattleless marooned Khoena man by the name of Autshumao whom they called Harry. They put a proposition to him that they needed local people who could act as go-between trader agents between passing English ships and the inland Cochoqua who were said to have over 10 000 head of cattle and other resources. As part of the proposition that Autshumao accepted he travelled with the English to Jakarta – the Dutch VOC controlled centre of Batavia in Indonesia. In Batavia where he stayed for a year Autshumao’s linguistic skills improved in leaps and bounds and he learnt much about the Europeans – English, Dutch and French.

On his return Autshumao who the English called Harry convinced the English that they transfer himself and 20 of his followers together with sheep, to Robben Island where he would be able to set up a safe trading station. In 1633 Autshumao convinced the Dutch to bring another 30 of his followers over. It is this group of 50 maroons from the different clans under Chief Autshumao who established the Goringhaicona clan who founded the first trading station at the Cape.

Here on Robben Island they created lookouts for the ships and set up rudimentary light-house fires to guide the ships, offered a postal service and set up guides for carrying out negotiations for cattle, collected salt and water on the mainland. Autshumao at this stage mainly saw the English and the Dutch as his clients and warned off the French. He quickly learnt about the antagonisms between the different Europeans. Later he tried to use his very good relations with the English to his advantage against the Dutch.

The Dutch in 1642 wanted someone who was closer to themselves than the English so they then transported an indigene Khoena man by the name of Isaac to Batavia to train him as their point man. The Dutch point-man did not last long. Isaac disappeared from any record within two years.

Over the next decade, in the shadow of Table mountain, Autshumao or Harry, who was no ignorant beach-bum, armed with his mastering of languages and his first hand understanding of the Europeans and their ways from his year in Jakarta, as well as the expertise that he had gained over five years in European shipping movements and needs now built up a really good trading business supported by 60 -80 inhabitants of his trading station who could provide for every requirement by the visiting Europeans. Now English, Dutch, French and Portuguese used his services. He was an entrepreneur extraordinaire.

By 1639 Autshumao and his followers had asked to all be returned to the mainland and set up their permanent settlement on the banks of the //Gami I Ssa river, a stone’s throw from where the Castle stands today.

Twelve years later it was this well established trading settlement, with its rudimentary built environment that played host to Jan van Riebeeck and his men during a harsh winter while he built the first fort. It was little wonder that after 17 years of effort to build up a thriving business and settlement, and after warmly receiving Jan van Riebeeck and giving them hospitality at the settlement, that Autshumao was angered (as recorded by van Riebeeck who contray to the earlier advice of Commander Jansens chose to cut out the Khoena traders and deal directly with inland chiefs) by the turn of events.

Autshumao was now experiencing having his trading business and village stolen from under him and being cast in the role of a beach-bum scavenger.

Autshumao had forewarning about what could happen after the wrecking of the Haarlem when the Dutch survivors built a fragile Fort and remained for a year. The Commander of that Fort, Leendert Jansens was the co-author of the “Remonstrance” to the VOC Chamber of Seventeen which preceded Jan van Riebeeck’s “making himself available” after the first choice of the VOC no longer wished to go the Cape.

Unlike Jansens well argued good-neighbourliness policy around Dutch-Khoena relations and respect for the Khoena as livestock farmers and traders to whom a fair price should be paid, van Riebeeck’s approach was to strip Autshumao of his dignity and employed a dispossession course of action. During Jansens year long stay at the Cape he had nothing but praise and good things to say about the Khoena traders. Jan van Riebeeck took a completely different approach, villified Autshumao and, the descendants of the Dutch settlement completely airbrushed out of the history books the founding Camissa Trading Settlement established by indigenes.

Jan van Riebeeck took into his household as a servant, my 9th Great Grandmother, Krotoa also known as Eva at the age of ten. She was Chief Autshumao’s niece and over her short life (she died 21 years later) she acted as a translator, emissary and diplomat between the Dutch community in the Fort and the various Khoena clans. In Jan van Riebeeck’s Journal she is mentioned over 155 times and he owes much of his recorded understanding of the Khoena, their customs, communities, the names and characteristics of their leaders, their economy, language and heritage to this young woman whom that settler community used and abused.

Cape Town was thus not founded by the crooked, errant and transient Dutch Commander from Vietnam infamy (who only stayed for a decade), – he simply was the pioneering founder of the Dutch colonial settlement .

The village, that became a town, which became the City of Cape Town was founded by that entrepreneurial, Jakarta-trained trader Autshumao. He too, on the building blocks laid by Chief !Xhore who had been trained in London, established the basic sea-port trading economy and hospitality economy that Cape Town still has as its main characteristics today.

!Xhore too was the father of the agricultural trading economy. But the memory of this greatness is still denied to his descendants today and he is still referred to as that scoundrel beach-bum. Stop awhile and remember CARY & HARRY – Chiefs !Xhore and Autshumao and the true story of the founding of Cape Town.

Many make the mistake to simply an inaccurately depict the Khoena and San as landless wandering groups of primitive stone and ironage people with no fixed abode and a single form of economic activity. Modern history did not leave the Khoena and San behind. The South African museums and social anthropologists have always depicted the various people of South Africa before 1652 as primitives without civilisation and with no social history. Thus one can go to no museum that will tell you the names, dynasties, kingdoms, economies and stories of the Khoena, San, Nguni, Bakoni, Tswana, Sotho and other families of peoples in our country. Something needs to be done urgently about this. History did not start in 1652.

You can read Richard Elphick’s “KhoiKhoi and the Founding of White South Africa” (1985) and John Cope’s “The King of the Hottentots” (1967) two amongst many other works that will if read carefully and with an open mind give you a very different perspective on the beginnings of the social and economic development and the built environment of Cape Town that is most often simply ascribed to superior European abilities.


The period 1679 to 1713 at the Cape of Good Hope was a time when the Colony was poised to develop in a number of possible directions large due to the efforts of two men who in today’s language would have been said to be “Coloured”. The first two Governors of the Cape Simon van der Stel and his son Willem Adrian van der Stel were remarkable men who made an indelible contribution to development at the Cape, laying the foundations for possibly a very different future to the trajectory on which the Cape and indeed South Africa would develop.

simon van der Stel old young

Simon on retirement and Simon as a young man

Simon van der Stel was born on a ship in Mauritius where his father, Adrian, had been posted by the United Dutch East India Company as Commander. Simon’s mother was Maria Levens, the daughter of a slave by the name of Monica van Goa also known as Monica van der Kus. It was commonplace at the time for the Dutch men working in South East Asia to take non-European wives. Simon van der Stel became the first person not born in Europe and born of mixed parentage to be appointed Governor of the Cape. Indeed there had also been only Commanders at the Cape previously who reported to the Governor in Batavia.

Simon’s first seven years were spent in Mauritius. Thereafter he accompanied his parents to Saloor (Sri Lanka) where his father was killed and where his mother also died. In his teens he moved to Batavia (Jakarta). Only after he turned 20 years old did he find his way to Europe where in the United Dutch Provinces he was married and had his children. Then in 1679 Simon was first appointed Commander of the VOC refreshment Station at the Cape and later in 1691 the first Governor of the Cape colony. Simon came to the Cape without his wife from whom he was estranged and would never see her again, but all of his sons were with him at one time or the other at the Cape.

Simon died in 1712 but his son Willem Adrian had succeeded him as Governor in 1699. Under these first two “Coloured” Governors the Cape Colony prospered and underwent major changes. For one the conflictual manner in which van Riebeeck and his successors engaged with indigenes was turned around. The van der Stels felt that settlers should be otherwise focussed in farming diverse crops and raising sheep and aim to produce wool rather than compete with indigenes over keeping cattle herds. They recognised that the Khoena were excellent as cattle farmers and believed that they should be engaged with fairly in trade for cattle under conditions of good neighbourliness. This stand would ultimately lead to the downfall of the van der Stels at the Cape at the hands of those settlers who opposed this approach.

During this period a class of Free Burghers emerged who were referenced by historians as the Free Blacks. These were people of colour who had either been freed from slavery, or who were born from marriages and relationships between slaves, indigenes and Europeans, or who had come from elsewhere as free black travellers. Like other Free Burghers they contributed economically to the development of the colony as craftsmen, farmers, and drivers of commerce. Some of the most successful of the early inhabitants of the Cape Colony, such as Swarte Maria Evert, were Free Blacks. History has not accredited them for their pioneering roles. Under Simon van der Stel the infrastructure of Stellenbosch, Fraschhoek and the Drakenstein developed and his pioneers in this development long before the arrival of the French Huguenots were the Free Blacks.

The pioneer component in the Drakenstein were the Free Black farmers and artisans. By the time of Simon van der Stel’s death there were 17 Free Blacks in the Stellenbosch district of which Franschhoek was a part. Amongst these were artisan craftsmen such as Isaac van Terenate, Rangton of Bali, Anthonie van Saloor, Jafta van der Caab and Johannes Adriaanse. Free Black farmers included Jan van Saloor, Marquart van Saloor, Anthonie van Angola, Manuel van Angola and his wife Elizabeth van der Caab, and Louis van Bengalen. Other Free Black and mixed families settled along the Eerste River. Some of the oldest and most prestigious wine farms in the district were established by Free Blacks.

Amongst the Huguenot families there also were people of colour. The first owners of the farm Rust en Vrede were the French family Jacques and Marie-Madeleine De Savoyes. Their eldest daughter Margo married Christoffel Snyman the son of the Free Black burgers Anthonie from Bengal and Catharina of Palicatte. The Free Black farmer Christoffel Snyman and his French wife Margo, as Marie then called herself, became the second owners of the farm Zandvliet, today known as Solms-Delta. The first owner Silverbach had also been married to a Free Black woman.

The story does not end here. One of the sons of leading French Hugenots Francois and Cornelia Villion (Viljoen), Henning Viljoen, married Margo Snyman, after Christoffel Snyman the Free Black died. Christoffel and Margo had a “Coloured” daughter Catharina who in one of those twists of circumstances, married her step-father`s brother, Johannes Viljoen. Other Huguenot settlers like the Cordiers in my family tree had two of their sons marry free slave sisters. The early days at the Cape did not have entrenched segregation. All of these people were amongst the founders of the Coloured and African communities of today. They are also the black ancestors of many white families. After van der Stel died , Anna de Koningh a free slave and her husband took ownership of Groot Constantia.

Amongst the French Hugenots was also one, Jacob Etienne Gauch the son of French parents, but born in Switzerland in 1684 (Celigny). He came to the Cape in 1691 and settled in Franschhoek under the name Steven Gous. In 1718 he married a 13 year old freed slave girl, Catharina Bok. They had 7 children. When the widow Catharina died in 1767 she was able to bequeath her youngest son the farms “Berg en Dal” and “Klipheuwel”, plus 12,000 guilders in cash.  In the traditional white narratives of Franschhoek the threads of black history under Apartheid was carefully removed from the complex tapestry that should have reflected the diverse heritage of the area.

But in this area and among these people with mixed Indigene, European and diverse Slave roots, a cancer had taken root amongst a small minority within the over 500 Free Burghers. All the venom of this small group of 14 lead personalities and 49 supporters, was aimed at the van der Stels – Governor Willem Adrian in particular. Adam Tas and Huising were relatively new in the Colony and so were most of the supporters. They were not, in the main, the older rooted community that had developed since 1652.

To get a flavour of the mentality of Adam Tas the chief architect of the demise of the van der Stels I quote directly from editor Leo Foche who published the diary of Adam Tas in 1914, wherein he re-enacts in his introduction, all that venomous racism of Tas, Huising and the other co-conspirators in the “Brotherhood” of that time who sought to get rid of the van der Stel legacy.

He uses expressions like “he (Willem Adrian) had betrayed the cloven hoof” and goes on to say……..

“a strangely complex character (Willem Adrian), a character which still remains a mystery to many who have forgotten his mixed descent. His grandmother on his father’s side had been a coloured woman, Monica da Costa known among the Dutch as Maai Monica of the Coast……. But as is frequently the case with persons of mixed blood, the throw-back badness occurred in the third generation. The impression that Willem Adrian leaves upon us is that of the half Oriental. His character was not without its more admirable features, but he lacked balance and self-control, and the moral sense seems to have been entirely wanting….. His Oriental ostentation displayed itself…….His nature was at once weak and domineering……. Van der Stel reveals a character without a trace of honour or shame. His private life was no less reminiscent of his extraction…..(he) displayed all the characteristics of the “Eastern Potentate”.

Leo Fouche’s diatribe on the qualities of Willem Adrian van der Stel, leaves an impression that he knew the man personally but this was 200 years later. Clearly too, this is how Fouche viewed “Coloured” people of his day.

Adam Tas, a Jewish convert to Christianity, was a Dutch adventurer and fortune seeker who came out to the Cape from the Dutch United Provinces in 1697 at the age of 29 to join his aunt and her German husband Henning Huising who was quite a powerful farmer at the Cape of Good Hope. Henning Huising based at his home Meerlust in Stellenbosch was also a cattle rustler who preyed upon the cattle of the free Khoena in defiance of orders from the Governor that forbade stock theft from indigenes. Under van der Stel the official policy towards the Khoena was that they be shown respect and that their cattle and settlements not be touched.

Tas struck lucky when he married a rich widow, Elizabeth von Brakel in 1703 who had a number of farms. He was set for life enjoying a life of leisure, drinking, smoking his pipe and writing. Accounts have it that he was a hard taskmaster who made his workers labour every day even when others gave their labourers days off work. Only having been in the settlement for five years he became a central figure, Secretary of the “Brotherhood”, a movement among some settlers which were antagonistic to the United Dutch East India Company (VOC) which they felt dominated their lives with despotic rules and the officials regulated trade to their own advantage. More specifically the “Brotherhood” were antagonistic to the van der Stel family and to the extended Free Black community which they referred to as “the black brood among us”, as well as to the Governors protection of the Khoena interests. The “Brotherhood” was probably the earliest manifestation of what in the 20th century became the powerful “Broederbond” secret society among Afrikaner Nationalists.

On retiring van der Stel senior had put pen to paper to give Willem Adrian van der Stel guidance in continuing the transformation policies that he had began at the Cape. These highlighted a mixed policy that focussed on the inter reliance of a number of progressive policies related to sustaining the environment such as mass tree-planting, building a strong mixed agricultural economy that expanded into different types of agricultural product especially wool farming, wheat and maize farming, improving relations with indigenes by putting an end to cattle-stealing and terror attacks by Europeans on indigene communities, and care for the indigent.

Willem Adrian found that when they went on trading expeditions to Khoena kraals to formally purchase cattle the Khoena would have no stocks for sale and would complain that bands of Europeans of up to fifty heavily armed men went deep into the interior and robbed and killed Khoena and amaXhosa. These would return to the outskirts of Stellenbosch with large herds of the indigene cattle, which they sold. This cattle would also never be recorded on asset returns that had to be made to the Governor.

Tas, Huising and Jacob van der Heiden were the leading organisers of these killing and thieving expeditions. Faced by the resolute Governor Willem Adrian van der Stel intent on stopping the cattle rustling and murder of indigenes Adam Tas, Huising and the “Brotherhood” agitated among some of the farmers to find a way to get rid of the Governor and to restrict the powers of the VOC officials over them.

Tas and Hüising drafted a petition, accusing the Governor and his officials of abusing the company’s trading monopoly and giving themselves privileges and excessive land so as to dominate Free Burghers. Willem Adrian was singled out and accused of building a palace for himself amongst numerous other exaggerations.

This was coming from men like Tas and Huising who had come to the Cape with nothing just a few years earlier and had amassed huge tracts of land and cattle far beyond what was possible within the bounds of VOC policies.

Fourteen agitators managed to convince only 63 of the 550 free citizens to sign the creative and scurrilous petition and it was secretly sent to the VOC in Amsterdam. When the petition came to light and was initially rejected after 240 of the Free Burghers in the colony drafted a counter petition pointing out the wild exaggerations and giving their support to van der Stel there was an initial sigh of relief that the criminally inspired attempted impeachment of the Governor had been halted.

Tas was arrested in 1706, charged and convicted. Two others were also imprisoned while another was banished to Batavia and others including Henning Huising were sent to Amsterdam for trial.

Faced with the counter petition by 240 of the Free Burghers, outlining how they had lied and exaggerated the situation at the Cape, Tas and Huising played the race card. They said that the signatories could not be taken seriously as it was the word of people tainted by blackness against true Europeans: They said the signatories were ……

“Kaffirs, Mulattoes, Mesticos, Casticos, and all that black brood living among us who have been bred from marriages and other forms of mingling with Europeans and African Christians. To our amazement they have so grown in power, numbers and arrogance…. That they now tell us that they could and would trample us…. For there is no trusting the blood of Ham. (Gham)”.

The outcome however was not what van der Stel and his supporters had expected and was devastating. Willem Adrian was removed from the Cape and his property and livestock auctioned off. Other officials were also removed and new restrictions place on successors. Henning Huising, Tas and others not only won the day but also enriched themselves in taking over the dismissed VOC officials contracts and properties.The merits of the case, the criminal facts about the “Brotherhood” and the counter petition of the 240 was not considered. Two factors overrode all others.

The argument made by Tas, Huising and the original petitioners that the words of 240 Free Burghers against the 63 who signed their petition should not be considered because these were considered to be inferior people – they were Free Citizens but “Of Colour” – notably “the black brood among us” as well as those soft on natives.

The second factor pointed out was that half of the 63 signatories were of French origin and that most of the 63 were prominent members of the militias at the Cape and their disenchantment with the VOC officials may put the Cape at risk because the petitioners could become a friendly force to the interests of France.

As a result Tas and the others were released and Huising and those sent to Amsterdam returned triumphant. Tas renamed his farm – Libertas, to note his victory.

A great injustice took place which successive white nationalist and colonial historians have painted in glowing colours as a freedom fight between the small settler farming community and a despotic, corrupt and greedy VOC government.

More sober historians would later point out that under the van der Stels the most prosperous and balanced developmental period existed at the Cape and that a new framework for sustainable and improved relations with indigenes was laid and that the Free Black population prospered.

These more enlightened historians also began to show the roguishness that had been at work and that the Adam Tas legacy had little to do with championing freedom of any sort. As a result of this victory the real agenda of that small band of European settlers soon emerged with the introduction of pass laws for indigenes, harsher conditions for slaves in terms of freedom of movement and together with the impacts of the smallpox epidemic the growing power of the Free Black community was halted in its tracks.

Indeed Adam Tas laid down the founding intellectual tenets of Apartheid and white overlordship. He was the first to call for codified ‘pass laws’ and controls on all people of colour – indigenes, slaves, Free Blacks and those in mixed marriages.

Notwithstanding that the Cape was a colony and the VOC was a powerful multinational company which had invaded and ran roughshod over the indigene population and imported slaves for the backbreaking work of establishing the Cape Colony, the period of the two “Coloured” Governors of the Cape was a period of greatest vision, imagination, innovation and prosperity for all, which could have resulted in a different historical trajectory.

The Tas episode together with the devastating 1713 smallpox epedemic halted the trajectory of the Cape Colony becoming a different kind of society where people of Colour may have become the dominant force. The smallpox epidemic impacted most negatively on the indigene population numbers and on the Free Blacks and reinforced the newfound dominance of a clique among the post 1685 settlers and their beliefs in racial domination.

In making this assessment and assertions one is not saying that the VOC was not practicing monopoly, nor was not authoritarian…. indeed this was the case across the VOC empire and it would have been unusual for it not to have been evident at the Cape. The issue is whether the van der Stels were despotic and had all of the terrible characteristics that they were accused of and whether the accusers were simply hard done by innocents. As an authority the van der Stels were part of a long line of Commanders and officials at the Cape who careied out the same VOC practices in much more vulgar a fashion but were not challenged. The van der Stels more than any other VOC officials put the Colony on a prosperity track that benfitted all. The track record and later behaviours of the detractors showed highly questionable moarl standards.

The van der Stels had some amazing skills of a scientific, architectural, horticultural and agricultural nature that laid the basis for the development of the south Western Cape. Simon van der Stel also commission ground-breaking work in getting a better idea of the indigene people up both the east and west coasts and had record compiled and drawings made of people, natural habitat and plant life. Both Simon and Willem tried to re-engineer the Cape Settlement and to analyse where the European settlers had gone wrong particularly in relation to the land and its people. White supremacists emerged to stop them and the European authority, the VOC, took their side for reasons of expediency. This is a story of how racism took root at the Cape and where theory joined practice. You wont find this story in the history books.

SOME RESEARCH REFERENCES ON THE VAN DER STEL – TAS CONTROVERSY: The Diary of Adam Tas – Edited and Introduction by Leo Fouche (1914); Simon van der Stele n sy Kinders by A Boeseken (1964) Nassau Bpk, CT; The Shaping of SA Society by Richard Elphick and HermannGiliomee (1989) Maskew Millar Longman, CT; The Afrikaners: Biography of a People by Hermann Giliomee (2003(, Paarlr, CT; New History of SA by H Giliomee and B Mebenga (2007), Tafelberg Pub, CT; South Africa – The House of van der Stel by Ian D Colvin – Romance of Empire Series (1910); Willem Adrian van de Stel and other historical Studies by G McC Theal (1913) Maskew Millar, CT; History of South Africa before 1795 by G McC Theal (1964), Struik, CT; In defence of Willem Adrian van der Stel by HCV Liebbrandt (1897) Precis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope; SA in the making by Whiting Spilhaus, (1966) Juta CT; The Portraits of Simon van der Stel first Governor of the Cape by JB Bedauax, Stellenbosch Paper in Linguistics; Rare Portrait of Simon van der Stel (2012) National Antiques & Decorative Arts Faire, Sandton; That hath been by Dorothea Fairbridge, (1910) CT; Culture In a colonial Context: Africa and the Americas 1500 – 1900 by Adrien Delmas and Nigel Penn.


The Slave and Khoena Ancestors in my Family Tree

Over some 35 years I have been building my family tree and continue to enhance it by visiting and revisiting new information as it comes available. I encourage others to do the same. Today when many make wild claims about their past heritage, FACEunfortunately often with some opportunistic material claim in mind, or others still peddle the false Apartheid and Colonial narrative, I can recommend that there is so much more information out there based on impeccable resources, available to substantiate ones narrative, than when I started out on this quest more than half a lifetime ago. When I first started out on this journey to meet my ancestors, I did not even know who my father was and did not know more than half my 13 siblings. Not only did those questions get answered, I also tracked my ancestry for over 400 years.

Before going into my ancestral heritage I must first give credit to the small but dedicated community of researchers who have made the journey easier. My own painstaking search, particularly in the earlier ‘pre-online’ years has made me truly appreciate the dedication and hard work carried out by scholar researchers of our (much distorted) early history in South Africa. Distortions past and present have made the journey more difficult as one tries to navigate fact and fiction. At times I may disagree with the perspectives held by some researchers and, I have discovered that some researchers themselves now disagree with earlier work of their own. Its all part of the journey. The plurality of perspectives and versions of the past is a reality which will live on forever. Indeed all historical narratives are versions.

The research works that I must here accredit for this short summary just of my Slave and Khoena ancestors (sans an array of French, Dutch, German, Nordic and English/Scots forebears) include:

Names, dates and places: Robertson, Delia – The First Fifty Years project.; and; and CC de Villiers& C Pama – Geslagregisters van ou kaapse families, (Cape Town /Amsterdam); Cape Archive Repository; GISA – South African Genealogies, JA Heese & RJT Lombard;

Narrative sources: Van Riebeeck Society (1958) – Journal of Jan van Riebeeck, Edt HB Thom, Balkema, Cape Town; Mansell G Upham (2012) – Uprooted Lives: Unfurling the Cape of Good hope’s earliest colonial inhabitants 1652 – 1713; Made or marred by time (The other Armozijn & the two Arabian ‘princesses’ at the Cape of Good Hope in 1656); Mansell G Upham (2015) – For Eva’s sake who speaks for Krotoa; Maurice Boucher (1981) – French Speakers at the Cape, UNISA, Pretoria; Karel Schoeman (2009) –  Seven Khoi Lives, Cape biographies of the 16th Century; Karel Schoeman (2007) –  Early Slavery at the Cape of Good Hope 1652 – 1717; Cape Archive Repository Mellet, Huntley, Haddon docs; Patric Tariq Mellet  (2012) – ‘Drawing the Longbow’ at the Cape – Krotoa 

The work of Mansell G Upham is invaluable for both verifying factual information and in getting ones head around the early Cape settlement and many of the various characters that appear in my family tree. He is an exceptional pioneering researcher of primary resources who has beaten a path, holding no holy cows, to give us an amazing different picture to that which we associate with conventional history taught in schools, or the ideological bent that tinges much of what is read. (we all succumb to the latter in some way) I encourage all to go a read his work (available online) and be awakened to a whole new world. The snippets of my own family story informed by his work is just a taster of the gems his work holds and the challenge that it provokes for one to think. The raw and sometimes clumsy information that I gathered over the last 35 years of putting my genealogical record together has been greatly enhanced and at times corrected by comparing my data gleaned from other sources against the more thorough detail and perspective and argument that Upham provides.


Five personalities in my family tree of ancestors emerge from the indigenous Khoena people of the Cape rooted in the Goringhaicona and Hessequa clans. These are Krotoa Goringhaicona, Pieternella Goringhaicona Zaaiman, Caatje Hottentotin Mauritz Voortman, Susanna Fortman le Cordier and Anna Maria Fortman le Cordier.

Krotoa Eva Goringhaicona van Meerhof (Havgardt)  1642 – 1674 is one of my 9th great grandmothers. Kratoa (bn 1642) was born into the Goringhaicona clan of maroons made up of drifters from other clans (Goringhaiqua, Gorachoqua, Cochoqua) who settled at the Camissa River mouth in Table Bay to trade with passing ships under the leadership of her uncle Autshumao (bn  ). She also enjoyed a special relationship with the clan that her sister married into – the Cochoqua. The Khoena trading settlement around the Camissa dating from around 1630 represents the earliest foundations of what became the City of Cape Town. It is possible from the description of Kratoa’s appearance that she had paternal or ancestral links with a passing European seaman. She was taken into the fort de Goede Hoop by the van Riebeeck family to be a servant at the age of 10 years. By the age of 15 and for the next six years she worked as an interpreter and emissary for the VOC commander in his interaction with the Khoena. Over 200 times in 65 entries in the Journal of Commander Jan van Riebeeck there are references about her or attributed to her. Her life was a complex one. For a teenage woman at that time she played a remarkable role in a man’s world, besides the fact of her mastery of language. While at first the Commander praised her work, later he suspected her of treachery and aiding her people by providing him with dubious interpretation and information and possibly providing useful information to his enemy. He accusingly referred to her as “drawing the longbow” a reference to misleading him in favour of her own people, and their relationship soured. In 1662 she was baptised as a Christian and married a Danish employee of the VOC -Pieter (Havgardt) van Meerhof in 1664. They were then bundled off to live on Robben Island seemingly to get her out of the way. Mansell Upham, who has been doing some of the most comprehensive research on Krotoa shows that four, possibly five of her eight children were born on Robben Island. In the last ten years of her life and especially after her husband died away in Madagascar in 1668, she was marginalised, ostracised and vilified by the settler community and she became an alcoholic, leading a wretched existence. She had given birth to two children in her teens in 1661 (Jacobus) and in 1663 (Pieternella) before she was married, the first fathered by unknown official and the second likely to be the daughter of Pieter van Meerhof. Historian Mansell G Upham’s research shows that in 1664 Krotoa had a third child who died in infancy and in 1666 she and Pieter van Meerhof had a fourth child Salomon and a fifth child who also died as an infant. After van Meerhof’s death Kratoa had Jeronimus van der Kaap (1670), another child who died as an infant and Anthoniij van Meerhof (1673). The last third of her life clearly seems to have been filled with multiple layers of unfulfilled dreams and trauma. Contradicting voices emerge from accounts of personal interaction which suggests that everything may not be as clear as some would like to believe. Hers is an unfinished story. A few years before her death, her children were removed from her by the church authorities who had deceived her. She had faced incarceration on many occasions and on having her children removed from her she was banished to Robben Island until her death. She died in 1674, only around 32 years old. My family line traces through her daughter Pieternella Saayman (bn 1663).

Pieternella Goringhaicona (van Meerhof) Saayman 1663 – 1713 is one of my 8th great grandmothers. She was the daughter of Krotoa Goringhaicona born the year before she married Pieter van Meerhof, who is likely to be her father. According to the research of Mansell G Upham, in March 1669 she and two of her siblings were wrested from Krotoa and given over to the care of a VOC official Jan Reiniersz and his wife Lijsbeth Jans by order of the Dutch Reformed Church Counsel because they believed Krotoa was no longer able to care for her children. Krotoa was arrested later in March and banished until the end of her days to Robben Island. Reiniersz in turn passed the responsibility for the care of the Meerhof children on to an associate, the notorious Barbara Geems. Far from being the ‘honest and godly people’ so described by the Church Counsel, Reiniersz was a notorius livestock thief and his associate Geems was accused of being a whoremonger and running a brothel. In 1677 Pieternella and her brother Salomon van Meerhof were shipped off to Mauritius as wards of Theuntje Bartholomeus van der Linde and her husband Bartholomeus Borns on the ship ‘De Boode’. The older brother Jacobus was later also sent off to Mauritius to join them. He would later be sent back to the Cape but died mysteriously on the return voyage. The records are quiet about the fate of Krotoa’s other two children Jeronimus and Anthonij except for the fact that Anthonij died in the smallpox epidemic of 1713. Pieternella was to return to the Cape with her husband Daniel Saayman after the Dutch East India Company (VOC) abandoned Mauritius. She died aged 50 in Stellenbosch in that fateful year of the smallpox epidemic in 1713. Daniel died the following year. Krotoa’s descendants can be traced through four of Petronella’s 8 children – through Catharina Zaaijman Diodata and her daughters in Jakarta; through Magdalene Zaaijman Bockelenberg; through Maria Zaaijman de Vries; and through Pieter Zaaijman (bn 1686) and their offspring. Four other children died young. My lineage flows from Pieter Zaaijman (bn 1688 in Mauritius) and Anna Maria Koopman (bn 1690) and their son Bartholomeus Zaaiman (bn1717) who was married to Anna van Biljon (bn 1724). Their son Bernadus Lambertus Zaaiman (1752) was married to Gertruyda Johanna Willemse (bn 1752) and were the parents of Bartholomeus Saayman (bn 1781) who married Aletta Johanna Cecelia van der Vyver (bn 1781). Their son Barend Saayman (bn 1810) married Gertruida Willemse (bn c 1815) whose daughter Elizabeth Saayman (bn c 1838) married Jacobus Johannes Mellet (bn 1822) and were the parents of my great grandfather Petrus Francois Mellet (bn 1864). Notably through Gertruyda Johanna Willemse (bn 1752) this is another of my slave heritage lines (see… The Slave Connection).

Johanna Catharina (Tol) Mauritz van der Kaap (bn c 1700) (aka Caatje Hottentotin Mauritz or Catharina Hottentotin Mauritz) (probably Hessequa) was married to Heinrich Voortman from Hamburg in 1759 but they had already had 8 children between 1735 and 1756).

Two of their daughters Anna Maria Fortman vdk (bn 1735) and Susanna Fortman vdk (bn 1745) married two le Cordier brothers – Johannes le Cordier (bn 1725) and Jurgen le Cordier (bn 1731) respectively. Both sisters and both brothers feature in my family tree. The le Cordier boys were the sons of Philippe le Cordier (bn 1698) and Elizabeth Malherbe (bn 1697).  Philippe le Cordier was the son of Huguenot refugees Louis le Cordier (bn 1656) from Orleanais in France and Francois Martinet (bn 1679) from Champagne-Ardenne in France. In the Cape the French language was discouraged in favour of Dutch so many of the French names changed. In the case of le Cordier variations such as Cordier, Cordeur, and Cortje were used.

Caatje Hottentotin (Johanna Catharina Tol Mauritz vdk is one of my 5th great grandmothers. Both of her daughters are amongst my 4th great grandmothers. All three represent Khoena heritage in my family tree along with that of one of my 9th great grandmothers and 8th great grandmothers Krotoa and Pieternella Goringhaicona. Caatje (Catharina) is likely to be of Hessequa lineage as her place of abode was in the Roodezand (Tulbagh) district.

Susanna and Jurgen le Cordier had a son Anthonie Louis le Cordier (bn 1789) who married Anna Hartman (bn  ). Their son Josef Michiel Anthonie le Cordier (bn 1829) married Anna la Grange (bn  ). Their son in turn, Anthonie le Cordier, was my paternal great grandfather  – my grandmother Elsie Petronella le Cordier’s father.

Susanna’s sister, Anna Maria Fortman vdk and Johannes le Cordier had a daughter Susanna Cordier (bn 1761) who married John Jacob Ziegler (bn c 1752). Their daughter Susanna Catharina Ziegler (bn 1780) married Johannes Ernst Volschenk (bn 1771) and their daughter Sarah Adriana Volschenk (bn 1804) married Jan Christiaan Steyl (bn 1793). Their daughter Maria Christina Steyl (bn 1824) married Willem van der Vyver (bn 1823). Their daughter Johanna Louisa van der Vyver (bn 1838) married Hermanus Joacobus Johannes Steyn (bn 1840) whose daughter Susanna Catharina Francina Steyn (bn1869) was my great grandmother (paternal lineage) who married my great grandfather Petrus Francois Mellet (bn 1864). Their son Pieter Francois Mellet is my grandfather and my father too was named Pieter Francois Mellet.

Two more lines within this section of my family tree go back to slave ancestors – Volschenk/van Graan and Steyn. (see under section on slave ancestors)


The slaves in my family tree are from diverse origins. The earliest of the slaves in my heritage were two sisters Lijsbeth and Cornelia Arabus, two royal children 10 and 12 years respectively who came from Madagascar from a royal family with roots first in the horn of Africa and Arabia who then migrated to Sulawesi in Indonesia and then onto Madagascar. Then there was Lijsbeth Sanders van der Kaap; Gerbregcht Herbst;Tamara of Madagascar; Armosijn de Groote van der Kaap; Armosijn de Cleine van der Kaap; Marij of Angola; Maria Lozee van der Kaap; Jacobus Steyn van der Kaap; Maria Groothenning van der Kaap; Anna Groothenning van Bengal (bay of Bengal captured from Myanmar); Anna Verkouter; Johannes Vosloo; Mosesz van Makassar (captured in South Sulawesi); Sara van Makassar (captured in Celebes); Rebecca Mosesz van der Kaap; Maria Cornelisse Claasen van der Kaap; Catharina van Malabar/Coromandel; Lijsbeth van Bengal; Anna Pieterse; Darius van Bengal; and Francina NN (my maternal great grandmother). These 23 personalities are in my direct line of decedents from Africa, Madagascar, South East Asia and India. By association there are many more slaves in my indirect family line.

The earliest of my slave ancestors worked in the van Riebeeck household alongside my earliest Khoena ancestor Krotoa. Lijsbeth Arabus born in Madagascar in 1645 and Cornelia  Arabus born in Madagascar in 1647 are both 8th great grandmothers in my family tree. The Dutch husband of one of my other earliest direct slave ancestor’s Catharina van Malabar was also the father to Cornelia’s daughter. Because of this intricate connection these are the only great aunt and offspring that I include in immediate family. Should I include other slavery-rooted aunts, uncles and cousins the list of 24 would grow dramatically.

In 1656 two enslaved child captives from the Madagascar Zafaraminia royal line going back to Sumatra/Arabia/Abyssinia, were originally gifted to Maria van Riebeeck by French Admiral de la Roche – St Andre of a visiting French fleet of four ships – la Duchess, St Joris, La Erman and La Marechale. This fleet was part of a broader French Fleet intending a major occupation of parts of Madagascar.

But in 1659 the visiting VOC Commissioner Rijckloff van Goens ordered that the gift to the van Riebeecks was not to be interpreted as personal and, that the two girls were possessions of the Company (VOC).  Van Goens gave permission for Lijsbeth to serve in the home of Geertruida and Pieter van Stael the sick comforter and Cornelia to serve in the house of Meijnsje and Frederick Verburgh. Later Lijsbeth was reallocated as a slave to VOC gardener Hendrik Hendrikz Boom and then to successive VOC gardeners Jacob Rosendal and his wife Barbara Geems, and later to Herman Gresnicht. For a while in 1666 Lijsbeth was the slave of Barbara Geems (the widow of Jacob Rosendal) who remarried to Hendrik Gulix. Geems was said to be running a brothel after the death of her husband (ref Upham and Schoeman)

On the available evidence Lijsbeth Arabus was the mother of  Aromosyn (de Groote) van der Kaap (1657 – 1713); Lijsbeth Sanders (Everts) van der Kaap (1658 – 1744); and Pieter Willemz (Africano / aka Tamboer)(1660 – 1729)

Lijsbeth Sanders van der Kaap is one of my 7th great grandmothers.

Cornelia Arabus (bn ) was allocated to VOC Secunde, Roeloff de Man, and later possibly went into the service of VOC Secunde, Abraham Gabbema. On the available evidence Cornelia Arabus was the mother of Armosyn (de Cleinje) van der Kaap (1661 – 1733) and Claes Cornelius van der Kaap (1663 – 1719).

Cornelia is my 9th great Aunt. Her daughter Armosijn de Cleine vdk is my first cousin 9 times removed. Armosijn de Groote vdk is one of my 8th great aunts.

Lijsbeth Sanders van der Kaap was a child who was passed around from pillar to post until she was purchased  in 1671 at the age of 12 by the stepson of Barbara Geems, Adrian Willemz van Brakal.

Lijsbeth had remained with her mother in her early childhood, while her mother worked for the gardeners from the Staels to Barbara Geems, but is noted to have been sold from the VOC into private hands in 1665 at 8 years old to Mattijs Coeijmans who was also the owner of Anna van Guinea who effectively then became the foster mother to Lijsbeth (with Swart Maria Evert being her foster sister). Evert van Guinea who was the de facto husband to Anna, had been given his freedom by Jan van Riebeeck, also purchased Anna’s freedom from Coeijmans 1671.

It can be deduced that Lijsbeth was a rebellious teen who was prone to getting involved with bad company. In 1678 she was arrested with two young men for breaking into the house of Louis van Bengal and stealing a gold ring and silver buttons. As a result of her conviction she was legally ceded by her owner Brakal, to the ownership of Louis van Bengal in terms of reparation as a result of her criminal action against him.

At 19 Lijsbeth Sanders vdk now the slave of Free Black citizen, Louis van Bengal who effectively became her fourth owner and her de facto husband and, father to three of her children. Louis gave Lijsbeth her freedom after 5 years when she and her two enslaved children were manumitted by him in 1683. In 1687 she and Louis entered into a formal recorded engagement to be married, according to Lijsbeth, on condition that he stopped beating her. In the course of her living with Louis, she had three children with him – Elizabeth Louisz (1680), Anna Louisz (1683) and Maria Louisz (1686).

But in 1685 after having an affair with an English farm hand who was employed by Louis, Willem Teerling, she had another child Willem Teerling jnr, but continued to reside under the roof of Louis and indeed had her third child with Louis. The affair with Teerling continued under Louis nose and in 1688 Louis twice took Lijsbeth to court for infidelity and breaking her formal promise that they would be married. But it was Louis that had dragged his feet in not already having married her. His excuse was that she was not yet a Christian. On the second occasion in court he sued both Lijsbeth and Teerling but Louis came away from court with an order that favoured Lijsbeth in that he had to pay costs for the upkeep of Lijsbeth and the Teerling child. He had asked the court to reinstate her into slavery and that was not granted. In 1689 Lijsbeth had another child with Teerling, Clara, sometime before moving on to her next relationship.

In 1696 Lijsbeth was again caught for burglary and stealing and given a sentence whereby she was flogged and given over to undergo 3 years of hard labour in chains. At the age of 37 and already having 3 children Lijsbeth had reached the lowest point in her life.

Sometime after being released in 1699, having completed her sentence, this 40 year old woman began a new life with Jan Herfst and had her last child Gerbrecht Herfst (Herbst) in 1702. Jan had also had a previous relationship with a slave by the name of Cecelia van Angola and they had a child Angenietie van der Kaap the sister of Gerbrecht.

Gerbrecht Herbst married Johannes Vosloo son of Johann Vosloo and a slave, Tamara van Madagascar.

Johann snr had relationships with five different slave women from which six children were born. Helena van Malabar (child – Jannetjie vdk); Nasana van Madagascar (child – Helena Vosloo); Tamara van Madagascar (children – Johannes Vosloo & Maria Vosloo) Some references show Helena van Malabar as mother to Johannes; Apollonia van Bagada (child – Casper Vosloo);  Catrijn van Madagascar (child Catrijn). Records show that these were slaves whom were owned by Johann snr, some of whom, with their children were given their freedom.

Gerbrecht daughter of Lijsbeth Sanders van der Kaap married a man born out of a similar tumultuous scenario of multiple relationships amongst slaves and freemen as dominated her mother’s life and grandmother before. Lijsbeth Sanders vdk lived a long life until the age of 85 when she died in 1744. We can only assume that the lack of any further records of a criminal or relationship nature means that she finally found peace and settled down.

The son of Gerbrecht Herbst and Johannes Vosloo (bn 1694) by the name of Arnoldus Vosloo (1724) married Anna Catharina Verkouter (bn 1737) the daughter of Frans Verkouter (bn1660) and Maria Groothenning.(bn1703) – (daughter of Darius van Bengal (bn 1677) and Anna Groothenning van Bengal (bn 1676) – origin Myanmar or Laos. She was bought or taken captive by Cornelis Keeleman skipper of De Spiegel in 1698.

Arnoldus Vosloo and Anna Catharina Verkouter had a son, also Arnoldus Vosloo (bn 1763) who was married to Anna Spies had a daughter Martha Vosloo who married Johannes la Grange whose daughter Anna la Grange married Josef le Cordier, father of paternal great-grandfather Anthony le Cordier, father of grandmother Elsie Petronella (le Cordier) Mellet (bn 1900).

Mosesz van Makassar (captured in South Sulawesi) (bn 1651) was married to Sara van Makassar (captured in Celebes) (bn 1667) and had a daughter Rebecca Mosesz van der Kaap (bn 1683) who married Otto Ernst van Graan (bn 1651). Their daughter Sara van Graan (bn 1709) married Evert Jansen Volschenk (1705) the son of Johannes Ernst Volschenk (bn 1755) and Catharina Johanna Vermeulen (bn 1744). It is their daughter in this section of my family tree – Sara Adriana Steyl nee Volschenk (bn 1804) who traces back to the Indonesian slave ancestors and she is one of my fourth great grandmothers. Her forebears – Mosesz and Sara van Makassar, are two of my 9th great grandparents.

Maria Lozee van der Kaap (bn 1666) was a creole slave born at the Slave Lodge (Lozee) in Cape Town to Marij van Angola (bn c 1638) and an unknown father. She married Douwe Gerbrand Steyn (bn 1660). Maria and Douwe only had a female child together – Antie Steyn (bn 1692), but Douwe adopted Maria’s son Jacobus NN van der Kaap (bn 1683) and gave him the name Steyn. We do not know who the father of Jacobus was. He could have been another slave or a European. All of this branch of the Steyn family (there are later European Steyn arrivals) have Jacobus son of Maria Lozee vdk as their progenitor. Maria Lozee Steyn married again after Douwe Steyn’s death to Paul Heyns.

Jacobus Steyn married Maria Potgieter (bn1687) in 1704 and from this union most Steyns in South Africa are descended. (A number of other later Steyns also married free slaves). The child of Jacobus and Maria Steyn from whom I am descended was Jacobus Steyn jnr (bn 1723) who married Susanna Fourie (bn c 1730) and their son Douwe Gerbrand Steyn (bn 1759) married Maria Malan (bn 1763). Then their son Hermanus J Steyn (bn 1794) married Susanna Steyn (1796) and they had a son Hermanus Hendrikus Steyn (bn 1816) who married Christina Lourens (bn 1822) and their son Hermanus JJ Steyn (bn 1840) was my great great grandfather who married Johanna Louiza van der Vyver (bn c 1845). Their daughter Susanna Catharina Francina Steyn (bn 1869) married my grandfather Petrus Francois Mellet (bn 1864).]

Catharina van Malabar / Coast of Coromandel (bn 1650) was one of two slave partners of Cornelius ‘Kees de Boer’ Claasz from Utrecht, Netherlands (the other being Isabella van Angola). They were the parents of Maria Cornelisz (Claasen) (bn 1678) who was married to Gerrit Willemse (bn 1670) who were the parents of Mattheus Gerhardus Willemse (bn 1711) married to Johanna van Wieligh (bn 1716). They were the parents of Gertruyda Johanna Willemse (bn 1752) who married Bernadus Lambertus Zaaiman (bn 1752) whose son Bartholomeus was grandfather to Elizabeth Saayman (bn c 1838) who married my great great grandfather Jacobus Johannes Mellet (bn 1822).

Lisbeth van Bengal (bn 1643) was another of the earliest slaves at the Cape who is a 9th great grandmother in my family tree. She was captured in the Bay of Bengal region, most likely Myanmar, taken to Batavia (Jakarta0 and then brought to the Cape and sold to Jan van Riebeeck by Rear Admiral Pieter Kemp in 1657. She had around 8 children by different fathers. Her fourth child born around 1663 was fathered by a Pieter NN and the child was named Anna Pietersz. Anna was born into slavery as her mother and her were only freed ten years later in 1673. She later married Anthonij de Later van Japan a fellow freed slave. Anna Pietersz (bn 1663) married Matthys van Wijk (bn 1645) and their daughter Elizabeth van Wyk (1679) married Nikolaus von Wielligh. Their daughter Johanna von Wielligh (1716) married Mattheus Willemse (1711) and their daughter Gertruyda Johanna Willemse (bn 1752) married Bernardus Lambertus Zaaiman (bn 1752) great grandfather to Elizabeth Saayman (bn c 1838)  who married my great great grandfather Jacobus Johannes Mellet (1822).

Twenty-eight Khoena and Slave Personalities in my family tree

  1. Kratoa Goringhaicona (Eva van Meerhof) 9th great grandmother (Khoena)
  2. Pieternella Saayman 8th great grandmother (Khoena)
  3. Johanna Catharina Mauritz (Caatje Hottentotin) 5th great grandmother (Khoena)
  4. Susanna Fortman 4th great grandmother (Khoena)
  5. Anna Maria Fortman 4th great grandmother (Khoena)
  6. Lijsbeth Arabus 8th great grandmother (Slave Africa/Sumatra/Madagascar)
  7. Cornelia Arabus 9th great Aunt (Slave Africa/Sumatra/Madagascar)
  8. Armozijn de Groote van der Kaap 9th great aunt (Slave Cape Creole)
  9. Armozijn de Cleine van der Kaap first cousin 9 times removed. (Slave Cape Creole)
  10. Lijsbeth Sanders van der Kaap 7th great grandmother (Slave Cape Creole)
  11. Gerbrecht Herbst van der Kaap 6th great grandmother (Slave Cape Creole)
  12. Tamara van Madagascar 7th great grandmother (Slave Madagascar)
  13. Johannes Vosloo (van der Kaap) 6th great grandfather (Slave Cape Creole)
  14. Anna Groothenning van Bengal 7th great grandmother (Slave bay of Bengal Myanmar/Burma)
  15. Darius van Bengal 7th great grandfather (Slave Bay of Bengal Myanmar/Burma South E Asia)
  16. Maria Groothenning (van der Kaap) 6th great grandmother (Slave Cape Creole)
  17. Anna Verkouter (van der Kaap) 5th great grandmother (daughter of freed Slave Cape Creole)
  18. Mosesz van Makassar (Sulwesi) 9th great grandfather (Slave South Sulawesi South E Asia)
  19. Sara van Makassar (Celebes) 9th great grandmother (Slave Celebes South E Asia)
  20. Rebecca Mosesz van der Kaap 8th great grandmother (Slave Cape Creole)
  21. Catharina van Malabar/Coast of Coromandel 8th great grandmother (Indian Slave)
  22. Maria Cornelisse (Claasen) 7th great grandmother (Slave Cape Creole)
  23. Marij van Angola 9th great grandmother (African Slave Angola)
  24. Maria Lozee (van der Kaap) 8th great grandmother (Slave Cape Creole)
  25. Jacobus (NN van der Kaap) Steyn 7th great grandfather (Slave Cape Creole)
  26. Lijsbeth van Bengal 9th great grandmother (Slave Myanmar South E Asia)
  27. Anna Pieterse 8th great grandmother (Slave Cape creole)
  28. Francina (NN van der Kaap) maternal 1st great grandmother, (daughter freed Slave Cape Creole)

My generation and the younger generation in our family continued to rebel against imposed conventions and disregard boundaries of ethnicity, colour, culture, language and faith differences in choosing their partners in life and thus children continue to be born with more and more cultural diversity added to the mix. Today’s generation in our family include European, Camissa (‘coloured’), Indian, Griqua, Nama, amaXhosa, Euro-African…. but to us its just family, like its always been.

That first Camissa footprint that emerged strongly over more than a century between the 1615 and the 1750s and then steadily continued at a less visible pace over the years since then has got new life since the demise of Apartheid. The community that sprung up around the Camissa River mouth both before and after 1652 offers a beacon to all that the notion of race, race exclusivity and racist practices and its prejudices belongs in the rubbish bin of history.


High Treason – A few fateful days in October

A film-play written by Patric Tariq Mellet ©



The story of Louis van Mauritius takes place against the following backdrop.

From 1652 – 1834 slavery was a formal institution in the Cape Colony and spread across South Africa as the Boers trekked into the interior to set up new colonised territories after abolition of slavery in 1834. Even in the Cape Colony, after emancipation, so-called ‘prize slaves’ continued to be brought in until 1856 and were then placed with employers under long indenture contracts which differed very little from slavery. Between the years 1652 – 1808 there were 63 000 first generation slaves brought to the Cape and then at least another 8000 ‘prize slaves’ from 1808 – 1856. Their children and successive grandchildren were born into slavery. (These figures do not include those many unrecorded slaves brought to the Cape nor the thousands of indigene Khoena and San frontier slaves and other indigene African slaves taken by Boer commandos beyond the borders of the Cape).

The first generation slaves brought from other lands include 17 315 slaves from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; then 42 150 slaves from Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius; and a further 13 545 from South East Asian territories such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Formosa and other places. In 1806 British rule replaced the rule by the United Dutch East India Company under the Batavian Republic.


This story of 1808 has everything dramatists dream of – an amazing array of characters, tragic childhood, love, anger, dissatisfaction, a revolutionary world climate, the meeting of different cultures, a tavern conspiracy and intrigue, clandestine organisation, a tragedy, comedy, a rebel campaign, betrayal, a military clash, internment and interrogation, a turncoat, courtroom drama, a prison escape, brutal executions, slavery conditions and the quest for equality and freedom. It is an amazing story of a freedom seeking rebellion by the victims of the terrible system of slavery at the Cape.

Louis of Mauritius (1778 – 1808), the main character in this story was only five years old when William Wilberforce formed the Abolition Society in England in 1783.  At this time slaves were still pouring into the Cape now mainly being trafficked from East Africa. The practice continued to grow and after British rule in 1806, slave prices increased fourfold. By the time Louis turned ten years of age, the French Revolution had erupted and the declaration of the rights of man circulated widely. This had a great impact on the Cape. Within the next decade abolitionists such as Dr Johannes van der Kemp were active in the Cape and slave revolt and disobedience spread.

In Louis’ teen years the world was erupting. A series of events unfolded that would have a major influence on the destiny of Louis of Mauritius. In 1791 rebellion 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 named the Republic of Haiti.

In 1794 the abolition of slavery was also declared in France. In 1794 the Maroon War in Jamaica 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. The first British governor at the Cape in 1806 had been in Ireland during this rebellion which had been put down by the same Dragoons which put down the revolt by Louis of Mauritius.

The impact of the ructions in Europe was first felt in the Cape when it was occupied by the British in 1795. Having just returned the Cape back to the Batavian Republic in 1803 Britain and France were again at war with Batavia in the French camp. Thus the war visited the Cape Colony. Then ironically the military resistance against the British occupation forces at the Battle of Blaauwberg saw the fiercest resistance by conscripted slaves, Free Blacks and Khoena who were indispensable to the French aligned colonial forces. Having overpowered Dutch Batavian forces at the Cape and releaved its government from the Council for Asiatic Possessions of the Batavian Republic (Jakarta) in 1806 the British took over the Cape permanently by purchasing the Colony from the Dutch as part of the peace treaty. In 1807 bowing to the relentless campaign of William Wilberforce and others, the British Parliament also voted to outlaw the transoceanic trade in slaves.

Previously the Cape was under the control of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The VOC rule in the Cape since 1652 came to an end in 1795. The VOC collapsed under the burden of debt in 1798. Louis was working on the Table Bay waterfront at this time which was a mine of information about what was going on around the world. The seamen’s grapevine of stories would have had the young Louis enthralled. At this time Louis was hired out to work as a coolie – a porter or stevedore, which also gave him the chance to mingle with other slaves in similar circumstances.

The October Revolt in 1808

Over a few fateful days in October 1808, the year after the British bowed to the abolitionist campaign of Wilberforce and others by its Parliament voting to stop the transoceanic slave trade, a remarkable Slave Rebellion involving almost 340 participants took place at the Cape of Good Hope. Setting out from a farm named Bird’s Song (Vogelgezang) in the Swartland two columns of slave rebels imprison the farmers on 34 farms and released the slaves while moving on Cape Town where they aimed to remove the colonial government by force and replace it with freed slaves. The revolt was halted by Lord Caledon’s Dragoon cavalry and all participants were captured.

Hastily before the unique mass ‘treason trial’, the executions and the punishments that followed, Governor du Preez known as Lord Caledon, who had been taken completely by surprise, sought to downplay this event in communications to his superiors and to the British Crown. A major set of contradictions stands out between Caledon’s initial evaluation contained in a letter to Viscount Castlereagh on 11 November 1808 and the information that came out in the course of the trial. So much was this the case that Lord Caledon exercised a veto of much of the outcomes of the trial.

Lord Caledon presented the events as just ‘a slight disturbance to the tranquility at the Cape’. He painted it as a folly visited upon its unsuspecting participants who really did not know what was happening to them. He presents Louis as a misguided foolish slave unduly influenced and encouraged by a couple of Irish vagabonds. Notably while the court found one of the Irishmen, Michael Kelly, to be guilty of treason and he was given the death sentence, Lord Caledon reversed this and the scoundrel, clearly a turncoat, was set free. Of 16 death sentences handed down by the Court, Caledon set aside 11. He took great pains to lessen the magnitude of what had occurred. James Hooper, the other Irishman was executed along with slave leaders Louis, Abraham, Cupido and Jeptha. The mass of followers were said to have been tricked by just a handful of people.

The matters which arose in the trial and the convictions and sentences passed, contradicted Lord Caledon’s approach. The information put before the Court showed that despite the setbacks and failure of the revolt, it was relatively well organised and that a critical number of participants clearly knew what they were doing and why they were following this course of action. It was an organised quest for freedom and had the hallmarks of military style insurrection.

The largest ever Treason Trial in South Africa’s history took place in 1808 as a result of those few fateful days and, only the 1956 Treason Trial involving Nelson Mandela and 156 defendants ever came near in size and gravity to the 1808 trial.

Caledon moved quickly to intervene at the end of the trial with a combination of pardons and interpretations of the event, seeking actively to downplay matters so as to align the outcomes and punishments with his original assessment which contrasts starkly and glaringly with the story that emerges from the treason trial. Caledon was highly aware of the sensitivity of slavery in British politics coming so soon after Wilberforce’s victory in Parliament.

This is the story of Louis and those few fateful days in October 1808 and the Treason Trial and executions that followed. It was a historic moment that had major repercussions in the years that followed. The event is muted in South African history.

Prominent UCT historian Nigel Worden in his appraisal of the event in a newspaper feature article celebrating the 200th anniversary of the event, in October 2008, says:

“It (the 1808 rebellion) was an amazing feat of organisation, given the poor communications of the time, lack of any military experience, the long distances covered between town and countryside, difficult terrain, and the complexity of the plan itself. Added to this is the relative orderliness and discipline of the operation and the extent to which it had proceeded before it was checked, by the mounted, armed and most experienced military force of the times. For a small group of committed conspirators to have achieved this is quite phenomenal, given the context”.


Scene 1 (Port Louis, Isle de France, also known as Mauritius)

Just after the midnight hour in the morning of 29 October 1780 in the harbour of Port Louis, Isle de France, also known as Mauritius, a young woman sneaked her way onto the French Ship Marie Claire. She has done this a number of times before as the lady love of her dashing young French Ensign, long since back in France. He had promised to fetch her on his next voyage but had not turned up since. In fact he had promised her the earth.

Now three years later Eve was determined to meet up with him and show him their handsome young son conceived on one of their wonderful nights of passion. This time she and the young boy she carried on board were stowaways who hid away in the same corner of the hold, piled high with provisions, where she and her Ensign lover would meet for their trysts. Alongside the provisions were all sorts of goods from South East Asia bound for the merchants in Europe.

She had given the young 4 year old lad something to keep him sleeping least he give away their presence. In the hold next door to the provisions hold was a keep holding 40 souls bound for sale as slaves. The ship was not designed for carrying slaves but the trade in what was called ‘Black Gold’ was lucrative and the ship’s Captain had purchased these slaves to fulfill an order and this cargoi were as good as bought. The Captain expected casualties along the way but if he could at least get two thirds of these strapping and talented bodies to the destination, he would make a tidy fortune.

The ship has been made ready to leave at 5 bells and all were asleep after the revelry some hours earlier.

Once settled in, Eve waited and on the five bells she heard the Busan’s whistle and the ship’s crew came to life and felt the ship shudder and bob as it glided out of Port Louis and headed out to the high seas. The young boy stirred a few times and murmured, but in their hiding places penned in by sacks of provisions and in the din of the wailing of the wretched souls in the keep alongside them, Eve did not have to worry.

Scene 2 (a storm at sea leads to tragedy)

Mauritius was now far from sight and Eve and her son were still well hidden. When the boy awoke she had him venture to another spot behind the sacks so that he could urinate. Eve fed him some bread smeared with fat and slivers of goats cheese and then again gave him a sleeping potion in some milk. She had to make sure that when they were found the Captain would have no choice but to take them to France. She was sure that once there, her beloved Ensign would claim her for his own and be overjoyed to see and hold their son.

The ship by this time was now bouncing and lurching and rocking on the stormy sea. It was a frightening night and Eve was thrice knocked off her feet and clutched wildly with one hand at the beams, the sacks and anything that would keep her steady and safe. At the same time using the other hand she tried to hold her sleeping young boy in place in the makeshift bed-come-hammock that she had made from material strung between two bulwarks in a gap behind the sacks in the corner. There was only place there for one and this space protected and steadied the lad from all but the rocking; and he slept throughout.

Eve’s balancing act came to an abrupt end when the ship literally went into a violent fall between two swells of the sea outside. Her head sharply hit against a beam as she catapulted into the air and fell to the floor with a thud. At the same time two sacks came down on her pinning her to the floor and crushing the life from her.

Scene 3 (on board the Marie Claire the boy stowaway and dead mother is discovered)

The sea had calmed and outside on deck the crew were cleaning up, repairing masts and sails under an already tense morning sun. There was no land in sight. The groans from the keep, holding the slaves, were only broken by the occasional shouts of anger or anguish from among those in that wretched condition. Then a child’s screaming pierced the air and all on deck, not least of all the Captain were visibly startled.

The sedative had worn off and the hungry child began fumbling about calling for his mother in the dark. He felt her leg and arm and its lifelessness and her silence left him frightened. His sniffing and sobbing quickly grew into a crescendo of high pitched screams of terror.

The Captain ordered a party of the crew to go and find who was screaming like a lanced piglet and bring the culprit up on deck.

Soon the child was brought up on deck shortly followed by two of the crew carrying the lifeless body of Eve and unceremoniously the dumped the corpse on deck.

The Captain was flabbergasted. He immediately broke out in a litany of profanities cursing all stowaways, bitches and whores, and then lamented the fact that he had a little bastard brat on board. The boy had the features of a Mulatto and spoke a childish version of the Creole French common around the harbour district’s mixed pot of free blacks, suspected pirate crews, opportunist merchants, underclass creoles and marooned European seamen.

Though bruised and battered, the lifeless body of Eve showed her to be a rather beautiful Mulatto wench and from her attire he assumed her to be one of the many sugar girls that hung around the bars frequented by seamen. Why she chose to stowaway and on his ship and with her bastard brat he could not fathom. All amount of questioning his men produced no answers.

He commanded that one of the slave women be brought on deck and cleaned up and then be ordered to care for the brat and some make shift quarters be created for the two of them, preferably below decks near the provisions hold. They were to be fed the same diet as the other slaves, and the toddler would be entered into the ship’s record as a slave. He named the child after Port Louis. The Captain decided there and then that he would recoup his losses and make a little profit by selling little Louis on the ship’s arrival at the Cape of Good Hope. The ship’s Captain assumed the boy to be 3 or 4 years old. This is how Louis van Mauritius was enslaved.

Scene 4. (the quayside at Cape of good Hope waterfront – sale of Louis van Mauritius into slavery)

On arrival at the Cape of Good Hope the Captain of the Marie Claire immediately made it known that he had a male toddler Mulatto slave to dispose of and sought a suitable buyer who could raise the child and prepare him for a gainful life of service.

Willem Kirsten the locally born son of a successful German settler and his wife Maria Catharina Grove whom he had married only three years earlier answered the call for a buyer and the young motherless lad, named Louis, became the property of the couple and was registered as Louis van Mauritius.

The Kirsten couple were fascinated with the young slave and intrigued by the Captain’s story of his discovery as a stowaway. Willem and Maria were determined to get the best out of the young boy and to do so they agreed that he should attended classes with a teacher. Thus the young slave Louis joined a small group of 3 other young slaves who sat at the back of a class of 12 children from the homes of European Burghers.

Louis however was never baptised and was neither brought up with the Christian faith nor was he an adherent of the Muslim faith which was becoming popular among some slaves after the original conversions carried out some time earlier by Sheik Yusuf of Macassar and his followers. Louis like many slaves found their spiritual solace in the popular syncretic sub-culture faith that mixed Asian and African shamanism with bits of Christian and Islamic beliefs and prayers. Ancestors and Saints were called upon to enter their lives fortunes and they in times of distress would visit a spiritual guide whom they called a Dukun or by the creolised version Doekum. Louis would later testify that he did however believe in and tried to live by the basic tenants of the Christian faith which fascinated him as did its contradictions. His problem he articulated was that he saw Christians as slave owners and he was a slave.

But by the time Louis reached the age of 10 the Kirstens put him to work. He could speak Dutch well, read a little bit, count, but he could not write. He was put to work as an urban slave fetching, carrying, cleaning and interacting with the commercial interests of Mr Kirsten as a messenger and porter. Mrs Kirsten also ensured that he carried out household chores, the raising of chickens, collection of eggs, milking and so on.

By all accounts Louis led a confused drab and lonely life as a slave in the Kirsten home. He long for and romanticized his mother. In fact all of his life he sought a mother figure. It was a liberal paternalistic slavery regime in the Kirsten household in comparison to what young Louis saw elsewhere on his errands and particularly when visiting farm areas transporting goods. At times he would feel that he was part of this family but every day he would also be jolted into reality that he was a slave, their slave – the property of Mr and Mrs Kirsten.

Scene 5 (Louis meets the love of his life – Anna Steenveld, a Free Black woman)

Louis was 20 years old when Master Willem sent him down to the Waterfront for a week as a rented hand to assist with the loading and transporting of newly arrived wares for the Pachthuis or tavern in Strand Street. During breaks he would sit outside watching people in the busy street and would day-dream about all sorts of things that took his fancy. Anna Steenveld and her seemingly endless family lived nearby and she was the sister-in-law to the tavern keeper.

Anna took pity on young Louis and would bring him food during his breaks. On the second day coming up alongside of him she could see that he had this faraway look on his face. “Penny for your thoughts”, she said to him in Dutch. This unleashed a torrent of things and soon she found Louis to be a great conversationalist – a talker and a listener. She was amazed at his ability to remember things. Louis had found the caring mother-figure woman that he sought in his life.

Despite a huge age gap, the matronly Anna and Louis soon grew so fond of each other. After that amazing week pased by, Louis would by hook or by crook always find a way to keep visiting. The young Louis also started to flirt with Anna and everyone took to calling Louis “Anna se Jonk klonkje”. By this time in his life it was not just an affectionate mother that Louis was seeking. His arms and loins ached for a woman and his heart ached for a consummate love. At Anna Steenveld’s place Louis did not feel like a slave, nor did he feel like a ‘boy’ as all slaves were known – he was momentarily a ‘man’ – even although technically he was a ‘rent boy’.

Anna always had food ready for Louis and Louis had a habit of making things – little presents, for her. When Anna did not see Louis for a while, she found herself feeling down and took to asking her brother–in-law to hire him again from Willem Kirsten under some pretext. It was on one of these occasions when he was required to sleep over that Anna said that there was no need for him to sleep rough on the kitchen floor but that he would find it more comfortable sharing her bed. Louis did not need to be further persuaded and in this way they began what would be their lifelong love relationship as de facto man and wife.

Louis an Anna really loved each other and hated the fact that because he was the Kirsten’s slave they were kept apart. Slaves had no right of marriage. Indeed slaves could used for breeding purposes either by masters choosing suitable breeding mates to produce the kind of slave offspring that they wanted or in fact to have what they called ‘carnal conversation’ themselves with the female slaves and thereby get them pregnant. It also popped up here and there that female owners or wives or daughters of owners also had relations with slaves.

Louis and Anna  were an odd couple in many ways but they truly loved each other. Anna a grandmother already, but a really glamourous grandma at that, and him a strapping young and handsome man who could have had any lady he wanted, had been a free man.

Scene 6 (Separation of the Kirstens and Louis becomes a rent-boy slave)

 In 1803 at around the age of 23 there was upheaval in the Kirsten home and with it came the kind of good luck break that Louis and Anna needed. Willem and Maria Kirsten had drifted apart and sought a Judicial Separation which was granted in that year. As a result of the separation terms, Louis of Mauritius became the property of his Mistress Maria Grove Kirsten.

Maria Kirsten like many a European widow or separated women of her times became reliant on various income streams, one of which was to rent out their slaves. Louis who had already been rented out on many occasions by Willem Kirsten was thus initially rented out away from home at a fixed rate paid to Mrs Kirsten. He worked as what was called a “Coolie” or porter come-stevedore and through this activity the previous lonesome life in and around the Kirsten home, cut-off from the realities around him, came to an end.

Louis began mingling with other slaves, Free Blacks, and indentured indigene Khoena. He began to see the full harshness of the slavery system as he travelled more and more to farmlands. The feelings of imposed inferiority and the servitude in the Kirsten household though not as harsh as that which he now witnessed had left him bothered and uncomfortable. When he went out of town on the wagons to deliver goods from the Waterfront to outlaying farms he witnessed great cruelty by farmers towards slaves and he himself was at the receiving end of their vicious behaviour. His discomfort turned to anger.

This new status as a ‘rent boy’ on a permanent basis was like manna from heaven for Anna and Louis. This led them to hatch a plan that would allow them to live together as man and wife.

A few weeks after the Kirsten’s separation, Anna approached Mrs Kirsten to hire the services of Louis on a long term basis and she agreed to rent Louis from Maria Kirsten at a monthly fee of 12 Rixdollars.  Anna had worked out that between jobs that she was taking on and the work that Louis would earn from sub-leasing him they could easily pay Maria Kirsten the 12 Rixdollars per month. This allowed Louis to move out of the Kirsten home to cohabit with his wife Anna.

It was a peculiar scenario where Louis effectively was the rented husband of his wife. Anna was both wife and Mistress. This was not the only oddity of the relationship because Louis at around 23 years of age was a very young man whereas Anna probably twice his age not only had children but also had grandchildren. They already had put up with the playful jibes equivalent to “Toy Boy” from those around them and this now grew in crescendo. The two were deeply in love and each had a respect for each other as had not been seen before by those around them. They did not care a damn about what others had to say and in many ways after the din toned down they looked like any other Free Black couple.

Scene 7 (a lone slave among Free Blacks at the Strand Street Pachthuis pub)

Louis new home with Anna Steenveld was in a very lively part of town – namely 18 Strand Street where they rented the rooms beneath the balcony at Stadler’s house which was near Windell’s livery stables. Next door his brother-in-law Abraham Anthonissen ran a licenced Pachthuis or pub. Louis, though a rented slave, only worked for his wife in name but mostly was an assistant at the Pachthuis working for Abraham. Louis also utilised money that he had saved over time to buy three horses which he then hired out to generate an income. The entire extended family contributed to collectively pay for the rented premises.

Anna and Louis home was not a quiet place like the Kirsten’s home. HereAnna and  Louis formally known to everyone around him as a slave, shared home with Philida, Anna’s mother, and with Anna’s two married sisters Rachel and Jacoba, their husbands and their children. Anna’s oldest daughter Silvia was also married and had children and they too lived in the same establishment. It was Jacoba’s husband Abraham Antonissen who owned the Pachthuis business. At this time Jacoba had three of the ten children that she bore in her marriage until 1819. Abraham the Free Black pub-owner was well off enough to employ a European Knegt (labourer) who would later marry his eldest daughter Johanna. He too lived in this Free Black household.

It clearly irked Louis that he and another elderly slave Oude Baatjoe were slaves and not free people in the household. In Baatjoe’s case he was paying off a debt towards his manumission where Silvia Antonissen held the title deed of ownership. At this time he was still paying off the 80 Rixdollars that was his manumission price. He had already paid off 60 Rixdollars. Besides the payments towards rent, food and family upkeep Anna and Louis had to also generate 12 Rixdollars a month for his rental and he had no hope of manumission because this income was widow Kirsten’s lifeblood. The household mainly spoke Dutch and just a little of the basics of English.

When Louis van Mauritius was not tending to his horses or taking on odd jobs stevedoring he spent much of his time at the Tavern serving customers and engaging in discussions with them. From his early days of schooling he had an enquiring mind. He puzzled over how it came to be that he became a slave and what life might have been like if he had stayed in Mauritius. He wondered about his mother and his father. He did not harbour anger towards the Kirstens and believed that he had been treated fairly well, although he could not accept being a slave and always felt that his fate was not in his hands. He witnessed the terrible conditions of slaves on farms and had seen the punishments meted out. He saw the slave auctions and the public executions by hanging, garrotting, impalement and crucifixion and could not accept that this should be allowed to continue without challenge. He knew that at any time Mrs Kirsten could sell him into such a state. His life was not in his own hands.

This was the scenario when Louis was faced with some very difficult decisions which would lead him into a struggle where he took his life into his own hands and where only two scenarios could pan out – victory or death.

Scene 8 (cameos of local and international events that impacted in terms of influence on the course of action taken by Louis and his co-conspirators)

Dutch Batavian rule by the VOC had come to the end and in 1806 the British took control over the Cape Colony. The new British Governor along with his crack troops the Royal Dragoons were veterans of ruthlessly putting down the revolt known as the United Irishmen’s Rebellion. Du Preez known as Lord Caledon took up the Governorship of the Cape doing so against the backdrop of slave rebellions throughout the colonial world of the French and British.

News and detail of the famous Haitian Revolution and its hero Tousainte L’Overture spread throughout the colonies and also reached the Cape of Good Hope.

In 1807 the British Crown denounced and outlawed the slave trade on the high seas and the Royal Navy started to patrol the known slaver routes to disrupt the trade. They developed naval platoons made up of men from the West African Kru people, known as Kroomen as well as crews made up of Siddis from East Africa. These were based at British naval ports along the African coast and that of her islands. One such port was at Simonstown on the Cape Peninsula. Seized cargoes of slaves now were called ‘Prize Slaves’ or ‘Liberated Slaves’ and were brought to the Cape where their eventual freedom had to be bought by giving 14 years of their lives as indentured labour. It was little more than slavery under a different name.

On the Cape Eastern Frontier the rebel Khoena under the leadership of first Klaas and then David Stuurman took root and scored a series of victories. The great military commander Makana the son of an amaXhosa man and Khoena woman was also making a name for himself as a resistance leader. The non-conformist European missionary Dr Johannes van der Kemp took up the cause of the cruelly treated frontier slaves and indentured Khoena. All four of these men also campaigned against the conscription of Khoena youth into colonial militia’s. Lord Caledon had his hands full with these ‘troublesome’ leaders. What they did not need at this point was for another resistance front to open up amongst slaves. To make his troubles worse, a troublesome priest, Dr Johannes van der Kemp was agitating for abolition and a judicial enquiry into brutality against the Khoena in the farmlands of the eastern frontier.

The new British administration had inherited a very restless and shaky Cape. Only a few years previously it was indeed regiments of conscripted Khoena, slaves and Free Blacks that put up a good fight against the British invasion at Bloubergstrand. The British were less worried about the local European colonists who proved to have no fight in them.

All of these global and local events were hot points of discussion wherever men sat eating and drinking. It is also easy to see that in the closing years of the 18th century and opening years of the 19th century anyone considering a slave revolt would have been presented with the best conditions within which to Act. The abolitionist movement in England could already smell a victory for emancipation of slaves in the near future. The Irish resistance, the French Revolution and the Haitian Revolution were still amongst the biggest news stories.

Louis and his friends conversations at the pub on many a day included talk of revolt and the possibility of the same occurring in Cape Town.

When Louis came home he would relate all of these stories with large dollops of his own annimated flair to Anna. She was enthralled but as time went on and the stories became more intense and she nervously saw where it was heading. She knew her man too well. She knew that this wagonload of ideas had a destination and she began to fear for him and fear for losing him. But she did not stop him. She loved him for who he was.

Scene 9.(Introduction to Abraham van der Kaap, Irishmen James Hooper and Michael Kelly, Jephta van Batavia and Adonis van Ceylon)

The Strand Street Pachthuis (pub) brought Louis van Mauritius into contact with a former servant of a ship’s Captain, who had jumped ship and was dodging the authorities in Cape Town – James Hooper, a 26 year old Irishman. To avoid detection he would move around and on many occasion Louis would give him shelter. Louis was also the friend of another creole slave owned by Jan Wagenaar – Abraham van der Kaap. Abraham was vital to Louis friendship with James Hooper because he could speak good English whereas Louis could not. The trio shared experiences and had many a discussion about world events concerning revolts of slaves, servants and oppressed national groups. Abraham was Louis key to communicating because Louis had by this stage lost his command of the creole French and only spoke the low Dutch-Creole Patois common amongst slaves.

The group were later joined by another Irishman who had been discharged from the Company’s Military Service and to have left the Dover Castle East Indiaman on which he was a passenger when she touched at the Cape on her homeward bound voyage. Like Hooper he was also not lawfully in the Colony. Effectively he deserted his ship and lived by his wits in Cape Town – 24 year old Michael Kelly. This fellow Kelly was a scallywag character and had a visibly shifty way about him. He was loud and daring in his talk – a bit of an arrogant braggart prone to exaggeration and the small group had their misgivings but he also had that loveable roguishness about him too. So it was that Michael came into the inner circle – something the group would live to regret.

Soon the broad discussions turned to the conditions of slaves at the Cape and the personal experiences of Louis and Abraham. Louis related the brutal harshness experienced by the slaves at rural farms and small towns. This was contrasted with the more liberal approach of urban slave owners. Louis through his work of transporting goods from the waterfront to farms and small towns nurtured a strong friendship with a slave in the Malmesbury district at a farm named Vogelgezang. The slave’s name was Jephta van Batavia and they had originally met when Jephta also worked as a ‘Coolie’ on the waterfront in Cape Town. Jephta would often contrast the slave experience there with the harsh conditions faced on the farm under his master Petrus Louw. Jephta also knew all of the comings and goings of Petrus Louw and was able to say with some certainty when he would be away from home for a few days. Jephta further related how gullible Mrs Jacomina Louw was and tantalized the two Irishmen in describing Louw’s flirtatious daughters.

It was through meetings between these five, and another deserter slave Adonis van Ceylon, that the nature of the conversations turned from admiring resistance to slavery abroad, and then coming up with a plan for a revolt of slaves in Cape Town. Louis network of friends amongst the urban slaves was small and the chances of betrayal was high as there was no common cause bonding slaves in the urban environment. Jephta on the other hand did have a rural network of slaves across a number of farms and these laboured under a harsh regime and the bonds of common cause were great. The vast majority were slaves from East Africa and its interior. The other large group were locally born slaves and a scattering of Indian and South East Asian slaves. Others were indeed de facto indigene slaves from various Khoena clans.

Scene 10. (the plan for mustering rebel slaves and overthrowing the seat of authority and freeing of slaves)

Through the now clandestine discussion between these friends a plan emerged, to first canvas support and incite groups of slaves on the farms in the Malmesbury/Swartland area to join in a revolt. Many of the slaves in this area were what were known as Mazbieker slaves. They were east and central Africans who were captured and incarcerated in the slaver station in Mozambique before being shipped out and sold at the Cape and in Brazil. They suffered the worst of slavery conditions and punishments at the Cape and, they were responsible for providing the most backbreaking labour. Jephta and Louis had their trust but still they kept a tight leash on how much information was shared, using the need to know principle.

All in all, 34 farms were identified for participation in the revolt. Louis and Abraham mobilised support during the winter and groups of slaves on each identified farm were to overpower their masters, take them as prisoners and seize their weapons for use in the later attack on the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. Only key personalities were informed so that groups could be groomed without them actually knowing the plan.  It was envisaged that not all the slaves would take the risk, so a bogus document was drawn up both to bamboozle farmers and to assure reluctant slaves that the Governor had ordered the slave-owners to the Castle from which they would be despatched back to Europe and that the governor will then give the slaves their freedom.

The plan elaborated how after they had mustered the slaves and taken farmers and their families as prisoners, they would move in three columns down through Koeberg to rendezvous at Salt River just outside of town before they would move on together towards Cape Town. They needed a day and a half to the furthest point, a sleepover and a day and a half back to the outskirts of Cape Town befor the final assault on 28th October 1808.

Their first focus in reaching their destination would be to overpower the defence battery at the breakwater, seize the powder magazine and turn the fire power on the Castle. At this point they would offer to negotiate with the Governor with a set of demands. However if the demands were not met they would boost their numbers by freeing prisoners from jail and through an all-out fight they would seize power and proclaim their freedom. Louis van Maritius would replace the Governor and James Hooper would be installed in high office when a new government was formed by the victorious slaves.

Ever since his childhood encounter with his first sea Captain, Louis had an infatuation with the rank and persona of a sea Captain. Michael and James encouraged Louis that he could pass for Captain Don Louis from Spain and as such he would be able to fool the female household on the Louw farm. The finer details of the plan included Louis dressing up as the Spanish sea Captain, while Hooper and Kelly would pose as English officers, and Abraham and Adonis would accompany them as servants. A wagon and drivers would be hired for the task ahead. To pay for the wagon, drivers, uniforms complete with epaulettes, and cutlasses, Louis would sell his three horses.

Thus was born Don Louis, Commander of the slave resistance forces. Louis had purchased for himself a blue jacket with red collar and cuffs, a large and a small sword, two gold and two silver epaulets and some ostrich feathers so that he could fully play the part of Don Louis, a Captain of a Spanish man’o war. In the course of the revolt Louis had a horse and seized firearms too.

They planned to set out to travel to Vogelgezang farm early on the 25th October to initiate the uprising over the 26th and 27th of October 1808 and by the evening of the 27th October to ready themselves for the final push and attack on 28th October.

Scene 11 (the plan unfolds – journey and events at Vogelgezang farm)

On that first fateful day on 25 October 1808, the leading party set out together with the wagon crew who knew nothing about the plan and they were also joined by another supporter at the last moment. They had basic provisions for the two day journey consisting of bread, meat and brandy. Their wagon was drawn by 8 black horses. David, a slave of Hendrik Matfeld from whom the wagon was hired, was the driver and Adonis, slave of Johan Hendrik Schultz, was the wagon leader. They at this stage knew nothing of the mission. Also with Louis and Hooper was a slave deserter Adonis, who arranged to join Louis. The party set off from Anna Steenveld’s house. Anna bid Louis an emotional goodbye without giving anything away. It would be their last embrace. As she watched the wagon roll out and her Louis riding off the tears quietly rolled down her cheeks.

Abraham and Michael Kelly joined the party in Salt River and until they were well away from the town limits Louis and the others played the subservient role with James Hooper playing the white master. They stopped at an outspan at Brakke Fontyn and changed their clothes and personas. The light brown skinned Louis of Mauritius – Don Louis, cut a fine figure in his uniform complete with ostrich plumes on his hat, epaulettes on his shoulders and cutlass at his waist, flanked either side by the bogus British officers – Hooper and Kelly.

When they arrived at the Vogelgezang farm on the following afternoon on 26th October 1808 their timing was perfect. Farmer Petrus Louw, as expected per the plan, was away on business and his wife Jacomina and her five children were absolutely taken in by the ‘Spanish Captain’ Don Louis and ‘English officers’. She laid on the finest hospitality for her guests.

Michael and James engaged in outrageous mutual flirtation with the two oldest girls while Louis (who had a way with mature woman) leaned heavily on Abraham for support in developing a rather embarrassing Spanglish and Dutch lingo when communicating with Jacomina. Louis had to be very careful not to raise suspicion by communicating in his Cape Dutch patois. It was a jolly and animated night of male and female company with great farm hospitality, much wine and brandy. Louis and Abraham maintained their sobriety.

During the night the two Irishmen with much liquor consumed started making excuses to Louis saying that they were going to move on to the other farms to oversee similar success and would see him along the way. They exited the house through the window in the early hours. Effectively they skedaddled. (From that point on the two Irishmen scarcely featured anymore in the revolt)

Louis and Jephta showed the rather inebriated Jacomina Louw the bogus document in the early morning of the 27th while the dawn just started. It purported to be from the Fiscal that all owners and slaves were to immediately come to the Castle of Good Hope. Louis with his sweet talk via Abraham’s interpretation tried to make her feel comfortable with the contents.

Jephta speedily mustered the nine slaves and one Khoena servant on the farm. At this point Louis broke into his normal Cape Dutch and the pretence of being Don Louis the Spanish sea Captain evaporated. As the penny dropped, a shocked Jacomina protested but she and the children were taken captive and the group proceeded to the next farm, and then to the next and the next. The revolt was launched and there was no turning back.

Scene 12 – (The course of the Revolt part 1)

On the morning of 27thth October the insurgent leaders, according to plan now, split into two groups rather than three so as to cover all 34 of the identified farms from Malmesbury to Tygerberg to Salt River and, from Malmesbury to Koeberg to Salt River. Louis took the lead of the one group and Cupido of Java took leadership of the other. Louis assessed the men and appointed Lieutenants and gave each specific instructions that evolved from his overall plan. It was no mean feat to commandeering 34 farms and bring them into the two speedily moving columns without delay.

Abraham of the Cape having observed that the Irishmen had dropped their bravado and disappeared on a pretext was now beginning to get jittery. He was sent on ahead to be at hand to assess the situation at various identified farms.

On each farm the two columns either duped the farmers with the bogus notice or overpowered them or both. Weapons were seized and distributed to trusted mutineers. They met little resistance from the shocked European farmers and by and large Louis and the other leaders asserted strong discipline in the ranks. There was a small degree of manhandling and humiliating the prisoners but only two incidents stand out as a breakdown in discipline and conduct.

In one incident one old farmer was beaten severely and dragged by his hair and there was one case of rape of a farmer’s wife.  (see next scene)

Women and children were taken as prisoners and the aged transported on seized wagons. To control the farmers and their sons numbering 40 in all, these were bound and also hoisted onto their seized wagons.

It was important for the success of the rebellion that the journey took no more than a day.  By nightfall of the same day – 27th October 1808  they had to be at the outskirts of Cape Town. This required much discipline and speed of movement.

Around 340 slaves and indentured Khoena servants had joined the columns of rebels. While remarkably a thread of discipline was a mark of the revolt and no blood was shed there was however a degree of damage done to farm property as well as some minor burning, looting and slaves who helped themselves to food and drink. Some taunted the farmers and their families about “who was boss now” and about how they had been treated in the past.

But at all times Louis seemed to have kept control and the plan had with a few tactical alterations been followed. On horseback he moved up and down the columns giving orders and encouragement. Abraham took charge of the second column.

Scene 13: (Behaviours during the engagement between Rebels and Farmers>)

To give some insight into the action on the farms as the revolt unfolded the following would later emerge during the treason trial.

After the action at Vogelgezang farm one of the next farms to be liberated was that of Willem Basson. He too was not at home but Johannes Arnoldus Basson was set upon and bound and all were quickly assembled. The Slaves seized the guns, powder, lead, and took provisions. The rebel slaves entered the upstairs room of the master’s house and attempted to bind the arms of Mrs Basson and another ‘Christian’ Engela Smith who also lived on the property but the ‘rope’ made of the material from a tent which they shred was too short. In the confusion the two made a dash and escaped. With Arnoldus bundled into a wagon it was moved into the growing column of 12 other wagons carrying slaves, prisoners and possessions seized. They also had 5 saddle horses and many of the slaves were now armed with guns.

Another farm that they proceeded towards was that of Pieter Basson, but then they happened to meet Pieter on the road with his wagon. Louis of Mauritius, Cupido of Ceylon and Adonis of Java each armed with a sword, called on him to surrender and then grabbed him to the ground and he was tied up and bundled onto his wagon. They went on to his farm to collect his weapons, ammunition and slaves.

The farm of Johannes Louw the son of Jacobus Louw from Vogelgezang was yet another that was raided, where they seized a lot of money, weaponry, ammunition and many slaves were liberated. As weaponry – guns and swords, and ammunition was seized, the arms were passed around to the slaves and Louis continued to identify the most reliable and talented for resistance roles.

At the farm of Pieter van der Westhuizen, Louis dispatched four of his armed men to the field to collect the slaves who were busy reaping the barley.  Pieter van der Westhuizen was bound and bundled onto a wagon. They entered his house and commanded Pieter’s wife to lead them to everything of value. The clothes and the contents of the wine cellar was distributed as was the guns and ammunition.

Van der Westhuizen was incensed and cried out – ” Oh God what befalls me? “ Louis of Mauritius sarcastically responded – “So you now want to think of God? ”

It was at this stage in the confusion and exchanges that Cupido of Java stole away pushing Jacoba Baard, Pieter’s wife, in front of him while placing the muzzle of his gun to her breast. He had spotted her in the distance as she had just successfully concealed one of her children in the bushes. Cupido marched her away into one of the outhouses nearby and proceeded to rape her. This was one of only two excesses that would later be raised in the Treason Trial.

The insurgents, moved from one farm to another following the same pattern where they bound the ‘Christians’ (slave owning free-men), declaring that such were the orders of the Governor and Fiscal, and liberated the guns, wagons, and horses, and freed the slaves. Some slaves became active participants while others just passively went along with the rebels. The slaves were heard to shout Woza! Woza! The fired shots outside and inside the houses, broke the windows, chests, and trunks to pieces, and helped themselves to whatever took their fancy.

Cupido of Java and Jonas of the Cape proceeded through Koeberg and Tygerberg in the direction of Salt River with the column under their joint command going to all of the farms in their path. At one stage the two joint commanders split off on two routes and then joined back up together again. Louis took the shortest and straightest route via Blouberg valley to Salt River.

At Christian Storm’s farm he was surprised in the middle of the night when his house was broken into. The rebels stripped the house of valuables, bound him almost naked and threw him into a wagon. At Adriaan Louw’s, Drooge Valley, the rebels seized Adriaan Louw, who was over 70 years old and dragged him by the hair and hit him with the butt of a musket on his head. He was further dragged outside and hit with a sword. He and 5 other farmers who the rebels were finding hard to control were then left, bound up in a wagon, in the custody of a Hendrik van Niekerk.

In the afternoon of the 27th Abraham van der Kaap had joined up with the column under the joint leadership of  Cupido of Java and Jonas of the Cape.. At the place of farmer Arend de Waal, whom Abraham had assaulted, Abraham of the Cape told a slave girl Samina who was crying through fear, “Do you cry for a Christian? “  The term “Christian” was used to refer to free citizens, their masters.

He went on to say that the rebels on the next day “will hoist the bloody flag and fight to be free, and then you can say ‘sy’ or ‘jij’ to your madams and masters”.

Using ‘YOU’, ‘HE’ or SHE (Jij, Hy or Sy in Dutch) were too familiar words, only to be used by equals. Slaves were forbidden to be familiar in addressing their masters and madams or even in referring to them. Thus to address or reference ones owners as you, he or she was certain to be met with punishment for insolence. The proper address had to be “U” or “BAAS” or “MADAM”. To use “Sy” or “JiJ” as was later reported to Court required the Courts to send out a strong deterrent signal. These expressions of “Sy” and “Jij” became the watchwords for the 1808 Slave Rebellion.

Scene 14 (the plan unravels and the rebel columns are attacked by the Dragoons)

During the journey on 27 October the rebel slaves were in good spirits and the air was punctuated with the rebels walking up close to the wagons carrying the farmers and their wives and having loud conversations with each other referring to their captives as “Sy” and “Hy” and turning to their captives saying “En jij…. Jij loer nogt”…or “Jij! Ja jij Oubaas…jij”.

Abraham, Cupido and Adonis with their column of slaves, wagons and prisoners had arrived at the agreed meeting place but were in no mood to wait for Louis and decided to move on. Abraham of the Cape still worried about Hooper and Kelly’s assessments of their chances remained unsure of how to proceed. Cupido and Adonis had in fact assumed a greater leadership role. They said that Louis would catch up with them and that they should just keep moving on. So they did just that but moved forward at less of a speedy pace.

Before moving on to Salt River the leaders had agreed on the outspan meeting place for the entire leadership near or at Grendel.  When Louis van Mauritius arrived there, on the late afternoon of the 27th October, he expected to see Hooper, Kelly, Abraham, Jephta, Cupido and Adonis. There was nobody at the meeting place. No signs that Hooper and Kelly had been there but some signs that the latter had arrived but had moved on.

Louis could only assume that they had gone on ahead of him and that he should pick up the pace and move on in haste. But he for the first time was left flustered and nervous. This had been a team effort and at this crucial stage it was important for the team to meet and plan. Each of the leaders were required to give an assessment and each had important tasks for the final push on the Battery and Castle in the early hours of the next morning. Louis was reliant on these role-players and as he moved forward he sent out scouts to locate the other leaders but they were nowhere to be found. The forward march lost traction and the two columns were not tightly together any more.

There was an eerie foreboding in the air and Louis could feel it. In fact, after leaving Vogelgezand farm James and Michael parted company supposedly by accident.  James was apprehended by a Dragoon at the Saldanha Bay post. Michael Kelly in a separate incident not witnessed by James Hooper was also said to have been apprehended on his way to try and get on a ship in Saldanha Bay. There was no intention on the part of these two to meet at the outspan. They had also tried to influence Abraham of the Cape who for a while had gone missing but eventually joined up with Cupido and Adonis.

On his way after leaving the outspan and moving towards Salt River Louis column ran into  farmers Pieter Joubert and Wium Lategaan, with their waggons. They were easily overpowered and taken prisoner. Louis and a few men then went to the nearby home of Hendrik Prehn where they at first overpowered him but while attempting to tie him up he struggled free and grabbed a gun. Prehn fired a shot in the direction of Louis and some others but the shot did not hit anyone. However it immediately dispersed the group who left Prehn and hastily moved back to the column.

It had grown dark and everyone was tired after the long day of events but they pressed on.

Scene 15 (prelude to Louis arrival at the outspan)

Louis’ worries and Abrahams fears were well founded.  Indeed news of the rebellion had reach Governor du Preez, the Irish Peer known as Lord Caledon. Around 10 o’clock p.m. on the 27th October news had come to Lord Caledon via a farmer who had escaped.

Immediately he ordered  Brig’ General Wetherall to get ready and despatch a Squadron of Cavalry (Dragoons) under Major Spearman to engage the insurgents and bring the revolt to an end. It was also possible that Michael Kelly had opportunistically sent word that he would cooperate by providing valuable turncoat information in return for leniency. After he had separated from Hooper and Hooper literally walked into the arms of the Dragoons. Though Kelly would later appear in the trial as an accused he was the only ‘leader’ found guilty of High Treason who was mysteriously released after the trial and given a free passage back to Ireland.

However they had come by their information, Caledon’s men new exactly where to engage the rebels. Lord Caledon was furious and took the entire episode very seriously. He called for a calming of fears and labelled the rebels as ignorant rabble with misguided motives.

It is also clear that James Hooper had very early on foreseen that such a huge scale revolt would not go un-noticed and he like Kelly was familiar both with the reputation of the British troops of Lord Caledon as well as their mobility as a cavalry that moved with great speed and deadly firepower.

Hooper shared his fears with Abraham telling him that he is sure that many troops would be despatched and Abraham would be a fool not to abandon his quest. Some of the Europeans on the farms had gotten away and raised the alarm. James Hooper and Abraham knew that without any element of surprise their endeavour was doomed and in any case the unity amongst the rebels would quickly disappear as many had believed the story of the false notice from the Governor.

Around midnight Abraham on first hearing the advancing hooves of the Dragoons horses turned to Cupido and Adonis and shouted that it was of no use to stand and fight. He called on them to retreat to the bush – tomorrow is another day to fight. They did not get far when they ran straight into the arms of Lord Caledon’s men. The column itself came to a halt with most just rendered speechless in the face of the cavalry and their flaming torches with raised guns and sabres. On hearing Abraham’s shout  the more conscious rebels quickly scattered and made a dash for freedom. Some reached as far as Blouberg  and Tygerberg in their retreat while others moved towards the South Peninsula. Over the next few hours the Dragoons had rounded most up.

Scene 16 (interception by the Dragoons and the escape of Louis)

In the early hours of the morning of 28th October Louis and his column were on their way to link up with the column of Cupido and Adonis at Salt River. But the Dragoons by 4 am had already captured most of the first column of rebel slaves. Louis column walked straight into the awaiting cavalry and infantrymen.

By midnight the first engagement with Abraham’s column had taken place and by 4 am most were detained. By about 2 am Louis column shared the same fate.  Those rebels in retreating after the surprise engagement crossed paths with Louis column warning him that they were being pursued. . Louis of Mauritius and a few others on horseback made a quick getaway travelling in the direction of the South Peninsula.

On seeing the Dragoons come out of nowhere the rebel slaves began arguing with each other. For the most part, those who had been duped by the bogus order were the first to break ranks. As the Dragoon cavalry appeared from the dark many of the rebels froze and put up no further resistance while others ran in all directions before being rounded up

In a short while 326 rebels were marched in defeat to two internment camps around Fort Knokke. The leaders were removed and incarcerated at the Castle.

Louis made his way to Diep River where he sought refuge with friends of his dear wife Anna, – a couple by the names of Frederik and Betje Arendse. They however, fearful of the consequences of aiding and abetting the fugitive, betrayed Louis by sending a secret message to the local Field Cornet, Colyn.

Louis was a step ahead however when he overheard the distraught old couple talking to someone and sending him on his way. Louis quickly made his escape to Wynberg. But it was here that he was eventually tracked down and cornered by a detachment of Khoena Militia under white command at a Tavern. Louis was pounced upon, pinned down and bound. He was then taken to Cape Town under guard where he was kept separate from the other leaders at the Castle for interrogation. The rest of the rebels were interned at Fort Knokke and Maastricht.

The rebels who sought to overthrow the British government at the Cape and replace them with a freed slave government were to face swift justice. In how it proceeded there was a fine line between interrogation and torture on the one hand and judicial procedure on the other. Through a process of interrogation over the next week Lord Caledon had separated three categories of rebels. The Treason Trial was hastily convened and broken up into a pre-trial and trial and the rebels were categorised. The first category was the 5 leaders, the second 47 diehard rebels suspected of being the backbone of the rebellion, and then final category was the rest of the 274. In the case of the latter these were subject to a fast-tracked part of the trial, sentenced and given over to their owners with a verdict of punishment as the owners saw fit. The 52 were subjected to a more drawn out trial by the so called ‘Court of Justice’ which concluded by the end of December 1808.

Scene 17 (Trial and punishment)

A minutely detail record of the Court of Justice exists where the main charge was High Treason, Public Violence and Disorder. The 5 leaders and 47 others were tried in the Court of Justice using the infamous dual process of Courtroom drama coupled with extractions of confessions under torture. Only one person was found not guilty. His Majesty’s Fiscal William Stephanus van Ryneveld Esquire, was Prosecutor for the Crown.

This gave some credibility to a trial keenly followed by abolitionists who were highly influential at the time, having secured an end to the slave trade declared in the Parliament in London in the previous year. An array of charges ensured that everyone charged would be assured of conviction. The pre-verdict and releasing of the majority into the custody of their masters for punishment killed two birds with one stone. It appeased the proponents of rough justice outside of the public gaze and it also gave an impression of clemency and a new liberal order while giving some credibility the Lord Caledon’s earlier letter dispatched to London that downplayed the revolt as a foolish little hiccup in an otherwise peaceful and orderly colony.

As would naturally occur under circumstances where confessions were extracted, Louis and James contradicted each other at times in Court, but Louis stood by his beliefs in explaining himself and argued in mitigation that he kept discipline in the course of the revolt. He established that he was sincere in his opposition to slavery and believed that he conducted himself well even although the courts labelled the act of rebellion an evil, foolhardy and irresponsible deed.

In his trial Louis testified – “I had heard that in other countries all persons were free, and there were so many black people here who could also be free and that we ought to fight for our freedom and then – enough!”

Louis made it clear that his was a political stand by military means in the cause for freedom.

The Court heard too that Abraham had made the statement which defined the revolt – he it was reported had made a statement to a gathering of some of the rebels on the eve on the afternoon of the 27th October 1808, “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  ‘sy’ and ‘Jij’ (she and you).” The court saw this as a heinous act of arrogance, insolence and incitement.

The Court rejected both Louis account of his exemplary conduct and motivations and indeed the evidence showing no fatalities and a relatively disciplined revolt. It was put across that this was a major disorderly act of rebellion and high treason rather than the simple disturbance of the tranquelity at the Cape that Lord Caledon had communicated to his friend the Viscount early in November.

As a result of this Treason Trial, sixteen of the rebels were condemned to death by the Court, but the Governor, Lord Caledon, intervened to commute 11 of the death sentences to lengthy imprisonments and hard labour and only 6 were eventually convicted of High Treason and only 5 being given death sentences. All others were held to various charges of public violence and disorder. Caledon was at pains to demonstrate that he was a fair man in his new position in this new territory controlled by Britain. However the identified ringleaders – Louis van Mauritius, James Hooper, Abraham van der Kaap and Jephta van Batavia were sentenced to hang for their leadership of the act of rebellion.

The only other death sentence was passed on Cupido of Java who had committed the purely criminal offence of rape.

Michael Kelly, identified as a ringleader who had also be charged with High Treason, however mysteriously in terms of the silence in the record of his true role, escaped any sanction whatsoever and left the Cape pardoned and bound for Europe. In the record Caledon just states that Michael Kelly and Adonis of Ceylon, would have their conviction suspended until His Majesty’s pleasure will be known. It would seem that he was rewarded as an informant and collaborator.

The other 46 slaves were given various heavy sentences including imprisonment on Robben Island. Many of these slaves were from Mozambique – the Mazbiekers who were the most down-trodden of slaves at the time. While it is notable that there was a ‘rainbow` element to this rebellion, involving locally born slaves, slaves from the East Indies, Europeans, and indigene Khoena, it is clear that the most fertile ground for rebellion was the East African slaves of the wheat-belt farm fields because they were at the bottom of the exploitation and cruelty pile in the Cape. Of the 51 who were handed down the severest sentences 14 were Mazbieker slaves and 17 locally born creole slaves. The rest were from Mauritius, Siri Lanka, Java, Bougies, Malabar, Bengal, Batavia and Madagascar. One was an indigene Khoena farm labourer. Urban slavery had already began to metamorphous into an almost wage labour mode whereas rural slavery was raw, harsh and humiliating where slaves had little to lose but their chains.

The majority of the slaves who participated in the revolt were given over to their owners for “correction” by Governor Lord Caledon.

Scene 18 (Louis escape)

Louis wife Anna to whom he was so dearly attached, as she was to him, suffered great anxiety and depression during the course of the uprising, his capture and trial. The stress got to her and she had a fatal heart attack and died toward the end of the trial.

The imprisoned Louis was devastated and heartbroken. With bowed head he cried into his hands…. “Anna, dear Anna…. dear, dear Anna my love. I did this all for freedom and you.”  Thus ended the most unlikely love story between an old Free Black woman and the young gentleman she rescued from slavery by renting him from his mistress.

Louis’ grief gave him a new energy. He desperately wanted to bid a proper goodbye to Anna at her grave. Boldly he managed to escape from prison at the Castle while awaiting sentence and was determined to mourn his love in freedom and to place flowers on her grave.

On the run sympathisers gave him shelter and food but he was forced to be ever on the move. Lord Caledon was fearful that this fugitive would become as popular a legend amongst slaves as the Stuurman brothers were amongst the Khoena resisters on the eastern frontier and the Khoena-Xhosa Itola, Makhana amongst the amaXhosa resisters. He could not afford to divide his attentions to two different fronts of resistance, so a price was put on Louis head.

But no legend was to develop. Louis’ time ran out and he was betrayed as he laid the flowers on the simple grave of his beloved Anna. Dragoon cavalry surrounded the gravesite and infantry guards appeared from the shadows of the night to arrest him. Louis was apprehended and returned to face execution. A handsome reward was belatedly paid to the man who betrayed Louis. The sum was 50 Rixdollars.

Scene 19 (Execution)

Caledon’s final order was signed on 29 December 1808 to be carried out immediately. The Court of Justice sentences on the leaders were modified only slightly in the cases of the five sentenced to death. The modification on the original sentence was simply that after execution their bodies should not be quartered. Louis of Mauritius, James Hooper, Abraham of the Cape, Cupido of Java and Jephta of Batavia were all executed by hanging. Their bodies were ordered to be affixed to stakes in specific public places along main roads as a demonstration of deterrence.

The body of Louis of Mauritius was affixed to a stake and held in place by chains at the punishment poles near the citadel in Salt River, the place of execution reserved for slaves. The same was done with James Hooper’s body at the gibbet just across from the Castle next to the Grand Parade. In the case of Abraham of the Cape his body was subjected to the same on the Koeberg Road in the farming district. Jephta of Batavia’s body was hung in chains on the stake on the Main road through the Zwartland farming district near to Vogelgezang farm and the same occurred in the case of Cupido of Java at Tygerberg. The bodies were ordered to remain there to be consumed by the birds of the air.


Closing Fade-Out and Notes before credits.

Modern times – A youngster walking along a path on a farm is stopped by a white farmer and in front of a group of farm workers is told to get off his farm or else. The workers get agitated at the farmers tone. The youngster with a scowl on his face stares down the farmer, lifts his arm and points his finger at the farmer and just utters one sharp word – “Djy”.  (Freeze)

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  • In 1808 the transoceanic slave trade was abolished and in 1812 a Slave Protector was appointed at the Cape to look after the interest of slaves in law.
  • In 1825 another small slave revolt – the Kouebokkeveld Insurrection took place and rocked the Cape establishment.
  • In 1825 the Xhosa-Khoena resistance leader Makana imprisoned on Robben Island drowned in an escape bid….his co-warrior the Khoena Chief David Stuurman who led the last Khoena war of resistance, successfully escaped Robben Island but was captured and exiled to Australia.
  • In 1834 Emancipation of Slaves was declared and in 1838 former Slaves who underwent the compulsory 4 year apprenticeship were finally freed.
  • In 1856 the importation of ‘Prize Slaves’ came to an end and by 1870 all compulsory 14 year indenture periods for ‘Prize Slaves’ had run its course
  • Today more than 65% of the population of the Western Cape can celebrate being ancestors of diverse slaves forcibly brought to South Africa from Africa and Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka and Bengal; and from throughout South East Asia. THESE DESCENDANTS ARE BORN OF A PEOPLE WHO ROSE ABOVE ADVERSITY.



George McCall Theal; Records of the Cape Colony (36 Vols) Volume 6; William Clowes and Sons ltd; London; (1900) – Hugo de Villiers; Commanding the Archives – A discourse analysis of the 1808 Slave Rebellion at the Cape; Historical Approaches 5; (2007) – Jackie Loos; Echoes of Slavery; David Phillip; Cape Town; (2004) – Karen Harris; The Slave ‘Rebellion’ of 1808; Kleio 20; (1988) – Nigel Worden; The day Cape Slaves made themselves masters – The 1808 Rebellion a dramatic shift in the nature of resistance; Cape Times; (2008) – Robert Ross; Cape of Torments; Routledge & Kegan Paul; London; (1983)


© Patric Tariq Mellet

This script cannot be used in anyway without permission. It is a work-in-progress – the dialogue is being developed to run alongside the 19 scenes that make-up the script. The script follows the documented historical accounts and where there are gaps a sensitive fiction was developed to engance the storyline. I would welcome a skilled dialogue developer and an editor to collaborate with me on the finalization of the script. Movie producers and directors are also welcome to contact me.





MEETING A REQUEST FOR A READING LIST: My old colleague and comrade Burton Joseph asked me on FB to please provide some references or a reading list. Not an easy task by far and of course to get 2016-02-04 14.13.50to the narrative that I relate I cannot even begin to put down all of the references. Also it is not as easy as suggesting one or two books where you will find my perspective. I cross reference and hunt down small pieces of information within texts and it is often from looking at the same information that others have cast their eyes and minds on for years that by using a different eye one sees the hidden gems.

I am often asked to share some of the reading matter or research publications which form part of informing the history and heritage narrative that I relate when telling the stories of our past and reaching some of the conclusions that follow.

I see my role as a heritage activist, story-teller and interpreter of the past rather than an academic. For much of my 60 years, even going back to my school days I read a lot and absorbed history. You will see from the reading list that I share with you that by approach to research and crafting my stories is multi-disciplinary – history, culture, heritage, anthropology, sociology, psychology, global or international studies, archaeology, politics, built environment, science, military studies, criminology, legal studies, migration, and literature all are brought together to interrogate a subject to arrive at an outcome which I share as my version or take on history and heritage. The reading list (only partial) presented here was also part of my personal library built up over the last 40 years. Unfortunately during the upheavals of my life over the past two years most of my books were stolen. They were to have become the library in my Heritage Centre here at home for the greater public good.
My magnificent obsession with slavery and Cape slavery as a subject began at around the age of 8 when a German Holy Cross nun from Nile Street District Six, Sr Mary Martin would have me kneel with her before the statue of a black man dressed in Dominican attire as she asked for advice and protection from this 16th century black Saint – the son of a slave woman – San Martino de Porres. It was also the time that I first awakened to the fact that my maternal grandmother Francina Haddon, who was referred to in our family as a Creole and had been born into a freed slave community. These two factors led to me reading everything on the subject that I could lay my hands on. In time over the next 52 years, particularly from my 20s onwards, I pieced together my family tree and found that I had a mix of 22 slaves in my family line, 4 Khoena and a cross section of Europeans.
As time marched on my reading moved on away from the basic slave history narratives which in South Africa were often skewed and filled with information that undermined the story rather than enhance it. I began to discover serious researchers and found that they held different opinions and often also contradicted themselves but herein lay the exciting world of discovery. I would continuously discover new angles and then later discover their negation and the birth of totally new information from overlooked or sub-scripted titbits that would open up new vistas. Often academic works were never read outside their circles, wonderful as that research may be. The academic circles were incestuous and were largely closed to external critique and public gaze (vital critical component to knowledge development). I progressed from being a reader to a critique and from a critique to developing a different narrative, respectful of academic contribution, but going much further by applying historical knowledge to current identity, heritage, political, and psychological burning issues of our day.
To meet the request for a reading list I cannot possibly be comprehensive and list all of the literature that I have been exposed to and which has informed my ideas and narrative. But what I can do is share some of the book titles to encourage people to further explore and also to show you that although I generally write off the cuff, it is informed by a sound wealth of literature. Some of the books that I will suggest are really basic outlines of slavery at the Cape or Indigenes at the Cape and are full of discrepancies served up emphatically by the writers, but when you read a basket of literature you will discover for yourself what stands up to scrutiny and what does not: What I can refer you to in terms of a means to navigate the tons of research information making up the Slavery literature is a comprehensive index of such literature produced by Dr Robert Shell and Mogamat Kamedien entitled Bibliographies of Bondage – Selected bibliographies of South African Slavery and Abolition.
Firstly I am informed by particular schools of thought on the subject of identity which I do not see as singular nor ethnic and on a particular orientation on what in liberation-speak we called the ‘National Question’. Here two authors stand out in influencing me – Amin Maalouf (On Identity) and Mzala Jabulani Nxumalo (as can be found in ‘The National Question in SA’ edited by Maria van Diepen – and other writings). Associated with these schools of thought and variations is a whole lot of works on nations, nationalism, and the notion of so-called race and racism which flows from race identification.
From reading relating to the National Question in South Africa and globally my next reading framework involved understanding global slavery in all its facets but especially the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and The Indian Ocean Slave Trade. Allied to the latter it was further important to get a handle on the social, political and economic history of India and Southeast Asia and particularly the conduct of the rival European East India companies in that part of the world. It was also important to get more information on voyages of exploration of Arabs and Chinese and not simply to be focussed on the European voyages of exploration. Again there are too many works to be cited here but let me suggest just a few – Contingent Lives; Social Identity and material Culture in the VOC World edited by Nigel Worden; – The World’s Oldest Trade; Dutch Slavery and the Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean in the 17th Century by Marcus Fink; – A history of Early Modern Southeast Asia 1400 – 1830 by Barbara Watson Andaya and Leonard Y. Andaya; – 1421 The Year China Discovered the World by Gavin Menses; – The Slavery Reader by Gad Heuman and James Walvin; The Slave Trade with Madagascar; the Journals of the Cape Slaver Leijdsman 1715 by Piet westra and James Armstrong; -Slave Routes and Oral Traditions in Southeastern Africa by Benigna Zima, Esward Alpers and Allen Isaacman; – A Short History of Slavery by James Walvin; Written Culture in a colonial context: Africa and the Americas 1500 – 1900; – Networks of Empire: Forced Migration in the Dutch east India Company by Kerry Ward.
Then there are just some very basic South Africa history books introducing slavery and Indigene history most of them simply scratching the surface or focus on a single subject within the field, with one exception – an old but invaluable and exceptional old book namely that of Victor de Kock (Those in Bondage – An account of the life of the slave at the Cape in the Days of the Dutch East India Company). Sometimes these also perpetuate myths. But nonetheless they are extremely valuable for getting a foothold into understanding this subject and its complexities. This category of books includes – Up from Slavery: The Slaves at the Cape, their origins, treatment and contribution by Richard van der Ross; – An Unsung Heritage by Alan Mountain; – A history of South Africa by M Wilson and L Thompson; – A New History of South Africa by Herman Gillomee and Bernard Mbenga; Cape Town Making of a City by N Worden, E van Heyningen and V Bickford-Smith; Cape Town in the 20th Century by the same previous authors; – First People of the Cape by Alan Mountain; Martha by Winnie Rust; The Black Countess by Richard van der Ross; and there are many others. Two of my earliest influential history books on SA were Time Longer than Rope by Edward Roux and Class and Colour by Jack and Ray Simons. I believe that these are fundamental to laying a groundwork for further research. Add to this two other books that although they have flaws are comprehensive and probing of the story of those labelled ‘Coloured’ – Between the Wire and the Wall by Gavin Lewis and In our own Skins; A political history of the Coloured People by Richard van der Ross.
Then there are a range of books which with a historical backdrop interrogate current issues from a sociological, cultural and psychological perspective and are invaluable when coming to grips with either primary texts or research works on Slavery in the Cape, the indigene story or the making of the City. Not White Enough, Not Black Enough by Mohamed Adhikari; – Straatpraatjies, Language, politics and popular culture 1909 – 1922 by Mohamed Adhikari; – The Afrikaans of Cape Muslims by Achmat Davids; – Racism: A very Short Introduction by Ali Rattansi; – Kramats of the Western Cape by Mansoor Jaffer; – Groep Sonder Grense by HF Heese; Cape Malay by ID du Plessis; – Coon Carnival – New Year in Cape Town, Past and Present by Denis-Constant Martin; – Colourful Heart of Cape Town by Michael Hutchinson; – Outcast Cape Town by John Western; Imagining the City: Memories and Cultures in Cape Town by Sean Field; District Six by Adam Small and Janse Wissema; The Spirit of District Six by Cloete Breytenbach; Recalling Community in Cape Town by Siraj Rassool and Sandra Prosalendis; – Group Portrait South Africa – Nine Family Histories by Paul Faber and Annari van der Merwe; – Lost Communities, Living Memories Remembering Forced Removals by Sean Field; The Cape Coloured People by JS Marais; — Sugar Girls and Seamen: A journey into the world of Dockside Prostitution in South Africa by Henry Trotter; – The Angry Divide: Social and Economic History of the Western Cape by Wilmot James and Mary Simons; The Shaping of South African Society 1652 – 1820 by Richard Elphick and Hermann Gilomee; – National Liberation by Rostislav Ulanovsky; Every Step of the way: The Journey to Freedom in South Africa by HSRC Press and Ministry of Education; Ethnic Conflict and Political Development; – Colonial South Africa and the origins of the racial order by T Keegan; Contingent Lives: Social Identity and Material Culture in the VOC World Edt by Nigel Worden….. there are just so many more of this type of literature that is vital to a discourse that helps one see historical texts with different eyes and helps one to zoom in to look at overlooked pieces of text. Part of my journey here was also to get involved in producing productions with a huge amount of oral input – a 6 part series with Elna Boesak for radio – Os Geskiedenis Tussen die Kraake; – Afrikaaps: The multimedia stage production; Krotoa – Perspectives on her life and so on.
In looking at Indigene Khoena, San and amaXhosa history and heritage there are many thesis papers and other research which is invaluable but not very accessible to the person on the street and hence it would be useless and time consuming on my part to note these here. One can explore some of these sources by reference for instance to a broad sweep on relevant texts such as ‘Notes towards a history of Khoi Literature’ by Hermann Wittenberg (UWC) but there are many conference papers and research documents that only painstaking reading in libraries and repositories can fulfil. Besides the many individual research papers poured through and hours sitting in the Cape Archives pouring through primary documents important basic texts dealing with indigenes which are a must read are – The Van Riebeeck Diaries (3 volumes) edt by JB Thom Van Riebeeck Society; The Record by Donald Moodie; -The Khoi Khoi and the Founding of White South Africa by Richard Elphick; The Cape Khoisan in the eastern districts of the Colony before Ordinance 50 of 1828 by VC Malherbe; – The KhoiKhoi Rebellion in the Eastern Cape 1799- 1803 by VC Malherbe an S Newton-King; – Shaping of South African Society 1652 – 1820 by Richard Elphick and Herman Gilomee; – The House of Phalo: a history of the Xhosa people in the days of their independence by J Peires (and other valuable works by this author); – Voices of the San by Willemien le Roux and Allison White; Borderline by William Dicey; The Forgotten Frontier by Nigel Penn; – Rogues, Rebels and Runaways by Nigel Penn; The Sunburnt Queen by Hazel Crampton; The King of the Hottentots by John Patrick Cope; – David Stuurman: Last Chief of the Hottentots by VC Malherbe; The Island: History of Robben Island 1488 – 1990 by Harriet Deacon; – Seven Khoi Lives by Karel Schoeman; Khoisan resistance to the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries by Shula Marks; – The Griqua Captaincy of Philippolis 1826 – 1861 by Karel Schoeman and at least 5 other works by Schoeman on various aspects of the Griqua story. A more creative and entertaining version of Griqua history employing much imagination but nonetheless fairly factual is ‘Children of the Mist’ by Scott Balson; Krotoa by Trudie Bloem (fiction but worth the read); – The Khoisan Peoples of South Africa by Isaac Schapera (a dated and highly inaccurate account that resulted in the popularising of the inaccurate term Khoisan); The Cape Herders by Emile Boonzaaier; – The Hottentot Venus: Life and death of Saartjie Baartman by Rachel Holmes; — The Bushmen of Southern Africa: Slaughter of the innocents by Sandy Gall; Hunters and Herders of Southern Africa: A Comparative Ethnography of the Khoisan Peoples by A Barnard (another of the books that perpetuates some Khoisan myths and stereotypes now embraced by some as though fact as well as a number of works based on the same erroneous notions); A History of the Xhosa of the Northern Cape 1795 – 1879 by Elizabeth Anderson; – The Struggle for the Eastern Cape 1800 – 1854 by Martin Leggasick; – Adam Kok’s Griquas by Robert ross; – Masters and Servants on the Cape Eastern Frontier by S Newton-King; The Career of JT van der Kemp and his role in the history of South Africa by WM Freund; The Return of Makhanda: Exploring the Legend by Julia C Wells; – Even the Cows were amazed: Shipwreck Survivors in South-East Africa 1552 – 1782 by Gillian Vernon….. there are just so many avenues of reading that one must travel down and cross reference to find the hidden history that falls between the cracks.
The literature on Cape Slavery and the shaping of Cape Town through slavery is extensive. It is amazing that this subject which has been suppressed for years and laboured under all sorts of mythologies could be so hidden from public gaze regardless of the wealth of resources that cover the subject. People often ask me “where on earth do you find this information?” My response is that it requires work but it is not so hard to find. Here are some of the resources to look at (by far not all): Children of Bondage by Dr Robert Shell; Early Slavery at the Cape of Good Hope 1652 – 1717 by Karel Schoeman; – Portrait of a Slave Society at the Cape of Good Hope 1717 – 1795 by Karel Schoeman; – Cape Lives of the 18th Century by Karel Schoeman; Slavery in Dutch South Africa by Nigel Worden; Trials of Slavery by Nigel Worden and Gerald Groenewald; – Breaking the Chains: Slavery and its legacy in the 19th Century Cape Colony by Nigel Worden and Clifton Crais; – The Diary of Adam Tas edt by L Fouche; – The House of van der Stel by Ian Colvin; – Paarl Valley 1687 – 1987 by AG Oberholster and P Breda; – Nog Altyd hier gewees – Herman Gillomee; -Slavery, emancipation and Colonial Rule in South Africa by Wayne Dooling; The Dutch East India company’s Slave Lodge at the Cape by Helene Vollgraff; Echoes of Slavery by Jackie Loos; – Colour, Confusion and Concessions: The history of the Chinese in South Africa by Melanie Yap and Dianne Leong Man; – Slaves and Free Blacks at the Cape by AJ Boeseken; Cape of Torments by R Ross, Routledge and P Kegan; – Slavery in South Africa: Captive Labour on the Dutch Frontier by Elizabeth Eldredge and Fred Morton; – Decline of urban slavery at the Cape 1806 – 1843 A Bank; – Tindals, Kroomen and Seedis (Simonstown Historical Society Bulletin); – The sea is in our blood: Community and Craft in Kalk Bay 1880 – 1939 (Manilla Filipinos of Kalk Bay) by A Kirkaldy; Aided immigration from Britain (including the poor of St Helena) to South Africa 1857 – 1867 by Esme Bull; The Black Atlantic Communications Network; African American sailors and the Cape of Good Hope Connection by Keletso Atkins; Kroomen: Black Sailors at the cape by Alan Davey; – these readings should be complemented with a visit to the Slave Lodge museum in Cape Town and must be cross referenced with some of the literature mentioned earlier to cross pollinate with cultural, sociological and psychological perspectives and perspectives around the areas from which slaves were taken.
Complementing history and genealogical studies there is a range of work that has been done in the realm of DNA studies…. Here I will mention just two – the Final Report LivingHistory Project June 2008 of Pro Himla Soodyall; – and Discoveries in South Africa for the Genographic Project by National Geographic Genographics.
Additionally there are readings of many government and global agency reports that can also influence perspectives such as – the United Nations ‘State of the World’s Indigenous Populations; the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous People; Observations on the state of Indigenous Human Rights in the light of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s – SA 2007.
Then there is some of my own work:
Does Afrika-tourism have a future in the Western Cape? The challenge for Black entrepreneurs and their Cultural Heritage niche tourism product focused on slavery and indigene heritage – dissertation 1999; Business Plan for the Transformation of the Cultural History Museum into the Slave Lodge Museum – 2004; Western Cape Heritage: The Stories your tour guide didn’t tell you – 2005; Navigating Cape Identities published in – 2007; Black Roots of the Vine in Fraschhoek and Environs: An untold history of dispossession in the Drakenstein – published 2008; Lenses on Cape Identities – published 2009; as well as 30 biographies on resistance heroes 17th Century – 21 st century (commissioned) some of which can be found with other writings on my blogsite
Nou hell maar Burton Joseph dit was baie werk. Now you have the reading list boet, you have a lot of homework to do. Lol.