GENEALOGY SERIES: African-Creole slaves in my roots

In my direct lineage family tree there are thirteen first generation slaves who were captured from Africa, India and Southeast Asia and brought to the Cape, and there are 26 slaves in my family tree, 5 Khoi and 19 Europeans making up my roots. Other of my slave ancestors are covered in this series from Angola; Madagascar-Sumatra-Ethiopia; Kerala India, Bay of Bengal; the Golden Triangle – Myanmar,Laos, Thailand; and Sulawezi.

All across the African island countries like Cabo Verde, Comoros, Seychelles, Reunion, Sao Tome & Principe, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Mauritius and in mainland African countries, especially in – Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola and Mozambique there are African-Creole populations, languages and cultures. The port of Cape Town was no different and the creolisation that first appeared at the Cape of Good Hope spread across South Africa.

Even before Jan van Riebeeck took over and colonised the Indigene run proto port of Cape Town, there were African-Creole people at the Cape. From 1600 – 1652, with 1071 ships dropping anchor at the Cape on their way to Southeast Asia, China and India, and a further over 800 ships on return voyages, something like 150 000 Europeans, Asians and African would have stopped over at Table Bay for periods of between three weeks and one year. Jan van Riebeeck was neither the founder of Cape Town’s port nor the first resident from abroad.

As in any port around the world sexual relations occurred and children were born. Children born of such relations between the Watermans (or //Ammaqua) also referred to locally by the depreciative term goringhaicona (our kin who left us or were expelled) would have been the first African-Creoles. But the explosion of the African- creole population began in a big way after the first generation of locally born slaves. By 1760 the majority of slaves were African-Creoles.
The term CREOLE and CREOLISATION is not always well understood and can mean different things to different people. For instance, in the USA, it is simply seen as part of the population of Louisiana that have French, indigene and slave ancestry.
The real basic meaning of the term CREOLE derives from French ‘créole’, Spanish ‘criollo’ and Portuguese ‘crioulo’ all coming from the Latin root ‘creare’ meaning a new creation or referring to ‘locally born’. This referred mainly to the first generation of slaves who were locally born to slave parents or slave-indigene parents or to slave-European parents. The full cycle of creolisation occurs when the children of the first locally born slaves are born. Creole people, creole languages and creole cultures exist and are recognised as such across Africa. It is only here in South Africa that the notion of a ‘Coloured Race’ emerged through its creation and enforcement by Europeans.
Dr Robert Shell argues (in Children of Bondage; 1994; Wits Univ Press) that there is a point or moment of Creolisation premised on more than 50 % of locally born slaves making up the slave population. In other words, when the character of Cape Slavery was such that it could reproduce itself, then one could talk of Cape Slavery being predominantly comprised of African Creole slaves. Dr Shell quotes the German colonist Otto Mentzel saying in the 1740s that “the majority of privately owned slaves have been born in the country (the Cape Colony)”. This differed with VoC Company slaves at the Slave Lodge where the imported slaves remained in the majority until the end of the life of the Slave Lodge. By 1806 Cape Slavery was a mix of African Creole slaves and new African slaves (Masbiekers & increasingly ‘Liberated Africans’ who were technically apprentices). Few slaves from the old countries of origin (other than Madagascar) such as those from India and Southeast Asia were now being brought to the Cape by 1808 and very quickly it stopped altogether.
It is from 1702 through to the 1780s that the 16 African Creole slaves feature in my family tree both as first generation locally borns and as second generation locally borns. Some were married to each other or to Free Blacks and some to Europeans and Khoi. Some were not married but had concubine relationships with Europeans. All African Creole children born of slave mothers would be slaves. Only if a slave fathered a child with a European woman, would that child not be a slave. Enslavement was always passed through a woman. These are my African-Creole slave and Free Black ancestors:
Armozijn de Groote van der Kaap 9th great aunt (African-Creole slave)
Armozijn de Cleine van der Kaap 9th first cousin (African-Creole slave)
Lijsbeth Sanders van der Kaap 7th great grandmother (African-Creole slave)
Gerbrecht Herbst van der Kaap 6th great grandmother (African-Creole slave)
Johannes Vosloo van der Kaap 6th great grandfather (African-Creole slave)
Maria Groothenning van der Kaap 6th great grandmother (African-Creole slave)
Anna Verkouter van der Kaap 5th great grandmother (African-Creole slave)
Rebecca Mosesz van der Kaap 8th great grandmother (African-Creole slave)
Maria Cornelisse Claasen vdk 7th great grandmother (African-Creole slave)
Maria Lozee van der Kaap 8th great grandmother (African-Creole slave)
Jacobus van der Kaap Steyn 7th great grandfather (African-Creole slave)
Anna Pieterse van der Kaap 8th great grandmother (African-Creole slave)
Francina NN Hadden vdk maternal 1st great grandmother (African-Creole slave)


Imported African and Asian slaves, Creole slaves, Free Blacks, Masbiekers, Liberated Africans, Kru, Sidees, Lascars, Saints, Manillas, Perankan Chinese, Indonesian exiles, Chinese, other migrants of Colour San, Khoi, Gqunukhwebe, Xhosa, BaSotho, BaStwana, non-conformist Europeans and many more infusions all contribute to those of us who descend from the earliest African-Creole people… who today refer to ourselves as Africans of Camissa heritage.

Pic: Cabo Verde Children (Photo by: Lauren Millar Pintintrest)

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