GENEALOGY SERIES: Madagascar Roots

Madagascar has a Malagasy population made up of diverse roots – African, Austronesian and Southeast Asian in the main, but with Somali, Arab, Indian, Chinese and some small European admixture. These constitute many kingdoms. This mixing goes back to migrations between 200BCE and 500 CE.

The Sub-Saharan African Bantu-language speakers were settled in Madagascar by 500 CE. Malagasy slaves are in diaspora across the world as a result of the slave trade. Madagascar is a member state of the Southern African Development Community SADC.

Madagascar was a major source of slaves at the Cape of Good Hope. The complexity of Malagasy society is matched only by the complexity of Cape Slave society. The roots of my Malagasy slave ancestors shows that these slaves brought from Madagascar like the two Arabus sisters – Cornelia and Lysbeth go back to Sulawesi and to Ethiopia, even although they were children from a royal family in Madagascar. The two young girl slaves were initially gifted to Maria van Riebeeck by a visiting French Captain but were handed over to the VOC as company slaves. Lysbeth Arabus is one of my 8th Great Grandmother and her daughter Lysbeth Sanders van der Kaap is one of my 7th Great-grandmothers. Cornelia is one of my 8th Great Aunts. The two Arabus girls were 10 and 12 years old when they arrived at the Cape and were contemporaries of Krotoa of the //Ammaqua (Watermans) aka Goringhaicona.

Another of my 8th Great Grandmothers was Tamara van Madagascar. Tamara was one of five slave women who had children by Johann Vosloo their owner, Johann eventually freed his offspring born into slavery.

Tamara’s freed-slave son, Johannes Vosloo, married one of my 7th Great Grandmother’s (Lysbeth Sanders van der Kaap) freed-slave daughters – Gerbrecht Herbst. (Gerbrecht’s grandmother was Lysbeth Arabus).

Lijsbeth Sanders van der Kaap was quite a character in early Cape society. She lived a long life until the age of 85 when she died in 1744.

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) – whose story of origin goes back to Myanmar-Laos – Thailand’s golden triangle…. As per an earlier post on this another of my 8th Great Grandma’s.

This illustrates a web of slave ancestry involving Madagascar, Ethiopia, Sulawezi, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and the African-Creole offspring at the Cape.

There is a wonderful Madagascar Music group called Tarika whose many songs speak of the ancestral mix of Sumatra and Sulawezi and East African roots. Our cultural heritage like that of Madagascar is a beautiful tapestry of over 150 tributaries, but unlike the Malagasy we do not tap into this rich heritage and most are unaware of their heritage. Os Is! Is ja! Camissa!

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