About melletpt

Heritage activist - Cape Town, South Africa focused on Cape Indigene and Cape Slavery history and heritage

DISPELLING THE BOGUS HISTORY: Just who were the ‘First People’ – the /Xam-ka and who all were those we call the Khoena or Khoi & Xhosa – and are latter related?

I have become very tired – sick and tired in fact – by the succession of false histories concerning who the ‘FIRST PEOPLE’ of the Cape were, and also the misrepresentation of the Xhosa as foreign alien blacks who invaded the Cape, and indeed blanket claims that the ‘Coloured’ people are the Khoena or Khoi and therefore we are the ‘First People’ who demand control of this land.

Much of this is based on false Apartheid and Colonialist history that has unfortunately been embraced by a significant number of our people along with much racism and bigotry.

 


Having said this I will go on to explain why I say it, but I first want to state that I do believe that there are genuine Cape Khoena or Khoi communities, and when revived memory and organisational forms are done in a proper manner with due regard to the real history and heritage of the Khoena, then I fully support such initiatives. I believe that there is a place for Khoena revivalism of this sort but it certainly is not a solution or appropriate way for all to follow…. And I say this with due respect. Here I note that revival of tribalism as a way forward can and should be separated from reviving heritage and memory and there are many variants of ways in which this can be done.

In some parts of the three Capes there are strong grounds for a revived association of Khoena people and there are serious claims to be considered soberly in terms of restorative justice. Here in particular the recognition of Revivalist Cape Khoena groups as among the five most marginalised Indigene groups who are discriminated against in South Africa must be recognised. However in other parts of South Africa – the Cape Peninsula in particular only a very small minority have Cape Khoena roots and even then it is but part of much stronger roots relating to slavery and various other migrations of people of colour. I have carefully studied the 1865 census which was the most reliable until 1904 and of the 90 000 identified Cape Khoena of that time a very negligible percentage were to be found from Koeberg to the so-called Hottentot Holland Mountains and across to Cape Point. Over 91% of persons of colour in this area had other historical roots.

Now to understand firstly who the only ‘FIRST PEOPLE’ of the Cape can be said to be, we have to go a long way back in history to understand this. Through coming to a proper understand of who the /Xam-ka were, we will also come to an understanding of how they were first displaced from the coastal areas of the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape by the first migrants – the Cape Khoena pastoralists from the Northwest and their earliest cousins the first Xhosa ancestors (not to be confused with those called Xhosa today). We will also need to look at the much later entry of the Nguni into the Eastern Cape and what truly unfolded there. To be able to understand this we will have to look at who the Nguni were, because there is a lot of confusion about this because of the false Colonial narratives.

All of these matters pertain to PRE-COLONIAL HISTORY. Another history begins with colonialism and I have covered this elsewhere in explaining how the Colonists over 170 years involving 15 wars first forcibly removed or pacified the Cape Khoena and then committed genocide on the /Xam-ka ‘First People’ and then moved on in the overlapping 100 years wars against the amaGcaleka and amaRharhabe Xhosa and all the other Nguni tribes right through to Pondoland.

Let me start with first explaining that there 90 000 years ago, the ‘real ‘First People’ – Homo Sapiens moved out of East Africa to populate the world and by 70 000 years ago hundreds of small groups of Homo Sapiens were dotted all over Southern Africa, and have been genetically mapped with what is called SA dna (Southern African dna) which some refer to as using the anthropological and linguistic terms – San or Khoisan dna. By 40 000 years ago half of these ‘First People’ with as much diversity in way of life as they were in number, had died out, and by 20 000 years ago they had again reduced considerably.

At that time and over the next 20 000 years distinctive social identities developed to which archaeologists and anthropologists gave the broad label SAN. But with the huge distances between these different groups each had distinctive names and cultures of their own. Down in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Central Cape the descendants of the first homo-sapiens who we can call ‘FIRST PEOPLE’ were the /Xam-ka and they were far removed from the Tshua and #Hõā San tribes on the Northwestern Kalahari and Limpopo…. As much so as the Scots, Irish, English and French.

The Khoena or Khoi as a distinct people, first emerged 2500 years ago in the Northwestern Kalahari and Limpopo. They separated from the ancestors of the Tshua and #Hõā San, when pastoral people from East Africa crossed the Limpopo and brought sheep and a new way of living into the region. These new-comers were also rooted in the ‘descendants of the ‘First People’ in East Africa – the Hadza and Sandawe. But geneticists have also found that the ancestors of these people had also mixed with Nilotic peoples (North Africans from the Nile) who were the ones who introduced sheep to the East Africans. Sheep originate in the Middle East and were conduited down the Nile either through Southward migration from the Middle East or by trading links with the Nilotic people. Some evidence such as the existence of the Lembe with their customs and dna suggests the possibility too of a direct link with South Africa, but that is another story. Sheep pastoralism and milk drinking cultures trace along very specific routes and interface with South Africa parallel to the emergence of Khoena people. It is these Khoena or Khoi people who became migrants to the Cape, to join the /Xam-ka ‘First People’ who had been there ever since the first Homo Sapiens moved there.

This Limpopo gateway into South Africa tells us a lot about pre-colonial times as it is from here that various people migrated across the Limpopo to KZN and also down to the Gariep River and from there into the Eastern and Western Cape, with a lesser used route also down the West Coast. At this gateway the San of that area and the new arrivals both from East Africa and Bantu from the Great Lakes regions mixed and the Khoena emerged in three formations. One remained around what would become the Kingdom of Mapangubwe, another, the Bakoni moved Eastwards right through to KZN and the other moved Southwards to the Gariep and beyond to the Eastern Cape.

By 800AD a powerful African Kingdom developed along the Limpopo with its centre at Mapagubwe made up of a mix of San, Khoena, Bakoni and Bantu peoples.
The Mapangubwe Kingdom presided over by the Tshua San and Khoena Royalty who were held in great esteem by the mixed population of Kalahari Tshua, Khoena, Bakoni and Bantu peoples who all lived in accord. It was an advanced African civilisation of people who lived in stone walled towns, smelted and fashioned golden objects and who likely from evidence found, traded with the East African Coast, Arabs Indians and Chinese in the 10th century. Hundreds of these stone walled city ruins can be found all the way to Mozambique. Great Zimbabwe is just one of these.

When the Bakoni travelled East into KZN there were another distinct San people, the //Xegwi in that region who were displaced by the pastoralist Bakoni, a mixed Khoena-San-Bantu people. Many of the //Xegwi were assimilated into the Bakoni who themselves then assimilated into the Tsonga Bantu tribes who crossed into Northern KZN. It is this mixed people who came to be called the Nguni – the Ndwandwe Kingdom and the Mthethwa Kingdom being the most powerful. In the late 18th and early 19th century a revolution took place in this region in which the small original Zulu tribe and Khumalo tribes played a huge role and a new modern National group, the Zulu emerged as a Kingdom. Through this revolution known as the Mfecane a number of Nguni tribes – the Ngwane, Qwabe, Hlubi, Bhaca, Bhele, Zizi, Xesibe and Mpondomise were pushed South wards. Only the Mpondo under King Faku, on the Southern borders of KZN, were able to withstand the Zulu forces now operating way out of their rear supply bases.

As a result the Mpondo, Mpondomise, Thembu and Bomvana put pressure on the mixed Cobuqua-Xhosa in the area north of the Kei River. So did other refugee groups who were a mix of Khoena and Sotho also fleeing the Mfecane from the surrounds of Mosheshwe’s mountain kingdom which also checked the Zulu advance. This takes us up to the time of Shaka’s death in 1828.

But long before then – some more than 1000 years previously, the Khoena who travelled down Southwards from Limpopo and had settled alongside other San formations along the Gariep, also move further down Southwards through the Eastern Cape seaboard into the Western Cape right down into the Cape Peninsula. Not long after them, probably as the Mapangubwe Kingdom flourish from 800AD there was a trickle of Bantu into the Eastern Cape alongside the Cobuqua. Historians suggest that there was little differentiating between these two groups. They were people who were use to each other over a lengthy period. The original occupiers of the land, the /Xam-ka named these people, the Xhosa. These people spoke a funny mix of Khoena and SiNtu language, and had adopted many of the religious and cultural traditions of the Khoena and San and were thoroughly inter-married with San and Khoena. They were initially also not a kingdom but rather just a small loose federation of clans.

When the Nguni drift occurred and when refugees started pressing down South much later, this pre-Nguni,”Xhosa-Khoena” mixed people came under a much stronger and more well organised Nguni influence. But already there were Khoena tribes further south all the way to the Cape Peninsula by this time.

The Khoena that migrated to the Cape had no direct genetic linkage to the /Xam-ka. It is only in antiquity that there is a connection. They were thus not indigenous to the area in the old-fashioned use of the term. In modern UN terminology indigenous is used much more broadly and thus Khoena are an Indigene people as much as all whose forebears come from the continent are indigene. But the Khoena certainly are a marginalised Indigene people in South Africa who face discrimination. That is not the same as being the ‘First People’ in the older sense of the word indigene. The UN and AU and the SA government recognise the San, the Nama, the Korana, the Griqua and the Revivalist Cape Khoena as being “most marginalised and discriminated against Indigenous People’.

The Khoena pastoralists nudged out the /Xam-ka hunter-gatherer ‘First People’ from their traditional hunting grounds and as pastoralists took dominance of the seaboard areas. The /Xam-ka ‘First People’ were gradually pushed from their traditional lands over a 500 year period, so that by the time the European shipping started regularly pulling into bays along the coast, the Khoena in the Western Cape and the Xhosa-Khoena of the Eastern Cape were the indigene Africans whom they met.

In the region of the Zuurveld and down to the Gamtoos River mixed Xhosa-Gonaqua tribe called the Gqunukwebe lived alongside the Gonaqua. The name Gqunukwebe is exactly the same as Gonaqua in a different dialect.

From the Zuurveld area, the following Khoena tribes who had taken over the /Xam-ka lands in the past 500 years were in place at the time of the first European invasion of the Cape. The Gqunukwebe-Xhosa, Gonaqua, Hoengeyqua, Gamtoos, Outeniqua, Attaqua, Hessequa, Chainouqua, Cochoqua, Chariguriqua, Goringhaiqua and the Gorachoqua.

Drifters from the latter four who changed their way of life and established a new economy servicing European shipping during the 52 years before Jan van Riebeeck were loosely referred to as the Goringhaicona of Camissa. The formation of  the Camissa traders was highly influenced by a number of them travelling abroad and back – long before van Riebeeck’s arrival. Two of the most prominent were Chief Xhore who visited London in 1613 with the English and Chief Autshumao who visited Java in 1631 with the English who assisted him to establish a servicing settlement. These two men were the real founders of the Port of Cape Town which serviced 1071 ships and over 200 000 European visitors before van Riebeeck. Visits ranged from 3 weeks to 9 months in duration. Without us fully understand the significance of this part of our pre-colonial history we can also never be able to navigate our future. It is in this Camissa experience of a new economy and mode of living among Indigenes and how this was crushed that our understanding of our past is greatly enhanced.

The Goringhaicona were not a tribe….. they were a paradigm shift….. a revolution, that was crushed. But that is a story that I have dealt with elsewhere.

The Khoena or Khoi were the first to encounter the Europeans on the shoreline frontier when their ships dropped anchor in search of meat, water, salt and repair materials. When the European settlers came to stay they were highly reliant on the advanced animal husbandry and pastoral skills of the Cape Khoena whose understanding of sustainable grazing, water conservation and insect-borne diseases was invaluable to the European greenhorn farmers. At the time of the first interactions with the Europeans, the Khoena were very successful livestock farmers with tens of thousands of head of sheep and cattle. Indeed the Khoena had introduced livestock to the Cape.
In the Central Cape mountainous area were the bulk of the /Xam-ka and initially the Europeans steered clear of them. From the moment the VOC started a colony they consciously started a process of forced removals or ethnic cleansing of the Khoena communities from what became the Cape Colony and it took the 170 – so fierce was the resistance. Those that would not be pacified were forced to flee to the Gariep or to join the amaXhosa resistance in the Eastern Cape. The Cape Peninsula up to the Hottentots Holland Mountains, down through Paarl and the outskirts of Malmesbury to the West Coast, was by 1720, a virtual Khoena-free zone, so bad was the ethnocide implemented. By the 1865 census there were less than 8% of the 90 000 recorded Khoena (Hottentots) in the whole Colony, living in the Peninsula area. Over 90% of people of colour in this area were recorded as slave descendants and descendants of migrants of colour. The largest concentrations of Khoena were recorded alongside some of the largest concentrations of Xhosa in the Eastern Cape or in the Northern Cape and the West Coast of the Western Cape and the Karoo and part of Hessequa. Smaller concentrations were in the Overberg.

By the late 1600s the Europeans first encountered the /Xam-ka in warfare when some of the Peninsula Khoena refugees team up with these Cape San to resist the Dutch advance. Increased contact was made after the 1740s as the Europeans in their pushing the Khoena out of the Cape began to encounter more and more /Xam-ka inland. But from the 1770s for 25 years the /Xam-ka valiantly held their own against Dutch-Khoena Commandos. The Commandos were under Dutch leadership but about 60% of these Commandos were pacified Khoena and in this period is when the great genocide slaughter of the ‘First People’ /Xam-ka was at its worst.

The Khoena in the Commandos were instructed to wipe out the adult /Xam-ka. Only a few of the children were spared and taken prisoners and shared out to work on white farms alongside slaves and pacified Khoena. The Khoena Commandos were also allowed to take some of the girls as concubines. Both the European and Khoena Commandos favourite aberration was to cut off the breasts of /Xam-ka women to make leather tobacco pouches.

Much of the 30 000 /Xam-ka community were wiped out, with the survivors moving northward short of the Gariep. There by the mid-1800s the British, Nama, Orlams and the Griquas carried on massacring the /Xam-ka. This is the real tragic story of a genocide with many role-players taking part but largely overseen by the Dutch VOC and the British. This genocide spread from the /Xam-ka victims to wiping out many of the Gariep San too.

It is this fact that makes it painful for the collective surviving San peoples across Southern Africa, when Khoena descendant inappropriately use the term KhoiSan, an anthropological, archaeological and geneticist academic term coined by a German anthropologist in the 1930s. It is adding insult to injury. It also adds insult to injury for any group to assume the title ‘First People’ in the Cape because all were migrants who displaced the /Xam-ka.

Let us now just go back again to the pre-colonial period to see a little bit more closely what occurred in the Eastern Cape with the Khoena. As already noted the earliest original pre-Nguni “Xhosa-Cobuqua” were the first already back as far as the 15th century feeling some impacts of Mpondomise, Mpondo and Thembu engagement with the “Xhosa-Cobuqua” of the area above the Kei River. Gradually assimilation took place with some Nguni offshoots from the Thembus, Mpinga-Ngwevu Mpondomise, and the Ntshilibe-Mfene-Vundle Sotho as well as the Ntlane and Zangwa Mpondo , all joining the mix.

A trickle became a greater flow when a game-changer occurred. The Nguni domination of the federation of the Xhosa-Cobuqua-Nguni clans began with a fratricidal battle between two royal brothers Cira and Tshawe. The heir to the throne, Cirwa, was defeated when Tshawe called on the Mpondomise to come to his assistance. This led to the initial Nguni domination.

But then Tshawe offered sanctuary to a number of Khoena clans and this again balanced the mix. Expediency had most accepting the new arrangement but those who did not voluntarily accept sanctuary under one Tshawe Kingdom were forced into the Kingdom. A mythology was created over time by the victors, that does not stand up to scrutiny, that Tshawe’s father was a great Chief called NkosiyamNtu. This seem more to be a storyline to suggest an older direct link to the northern Nguni, than fact. What people also tend to do is to confuse the development of Kingdoms with history. Before Kingdoms were imposed there were just clans and very little rigidity as every clan was a mix of Khoena, Bantu and even /Xam-ka to some extent. The “Kingdoms” ideology was often ahistorical, just like today when people are creating kingdoms from thin air, simply because it may result in a government cheque every month and some land.

The following Khoena clans joined the new Xhosa Kingdom of Tshawe – the Ngqosini, Giqwa, Cete, and isiThathu voluntarily joined in accepting Tshawe as King of the mixed Xhosa-Khoena Kingdom and the customs and language was a mix of Khoena and SiNtu.

All of this happened some-time in the 17th century because the first contacts between the colonists and another tribe known as the Gqunukwebe is recorded when a commando of Europeans road out of Stellenbosch in 1702 and moved up as far as the Zuurveld to raid cattle and encountered these people. Who were the Gqunukwebe?
After Tshawe’s time and before 1700 one of the Khoena clans (which also had a Sotho mix) – the Ngqosini under Chief Tshiwo revolted against the Xhosa Kingdom and made an alliance with a medicine man Khwane who had quietly built up a small Khoena army in the forests over some time. They were victorious and this is how these Khoena Xhosa joined by a number of Gonaqua Khoena people in the forests, formed the Gqunukwebe, (it actually is Xhosa word for Gonaqua) and became the southernmost Xhosa living alongside the Gonaqua in relative harmony. These were the first so-called Xhosa that the Europeans started raiding cattle from when commandos rode out from Stellenbosch in 1700.

The Gqunukwebe became a melting pot for the Hoengeyqua, Gonaquea, Gamtoos and even Hessequa refugees and Confederation military alliance was forged between them all under the elderly Chief Chungwa and the Khoena Chief Klaas Stuurman, and after his death with Chief David Stuurman. This was of course all in the South of the Eastern Cape.

In ,the north the end of the 18th century the Zulu Mfecane then also added to the impacts when other Nguni refugees followed – the Ngwane, Bhele, the Zizi, the Hlubi, the Bhaca, the Qocwa and the Mfengu. All of this took place before the Colonial Conquest of the Eastern Cape, and continued just up to the VOC Dutch wars started in the region, and some of it carried on in tandem with the first few British wars that seized Khoena and Xhosa land.

But something else also happened before the Colonists came onto the scene. By 1736 a new powerful Xhosa Kingdom arose under the House of Phalo. It came into being through another fratricidal conflict within the Xhosa Kingdom
Next door to the original Cobuqua-Xhosa pre-Nguni were another powerful Khoena tribe – the Inqua also called the Humcumqua. They made a huge political military mistake in the region when they got involved in taking sides with one brother against the other in the Xhosa conflict. The Inqua took the side of the brother that lost and they were conquered in the process.

The Inqua Chief Hinsati made an alliance with the Xhosa King Gwali and gave him protection against his brother Mdange. The latter defeated the Inqua and installed Phalo as King and then assimilated the Inqua clans – Sukwini, Gqwashu and Nqarwane into the House of Phalo. So thereby another whole Khoena tribe with all its clans simply had a name change. They were Khoena or Khoi who suddenly became part of this by now more than 800 year old ever metamorphosing entity called “Xhosa”.

The House of Phalo also eventually split into two antagonistic tribes – the amaGcaleka of Chief Gqaika and the amaRharhabe of Chief Ndlambe. The Rharabe allied with the Gonaqua and Gqunukwebe against the colonists and Gqaika allied with the colonists against the Xhosa-Khoena Confederacy. Two amazing resistance fighters emerged from this alliance under the Rharhabe – General and Itola, Makhanda known As Nxele, whose mother was Khoena and father Xhosa; and Khoena Chief David Stuurman. Bothe ended up together as prisoners of war on Robben Island and both were in the same escape boat that made it to Bloubergstrand. Makhand unfortunately drown when the boat hit the rocks. Chief David Stuurman survived but was banished to Australia as a POW convict.

All of the Khoena tribes from the Zuurveld down into the Cape Peninsula had very strong familial links to the Xhosa, who were in fact to a great degree Khoena themselves as well as part Nguni. In modern times we tend to call all of the people of the Eastern Cape Xhosa and then assume all are Nguni. That is much too simplistic and it also feeds into the “Great Lie” that a Black invasion occurred more or less at the same time as a white invasion, and both are aliens to the Khoena.

From this historical falsehood has grown a false Khoena or Khoi separatism, and also the falsehood that the Khoena or Khoi are the ‘First People’ of the Cape, whereas they were pastoral migrants and only the /Xam-ka were the ‘First People’. Besides everything else the commandos who slaughtered the /Xam-ka were 60% made up of pacified Khoena. The few /Xamka surviving the 1780s genocide by the VOC Commandos faced further genocide at the hands of the British and the Griquas in the 1800s.

We really need to hit this nonsense on the head. It is all based on notions of superiority indoctrinated among ‘Coloured’ people by the colonists and Apartheid racism and bigotry. Our history as Africans is much more complex and integrated than we want to believe. The evolution and the falling away and recreation of tribal and kingdom identities happened before Colonisation and was exploited to divide our ancestors at that time, just as it is dividing us now. And all sorts of opportunists and racists are climbing on board. There should be no place for racism in any united association of indigenes, and these cannot just be open to those labelled “Coloured” when history shows us that only a third of “Coloured” have Khoena heritage and probably an equal number of those today called “Xhosa” also have Khoena Heritage in the Cape. In the Gariep, Free State and right up to Limpopo and then across to KZN, there are also descendants of the Khoena.

The Cape Khoena heritage is real but it has nothing to do with race, colour, features and geo-location. The story is a lot more complex.

If we want to be true to ourselves and to our ancestors we should proceed cautiously and get to first embrace a non-colonial historical understanding of our roots. We also cannot just be trendy and adopt models from Canada, the USA and Australia.
I believe that in going forward and looking at all the components of our heritage that has been forced under this label “Coloured” we must honestly address the past, and there is much research to consult and everyday new information arises. We cannot neatly separate our indigene heritage which some carry in more weight than others from our Slavery ancestry from Africa, India and Southeast Asia, nor from the many other tributaries of migrants of colour whose descendants too were labelled “Coloured”.

I firmly believe that together we should be in exploration mode least fraudulent charletons and the Zuma State bamboozle us all for their own benefit just like previous regimes have done…. And then our people are betrayed. The dead give-away of the false doctrines floating about is that they are firmly a matter of the age old “DIVIDE & RULE”.

One of our old late stalwarts wished to leave a legacy of understanding that he as someone labelled ‘Coloured’ wanted to claim his African-ness by correction the colonial historical nonsense that created a wall between one indigene African people and another.

This colonial lie of “separateness” needs to be challenged at its roots. One of our late old stalwarts believed that we must be honest and face up to history and write our own pre-colonial narratives. Until we do so this notion of ‘Coloured’ superiority will not die out. We are an African people and will never find our African home and African rights if we keep following the ‘white’ lies. We are an integrated African people and separatism is not the answer to our problems. It is when we truly accept our African heritage in all its wonderful facets, and merge this with our slavery heritage seamlessly as the very blood that flows in our veins – then we will find peace and liberation.

He would say, “We have allowed the Europeans world view to become our world view. It is a common argument of the Europeans that where would Africa and South Africa be if it was not for the Europeans skill and hard work. They shout –look what good colonialism has done for you.” The only way to counter this is to stop believing their half-baked stories and making these our own. Look at the pre-colonial situation with honesty.

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KROTOA – MOVIE REVIEW

ALSO SEE POST UNDER PROFILES: Biography of Krotoa – Click Here

Today, Women’s Day – 9 August 2017, I went to see the Movie KROTOA (!Goro/gõas) the story of a young woman who lived just over three decades straddling the pre-colonial period and the period during which the first Dutch VOC colony was established.

I was sorely disappointed at an opportunity lost for communicating an amazing story of our past to audiences in 21st century South Africa. Back in 1985 an amazing source book was produced by Richard Elphick that stands out from all other literature of the period, but in a less severe way, it makes the same mistake that this movie makes. The title of the book actually says it all. It was entitled – “The KhoiKhoi and the making of White South Africa”. It was a filter-lens of looking at the Khoena or (Khoi) through the preoccupation with “White settlement”.

The movie largely looks at Krotoa or (!Goro/gõas) through the ‘White” filter-lens of an absolutely unauthentic romanticised Commander Jan van Riebeeck and adds into the mix a peculiar scenario projecting her rape by van Riebeeck wherein it projects her as being partly to blame and wanting his carnal attention in a yes-no manner. There is no factual basis that Krotoa was raped by van Riebeeck or had an intimate relationship with him. This storyline is based on speculation in the work of Julia Wells as a source. I believe that Krotoa did suffer abuse and rape probably by a number of officials and one cannot rule out van Riebeeck being one of these but I refuse to accept that her life was shaped by an ambiguous speculative relationship with van Riebeeck in the manner portrayed by the movie. This does not do her justice.

The real obvious child-abuse is papered over by the movie presenting Krotoa older than the years at the beginning of her teens and being ambiguous about her feelings around an artificially “young van Riebeeck” in artificially private spaces in the fort.

As a descendent of the woman identified as Krotoa and well versed in the abuse she suffered in her lifetime this movie was an self-indulgent abuse in itself and misrepresentation of her memory in the present on the part of the director, producers and scripters following the same tired old distortions. Effectively it came across as the same framework of Disney’s Pochontas.

The real facts are so accessible that there is no excuse for the gross non-authenticity. I am well acquainted with artistic license, but what I saw was not artistic license but a very similar approach that the Apartheid Regime took in presenting Jan van Riebeeck and Maria van Riebeeck by using the images from a Netherlands museum. Mr Vermuyden and his mistress Ms Kettering, were cast as Van Riebeeck and wife instead of the real Jan van Riebeeck’s image on our banknotes, schoolbooks, coins and umpteen other uses. This is not okay.

The movie as a low-budget production done in a similar vein and on a similar budget to ”Twelve Years a Slave” is greatly lacking as a professional production, but with one redeeming point – an excellent performance by the actress Crystal-Donna Roberts. Deon Lotz in the role of Roelof de Man in fact would have made a much more authentic and well-acted Jan van Riebeeck whereas Armand Aucamp and his script was just not plausible nor authentic. Marcel van Heerden does a good Commander Wagenaar.

I think that Director Roberta Durrant and scriptwriters Margeret Goldsmid and Kaye Williams let down the story badly. A second plus point was the attempt to use the KhoeKhoegowab language alongside Afrikaans.

Some have argued that the Movie projects a feminist perspective. I do not think that it does, other than portraying a strong character – Krotoa. The feminist perspective does not come out from the couple of instances of playing facilitator in bartering. Her real skillsets and greatness can only come out in the negotiations framed by the diplomatic engagements under war and threat of war which is missing from the movie. Alternatively when giving JvR and other officials perspectives in the complexity of the Indigene world, where according to his journal she played him for a fool. Her role as an interpreter, diplomat and facilitator of her people’s interests behind the VOC lines is what brings out the most amazing characteristics of this young woman in a man’s world.

What is perhaps the second most outrageous element of this movie after the misrepresentation of Jan van Riebeeck and of Krotoa’s relationship with him, the fact that one third of her early life is cut out altogether and part of the last third of her life too.

The story of Kratoa involves very different scenarios in each of the three short decades of her life. She died before she turned 32. The first eleven years of her life must have shaped her in an indelible way, but was not looked at. The movie projects Kratoa as being solely shaped by the van Riebeecks. The second decade of her life is the start of the Movie and is all about Jan van Riebeeck and later van Meerhof’s fictitious relationship with her. It was not about Krotoa. The third and most devastating decade of her life is a sanitisation of the cruelty she was put through by the Europeans and the torment she underwent.

Avoided too is the dominant paradigm in all three decades, of being a child, teen and woman of great substance and independence but dominated as being abandoned into the care or wardship first as ward of her Uncle Autshumao, then ward of Commander Jan van Riebeeck, and then first as ward to her husband van Meerhof (as a kind of mider) and second to the new Governor and Dutch Reformed Church Council.

The name Krotoa or !Gora/goas (mispronounced in the movie) means a “Ward” – a child abandoned into the care of others. Indeed in the end her children (a number of s urviving children) are forcibly removed from her and not immediately in her lifetime sent to Mauritius but given over into the care of a brothel keeper, Barbara Geems. Not even the credits acknowledge the names of her children who like her, become “Wards” and what became of them. The movie is a complete whitewash of how early white settler society collectively treated Krotoa, not just the de Man and Wagenaar.

Let me be subjective for a moment. I was a ward four times over before the age of seven, and until I went out to work aged 15 I remained in different wardships. I grew up with both male and female wards. The one thing I know about being a ward, is by the time you are ten years old you would develop skills that are associated with adults and would be very streetwise. You will more than likely have experienced various types of abuse including sexual abuse particularly under certain circumstances. I cannot project on Krotoa what she must have experienced but I certainly can say that she already was her own person by the time of her encounter with the van Riebeecks and she would have been wise beyond her years and broadly experienced.

The early three settlements are not really projected as they were in Krotoa’s lifetime. Firstly the Europeans projected as gentry were not gentry and mostly not Dutch. Again, a picture painted 200 years later by artist Charles Bell gives an imaginary projection of van Riebeeck’s landing at a forlorn Cape met by startled indigenes who engage with elegantly dressed Dutchmen carrying a flag as though this was the first indigene engagement with Europeans, is imaginery and far off the mark. It contradicts an indigene establishment which had been dealing as port reception for Europeans for a half century already, and an Autshumao who had travelled to and trained in Java and was running a great little port business which the English had assisted him to set up.

Some of van Riebeeck’s men came from the Netherlands, but most were from other countries like Germany, France, Prussia, the Baltic, Belgium, France and Scandinavia. They were a roughneck bunch of mercenaries and not a bunch of pious Dutch gentry. They immediately started fights with indigenes and were a big headache for van Riebeeck. They arrived at the beginning of winter and were rained out in a camp alongside the Goringhaiqua also known as theWatermen of the Camissa trading settlement. Van Riebeeck and family probably patched up and made use of Janszens old structure during the building period while his men camped rough with the Goringhaicona. Jan van Riebeeck spent his first two years undercutting Autshumao and squeezing him out of his very real business with the passing ships of other nationalities.

Van Riebeeck and his successor Wagenaar are both projected as “governors” in the movie, which they were not. They were simply Commanders of a start-up VOC project. Simon van der Stel was the first Governor of the Cape that was resident at the Cape. At van Riebeeck’s time the Governor General of Batavia was the Governor of the Cape. This notion of a Governor at the Cape projects the Fort and settlement in much too grandiose a scenario than it actually was at the time.

Throughout van Riebeeck’s time the fort scenario was a cramped and overcrowded place where JvR and his young, sickly wife, his child and two nieces only had two rooms. There were only two old plough horses available and things were pretty rudimentary. After the Dutch failed to win an outright victory in the frst Indigene-Dutch War horses were imported after van Riebeecks time to develop a cavalry so as to gain superiority in war in the future. In the entire first winter of 4 months the roughneck Europeans spent cheek by jowl at the Camissa River village with Autshumao and his Goringhaiqua community. The van Riebeeck family were the first to move into the fort before the building was completed. After moving into the fort now overlooking the Camissa river van Riebeeck gazed out of the window and he says he saw the forlorn figure of Autshumao sitting encamped outside.

In appearance, age and personality, the 33 year old Jan van Riebeeck (38 by the time of the movie timeline), is grossly misrepresented. Van Riebeeck was a stout, balding, rough-faced, hardened VOC employee from a posting in Vietnam and highly prejudiced against indigenous people. He was not a young fresh-faced naive greenhorn needing egging on by Roelof de Man as projected in the movie. We have a good idea about JvR’s outrageous attitude when comparing his counter-report to the VOC after his 18 day visit to the Cape in 1647 to the main report of Captain Janszens who had spent a year at the Cape and recommended that the Indigenes were great people for developing a partnership with the VOC.

Van Riebeeck was disparaging and as a non-first-hand witness and misrepresented his disparaging view of an incident between some of Janszens men and indigenous people, challenging the (just) manner in which the Captain had dealt with the incident. We also know through van Riebeecks letters to the VOC asking permission to enact two draconian forced removals plans to rid the Peninsular of Indigenes, one of which was developing a concentration camp. The movie falsely projects a soft benevolent man young man who falls in love with Krotoa. The primary texts describe van Ribeeck as a – “fiery-tempered, resolute man, in the prime of life, with perfect health, untiring energy, and unbounded zeal”

Maria van Riebeeck, a sickly young woman who died two years after leaving the Cape, had no less than 8 pregnancies, most of which resulted in miscarriage. She had two children of her own to look after plus two orphaned nieces that had come with her from the Netherlands. They were in two cramped rooms. She hardly would have managed giving personal undivided attention to a child servant , Krotoa.

Krotoa too as a lowly servant shared her cramped quarters with at least two other slave women and three other slave children. The scenario at the fort is badly mis-projected. Maria van Riebeeck is projected as a much older woman of stern demeanour. She was a 22 year old who was constantly pregnant. The created conflict and dialogue of Maria van Riebeeck does not make sense, particularly when she has argument with Krotoa as though Krotoa was a baptised Christian which she was not as a young girl. The misrepresentation of Krotoa in her teens projecting her much more womanly than reality is not authentic.

Now there were momentous happenings at the Table Bay settlement during those years. Krotoa would still have been fascinated with the many, and increasingly so, ships coming into the bay and many people coming ashore. Two things in the first five years of her second decade of life would surely have stood out. The first being the arrival of the two Arabus girls of her own age into the van Riebeeck household as slaves. Krotoa would have been pre-occupied to some degree with the concept of slavery and would have been playmates and a confident of these children. I am also genealogically related to both of the Arabus slave children. Did Krotoa have an opinion or two, a question or two? It’s not mentioned in the movie. Then over 400 children from West Africa arrive as slaves and are sick and starving. They are out in the open as there is no immediate accommodation. Van Riebeeck was highly preoccupied with these slave children. It must have been a traumatic experience for Krotoa and the two Arabus girls. Van Riebeeck gave daily rations of tobacco and alcohol to pacify the children. Is this how he also pacified Krotoa and the other slave children in his household? It is likely that both her alcoholism and a legacy of abuse happened to start while the three girls were quite young and while sedated with liquor. The movie projects a false and groundless trajectory instead of these facts that we know.

The projection of Krotoa as flirtatious and having a crush on Commander van Riebeeck to the extent of showing her as engaging in possible fantasising and stimulating herself sexually after being with van Riebeeck and prior to her rape by the Commander was a really terrible projection that was insulting to her memory and to those who hold her dear today. What on earth were the director and scriptwriters up to. I believe that I was not alone in seeing this as abuse as I have picked up the same shock factor from others who have seen the movie.

The ahistorical twisting of the role and story of Krotoa as consciously making a decision to develop a “middle way” between the Khoena and the Dutch so that they may “find each other” was a gross historical misrepresentation and elevates Krotoa into playing a conscious political role that is not corroborated by history.

Likewise to overly emphasise her conflict with Nommoa (Doman) as more than just two competing interpretors on the same patch and elevating this to a broader belief by the Khoena tribes that she was betraying them is not bourne out by the historical record. This again is a white South Africa overlay.

Krotoa’s running away with her uncle and being chased by van Riebeeck to be brought back to the fort is also misrepresented and instead has her returning of her own accord.

The romantic relationship between Krotoa and Doman is complete fiction. It could have worked as a bit of artistic license if it did not destroy both Doman and Krotoa’s real story. Doman’s leadership of the first Indigene–Dutch War and the war itself is written out of the script and replaced by a story of a dejected love-smitten jilted Doman hanging himself. The real dynamics of the War cast both Krotoa and Doman in a very different light.

Autshumao is also projected in a non authentic manner. Noted for wearing European clothes and running a very business-like trading operation he is treated as primitive barterer for trinkets, whereas the entire conflict is around JvR undercutting the business that Autshumao had taken two decades to build up. Autshumao had five different countries as clients and was offering a wide set of services. For instance the Khoena were known for mining salt which they sold. He probably was also beneficiating the goods that he got from the Dutch in trade, which he then sold to other Khoena and exchanged these for livestock. Autshumao building on the legacy of Xhore before him was a businessman of note. He had run a settlement on Robben Island a decade earlier too before relocating to Camissa on the mainland.

Van Riebeeck states clearly in his journal that both he and Autshumao were highly conscious of Autshumao’s proud role as a trading entrepreneur. He says – “Herrie in the meanwhile, priding himself on having originated the incipient trade…”.

Autshumao was the founder of the Port settlement and had become well off alongside another independent Khoena cattleman Aikinsoa through adept trading, mining of salt, loading fresh water, providing meat, running a postal service and assisting ships with getting repair wood and helping in the care of the sick who were sometimes left behind.

Krotoa’s story should have began by giving a more accurate picture of the relatively busy Port of Table Bay in the 1640s. An average of 3 ships a month were stopping in the bay on their way to Southeast Asia and 2 ships a month returning to Europe. These ships were Dutch, Portuguese, English, French and Danish. Krotoa’s story also is the story of the Goringhaicona – a loose collection of people rather than a tribe. Indigene people who had drifted away from other tribes and established themselves at the Camissa River offering a complex set of services to the passing shipping. They had broken with traditional tribal life and the livestock farming economy. Sone of their community and most likely Krotoa too were born of relationships between Khoena women and passing travellers. This is normal life in all ports. The stereotyping of this community as having complete old tribal customs is also not accurate given the kength of time of interaction with travellers, the change in economy, the frequency of interaction, the numbers interacting and the many lengthy recuperation hosting. This community were at ease with European visitors and their languages and had even taken to some of the habits and dress of the visitors. Table Bay was everything that any other normal port was at that time. It wasn’t just a bunch of primitive people floundering about on windswept beaches project as strandlooper beachbums. Unfortunate both White and revivalist Khoena groups by into this historical overlay that hides the nature of the port development over 50 years.

For over 50 years over one thousand ships had been visiting Table Bay and number of the Indigene community leaders had already gone abroad with the Europeans and returned. From accounts of her appearances Krotoa’s mother may well have conceived her after a relationship with a passing seaman. More than 200 000 visitors had come through the Port. This had to have had a huge impact on the Khoena people who seem to have created a buffer community between themselves and their wealth and the shoreline frontier.

Krotoa as her names suggests (The Ward) grew up in the custody of her Uncle Autshumao who had been to Java with the Europeans, was known to wear European clothing and was an adept leader and trader. His trading community had developed many skills including mining for salt, a sought after commodity by passing ships.

Europeans frequently stayed over at Table Bay for weeks and months at a time. Krotoa was greatly influenced and mentored by her uncle. It is likely that she interacted frequently with the Europeans and probably as an inquisitive and enquiring youngster would spend lots of time among the Europeans and be on lookout duty for new ships arriving and race up to her uncle to inform him. She would have learnt a great deal in her formative years including picking up languages. Her uncle looked after her as a ward, and was her mentor and primary teacher in the 11 years before the van Riebeecks arrived.

Krotoa would have mingled with many European visitors and would not have been afraid of them. In 1647 she would have witnessed the wrecking of the Dutch Ship Harlem and been a regular visitor to the temporary fort established on the seashore by the kindly Captain Janszens and his 60 men who lived there for almost a year. It is likely too that in 1648 she may have seen Jan van Riebeeck on his first homeward bound trip when he stopped off for 18 days at Table Bay.

This formative period in her life where a combination of the rapidly changing tribal culture mixed with European impacts on the lives of the Camissa community of Goringhaicona cannot be ignored, as it always has been by white people projecting Krotoa’s life. It is one third of her life which is boiled down to Krotoa and young Doman chasing each other on the beach in the movie.

Krotoa is likely to have met Van Riebeeck briefly in 1648. Prior to coming to set up the colony when Van Riebeeck visited the Cape in 1647 he wrote a counter-report to the report written on the suitability of setting up a Dutch refreshment station and the approach toward the local population as written by Captain Janszens who had been there for a year.

In his three weeks at Table Bay van Riebeeck schemed and consulted behind his back with some of the disgruntled elements under Captain Janzsens command. Van Riebeeck was already in disgrace with the VOC after being found guilty of cheating the company in Vietnam.

Janszens had taken a conciliatory approach to the Khoena who had attacked a couple of Janszens men with good cause. Janzsens had ruled that his men were in the wrong and in his report he explained why to the VOC. In fact he made a case that after living alongside the indigenes for a year he could recommend that they would make good partners in running the business. Van Riebeeck was a nasty fellow in that he wrote a counter approach with an aggressive attitude towards the indigenes.

This was just the start of a consistent negative and punitive approach. Proof of this is in comparing firstly the two different reports, and then secondly examining correspondence by van Riebeeck to the VOC between 1657 and 1659. In these letters his approach is ultra-aggressive.

He proposed that all the indigenes be lured into an area of Hout Bay after a series of fortified redoubts were built to pen them in, as a kind of concentration camp, from where they would be forced to raise livestock for the company and be prevented from exiting. When the VOC rejected this he and van Goens put forward a proposal to create an island out of the Peninsula by digging and flooding a canal running from False Bay to Table Bay. All the Indigenes would then be expelled to the other side. He set in motion a trajectory of ‘Forced Removals’ or ethnic cleansing as the way forward in building a colony.

By ignoring these important documents and simply looking at van Riebeeck’s journals, many have projected van Riebeeck as a harmless and benevolent character, which just is not true. They have also bought into the falsified characterisation of Autshumato as a primitive beach-bum and vagabond. Then of course there is the great plagerisation issue around the physical characteristics of van Riebeeck where a picture of the handsome younger looking Mr Vermuyden was for many decades presented as though this is what van Riebeeck looked like, rather than using the actual portrait of van Riebeeck. The movie bought into this plagerised view of van Riebeeck.

Fort de Goede Hoop built triumphantly on top of Krotoa’s home settlement at Camissa became the first of three colonies – Table Bay Colony; and by 1657 the first Free Citizens were given land further away, headed by Steven Jansz Botma who formed “Steven’s Colony” which had another little fort called Coornhoop; and then another group of Free Citizens under Harmen Remajenne, set up the Harmans Colony, near the Liesbeeck River.

The Goringhaicona trading settlement represents the more accurate opening scenario of Krotoa’s first 11 years of life. The unfolding of the first of the three small colonies runs alongside the second decade of Krotoa’s life when she became a servant at the fort and after the age of 15 an interpretor. The third decade of her life begins with her patron, van Riebeeck and family leaving for Batavia, her baptism and her marriage. With the latter some artistic license can be taken but personally I see no evidence on this being a Pocohontas love relationship.

It was plainly a control mechanism – a marriage of convenience for Krotoa and a trap set by the company, with van Meerhof taking her to Robben Island, abandoning her and getting killed on the expedition to Madagascar.
Perhaps the Robben Island scenario in the movie was the most authentic in the whole movie but then the movie just falls apart and is drawn to a hasty end by cutting many corners. With the wardship of van Meerhof ended by his death abroad. The events leading to the first banishment to the island is papered over and is the second incarceration.

Krotoa is allowed to come back to the mainland where all her troubles get worse. She had been tucked out of site on Robben Island. There were now many more women and many relationships and gentry were emerging and the VOC officialdom more organised. Shipping stopovers were much more at this point.

Krotoa as widow Mrs Van Meerhof became independent of any ward, temporarily, for the first time. She has a thread running through her life of dependencies and disempowerment through wardship, alcohol and indications of sexual abuse. Her life of ostracization from her special place as a career woman of substance and her being shunned by officialdom and branded and standing out as a free person of colour was a lonely cross to bear.

She got caught up in drinking and being taken advantage of by the transient men in the port. The new Commander and the Dutch Reformed Church council seized her children and put them under the wardship of a brothel keeper Barbara Geems. History seems to have created a falsified story of the children being looked after by van Riebeecks niece. Unfortunately this movie adds to the fictions. Krotoa was again removed from society on the mainland and made a prisoner on Robben Island. The views of foreign visitors on meeting her were contradicted by the venomous views of the VOC officials at the Cape. But is not indicated by the movie.

Krotoa died in 1674. Two of her children did go to Mauritius as wards and another two were absorbed as wards into other local freed slave families. There is no record of offspring of thosechildren. The movie final credits make no mention of the facts of Krotoas descendents and jump inappropriately only to mention three prominent white leaders who never acknowleged their ancestry – Kruger,. Smuts and de Klerk. It was insult added to injury to handle the conclusion of the twisting of this story to be barely recognisable by ending in this manner. In so doing Krotoa remained captured by the Europeans in death.

Thanks to the great work of micro historian Mansell Upham we know the following about Krotoa’s decendents.

Krotoa’s children were Jacobus born c 1661 (father not known) died 1685 on a ship returning him from Mauritius; Pieternella van Meerhof vdk born 1663, married in Mauritius to Daniel Zaaijman from Vlissingen; Salamon baptised 1 Sep 1666 had no known descendents; Jeronimus baptised 23 Nov 1670 (father not known); Anthonij baptised 6 Aug 1673 (father not known but lived with the Guinea slave family Everts) died in the 1713 smallpox epidemic; Pieternella, Salamon, and Jacobus were taken to Mauritius in 1677. Pieternella van die Kaap, later married Daniel Zaaijman from Vlissingen. They had four sons and four daughters. Some of the family moved back to the Cape in 1706 and the others to Batavia.

Descendants of Pieternella married European and freed Slave partners, and in the next generations also married partners from the mixed freed slave and Khoena. Krotoa’s descendants can be traced through four of Petronella’s 8 children, through the Diodata girls in Indonesia, and the Bockelenberg, de Vries and the Zaaiman (Zaayman or Saayman) lines in the Cape. Over time many descendants exist among all national groups in South Africa. This would have been a more fitting ending in the credits than the way the movie handled this.

POSTSCRIPT

I am a direct descendent of Krotoa via the following route…. My lineage flows fromPieternella Goringhaicona van Meerhof and Pieter Zaaijman through their son 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 of slave descent) 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 of slave descent) 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) married to my great grandmother of European and slave descent). Through my grandfather also PF Mellet and my grandmother Elsie Petronella le Cordier the family line traces through to Johanna Catherina Mauritz aka Caatje Hottentottin Mauritz Voortman (1700) and two of her daughters. Through both the Zaayman-Willemse lineage and the le Cordier – Mellet lineage Krotoa’s line in my family intersects with Khoena, 26 slave lineages and 19 European lineages. A true mix of the Camissa footprint.

I cherish Krotoa and in terms of my syncretic faith, ancestors play a big role in my life and are engaged in my spiritual life. I have spent a long time trying to get to know Krotoa outside of politics, feminism and whatever other straight-jacket. I have wanted to know the person underneath all the overlays. This movie did not help me and indeed just makes getting to know Krotoa much more harder. I heard that some wish to take this movie and subject school children to its distortions. God forbid. This should never happen.

This has been a harsh critique reflective of a harsh experience of sitting through the movie. It was a great opportunity missed by the people who made the movie.

Nobody can dictate to anyone what they can do or cannot do in terms of how they view the past and project it. But this was foolhardy and insensitive in a time where so much information and resources are available and as it stands it is guaranteed to hurt people and to continue to distort. Nobody owns Krotoa and nobody should own her. People interpret the past in various ways and it is up to us to engage robustly to counter one view with another. My counter is that this movie lacked any semblence of authenticity and was insensitive and in projecting the kind of falsehoods that it did. We cannot operate in a manner which further divides people at this time in history but should simply try to provide information that assists people to explore in this time of exploration. We cannot tell people how to think either, presenting a rigid social and political “truth” that we have latterly constructed by self-proclamation either. The facts as we know it with a minimal amount of artistic license and creativity can easily and dramatically provide for a good movie. This one did not get that formular right in my opinion.

There is such an interesting and monumental story to be told and somehow the bottom of the barrel has been scraped in this production leaving none the wiser to who this amazing woman was, what an amazing period that was and how the events of that time impacted on the rest of the unfolding history and on us today.

I am less convinced that Krotoa was some kind of bridge between two worlds and more inclined to think of her as an amazing character who lived and navigated a paradigm shift brought about by her village emerging to become a port for international shipping, and the consequences and impacts of this on her and her world. She remarkably managed the consequences and impacts by positioning herself skilfully in her amazing though short career as diplomat and interpreter, but got felled in her tracks by misogyny, racism and colonial intent.

I wrote a piece on Krotoa some time ago called “Drawing the longbow in the Fort” which is available on my blogsite. It looks at some of the clues that we get in documents that give us a better picture of the person or shines a little more light on her. The title is a description of van Riebeeck’s view of Krotoa using the slang of their time.

Krotoa – the WARD broke into her own and out of wardship but found that she had to pay a huge an unbearable personal price for being an outspoken woman of colour, an indigene woman, an intellectual – in a European Colonial world of men, whose minds were trapped in a belief in their own fallible supremacy.

HIDDEN FIGURES – Addressing the issue of the missing Khoena (Khoi) in the history books by examining census records Century

THE FACTS OF THE SPREAD OF THE KHOENA ACROSS THE CAPE COLONY IN THE 1865 CENSUS noted as the first professional and comprehensive census. Formal histories propagated argue that the Khoena (Khoi) were wiped out in a smallpox epidemic and is still a popular myth among some who do not know about the 170 years of forced removals and resistance wars.

  

Of all the census up to 1904 this one most comprehensively records the Khoena and locates them across both the Western District of the Cape Colony and the Eastern District.

In 1891 they dropped the separate ‘Hottentot’ figure in favour of ‘Mixed’ or ‘Coloured’. In 1904 they again record ‘Hottentot’ and thereafter it is just ‘Coloured’ that is recorded. In the 1875 and 1891 Census one can visibly see the drop in the standard of the census particularly around differentiating between Khoena and ‘Coloured’.

However by looking at these figures and most particular the 1865 Census we are able to effectively demolish a number of myths about indigenous people. By 1865 the conditions were better for taking a professional census and adverse reports to the British Parliament by the Indigenous People’s Protection Society in London had put on the pressure to gather more reliable information about the peopling of the Cape Colony up to the Gariep or Orange River. It is also the first census that records the Xhosa population in the Eastern Cape under colonial control.

The census dispels three myths which still underpins Apartheid and Colonial propaganda passing as history.

1)  That the Khoena (Khoi) people were wiped out by a smallpox epidemic or even by the 170 years of ethnic cleansing wars. The census records the widespread existence of Khoena (Khoi) numbering 52 637 in the Western District of the colony and 28 961in the Eastern District, alongside White, ‘Coloured’ and Xhosa communities. That is 81 598 Khoena (Khoi) indigenes whom we were told in our history books had been wiped out by smallpox. These are official census figures which break down town by town across the Cape Colony. WE WERE TOLD BLATANT LIES.

2) Now these figures also demolishes another popular lie that says ‘COLOURED PEOPLE ARE THE DESCENDANTS OF THE KHOENA AND SAN & THE ONLY TRUE DESCENDENTS OF THE “FIRST PEOPLE” OR “FIRST NATION”. The 1865 census clarifies that not all ‘Coloured’ people, or even a majority of ‘Coloured’ people are descendants of Indigenous peoples. The notion of being the “First People” or “First Nation” is also an erroneous one, but let us park that critique for a moment. For both Western and Eastern Districts of the Cape Colony in 1865 it was recorded that there were 81,598 Khoena (Khoi) to 132,655 descendants of slaves, indentured labourers, Free Blacks and other migrants of colour. (38,2% Khoena to 61,8% other).

3) The former figure largely applies to the larger part of the old Cape Colony and to rural localities. For the area of Cape Town, from Cape Point to Koeberg and Durbanville and through to Paarl and the town of Stellenbosch and foothills of the Hottentota Holland Mountains incorporating the Cape Flats which hold the largest numbers of people classified as ‘Coloured’ – the truth is that very few can claim to be Khoena (Khoi) and probably none can claim to be San. In this area less than 10% of people are descendants of Indigenes and it is highly likely that those making such claims are denying their real ancestry and making a false claim. The trend of a drift from rural to urban areas after Proclamation 50 in 1828 had reached its peak and was rapidly decreasing from 9,4% on the Cape Peninsular and surrounds to nearer to 5% by 1904. Even if we said that there would always be a degree of a drift from rural to urban and added a 100% top up to account for error, that would still be 10%, with 90% being descendants of Slaves, Prize Slaves, Indentures and other Migrants of colour. This definitely challenges claims by the urban population of Cape Town through to Stellenbosch and Paarl as being the descendants of indigenous peoples. Of course this does not include all claimants, but the likelihood is that those would be able to prove family movements from rural to urban in the last century plus the 10%. It is also possible for people with no ancestral roots to Indigenous people to find a home in revivalism, but they need to be very careful of making outlandish personal claims. It is for this reason that I always advise groups to make community claims of restorative justice and not personalised claims.

4) A study of the figures showing a close proximity of Khoena to the dispersal of the Xhosa, and the figures of each of these communities and the proximity across the Colony of Slave descendants must put paid to the erroneous “us and them” arguments where Khoena (Khoi) revivalist groups make claims of Xhosa and other being alien invaders of the Lnds of Indigenous Peoples. At a generous interpretation that those among those labelled ‘Coloured’ who can claim to be direct descendants of Khoena Indigenes across the greater Cape colony this would be no more than around 38%. But among the Xhosa people around 20% could make the same claim to be Khoena and San direct descendants. It is therefore conclusive that “coloured” people who may have claims cannot say that they are the only people who can say they are the descendants of Indigenous Peoples. In Town it is even more stark where only 10% can make this claim. In fact there probably is a greater percentage of Xhosa people in Cape Town, than “Coloured” who can make such a claim.

5) Finally the only direct descendants on non-migrant people in the Cape were the Cape San or /Xam who were mercilessly the victims of post-colonial genocide by Europeans and pacified collaborator Khoena (Khoi) rather than at the hands of the Xhosa. The Early Xhosa and Khoena (cousin groupings) lived in relative coexistence with the Cape San in pre-colonial times, even though there was a degree of displacement of the hunter-gatherers by the herder-pastoralists and agriculturalists. A number of signs point to the original Xhosa being a pre-Nguni migrant people who were alongside and integrated with the Khoena migrants who had made their way down from the Kalahari and Limpopo districts to the Gariep, and then migrated through the Eastern Cape and into the Western Cape by the first millennium (100AD) The remains of verified royals in the mixed San, Khoena and Bantu community of the stone walled towns and Kingdom of Mapangubwe, through dna testing are shown to be of San and Khoena origin, but are buried with their golden symbols of royalty in Bantu ritual style. This shows exactly the opposite of a people subjugated by alien invaders. It shows that the San and Khoena were held in high esteem. Everything that we know now about history contradicts the contorted histories and claims of “First People” and “First Nation” and the painting of other Africans as aliens. Our history and heritage is much more integrated and complementary. More accurately the “First People” who track back to a long time prior to any of the different formations to emerge as those we refer to as San, 40 000 years ago, (many of who are extinct groups), and certainly much further back in history than the Khoena who emerged as a social formation 2500 years ago. What is amazing and should be our focus in terms of social history, is what was that very mixed and advanced civilisation that stretches across a few hundred stone city and town sites stretching from Mapangubwe, Great Zimbabwe and Thulamela sites across Southern and South Africa long before colonial incursion of the Europeans. A civilisation where San and Khoena had pride of place and were looked up to by a range of other peoples.

Our history is much more complex than the ethnic short cuts that we take and therefore we should be much more sensitive in how we express ourselves on these matters. These figures below help us to understand where the descendants of Indigenous peoples would be located today and the dispersal and strongest localities of descendants of the Camissa footprint (slaves, prize slaves indentured labourers and other migrants of Colour). Interestingly this census tallies with dna testing in rural and urban communities and also with the historical timeline of events. The identity of the people of greater Cape Town is rooted strongly in the diverse peoples who came here either as slaves or as migrants of colour and who were embraced by early Khoena inhabitants at Table Bay – the people of Camissa.

For a copy of the 1865 census – CLICK HERE

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.l0074071051;view=1up;seq=7

Over the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries there are few figures for Khoena and San, and by the time reliable figures for Khoena briefly started to be recorded, the San survivors were down to three and then two digit figures as a result of genocidal practices by Europeans and Khoena against the Cape San (/Xam).

Cape Colony 1806 1821
Slaves & Free Blacks 30 200 28 414
Khoena* 18 000 14 739

*In 1806 this broke down to 500 in the greater Swellendam District; 5000 in the very large greater Stellenbosch District; 8 947 in the Gamtoos and Graaff Reinette District; and others scattered along the Western Frontier. The Khoena are noted as ‘Baster Hottentot’.  In 1821 the figure provided is the combination of adult pacified Khoena and Khoena plus a small number of captive San children who were recorded as Apprentices.

Western  District Cape Colony 1865 1875 1891 1904
‘Coloured’* 69 139 70 010 166 300 161 269
Khoena ** 52 637 50 637 ——–   30 624

*‘Coloured’ = People of the Camissa Footprint (Slaves, Prise Slaves, Free Blacks and other migrants of colour. From 1875 inclusive of separate figure artificially created for ‘Malays’)

** Khoena (Khoi) are noted in census as ‘Hottentot’. In 1891 Khoena are not noted separately, but in 1904 they are noted separately for the last time. Also included from 1904 are all of the African indentured labourers and former African slaves known as Masbiekers.

In 1865 the population of the Cape Town Municipality:
White 15,118 4,600 born in Europe
Coloured 12,451 Former Slaves, Prize Slaves, Indentured labour –  their descendants

536 born elsewhere

Khoena 628 Noted  as ‘Hottentot’
Black 274 Noted as ‘Kaffirs’
In 1865 the population of other parts of Cape Peninsular/Koeberg,/Tygerberg/Blouberg/Durbanville:
White 9,748
Coloured 8,540 Former Slaves, Prize Slaves, Indentured labour –  their descendants
Khoena 1,452 Noted  as ‘Hottentot’
Black 497 Noted as ‘Kaffirs’

Out of 22,981 people later to be categorised in future census as ‘Coloured’ in the greater Cape Town areas up to but not including Malmesbury in the West and Stellenbosch in the east only 2080 were recorded as ‘Hottentot’   now noted as Khoena (Khoi)

In Stellenbosch and Paarl the figure for ‘Coloured’ was 14,610 and or Khoena(Khoi) it was 550.

The overall total for the Western Division of the Cape Colony however shows 69,139 ‘Coloured’ to 52,637 Khoena (Khoi) and shows the spread from Malmesbury and Piketberg  to Namaqualand on the West and to the extremities of George, Knysna Oudshoorn and Mossel Bay in the East, giving a breakdown for 20 districts that made up the then Western Cape.

Thus for the Western and Northern Cape the largest numbers of Khoena/Khoi are found in the rural districts.

The figures in the Greater Cape Town, Cape Flats and surrounds right through to and including Paarl and Stellenbosch is  really quite a small figure. There were 33, 961 descendants of slaves, indentured labourers, Free Blacks and other migrants of colour, compared to 3,630 Khoena (Khoi). Ie: 90.4%  other as compared to 9.6% Khoena.

In the areas outside of the Cape Town, Paarl and Stellenbosch arena there are 58% Khoena (Khoi) to 41,5% ‘descendants of slaves, indentured labourers, Free Blacks and other migrants of colour,

In the Eastern District of the old Cape Colony for both rural and urban districts there were 28,961 Khoena (Khoi) to 63,516 descendants of slaves, indentured labourers, Free Blacks and other migrants of colour.  (31,2% Khoena to 68,8% other)

For both Western and Eastern Districts of the Cape Colony in 1865 it was recorded that there were 81,598 Khoena (Khoi) to 132,655 descendants of slaves, indentured labourers, Free Blacks and other migrants of colour. (38,2% Khoena to 61,8% other)

Those making wild claims and claiming emphatically that they are the true descendants of the Khoena and San are challenged by these facts which suggest that most (not all) making such claims in the urban are unlikely to have any Khoena or San roots. Those who claim equally erroneously that the Khoena (Khoi) were wiped out also need to go back and revisit the distortions that they have been exposed to.

So where do we have to look for the concentrations of people who do have the strongest claims to Khoena (Khoi) ancestry?

The largest concentrations of Khoena (between 2000 – 5000 per locality) in the Western and Northern localities of the old Cape Colony are in Malmesbury, Clanwilliam, Namaqualand, Frazerberg, Calvinia, Caledon, Swellendam, Riversdale George, Oudshoorn. There are a further ten localities where there were between a few hundred to over 1000 at the time of the census. The largest concentrations are as follows: Namaqualand (5019); Oudshoorn (4846); Malmesbury (4083); Clanwilliam (3991); Riversdale (3845);George (3138).

The largest concentrations of Khoena in the Eastern District of the old Cape Colony was in Humansdorp, Uitenhage, Port Elizabeth, Alexandria, Albany, Bathurst, Peddie, Victoria East, Stockenstrom, Fort Beaufort, Beford, Cradock, Middleberg, Graaff Reinette, Murraysberg, Richmond, Hopetown, Colesberg, Albert, Aliwal North, Queenstown. Each of these have sub-localities too. The largest concentrations of Khoena (Khoi) in the eastern District was Uitenhage (3810); Graaff Reinette (2772); Stockenstrom (2205); Colesberg (2054). The large Khoena numerics are all in areas where there were a large Xhosa and ‘Coloured’ numeric recorded too. The Western District by far had more Khoena than the Eastern District, but in the largest concentration of those labelled ‘Coloured’ there were negligible numbers of Khoena – namely Cape town from Cape point to the Hottentots Holland through to Paarl and through to Koeberg.

What is particularly disconcerting in going back to look at these fascinating primary source documents, is that nobody has used a comparative study of census records to refute an obvious set of lies put into the public domain by colonial academia.

While at some levels this challenges the irresponsible and crude element in Khoena revivalism, it does however strengthen the arguments of the more responsible elements. But to all within the revivalism sector there has to be some rethinking about some wild claims and antagonisms expressed. In another article that I will still post, I will look at the international organisations fighting for indigene rights who have been supportive to indigene and indigene revivalist movements in South Africa. In my opinion if the revivalist movements in South Africa continue to travel down an insulting, non-authentic  and racist road, these organisations will cut their ties and support. In my forthcoming article I will share the cornerstones of their support and show that many here are breaching these indefensible tenets of the Indigenous People’s movements by deviant behaviours.

Khoena Revivalism if properly self-managed can for many be a liberation experience. One Khoena Revivalist movement has existed for over 200 years – namely the Griqua who at that time were faced with all the same questions that people face today. Their form of revivalism was not fractured into many splinters as is todaty’s movement and much could be learnt from their trajectory…. Both from the one serious split that occurred and from some other negatives, but also from the many positives that they have experienced over the years. Personally revivalism of ethnic groups is not the choice that I would make, but I can respect it as a legitimate choice for many. I would encourage others to also see that while for the majority of us this is not the way forward, to please also show respect to those make this choice. To those who have made this choice I would encourage authenticity in revivalism and oppose ludicrous claims and racist attitudes. This will only retard your forward movement and result in losing support at home and within the international movement in support of Indigenous people. All Africans in South Africa are indigenous people. The difference between others and the san, Korana, Nama, Griqua and Revivalist Khoena is that these face marginalisation and discrimination as indigenous groups. It would be good if all of the two sides of the divide respect this, because this is the grounds for international support.

THE OTHER NELSON MANDELA OF 200 YEARS AGO – MAKANA

THE STORY OF THE OTHER NELSON MANDELA OF THE 19TH CENTURY – MAKANA (1780 – 1820).
Almost 200 years ago a figure very much similar to Nelson Mandela died in an escape bid of prisoners from Robben Island when he perished in the sea just off Blobergstrand not far from where I live.

Descriptions of Makana (also sometimes spelt Makhanda) and stories of him, even those written by his enemies describe him in the same glowing and respectful accolades that today are presented about Nelson Mandela. His life followed a very similar trajectory too. Makana’s War was the 5th of nine amaXhosa Resistance Wars in the Eastern Cape and was the last of the 15 Khoena and San Wars of Resistance of the then defined Cape Colony.

Makana the great resistance warrior and prophet was brought to Camissa (Cape Town) as a prisoner of war and incarcerated on Robben Island. The warrior-prophet Makhana carried both the heritage and tradition of his Khoena mother and his amaXhosa father. He was born of a Khoena woman and died amongst his Khoena kin when Chief David Stuurman’s escape boat capsized in the waves. As much as Makana is a hero of the Eastern Cape amaXhosa he is a hero of the Khoena of Camissa (Cape Town). His lifetime friend and fellow resister made it to shore but was later captured and exiled to Australia. It was David’s second successful escape from Robben Island – the only man to have done so successfully.

In 1980 in an ANC guerrilla camp of Umkhonto we Sizwe at Quibaxe in war-torn Angola an MK guerrilla soldier Barry Gilder alias Jimmy Wilson, guitar in hand, belted out a popular song and the other combatants sang along with the chorus…..

“Two centuries before this one; In Africa’s southern lands
A war was just beginning, that would put blood on many hands….
Every struggle has its heroes – this song is about just one
Makana of the Xhosa, who drowned off Bloubergstrand

Swim Makana, swim Makana, swim Makana, swim
On the shore where we wait, our children go thin
Come Makana, come Makana, come Makana, come

I hear you, said Makana, to the voices in his head
But the water’s growing higher now, I am as good as dead
New people will come to lead you, and many will die
Before the spirit of Makana will at last be home and dry….

Makana, the powerful spiritual leader, an ‘Itola’ who arose from humble roots to lead his soldiers 200 years ago in the attack on Grahamstown, and who drowned in an amazing mass escape from Robben Island imprisonment, still commanded the hearts of his soldiering people in the same drawn out anti-colonial resistance struggle of the latter 20th century.

James Read the missionary described him as: “a stout and handsome man, who commands respect.”

British soldiers said of him, “we were surprised at his lofty demeanour and appearance.”

John Campbell the missionary described him as “a fine figure of a man, measuring six feet and two inches in height and had many marks of old cuts, or wounds, on different parts of his body, especially behind his shoulders. He had a kind of tattooing in the form of a cross, under his breast.”

The writer Charles Lennox Stretch described him as “adorned with “bracelets made of coarse hair which hung from his arms, but he especially valued his ivory arm-band, the insignia of a very great man amongst the amaXhosa.” Stretch also estimated Makana’s height to be six foot and four inches.

In his work ‘Frontiers – The epic of South Africa’s creation and the tragedy of the Xhosa people’ Noel Mostert draws on all of these descriptions of Makana when he said, “he had … forceful presence and physical impact. He stood six foot six, and was stout and handsome. His demeanour was reserved, solemn and abstracted. He impressed all who came in contact with him by his dignity …”

These are all very familiar descriptions of Nelson Mandela, the leader and national hero of our times.

The man thus described also had a number of names and much mystique surrounded him. Two centuries later his name still commands awe and respect. Makana, (also written and pronounced as Makhanda), was also known as Lynx, and Nxele (the ‘left-handed one’). Perhaps the name Lynx was derived from an Anglicisation of the Dutch word ‘links’ meaning ‘left’ referring to Makana’s left-handed disposition or perhaps it was from the stealthy Cape Caracal wildcat with its lynx-like looks and sometimes apparition-like sudden appearances as if from nowhere. Like the Caracal, Makana was also given to wandering around in the wilds, often deep in contemplation.

BIRTH AND UPBRINGING

Makana is said to have been born somewhere along the Qhagqiwa river (Swartkops river) near to Uitenhage. His father was an amaXhosa man by the name of Gwala from the amaCwerha clan and his mother was a Khoena (Khoi) woman of the Gonaqua clan. The people of this area of the Eastern Cape were strongly rooted in a mix of amaXhosa and a number of Khoena clans with longstanding roots in the district – the Gonaqua, Hoengeiqua, Inqua and others, and one cannot always easily separate out the two cultural streams that merged in the south eastern Cape. Today the amaXhosa have as much claim to Khoena and San roots as do people labelled “Cloured” yet the latter reject any association with their amaXhosa cousins.

The date of birth of Makana cannot be pin-pointed with accuracy, but if one works from the time that Makana said he held discussions with Dr Johnnes van der Kemp, an equally fascinating rebel missionary from the Netherlands, and was in a position to present him with a cow around 1800 as a young man then his birth would date circa 1780. Long before Dr van der Kemp launched his missionary work amongst the Khoena and later established the mission at Bethelsdorp, he first spent a year amongst the amaXhosa, being the first missionary to do so. Unlike other missionaries van der Kemp discarded his European dress and wore similar garments to his African brothers and his theology to was highly influenced by indigene perspectives. This resulted in rejection and ridicule by the colonists who were also enraged at his defence of indigenes and his rejection of slavery. It is during this period when van der Kemp first was in contact with the southernmost amaXhosa that Makana says he met him.

Makana’s father Gwala died when he was a young boy and thus he was brought up by his mother and came under a strong Gonaqua traditional influence. She had a reputation as a spiritual diviner and medicine woman. Makana’s persona as one later to be recognised as an ‘inyanga’ was rooted in the early guidance of his mother and in his Gonaqua roots. The amaXhosa also particularly held the Khoena and San spiritual guides in high esteem. This traces far back to the old Mapangube Kingdom going back to the tenth century where the mixed Khoena-San-Bantu community were governed by the only verifiable Khoena and San Royalty (as per dna testing of two royals buried per Bantu custom but having dna matching Khoena and San. No other evidence exists that Khoena and San south of Mapagubwe ever had royals, other than colonials temporarily labelling some as such for mischievous ends.

Makana’s mother’s influence held sway largely in his formative years and early teens. Thereafter the broader mixed amaXhosa-Khoena society of the Gqunukwebe (Gonaqakhwebe) community, and then the Rharhabe Xhosa and other influences around him would dominate his life. Makana grew up in a period where there was much fluidity within the Zuurveld and the FishRiver areas with constant mobility over fairly wide distances. Another display of his Khoena roots was Makana’s tendency to wander around and to spend much time in the bush away from human settlements.

Life was punctuated by one dramatic event after the other in the region and traditions were assaulted and open to remoulding. There also was a great mixing amongst amaXhosa, Khoena, missionaries, runaway slaves known as Drosters, Boers and later the British in South Eastern Cape. This turbulent period would have a tremendous influence on the young man. When his father died, Makana’s mother took him and his siblings to the FishRiverValley where they lived with his foster father Balala in the vicinity of what was to become Glenmore.

Here Makana was schooled in the traditions of the amaXhosa and their traditional leaders. As a commoner he found his way into the presence of the royal leaders and their advisers, rapidly rising to becoming an advisor, an appointed chief and military commander. During his days as a wandering preacher an incident had occurred where he came under assault from a gang of detractors and was rescued by one of Chief Ndlambe’s councillors Qalanga. It was this patron who introduced Makana to the great royal chief and one time regent of the Rharhabe, Ndlambe who first conferred upon Makana the special status that launched his resistance career.

Makana’s spiritual calling and reputation was the key to providing the means for this social mobility. The captivating message of the missionaries and the advantages that they offered also meant that any inter-locater between the missionaries or their message and the chiefs, would also build a degree of power and influence.

A number of such inter-locators emerged over the years, the most important of these being Ntsikana and Makana who soon became rivals. Ntsikana, represented a strong bias towards the missionaries and the purity of their message which effectively was useful to colonial interests. Makana on the other hand crafted his Christian message to synchronise with the interests of his traditional society in a form of Liberation Theology. In taking the latter role Makana was to become demonised by the mainstream missionaries, their inter-locaters and converts and, much of what he stood for was distorted over time. Ntsikana became strongly associated with Chief Ngqika who would play a collaborator role and Makana with Chief Ndlambe and the amaXhosa resistance.

RECORDS REFLECTING PERSPECTIVES OF MAKANA

Much of the writing to which any researcher will turn, involves a litany of statements, maligning Makana and painting him as a lunatic and trickster. Modern writing often simply reflects this image, not stopping to question that much of mainstream writing reflects the views of his opponents and their opposition to African traditional belief systems and a culture that they believed to be uncivilised and evil.

There are however a number of other researchers and evaluators of Makana who present a different picture. In most recent literature Max du Preez presents Makana as one of the ‘tricksters’ and curiosities of history based largely on the first school of writers who range from the biased missionary and colonial commentators to those who first begin to break with this tradition. Even although he frames his story based on these writings, du Preez however still pauses momentarily to cast some questioning of the claims that Makana was a madman.

In contrast, Julia Wells in her work which more thoroughly explores Makana, the legend and the man, she opens her readers up to those particularly amongst black researchers and commentators who view Makana differently and also offers her own unique and refreshing perspectives.

Particularly in times of conflict, even a cursory glance at world history will reflect a degree of the “barmy” in any of the most prominent leaders on the global stage. In South Africa in the conflicts of the 1800s Sir Harry Smith may well be described as being “as mad as a March hare”, but history does not project this as his defining characteristic in the same manner as it does when it comes to portraying Makana as having a touch of lunacy and being a trickster. Colonial history in South Africa often maligns opponents of colonial expansion.

KINDRED SPIRITS

Makana, well known for his enquiring mind and for matters spiritual, was influenced to a degree by his contact with particular missionaries such as the Dr van der Kemp of the London Missionary Society. Dr van der Kemp was also considered eccentric and had a reputation amongst his European detractors for his respect for African traditions and in his having strong non-conformist millennial theological leanings.

Dr Johannes Theodorus Van Der Kemp established himself in the region in 1799 when he first went to live amongst the amaXhosa. He later built up a missionary settlement on the little Swartkops River which became known as Bethelsdorp. It is likely that he first met Makana at the time when he inter-acted with Ngqika and Ndlambe. It is interesting to note that Dr van der Kemp was a latter day convert to the missionary calling and had formerly also been a soldier. This soldier-prophet concept would not have been lost on Makana. Dr van der Kemp was an abolitionist and a harsh critic of the colonial authorities and the cruelty of the Boer frontiersmen. All of these things would have fascinated the mind of Makana who always spoke highly of van der Kemp.

But Makana has over the years often been overly associated with the missionary millenarian tradition to such a degree that it clouded evaluation of his role in the resistance to colonial expansionism. Julia Wells in her work on Makana sounds a caution that we should not look at Makana as simply being a half-finished product of the missionaries but be bold enough to look at him as a self-made man.

THE PROPHET – Inyanga and Itola – MAKANA’S SYNCRETIC CHRISTIAN AND TRADITIONALIST BELIEF SYSTEM

Evaluation of Makana’s role in history was largely cultivated by his Christian detractors and by propagandists justifying the British conquest of the peoples of the Eastern Cape and their genocidal and scorched earth practices while twisting the causes for the wars that raged through the region for over 100 years.
Makana’s beliefs are misrepresented as a mix of witchcraft, exploitation, abuse of religion, manipulation and the irresponsible duping of his people. Many myths, untruths and distortion overlay the evaluation of his life, which later researchers have challenged. Much of the derogatory assessment arises from contestation by Christian contemporaries where a debate, which still rages two centuries later, took the form of so-called civilisation versus backward heathenism, or European notions of culture versus perceived African backwardness. A range of respected researchers effectively counter the colonial smearing of Makana.

This defamation streak unfortunately smothered and covered up a campaign of conquest accompanied by violence against Africans which adopted genocide proportions, including naked land grabbing and the subjugation of the amaXhosa by a powerful British imperial force. By painting Makana as a false-Christian and a barbaric threat to the civilising mission, his role as freedom fighter and champion of justice, was effectively covered up. It has much parallel with the white South African smearing of Mandela and their opponents as being terrorists – something that even those among the white ‘opposition’ parties in the Apartheid era also expressed even while contradictorily championing Mandela and other political prisoners human rights. Opposition party leaders branded Mandela a terrorist but differed only from the National Party Regime when they said that nonetheless his human rights must be respected as a prisoner while at the same time saying that he held the key to his own freedom if he would only renounce “Armed Struggle”. Makana faced these same contradiction from the colonial authorities in his day.

In the first two decades of the 19th century during this intense period of the British assault on the amaXhosa, which was rooted in the earlier Boer vs amaXhosa and the long history of wars against the San and Khoen that resulted in the ethnic cleansing of the Western Cape of all Khoena and San tribes. The conflicts in the Zuurveld arena of war first began in the decade before his birth and it is from this arena that Makana made an indelible mark on resistance history. He stood out as occupying the position of ‘Itola’ where he was recognised as being both a spiritual and military leader in service of Ndlambe, the one time regent of the Rharhabe, one of the highest of the traditional leaders in the region.

This was remarkable because the fact was that Makana was a mere commoner who rose to this role from amongst the lower echelons of society. He was not born a Chief nor a Royal. Julia Wells points out that the traditional role of ‘Itola’ amongst ‘Inyangas’ was never really understood by historians evaluating the life of Makana. At best it was seen as a ‘war-doctor’ or ‘warrior-priest’. But by the time of his death, Makana was held in similar esteem as any of the royals of his time, though not a royal nor heredity chief.

History shows him to have been both a pioneer of the independent African Christian tradition and a traditionalist. The huge following of African Independent Churches such as the ZCC and others today are accepted as a normal part of modern South Africa, but in Makana’s time he was portrayed as demented and as a blasphemer because of his early Africanist challenge to mainstream European missionary defined Christianity.

Makana was highly attuned to the inter-connectivity of everything in life, animate and inanimate, the elements, fortunes and afflictions, to the human spirit. The human spirit too was inter-connected to the ancestral spirits, and the ancestral spirits provide access to Qamata or Thixo, in which all things seen and unseen found union. Makana challenged both the European Christian message and the amaXhosa traditional belief system by referring differently to the almighty, as Mdalidipho and used the name Taay for Jesus. He spoke of having a special personal relationship with Taay whom he referred to as his brother.

Makana’s spiritual awareness struck everyone who met him and was commented upon by the missionaries as being striking, but his special gift was the manner in which he could inspire others to follow a spiritual path which was not simply ‘other-worldly’ but which could be applied to the struggles of their lives in the here and now.

In the face of the colonial onslaught Makana provided hope and a sense that the power of the nation could be mustered to counter attack an evil that had befallen his people. Everything that we know about Makana suggests that he held awareness that the Khoena and amaXhosa faced a major crossroads in time and that the new challenge of British colonialism was the greatest challenge ever faced by his people. It is recorded that many attested to Makana having the prophetic gift of being able to see future events and the gift of healing.

CONTRADICTION LED TO THE CHAMPIONING OF JUSTICE AND LIBERATION THEOLOGY

At some stage in his early youth Makana had also regularly come into contact with Boers on their farms and perhaps had even briefly worked on a Boer farm. He was known to have had a strong understanding of Christianity and white culture even before his later contact with missionaries not so much as a result of having been taught but rather gained through interaction and experience. The term Christian and Boer, were at this time both used as an almost ethnic group term, for Europeans, by them and by the Africans. In itself this was problematic for those at the receiving end of proselytization because where did this leave the black convert?

Makana furthermore had first-hand knowledge of the mistreatment of black people by the Boer farmers, the Christians, who wanted black people to accept their Christian message but not to have equality with the white man. Makana had a deep sense of justice and injustice which he recognised in Christian teaching but at the same time could see great contradictions between these teachings and the Boers who had adopted the term Christian as a kind of ethnic identity. In the British he saw another face of Christianity where this powerful military force saw their imperial majesty almost as the representative of Christ on earth. Makana could see that politics, military action and religion had a special and powerful relationship. He sought to apply this same formula of a relationship between the political, military and spiritual, to amaXhosa resistance and advancement.

Makana and all of the amaXhosa had a clear understanding that the British and the Dutch before them were seeking to take their land from them. From the late 1760s when the Boer trek farmers started moving into their lands until the brutal expulsion of the Gqnukwebe and other amaXhosa from the Zuurveld in 1812, the Europeans had made it clear that they coveted the amaXhosa territory.

Makana was known to wrestle with these issues and had begun to weave a syncretised union of some elements of the Christian faith with traditional African belief systems. This may have indeed been the best way that he could see of immunising his people to what he recognised as the beguiling and disarming message of the missionary advance guard of British imperialism, while at the same time taking advantage of some of the very real benefits to be had by engaging with the missionaries and at least part of their message.

Makana was astute in being able to distinguish that there were very different schools of thought between different missionaries, showing respect for the teachings of Dr van der Kemp in particular. He further went out of his way to engage with a wide range of others, particularly the Military Chaplain van der Lingen, in Grahamstown. The latter interactions are particularly interesting in that some may well characterise Makana as the Military Chaplain of the amaXhosa.

Makana may have been one of the first indigene proponents of African liberation theology and black consciousness. At one stage in his life he practiced a quasi-indigenous form of evangelism which had the missionary James Read impressed, bemused and befuddled all at the same time.

As such he was the one to take the gospel (albeit according to Makana) to Chief Ndlambe and his people. He did this in a manner which literally assumed the roles of John the Baptist, Jesus the preacher and Saint Paul where he acted out the message and did not simply convey it as a detached messenger. Makana’s African style of bringing across the message of Christianity incensed the European church who saw it at best as a false Messianic enactment and at worst as blasphemous. This is a very similar reaction to the spread of Voudoun, Santeria and Dukun through the colonial world of the Americas and Caribbean where Christianity and other Abrahamic faiths such as Islam were over-laid with elements of African and Eastern animist belief systems as a result of the African and Asian diaspora brought about by the slave trade.

EMERGENCE OF THE ADVISOR AND WARRIOR

Makanda was not the only unusual commoner of his time to engage as an advisor to the chiefs. Hermanus Ngxukumeshe Matroos the son of a slave who had sought refuge amongst the amaXhosa and free-Khoena later also rose to the rank of adviser and military leader. Likewise, the rebel Boer non-conformist Coenraad de Buys who had as one of his many wives, the mother of Chief Ngqika, had also risen to the role of adviser. There was further, a number of Khoena leaders who would interact with and ultimately share a fate with Makana in being imprisoned together on Robben Island – amongst these namely, Khoena Chief David Stuurman and fellow combatant in the Khoena Confederacy, Hans Trompetter. Makana had one of Trompetter’s sisters as a wife. These relationships between Makana and resistance contemporaries were complex. There was none of this modern day antagonism between Khoena (Khoi) and San which is a perversion of history.

There were also a number of white rebels who made common cause with the amaXhosa and rebel Khoena in the region too. Besides the already mentioned de Buys, there were men such as the German, Klaas Liebenberg, Irishman MacDaniel, and Boers – Bezuidenhout and Faber. Makana was held in high esteem by all of these.

The unfolding drama of the Zuurveld conflict and the successor frontier wars threw Makana into the role of warrior leader amongst other notable warrior leaders. They all graduated from lower level resistance conflict with the Boers to having to stand up against the full might of the British Empire as the invaders implemented a scorched earth approach to establishing control over the whole of South and Southern Africa.

Makana however stood shoulders above all in that he led a full frontal attack by 10 000 warriors on the British garrison town of Grahamstown. It had all of the hallmarks of a major military battle from its early espionage and intelligence gathering to its planning and implementation. It was also both a symbolic target and a military target. If Grahamstown had been successfully seized by the amaXhosa the course of history may have been very different.

Grahamstown was named after the man considered by the amaXhosa to be the butcher of the Zuurveld, Colonel John Graham. He had arrived in the Zuurveld in 1809 and launched the scorched earth campaign of genocide proportions in the region with gusto and great brutality. Under orders of Lord Caledon, with massacre and destruction, he blazed a path through the Zuurveld wiping out and pushing back all amaXhosa in his path, even those working on white farms. Orders were given to shoot any Xhosa person on sight and by 1812 he had succeeded, where each of the previous three frontier conflicts with the Dutch had led to failure by the authorities to halt the expulsions of Boers from the area by the amaXhosa.

The battle of Grahamstown was thus highly symbolic and offered an opportunity to literally ‘do a Colonel Graham’ on the British.

The South Eastern Cape Zuurveld had been argued by the Europeans to have been an ‘empty land’ – an argument which in modern times evaluation of the facts is easily proven to have been a popular historical untruth. Stellenbosch based commandos had done sorties as early as 1702 into the South Eastern Cape region and come across amaXhosa long before the trek Boers. AmaXhosa oral history tells us that the Imidangwe clan lived around Graaf-Reinette before 1700. In the 18th century long before the trek Boers arrived the Kucha and Ntinde clans entered into an agreement with Chief Gola of the Gonaqua Khoena where they purchased the area between the Fish and the Sundays rivers for 800 head of cattle which the Gonaqua then took to Bruintjies Hoogte. It was these Gonaqua here at Bruintjies Hoogte that were the first to receive the onslaught of trek Boer incursions. When the first Boers started arriving in the Zuurveld around 1770 its mixed Khoena-amaXhosa inhabitants lived with them in peaceful coexistence. But then more and more arrived and they started to want to lay down their rules. The Indigene inhabitants also disapprovingly witnessed how they treated their slaves and pacified Khoena labourers on their farms. Furthermore they were using Indigene labourers who were not properly rewarded and they did not respect indigene grazing rights for cattle and indeed coveted their cattle.

The first approach of the amaXhosa was to use their traditional method of cattle reeving to caution and punish the Boer farmers for their transgressions. This entailed stealing cattle through raids and then returning it in a show of strength as to establish who was in charge. When this failed the amaXhosa took to expelling the Boers from the area at different periods and going to war, where after negotiated treaties established frameworks of rules. These became known as the first three frontier wars of resistance. In all the Khoena and amaXhosa de facto won the day. The colonist farmers did not have the mass professional soldier and cavalry advantage that would come later with the British. It was those advantage that would be the game-changer.

In 1799 Chief Nlambe led a mass movement into the Zuurveld to join his resident brother Mnyaluza to strengthen his hand. In coming together to make a stand they also joined up with a revolt by the southern Gqunukwebe (the mixed amaXhosa –Khoena) and the Khoena Confederacy under Klaas Stuurman of the Gonaqua Khoena of the Gamtoos who had been forced into slave labour conditions and brutalised by the Boer farmers. The amaXhosa clans and Khoena joined forces to expel the Boers from the Zuurveld in the third Frontier war of Resistance and were largely successful in this endeavour against the weakened Dutch and the temporary occupying British government troops. Many runaway slaves given sanctuary by the amaXhosa also participated in this resistance.

The period 1800 to 1809 was a time when Makana prospered and earned respect as a leading figure amongst the amaXhosa. Allied to Chief Ndlambe, this was the learning ground for the young prophet Makana who was emerging as an important advisor to the Chief and one who was in turn influenced by other warrior contemporaries in times of war. From 1807 to 1810 Ndlambe had a relatively free reign in the Zuurveld after Ngqika had been defeated in the Thuthula civil war. Makana made his full transition to prophet-warrior during the period from 1811 to 1812 when he bore witness to the brutal wresting of the lands of the amaXhosa from them by Colonel Graham’s troops.

Ndlambe and his people were impoverished by the scorched earth campaign by Colonel Graham and driven out of the Zuurveld to east of the Fish River to become completely reliant on King Ngqika.

At this time after the war, Makana held a mass ceremonial cleansing service and traditional slaughter of cattle on the beach at Gompo Rock near today’s East London, where he called on the people to reconnect with their ancestors so that the dead may arise to infuse their spirit of resistance with new life at this most terrible moment in the history of the amaXhosa. The nature of this traditional ceremony was greatly distorted by missionaries and colonial commentators.

COUNSELLOR IN A TIME OF CIVIL CONFLICT WITHIN THE RHARHABE

The character of Makana was also moulded by his experiences in being caught up in the civil conflict within the Rharhabe amaXhosa. Like any large family the Rharhabe had its own inner family disputes. In a complex extended family such as the royal family with its many structures and subjects scattered over a wide area, family disputes were easily able to descend into broader civil conflicts. The complexity of the regional environment and new social forces in the midst of the Rharhabe contributed to escalating disputes and conflicts which well may have otherwise died down quickly. Social change within the Rharhabe and broader amaXhosa society was a further contributor to civil conflicts becoming drawn out. The principal characters in the conflict were Chief Ndlambe and King Ngqika.

Like most family disputes there were ebbs and flows in the Rharhabe disputes with relatives and counsellors coming in from the wings to put out the fires. At times Ngqika was in ascendency and at other times Ndlambe was on top, with each having very low points at different stages. Over time ‘blood is thicker than water’ and what at one time may seem insurmountable, at another, a resolution was able to be found. Even at the height of their conflict, stepfather and uncle Ndlambe, and stepson and nephew Ngqika, there was always an awareness of being part of the same royal family and communications remained open. Ndlambe was not just Ngqika’s father’s brother, he was also stepfather to Ngqika because Ndlambe had taken his brother’s wife a his own. Perhaps these dynamics also played itself out with Ngqika being 4 years old when his uncle and stepfather became regent. The regency rule continued until 1796 some 13 years later.

The roots of the conflict go back to the social change within the amaXhosa after King Phalo had passed away. and the single royal lineage gave way to two branches of the amaXhosa in the form of the great house of the Gcaleka’s and the right hand house of the Rharhabe. This also had a territorial dimension and a period of adjustment played itself out over a few generations. Hardly had this began to settle, when King Rharhabe died and his heir Ngqika was too young to rule. Rule was thus exercised by his uncle Ndlambe.as regent. Together with his councillors the regent ruled for 13 years until Ngqika came of age when he completed his initiation into manhood. This scenario was unsettling given the new regional dynamics with the white settlers.

As with many impetuous youth, there was still a way to go in terms of maturing and the polishing of character but the 17 year old Ngqika was eager to demonstrate his mettle to his fellow graduating initiates. He wanted people to know immediately that he was the new authority and he also wanted the colonial authorities to recognise the same.

While it was vital to the Rharhabe that some form of continued sharing of authority and good counsel between Ndlambe and Ngqika had to hold at this time of intrusion by the colonial forces, the concept of sharing his stage with stepfather Ndlambe could not be seen as an option by Ngqika. He overstepped the mark in terms of due respect and protocol by humiliating his stepfather after Ndlambe had very amicably handed over to the young King shortly after he had been inaugurated. It was this initial act of a brash and inexperienced youth that soured relations between the Ngqika and Nlambe and led to a lifetime of a peculiar conflict between the two.

The problem could have been easily mended by councillors on both sides but the young King was peeved that many of his subjects had decided to move off with the former regent when he left the Great Place.

When Ndlambe protested at his humiliation, Ngqika retaliated to teach his uncle a lesson to ‘know his place’. At a later stage when conflict had receded, Julia Wells in her comprehensive research, quotes a story where Ngqika is purported to have told his uncle, “When you were my tutor, you taught me to be a generous king, and since I became King I hope I have taught you to be a faithful subject.” Julia wells also makes the observation that regardless of their conflicts, Ndlambe still showed due respect to Ngqika as King and that Ngqika still turned to Ndlambe for advice.

The youthful Ngqika was also the first of the amaXhosa leaders to have to deal with the Europeans – the Boers, the missionaries, the Governors from the Cape and the British soldiers. It was a huge responsibility and nothing could have prepared him for this task which called for great wisdom. The civil conflict which went on for 24 years, played into the hands of the British forces with their ‘divide and rule’ tactics and posed one of the greatest threats to amaXhosa social cohesion in times of war.

The differences between the two royals were differences around respect for protocols, and difference of young and old, stepfather and son and of divergent styles. It also became differences of tactics on how to deal with their common enemy. These differences at times crossed the threshold of the acceptable in broader amaXhosa society at crucial points in time with devastating consequences for both leaders.

Makana entered this mix as spiritual adviser to Ndlambe while Ngqika took on another dynamic young preacher as his spiritual advisor, namely the evangelist Ntsikana. And thus emerged yet another dimension, of different approaches to the Christian faith that had been introduced. Ngqika and Ndlambe’s conflicts slowly began to include a playing out of a spiritual war between their two proxies Ntsikana and Makana. Each was proponent of diametrically opposed interpretations of the Christian faith. They also differed in their approaches to the colonialists. Makana’s war started as a war of words, ideas and spiritual expressions.

As councillor to Ndlambe, Makana inevitably became a warrior in this civil conflict and it in turn dovetailed with his anti-colonial resistance.

MAKANA’S WAR

In January 1818 Major Fraser set out across the FishRiver to attack Ndlambe but had a rude awakening when his small commando found themselves almost surrounded by 2000 warriors and had to beat a hasty retreat. To impress his superiors Major Fraser set upon his own British allies – Ngqika’s Rharhabe and, robbed them of a couple of thousand head of cattle. This outrageous act of blunder ended up temporarily uniting the followers of Ngqika and Ndlambe against the British, as anger spread through the territory. King Hintsa and the Gcaleka and, their neighbours the Tembus, were also drawn into what began to emerge as an anti-British amaXhosa and free-Khoena confederacy of the aggrieved. The ferment included a number of Khoena groups as well as fugitive slaves who had fled their masters in the Colony.

One of the latter groups allied with amaXhosa Chief Kratu. They made common cause under the direction of Khoena leader Klaas Geswind in a plot to attack Uitenhage and kill the hated Landdrost Cuyler. The plot was uncovered and Klaas was tried and hanged while the other co-conspirators were sentenced to imprisonment on Robben Island.

The confederacy of the aggrieved did not hold together and instead of a focus on their British enemies, a civil conflict panned out between King Ngqika who had become distrusted and isolated and the rest of the allies led by Ndlambe. The culmination of this civil conflict was that King Ngqika, the collaborator,was defeated at Amalinde in November 1818.

Faced with this situation King Ngqika appealed for British support against Ndlambe and in December 1818 Ndlambe was attacked in a devastating raid by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Brerton. The British knew that the weak underbelly of Ndlambe and his people were the cattle herds on which they relied for sustenance. The aim was to starve Ndlambe and his people into submission. The British attacked the cattle herds of 25 000 head of cattle, destroying some and capturing the rest which they handed over to King Ngqika. The amaXhosa were united in their outrage about this raid which caused great suffering amongst many people as it impacted negatively on the livelihoods and sustenance of Ndlambe’s people.

Julia Wells in her excellent appraisal on the lead up to the attack on Grahamstown, elaborates in fine detail on these events and argues that the Fraser and Brerton incidents became the rallying point for the ensuing war of Makana and the attack on Grahamstown. She shows how neither Makana nor the amaXhosa started the fifth frontier war but it was rather these two significant attacks by the British that unleashed a state of war in which the battle of Grahamstown became the most significant of battles. The Fraser and Brerton events provided an anchor for the orations of Makana which had people near and far spellbound and fired up.

This climate produced the perfect storm where Makana’s spiritual, oratory and military skills came together at the right time and place as he became respected in the role of Itola. His became the rallying call for all freedom loving amaXhosa to join in the war. The amaXhosa had gone through 40 years of land grabs and suffered aberration upon aberration at the hands of the Boers and the British. Makana made a rousing call for united action by all of the aggrieved and promised to raise a force like no other to ensure a British defeat such as they never experienced before in Africa. His objective was to halt the British advance and to drive them out of the land.

But Makana was not just talk. He was a planner and intelligence chief too. He was also a strategist. He was not interested in carrying out a simple raid. It was his belief that a major demonstration of conviction and strength was needed to teach the British a lesson in war.

In the first four months of 1819 Makana launched a preliminary offensive of some note in the Zuurveld, expelling settler farmers in his path. He conducted over 21 raids and battles. This was both the curtain-raiser to the Grahamstown attack and also the decoy. Furthermore it was a means to collect the material resources to produce and build up the weaponry for the attack on Grahamstown. The logistics of the Grahamstown battle was a huge challenge against which Makana’s abilities must also be evaluated. Julia Wells in her comprehensive research on this period calls this the ‘guerrilla warfare’ stage of Makana’s war. This ‘war of the flea’ wore down the British quite considerably. Makana’s raids and battles in the Zuurveld over these four months forced the British to change their military leadership and to adopt new tactics. This was how Lord Charles Somerset ended up appointing Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Willshire as British military commander on the frontier.

Julia Wells in her research points out those traditional accounts of these times that focus only on the Grahamstown defeat of Makana which attempt to paint a distorted picture of a ‘foolhardy’ attack without any context. She demonstrates the need to separate out colonial traditionalist, missionary influenced African traditionalist, revisionist, African liberationist, and post-revisionist research traditions in arguments to analyse the life, times and war drama of Makana. A detailed rebuff of many disparaging arguments on Makana and his role using a narrative of the events, which cross-references a wealth of previous research and commentary, results in the interestingly new and refreshing conclusions by Ms Wells.

Ultimately it is proven that the lens through which one examines the available resources is what determines the outcomes of all research and commentary on Makana. It is from such an approach that Makana emerges as a truly remarkable and most understated man.

On the amaXhosa side of the war, Makana held the position of ‘Itola’ and shared the command of the Grahamstown battle with Chief Ndlambe’s son Mdushane. Chief Phato the son of Chief Chungwa of the Gqunukwebe and King Hintsa of the Gcaleka also played leading roles in mobilising for the attack. Up to 10 000 warriors were amassed and thousands of spears and other war-gear had to be produced for the battle. This mammoth event was organised secretly whereby the amaXhosa maintained the element of surprise. Makana also commanded spies amongst the British in Grahamstown to provide intelligence.

Makana through one of his agents in Grahamstown, Hendrik Ngcuka, provided false intelligence to the British on amaXhosa intentions. As a result of the false information the British forces were depleted of a quarter of its garrisoned fighters as these rode off to investigate Ngcuka’s story.

The rallying point for the battle was the secluded Icibilentonga pond some way from the FishRiver en route to Grakamstown. From the rallying point the amaXhosa had to march over 20 kilometres to the outskirts of Grahamstown largely by cover of night. By dawn troops of warriors were within five to ten kilometres of Grahamstown. Makana moved around to motivate and address the troops of warriors throughout the night and at dawn met with the other chiefs to give final command and direction to detachments and squads. He was to take the lead on horseback with a small, and the only, cavalry detachment.

When the amaXhosa appeared at Grahamstown on 22 April 1819, the town’s inhabitants and the British commanding officers were completely surprised and taken aback. This was even although British frontier commander Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Willshire had received a cryptic war-protocol message from Makana on the previous day as a warning on the pending attack. His message to Willshire was that he would be joining him for breakfast. Willshire had shrugged it off with an ‘oh yeah’ response, saying that Makana ‘would find him in all readiness’. Effectively he arrogantly did not believe Makana.

The element of surprise was not absolute in that Makana did not carry out a night time attack as he easily could have done. The attack on Grahamstown carried a deliberate message of a nation aggrieved at being invaded and it was clear that in terms of the protocols of war Makana was wanting to make a statement in this regard.

It was pure arrogance on the part of the British that they were unprepared for the battle for Grahamstown. The garrison was spread out all over the Grahamstown surrounds. Willshire himself was some five kilometres out of town and literally had to race back to town with only ten minutes to spare before the first attacks were launched.

By all accounts the amaXhosa attack was not a wild move on the town. It carried all the hallmarks of good planning, supported by intelligence and an analysis of enemy tactics. The amaXhosa used conventional battle tactics, encircling Grahamstown and attacking on its weakest side where the British had not expected them to have attacked. The amaXhosa attacked in formations and pinpointed their targets.

The weakness of the amaXhosa is that they did not have modern weaponry in the form of guns and artillery, nor did they have sufficient cavalry to breach the enemy’s defences. They had also not chosen to use the surest tactic which would have resulted in the sure defeat of their enemy – namely a night time assault. The only weaponry that they had was their spears and cowhide shields. British cannon loaded with shot and shrapnel wiped out wave upon wave of warriors as they attacked. Cannons on high ground and at the defence lines took out numerous warriors with each blast while marksmen picked off others. Only the small squad of cavalry led by Makana came anywhere near to hand to hand combat but also had to retreat in the face of cannon fire.

The pressure that the British faced was that some of their defence lines were cut off from supplies of powder and munitions. The warriors just had to keep up the pressure for long enough and keep drawing British fire until their foes munitions were spent. At the same time the amaXhosa had to keep their casualties low. This tactic would have worked had it not been for the sudden and opportune involvement of a factor that no intelligence would have foreseen.

A Khoena trader and collaborator with the British garrison who had been some distance away was drawn to Grahamstown by the noise of the cannon fire. Jan Boesak was a man who was highly experienced in warfare and also knew the amaXhosa leaders by sight. The British garrison was also Jan Boesak’s bread and butter as he supplied them with buffalo meat. He and his men broke through the amaXhosa lines and connected with the mounted Cape Corps to whom he provided leadership. They now constituted a formidable force of mounted marksmen. Boesak’s men started picking off the known amaXhosa leaders and through their high speed mobile troops brought in a support dynamic to the artillery. At the same time the supply lines between the munitions and the artillery cannons was opened by one of the civilian women in Grahamstown. These two actions closed the only tactic for success still open to the amaXhosa who were then forced to retreat.

Illustrating the success of the divide and rule tactic, the British were successful largely due to the intervention of the collaborator Khoena free-trader Jan Boesak and the conscripted Khoena of the CapeCorps. The Battle of Grahamstown had Khoena on both sides and Makana as already emphasised himself was part Khoena through his mother’s heritage. The Khoena amongst the amaXhosa were amongst the bravest and most effective warriors.

The victory of the British at Grahamstown was decisive in the 40 year struggle of the amaXhosa to hold on to the Zuurveld. The frontier would be pushed back effectively to the Keiskamma River, with the territory between the Fish River and Keiskamma River becoming a ‘neutral’ British regulated territory. Four more major frontier wars would ensue over another 60 years. Makana lost no esteem in the great battle of Grahamstown. Indeed, instead his name became legendary and inspirational to liberation fighters over the next two centuries.

AFTER EGAZINI – SURRENDER AND PRISONER OF WAR

Makana’s War carried on for five months after the battle for Grahamstown and was fought bitterly with much losses on both sides. In August 1719, a couple of days after the decisive defeat of Ndlambe in a major battle in the Fish River Valley, Makana shocked Andries Stockenström by walking into his camp at Trompettersdrift in an act of surrender.

Makana was said by Stockenström to have ‘displayed an air of pride and self-possession.’ He was prepared to sacrifice his own liberty and possibly his life to take the heat off his people. Makana had clearly thought out the surrender which also seemed to take the focus off British attempts to hunt down Chief Ndlambe. It was further also Makana’s attempt to invoke the protocols of war through a negotiated end to the war by the vanquished. It was perceived that a better deal could be negotiated with the respected Stockenström rather than with Willshire with whom there was no trust. His councillors soon emerged to conduct negotiations. But Stockenström advised that only Willshire could preside over a formal surrender and any negotiations.

The British had no respect for this scenario and immediately incarcerated Makana in preparation to have him removed from the region. There was no way that the honourable public enemy number one, the Kaffir Chief Lynx, as they called him, was going to be allowed to walk away. They also declared that all the leading amaXhosa and Khoena chiefs were wanted persons and issued an order to the population to deliver them up dead or alive.

It was a dramatic moment with Makana making it quite clear that he was not captured but that he was volunteering to lay down his arms. He boldly stated “People say that I occasioned this war. Let me see if by giving myself up it will restore the peace.”

Stockenström declared Makana to be a prisoner (of war) and handed him over to Makana’s arch enemy, Lieutenant Colonel Willshire who took Makana to Grahamstown before moving him to Uitenhage, whereafter he was held on the ship HMS Nautilus. He was then transferred to the ship HMS Redwing and shipped off to Cape Town by sea. In Cape Town without any trial or sentence Makana was removed to Robben Island and isolated some distance away from the other prisoners.

Makana’s enemies even feared him when he was their prisoner. Makana was kept prisoner in a small house near the harbour at the bottom of the garden of the whaler John Murray’s house. Makana’s quarters was around a kilometre and a half from the male prisoners quarters.

The underlying truth of Makana’s comment indicating that he rejected that he was ‘the cause of war’ and by the sarcasm of saying ‘let us see whether giving myself up will restore the peace’ was demonstrated by the fact that war was to break out four more times over the next 60 years, long after his death. Makana’s War was however a defining moment in the conquest of the amaXhosa. In a smaller but equally bold re-enactment, an attack was made on Fort Beaufort 30 years later led by Hermanus Ngxukumeshe Matroos who lost his life in that attack.

After his surrender and the colonial declaration that he was a prisoner, Makana made two escape bids and was captured each time. His fighting spirit continued.

As a result of Makana’s war the British found that the only way that they would be able to hold onto the Zuurveld and effectively take over all of what they called Xhosaland, would be to flood the area with thousands of British settlers who needed to lay down permanent roots. Thus in 1820 shortly after the end of Makana’s war over 5000 British settlers poured into the extended Cape Colony and took over the traditional lands of the amaXhosa.
Under the British, black South Africa experienced a much worse and more intense colonial onslaught carried out by ruthless and well organised military invaders, such as never been seen during the Dutch colonial period.

ESCAPE FROM ROBBEN ISLAND – THE DEATH OF THE LEGEND

With the cream of the crop of resistance leaders incarcerated on Robben Island, an escape plot was initiated by Khoena leader Hans Trompetter, the brother-in-law of Makana, and a break-out organising group was formed which was made up of Hans Trompetter, Johan Smidt, William Holmes and Abraham Leendert.

Makana was not part of the organisers because he had been isolated from all of the other prisoners and was held in a small building more than a kilometre and a half from the others. It is a sign of Makana’s esteem that one of the first actions taken by the rebels was to go and find him and to release him. It is speculated that the organisation of the breakout took quite a few months.

In the dark hours of the morning of 9 August 1820 Smidt attacked and seized the weapon of a sentry on duty. In carrying out this action Smidt then freed the other prisoners and they took over the armoury where they distributed arms and ammunition to the rebels.

Now armed, the group released more prisoners amongst whom was Makana and Khoena Chief David Stuurman who was ill at the time. Hans Trompetter and a group of eight amaXhosa prisoners of war had formed a squad to rescue Makana from his place of internment in the garden enclosure at Murrays House.

By this time the garrison was awakened by the commotion and a short but intense fire-fight ensued with injuries on both sides in this battle. One soldier was to die of his wounds in that fight. After the skirmish with the garrison, there was a group of 26 amaXhosa and Khoena rebels, plus two European convicts and 2 slaves, who then seized 3 whaler boats after they took over John Murray’s whale house for the escape across the sea..

Johan Smidt took charge of one boat of ten persons; the second boat of ten was under the control of William Holmes and the third boat of ten was under Hans Trompetter. Also on this third boat was Makana and David Stuurman. Only Smidt’s boat made it safely to shore with all ten landed.

In the case of Holmes boat, all but three of the ten perished in the sea. Trompetter’s boat capsized in the rough surf off Bloubergstrand and this is how Makana met his end along with five others on board. Only four, including Trompetter and Stuurman survived. Makana it was reported by the survivours, brave to the end, clung to a rock, shouting encouragement to his comrades, before he was consumed by the sea and drowned.

Fourteen of the 30 escapees drowned in the escape bid. Two more were killed by those who tracked them down. Only two persons evaded capture. Twelve escapees were finally put on trial. All were given heavy sentences; even some of the dead. Khoena Chief David Stuurman had twice escaped Robben Island, so he was thus sentenced to deportation to Australia where he died in 1830.

After this event, because of his larger than life reputation amongst the people including his own family, Makana was believed to be alive and at large, even for many decades after.In death he became more of a legend. His long lifetime walk to freedom had come to an end, but his spirit kept marching on in new generations. “Come Makana, Come Makana Come Makana Come!” Comrade Jimmy, an MK liberation bard in the 1980s, reflected that the spirit of Makana was alive as ever. In many ways Makana reincarnated as Nelson Mandela and finally Freedom did come.

REFERENCES

Barry Gilder; Songs and Secrets – South Africa from Liberation to Governance; Jacana; johannesburg; (2012) – Andries Stockenström; Autobiography of Sir Andries Stockenström – Sometime Lt-Governor of the Easter Province of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope Volume 1; 1887 Edited CW Hutton; Juta; Cape Town (1964) – B Le Cordeur (edt); The Journal of Charles Lennox Stretch; Maskew Miller; Cape Town; (1988) – Ben Maclennan; A proper degree of terror – John Graham and the Cape’s Eastern frontier; Ravan Press; Johannesburg; (1986) – Charles Lennox Stretch; Makana and the attack on Grahamstown in 1819; Cape Monthly Magazine Volume 12; (1876) – Ezra Tisani; Nxele and Ntsikana – a critical study of the religious outlooks of two nineteenth century Xhosa prophets and their consequences for Xhosa Christian practice in the Eastern Cape; MA Thesis; UCT (1987) – G Tylden; Major-General Sir Thomas Willshire GCB and the attack on Grahamstown on 22 April 1819; Africana Notes and News Volume 9; (1953) – George McCall Theal; History of South Africa from 1795 to 1872 – Volume 1; Allen & Unwin; London; (1897) – J B Pieres; The house of Phalo – A history of the Xhosa people in the days of their independence; Raven Press; (1981) – J B Pieres; Nxele, Ntsikana and the origins of Xhosa religious reaction; Journal of African history Volume 20 No 1; (1979) – Julia C Wells; The return of Makhanda – Exploring the legend; UKZN Press; Scottsville; (2012) – Max de Preez; Of tricksters, tyrants and turncoats: More unusual stories from South Africa’s past; Zebra Pres; Cape Town (2008) – Martin Legassick; The struggle for the Eastern Cape 1800 – 1854 : Subjugation and the roots of South African Democracy; KMM; Johannesburg; (2010) – Noel Mostert; Frontiers – The epic of South Africa’s creation and the Tragedy of the Xhosa people; Alfred A Knopf; New York; (1992) – Richard Elphick & Hermann Giliomee; The shaping of South African society 1652 – 1820; Maskew Miller Longman; Cape Town; (1979) – Thomas Willshire; Attack on Grahamstown in 1819; Grahamstown Journal; (26 Sept 1846) – VC Malherbe; David Stuurman – “Last Chief of the Hottentots”; African Studies Volume 39 No 1;(1980)

THE WINDS BLOW FROM AFAR – How Social formations of the San, the Khoena, and the Southern Xhosa peopled the Eastern, Western & Southern Cape

For us to be able to evaluate and understand the past 500 years of history and heritage and to navigate issues such as heritage and identity we need to also look back at the distant past and separate what knowledge that we do have now, from propaganda and colonial overlays over the years. To borrow a phrase from an interviewed San survivor in the 19th century – the winds of this understanding, blows from far back in time.

This paper is the first of four papers that assist us to understand our history and heritage which in turn informs our identity. It breaks with the colonial narrative that dominated in our school history books and draws on excellent historical research that is not readily available to most. These are the four papers written over the past few years:

1) THE WINDS BLOW FROM AFAR: How Social formations of San, Khoena and Southern Xhosa came to People the Eastern, Central and Western cape
2) THE STORY OF A PORT: The Camissa foundation of the Port City of Cape Town
3) THEY CAME FROM ACROSS THE SEAS: Migrants of colour who crossed the Cape shoreline frontier voluntarily or as captives
4) ETHNIC CLEANSING -THE TIME OF THE FIFTEEN WARS: The 170 years of Indigene Resistance – 1658 – 1828

If we are led in the present by blatant falsehoods about the past we will cripple ourselves. When it comes to the distant past we certainly don’t know all of the answers and probably never will. It’s a journey of exploration that changes as more and more information comes to light. The distant past cannot simply be explored by one academic discipline either; it is a multi-disciplinary approach that is required – with archaeologists, geneticists, anthropologists, social historians, geologists, oral historians, spiritual practitioners and all that have something to bring to the table of exploration.

When it comes to looking at the Cape San or /Xam and the various Khoena tribes of the Eastern and Western Cape in pre-colonial and ancient times there is much muddying of the waters when trendy language, opportunistic political causes and simplistic and sometimes blatantly false or pseudo history paints over important discoveries.

Very often it is shortsighted opportunistic political ideologies that obscure or blur our view of the distant past and this robs us and future generations of really important building-blocks in getting to understand and know our society today. Notions of ‘first nationhood’ and mythical San and Khoi ‘kingdoms’ abound and it can be opinioned that these are a distraction and potentially falsify the past and rob us of its real value. Tailoring history, heritage and culture to become a lever in leveraging short term gains is another factor to be aware of and to ensure that we don’t get taken off on opportunistic tangents. With the increasing popularity of dna testing, we should also be cautious about conflating dna (genetics) findings with identity. While it can certainly bring perspective to identity and assist in that manner, the complexity of identity and social history should never be confused with dna results on its own. In genetics they talk of Southern African dna and do not generally specifically reference this as San or Khoisan dna, though some scientists sometimes abbreviate and reference San and Khoisan. The latter are terms that have gained currency in anthropology and archaeology and from there have jumped the tracks into genetics. Of late as there has been reference to dna findings when looking at social history, and also with its fashionable use with genealogy, some are jumping to fundamentalist-style interpreted conclusions. We should be aware of this and cautious of these approaches as we go forward with our explorations. But nonetheless the interdisciplinary observations are important in assisting perspective.

This short overview attempts to simplify a trajectory of human and societal development in the territory south of the Gariep before colonial times and before the first encounters between Indigenes and the Europeans. Here we explore how human beings populated Southern Africa and then organized themselves. We need to look at what were points of conflict and where there was peaceful coexistence flourishing.

Humans and apes are said to have common ancestry back in the Miocene period around 8-million years ago. Early ancestors of archaic humans can be traced back in various parts of the world from before 2,5 million years ago through markers that they left behind. When we refer to such common ancestry and talk of archaic humans, it must be noted that we are not referring to Homo Sapiens – modern Humanity.

We often hear people make sweeping claims that their ancestors occupied the land for millions of years or hundreds of thousands of years, but such statements are not rooted in fact and we must distinguish between early or ancient evolutionary ancestral roots in human evolution and Homo Sapiens (humans).

Anatomically modern humans evolved from archaic humans in the middle Paleolithic period about 200 000 years ago in Africa, marking the dawn of the subspecies who are the ancestors of all people in the world. The signs show that this important event took place in East Africa.

About 90 000 years ago modern humans started dispersing across Africa in journeys which saw them dispersing across the world. In the context of the territory of South Africa when we talk about “First People” we can only mean habitat by those first Homo Sapiens (modern humans) who moved into the entire Southern African region around 70 000 years ago. Most of these peoples and groupings died out in time.

There are signs and remains of the existence in the Southern African region of Archaic Humans or pre Homo Sapiens before this period but this must not be confused with “First People”. It is from the “First People” or oldest modern human inhabitants of Southern Africa that the forebears of those we now call the San of this region evolved through early and later stone age processes into early and later iron age peoples and into social formations. The first social organization of people to emerge from the “First People” are those archaeologists and anthropologists came to label as the San or Bushmen.

Both archaeology and genetic science indicate that advanced social formations who have been given the broad collective name of San or Bushmen and Sadawe and Hadza, emerged from the “First People” around 25 000 to 40 000 years ago in different places across Southern Africa from Angola in the west down to the Southern tip of Africa and from southern Kenya in the east down to the southern tip of Africa, and in much many more formations than those surviving 500 years ago.

One of the many different San groups emerged in this period in the southern, eastern and central Cape whom we refer to as the Cape San or /Xam. It is they who are the only people who had “First Habitat” in the region by 2000 years ago.

We need to be very careful of using the term ‘Khoena San’ or ‘KhoiSan’ as this anthropological and archaeological term does not do justice to the San in general and to the Cape San or /Xam in particular. The Khoena emerged much later as a social formation through the coming together of migrating pastoralists from East Africa and one San grouping, the Kalahari San.

Behar, Soodyall and the Genographic Consortium tell us that in dna terms the forebears of those we refer to as the Cape San (and in part of those who we refer to as the Khoena who emerge as a later social formation) had matrilineal ancestry which diverged from the rest of the human mtDNA pool sometime around 90,000 years ago and that parallel to this there were also at least five other matrilineal lineages arising out of the early Homo Sapiens. Through the same lineage the Khoena social formation are partly from this early lineage but also have other admixture in their dna.

The Genographic Consortium also establish that an estimated minimum of 40 other evolutionarily successful lineages flourished in sub-Saharan Africa as well during the period of modern human dispersal 60,000 –70,000 years ago.

By 2500 years ago San as social groups of people were but the remnants of those diverse “First People”. Traces of San lineages were also shared in admixtures of other sub-Saharan African peoples. The scientists also further say that only much later, at the beginning of the Late Stone Age, about 40,000 years ago did introgression of additional lineages occur into the mtDNA pool of San forebears and that these processes were further accelerated when other East African, (with some Nilotic roots) and Sub-Saharan African (Bantu also with some Niolitic roots) dna entered the mix during the periods of different East African and siNtu speaker (Bantu)migratory engagements on the periphery of the Kalahari from around 2,500 years ago.

It is thus only 2 500 years ago when the Khoena as a social formation first emerged with strong dna shared with the same forebears of the Kalahari San (rather than the Cape San or /Xam, but also with other dna markers. This period marks the period of contact between the Kalahari San hunter-gatherers and external migrants who kept sheep and cattle and drank milk. These external elements had dna markers passed on to Kalahari San which point to Sandawe and Hadza from East African descendants of “First People”. But they also show dna from “Nilotic People” from the Nile region of North Africa. And sub-Saharan Africans (Bantu). It is from this engagement of North, East and South that sheep farming pastoralism and the Khoena or Khoi people emerged in the Kalahari and migrated to various parts of South Africa.

The Khoena would also take on further dna markers as they later came into further contact with siNtu speaking Sub-Saharan Africans probably from 200AD in the Northwestern arena and most certainly around 600 AD in the Eastern Cape. There are upwards of 500 stone city and town sites such as Great Zimbabwe, Mapangubwe and Thulamela from the periphery of the Kalahari along the Limpopo and stretching through Zimbabwe to Mozambique. Studies show that earliest peopling of Mpangubwe was by the Khoena who migrated from the Kalahari to the Shashi-Limpopo area and onto Mapangubwe about 1040 years ago because of its agricultural offerings. Mapangubwe became the centre of a huge African civilisation of Southern Africa between 1070 and 1220. Genetic studies on the skeletal remains of two royals of Mapangubwe, male and female show these to have Southern African dna; ie Khoena and San but their burial positions were that associated with Sub-Saharan Africans (Bantu). All of the evidence of the earliest peopling of Mapangubwe shows a society not of subjugation of Khoena and San by Bantu but rather the reverence of the former by the latter and indeed a mixed society and this fits with the oral traditions of the people of Mapangubwe today. This Southern African civilization which had links to the East African coastal trade and trade with the Chinese and Arabs as evidenced by artefacts found at the sites, totally demolishes the Apartheid and colonial era nonsense that the first contact between San and Khoena was with invading “Blacks from the North”. It also demolishes the notion that all San were wandering “hunter-gatherers” and all Khoena were wandering “pastoral herders”. The royals of this civilsation which is the first in Southern Africa to show class distinction of royal and commoner, not evident with Southern San or Khoena, were also buried with intricate crafted golden jewellery and symbols of power and wealth. This again
demonstrates advanced mining and beneficiation crafting skills.

The Mapangubwe, Great Zimbabwe, Thulamela and hundreds of other sites point to a large African civilization in the region where its peopling is a complex make-up of San, Khoena, and peoples with dna roots in North, West and East Africa…. And perhaps elsewhere too as some of these sites in all likelihood had direct contact with Arab and Chinese traders. From dna testing there is also ample evidence that the Lembe in this region have origins with people of the middle east, namely the Jews.

As much as the early Khoena moved out of the Kalahari to engage with other peoples and as founders in this Southern African Kingdom, they also trekked from this region via the Gariep into the Eastern and Southern territories occupied exclusively by the Cape San or /Xam and were the first external pastoral-herder people that interacted with the southern /Xam hunter-gathers.

The Khoena live side by side with the San in the Kalahari and gradually moved down from the Kalahari to the Gariep River and to southern Namibia where other unrelated San groups also had habitat. Here in this new region social identities (clans and tribes) began to form within the San and within the Khoena. It is from here too that the Khoena would gradually migrate to the Eastern Cape and then on to the Western Cape. In this migratory process new Khoena social formations or tribes would occur. In time and for various reasons some of these formations would also disappear. The Khoena would also meet the Cape San or /Xam to whom they were not initially related, but with whom some limited relations would have later developed. As pastoralists and herders and to some degree agriculturalists they would also develop antagonisms with the San too and over time displaced the San from the coastal territories to the mountainous territories.

It is likely too that others from this expansive African civilization with its mixed inhabitants must have done some travelling Southwards and that there are likely to have been trading links with the Khoena from this time already. It is clear that early siNtu speaking Sub-Saharan African migrants going eastwards would have initially been fairly weak and in small formations in the beginning, also took on the mtdna markers of the San people and Khoena. This occurred long before later Nguni arrived across the Kei and Keiskamma by the 15th century.

It is most possible that this is the roots of the early Xhosa rather than their earliest beginning being with the later Nguni migratory drift. The impact of the Khoena and San on the language and culture of the early Xhosa, and indeed on their very name, is too profound to have happened at the time of the arrivals of the Mpondo, abeThembu and Mpondomise.

In recent times social scientists and dna scientists have worked more closely together than before and particularly with the advances in genetics, more and more evidence is emerging that clearly shows that the San were not as isolated from other influences than previously thought. As already mentioned sheep which were not indigenous to Southern Africa seem to have been introduced from North Africa and the Middle East via East Africa.

We are challenged to look past the paradigm of thinking that through the dominant colonial lens locks San and Khoena people into primitivism for all time. European denialism of the great African civilization across Southern Africa a long time before their arrival should cease to be the guiding star that many have allowed it to be on their thinking.

Lots of new indicators are constantly emerging. For instance in 2014, Dr Carina Schlebusch, a foremost geneticist, found in her studies a hard Khoena link to East Africa that points to a journey from East Africa over 2000 years ago by following milk markers in the Khoena dna – Allele LP-SNP 14010G. This in turn shows a link to Niolitic North Africa and the Middle East.

The presence too of the Lembe, with their strong Jewish culture and dna markers, in Limpopo also points to a middle East connection. More and more evidence also emerges of old trading networks between the Khoena up through to far off lands to the North and East.Social historians have also been more rigorously engaging with archaeologists, anthropologists and geneticists in recent times.

Melanie Yap and Dianne Leong Man, in their book Colour, Confusion and Concessions – the history of the Chinese in South Africa give us an insight into China’s early engagement with Africa from the Han dynasty to the T’ang dynasty (208AD to 907AD) and from the Sung dynasty (960 – 1279) to the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644). This involves both direct Chinese engagement and trade engagement via the Arab traders. Indeed even prior to the Ming dynasty in 1320 the Chinese had already mapped South Africa recognizably at a time when in Europe their maps of Africa stopped in the middle of the continent without any knowledge of its southern shape. By 1402 Ch’uan Chin’s Chinese map showed the Gariep River (Orange River). Admiral Zheng He between 1405 and 1433 carried out seven expeditions to Africa in the Indian Ocean in much larger ships equipped for scientific study than the Europeans had at the time and brought back a Giraffe to China. At both Great Zimbabwe and at Mapangubwe porcelain from the Sung dynasty has been found and this predates any European linkages by 600 to 700 years. Yap and Leong Man point out too that anthropologists point out old San paintings in the Eastern Cape show that there was interaction between Chinese and San people. This fits in with Chinese tales that prior to 1300 the Mazi from China were frequent visitors to the East Coast and that it is likely that there were shipwrecks and survivors of those wrecks who may have integrated with the San. These survivors were called Awatwa and there are stories that the Basotho hats have their origin with the Chinese hats of the same design. Tyap and Leong Man mention that the so-named “Snese Hottentots” as well as the Bahurutsi tribe in Botswana are two groups who may have had engagement with Chinese whether overland travelers or maroons from shipwrecks.

Exploration of social history that connects the South of Africa to the peoples of the world has not kept up with the hard sciences but is now playing catch up.. One thing is clear is that we have to keep open minds and need to move out of existing dominant paradigms of thinking when exploring the social history of the Khoena and San of South Africa. Those who today have charicatures of Khoena and San as handed down to them by colonists are not doing the true history of these people any favour by mimicking colonists views of the Khoena and San who have been stereotyoed in a primitivist mould. Archaeological and DNA studies are constantly providing new evidence, and as a result, new perspectives and schools of thought often arise concerning the origins of the Khoena people of South Africa in particularly and their various modes of living and social and economic activity.

It is thus important that we note that the Khoena or Khoi people do not originate in the Western Cape, but migrated to the Western Cape over a probable 600 – 1000 year period in a slow migratory drift from the Gariep.

Prior to their presence at the Gariep they migrated from the vicinity of the Kalahari perimeter. The larger part of the migration was through the Eastern Cape and another slower migration down the West Coast. Along these journeys through a process of multiplication of tribes by division of tribes, a footprint was left throughout the route in the form of inter-related tribes most of whom existed by the time of the European arrivals. The earliest Xhosa probably were fellow travelers of the Khoena to the Eastern Cape and were highly influenced by Khoena and San and shared some dna markers. These early Xhosa were more highly impacted upon by the later movement into the Eastern Cape by the Nguni groups that shaped the modern Xhosa.

The Nguni themselves were a South African people who emerged from the coming together in Natal of Bakoni moving out from the Mapangubwe Kingdom and the Tsonga from Mozambique and the San who lived in KZN. The Nguni who gradually drifted southwards and met up with the early Xhosa and the Cobhuqua Khoena were the abeThembu, Mpondo and Mpondomise. But it is also said that people such as the AmaNgqosini from the Lesotho region and further from the Gariep Korana also later engaged the Xhosa and AbeThembu too.

In the migratory journey the Khoena, Xhosa and the Cape San interacted with each other and each left a mark on the other. So in the migratory period the Khoena had relations of various sorts with the original Cape San inhabitants of the Eastern, Central and Western Cape including conflictual relations. While some close relationships occurred this was not the norm and it undermines the history and heritage of the social formations of the Southermost San, the /Xam when people use the anthropological and archaeological term Khoisan as though it refers to social formations of people. There is a difference between social history and scientific observations of ancient origins – a difference between social heritage or identity and dna readings or archaeological findings. When one looks at the history genocidal attacks of Khoena (Khoi) on the San then it is insult upon injury to refer to Khoisan as a social formation in history.

Relations in the Eastern Cape were marked by pastoral encroachment and friction on the one hand first by Khoena pastoralists, followed by early Xhosa pastoralists, and then by later Nguni pastoralists. But it must also be recognized that degrees of inter-marriage, social engagement or sexual relations also impacted each on the other. Degrees of assimilation took place. Between all four groups and assimilation was not always characterized by force or conquest. Thus we must also be very careful not to think in a rigid purist ethnic silo manner.

The Cape San or /Xam had already been living across the Eastern, Western and Central Cape areas for centuries before the Khoena (Khoi) migrants, the early Xhosa migrants or later Nguni migrants arrived with their pastoral culture. The Cape San or /Xam were the only social group who had first habitat before all of these groups throughout the entire Cape. The Cape San or /Xam precede the arrival of Khoena pastoralists by a few thousand years. The fact that the Khoena pastoralists had dna marker roots that in large part joined up with the Kalahari San long before, does not mean that they were the same social group as the Cape San hunter-gathers of the new regions that they entered. It was Khoena pastoralism before any other that resulted in displacement of Cape san or /Xam away from the coastal areas and into the mountains and drier regions. But all of this was absolutely insignificant in its effects on large populations of all groups in the territory to the impact of the Europeans which later brought genocide, war and destruction to all.

The hegemony of pastoralism brought into the Southern Cape arena first by the Khoena and then by the Xhosa displaced the hunter-gatherer culture, but in some areas pastoralist and hunter-gatherers co-existed side by side. The later Nguni pastoralist migrations of abeThembu, Mpondo, Mpondomise and others had further influence on social formations and on habitat of the Cape San. To a much lesser degree it also had some influence also on the Khoena.

It is over 600 – 1000 years that the Southern Khoena developed sustainable and cohesive communities which were resilient and strong enough to continue in existence throughout the migration processes of the Nguni. When Khoena pastoral communities grew too large and livestock plentiful, communities split off and moved ever further south. There are no overt signs that the development of these community formations was as a result of any huge antagonistic and violent clashes. There certainly would have been a degree of friction and probable skirmishes that would be natural in such breakaways. But nothing as large, absolute, deliberately planned and devastating as that of the European invasion, ethnic cleansing, and genocide carried out over two centuries first on the Khoena, then on the San and then on the Xhosa-Khoena, Xhosa and other eastern Cape peoples.

Each pastoral community were relatively well settled and had systems of livestock grazing that was rotational and weather-observant. Elphick tells us that signs are there that suggest there was a communication chain and trading chain that could be tracked from the southernmost communities right through to the Gariep, to the Mapangubwe and Great Zimbabwe regions and beyond to the far off north. This migration drift of the Khoena ending in the Southwestern Cape would have been complete long before the end of the 14th century. The Eastern migration drift and the Western migration drift from the Namaqua and resulting in Guriqua were also completed long before the first European arrivals.

There are anecdotal accounts were that once there had been a mixed Khoena-Xhosa people called the Cobuqua people who by the time of the arrival of the Europeans existed no more than only in oral history accounts. Some of these mixed Khoena-Xhosa were likely to have been pushed southwards by the arrivals of Nguni. The abeThembu,, the Mpondo, the Mpondomise and others impacted on the descendants of the original Xhosa and Khoena. The mix of Cobuquq and original Xhosa- Khoena moved southwards to the Zuurveld where they joined up with Inqua refugees and the Gonaqua. Here they formed the Gqnukwebe. (Gonaqua-Kwebe became Gqnukwebe) At the time of the arrival these Gonaqua Xhosa and the Gonaqua themselves fought in resistance together against the Europeans. One thinks here of the alliance between Chiefs Chungwa and Klaas and David Stuurman.

The highly Nguni influenced remnant Xhosa that remained alongside the abeThembu saw a Kingdom, the house of Phalo emerge. It would later split into new Xhosa polity’s – the Rharabe and Gqaika. It was in the context of a clash between two contenders for the Xhosa leadership that the Inqua Khoena tribe made a huge miscalculation resulting in their demise. They took a decision to back the losing contender and as a result were consumed by the House of Phalo. Some became refugees and were incorporated into the older Xhosa-Khoena Gqnukwebe which were eventually incorporated into the Rharabe..

It is unfortunate and a corruption of the facts and complexities of interactions between Nguni and original Xhosa, and Khoena, San and mixed Khoena-Xhosa in the Eastern Cape that these events long before the arrival of the Europeans, are presented crudely in the European narrative as a violent ‘black’ invasion that destroyed the Khoena and San in the territory of the South Eastern Cape. The Europeans have always argued that they did not force out the Khoena or wipe out the Cape San and have presented ahistorical accounts of a relatively people-free land in which previous inhabitants were wiped out by black invaders from the north. This is blatantly untrue. As has also been shown, the Khoena and San had already been involved in relations with Sub-Saharan Africans at Mapangubwe and indeed held exalted status within the Mapangubwe Kingdom.

By the time that the Europeans arrived at the Cape the scenario in the Zuurveld of the Eastern Cape was fairly settled. Khoena and Xhosa-Khoena formations were living side by side in prosperity. From Table Bay to the Zuurveld and to the Gariep was home to an estimated 200 000 Khoena. The Khoena alone had hundreds of thousand sheep and cattle and were successful farmers.

The Cape San or /Xam lived beyond the seaboard territories in the mountainous areas and numbered in the region of 30 000. To the South beyond the Gonaqua there were many Khoena tribal formation right down into the Cape Peninsula that were prosperous sheep and cattle farmers – Hoengeyqua, Gamtoos, Hessequa, Outaniqua, Attaqua, Chainouqua, Cochouqua, Goringhaiqua, Gorachouqua, Goringhaicona, Guriqua and other smaller offshoots of these. On the western seaboard and inland were the Guriqua or Grigriqua also known as the Chariguriqua, and then the Namaqua. The ethnocide visited on these peoples by the Europeans is well recorded. The genocide against the Cape San or /Xam is also well recorded. The violent expulsion of Indigenes and the destruction of their social infrastructure and their economy was a crime against humanity. Once conquering Indigenes those who were not killed or escaped northwards as refugees were turned into farm labourers little different to slavery while others were conscripted into militia called Commandos. The pacified Khoena were turned into efficient killing machines in these Commandos and were effectively used in the genocide campaigns against the free resisting Indigenes.

IN BRIEF SUMMARY: One thing that is agreed among inter-disciplinary scholars who have studied the Khoena is that events of catalytic importance happened around 2,200 – 2,500 years ago in the region of the Kalahari and it’s perimeter (also called the Northwest Circle) in Southern Africa whereby one branch of the San were engaged by external forces from East Africa with older links to North Africa and beyond which gave birth to the Khoena of the Kalahari and perimeter. There is also now agreement that the hidden history of the Mapangubwe civilization involved the Khoena and San and Sub-Saharan Africans from various origins in union with each other and that further study and the listening to oral history throws a whole new perspective on everything in terms of appreciating the Social-History of the peopling of South Africa before colonial times.

The Khoena as a social formation first emerged in the Northwest circle of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Limpopo with the Kalahari as epicenter. They then migrated southwards in three stages – first to the Gariep and Southern Namibia and then to the Eastern Cape and then to the Western Cape. Along this route the Khoena also mixed with other groups – among these both the early siNtu speaking Sub-Saharan African migrants who they called the Xhosa and the Cape San or /Xam. This migration trajectory is how the Cape Khoena tribes were born over a 600 – 1000 year period and how they settled in the Western Cape

By the time of the European first exploratory arrivals the Khoena had firm habitat in the Eastern and Western Cape..

Note on the terms Bantu, Khoena (or Khoi) and /Xam or San: All of these terms have the same meaning and literally mean “PEOPLE” each used in a different culture. Scholars have given the terms added meaning to differentiate families of different peoples by linking these to linguistics and to different African lineages linked to dna.

Thus the linguistic term for people – “Bantu” was linked to those who have Sub-Saharan African dna who migrated into and out of the Great Lakes region. The Linguistic term for people, “/Xam” or “San” (the latter having the additional meaning denoting ‘forager’), was applied to those who have Southern African dna; and the linguistic term for people – “Khoena” or “Khoi” was applied to a new more modern people who had a mix of Southern African and East African/Niolitic dna and had adopted pastoralism.

We should not get hung-up on terms because as we dig deeper they have less of the socio-political meaning that they have come to acquire over time. All of these peoples are African and indigenous to Africa.

The complexities and the depth of highly developed African societies with social histories that interface with South Africa are now also coming to light after a long period of suppression by Christo-European intellectual hegemony, responsible for the destruction of African civilisations and, for papering over huge elements of a challenging African past. The evolution of Khoena social history over this migration requires much more collection of evidence and research.

For instance the interaction between the Khoena and the old African centres of trade and development at Great Zimbabwe and Mapangubwe, or with the fascinating Lembe would be interesting to explore. The gaps in social history must be explored and a challenge exists around notions of ‘primitivism’ and the European concept of ‘the noble savage’ which has strongly been overlaid on Khoena society and unfortunately has been adopted by some elements who then lock Khoena culture in a time capsule. This when linked to skewed histories based in what I call the ‘Great Lie’ (the story of a major ‘black’ invasion that destroyed indigene Khoena and San) distort the entire San and Khoena story.

Elphick gives us just a small glimpse of Khoena trading links in pre-colonial times with trade routes stretching up to East and Northern Africa and indeed were not an isolated ‘primitive’ group in South Africa, without linkages to an ‘outside’

REFERENCES:
Going full circle on KhoeKhoe origins by Alan G Morris in ‘The Digging Stick’ Vol 31; No 1; April 2014 (Archaeological journal)
Insights from DNA studies of Khoe-San; Journal of Archaeological Studies (2012)
Lactase persistence alleles reveal ancestry of southern African Khoe pastoralists; Uppsala Bio Life Science Pathfinder on work of Dr Carina Schlebusch [journal/ April] (2014).
The Chronological Evidence for the Introduction of Domestic Stock into Southern Africa; Bousman, C. Britt; The African Archaeological Review; (1998). Colour, Confusion and Concessions – The history of the Chinese in South Africa by Melanie Yap and Dianne Leong Man; Hong Kong Universit Press; 1996.
MtDNA control region variation affirms diversity and deep sub-structure in populations from Southern Africa, by Karina M. Schlabusch et al. BMC Evolutionary Biology (2013).
The Archaeology of Southern Africa; P Mitchell; Cambridge University Press (2002)
On becoming herders: Khoikhoi and San ethnicity in Southern Africa; A Smith; African Studies 50 No 1; (1991)
The Native Races of South Africa: A history of the intrusion of the Hottentots and Bantu into the hunting grounds of the Bushmen – the aborigines of the Country. G Stow; Struik; Cape Town (1964)
KhoiKhoi and the Founding of White South Africa; Early History of the KhoiKhoi (3-22); Narcotics, Metal and Long Distance Trade (62-68); Richard Elphick (1985)
The Struggle for the Eastern Cape 1800 – 1854; Martin Legassick; (UWC) KMM Johannesburg (2010)
The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity by Behar, Soodyal et al; The American Journal of Human Genetics (2008), doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.04.002
Human Beginnings in South Africa; HJ Deacon and Janette Deacon; David Philip; Cape Town (1999)
First People of the Cape; Alan Mountain; David Philip; Cape Town (2003)
Was there an interchange between Cushitic pastoralists and Khoisan speakers in the prehistory of Southern Africa and how can this be detected?; Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika edited by Wilhelm Möhlig & Axel Fleisch; Special Research Centre ACACIA project ‘Migration, Settlement and Cultural History on the Basis of Linguistic Sources’, University of Cologne Presented at Königswinter, March 28-30, 2007
The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity by Behar, Soodyal et al; The American Journal of Human Genetics (2008), doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.04.002
Going full circle on KhoeKhoe origins by Alan G Morris in ‘The Digging Stick’ Vol 31; No 1; April 2014 (Archaeological journal)
Insights from DNA studies of Khoe-San; Journal of Archaeological Studies (2012)
The Chronological Evidence for the Introduction of Domestic Stock into Southern Africa; Bousman, C. Britt; The African Archaeological Review; (1998)
Lactase persistence alleles reveal ancestry of southern African Khoe pastoralists; Uppsala Bio Life Science Pathfinder on work of Dr Carina Schlebusch [journal/ April] (2014).
MtDNA control region variation affirms diversity and deep sub-structure in populations from Southern Africa, by Karina M. Schlabusch et al. BMC Evolutionary Biology (2013).
Human Beginnings in South Africa; HJ Deacon and Janette Deacon; David Philip; Cape Town (1999)
So where do we come from?; Carte Blanche; Mnet Tv (2004)
Discoveries in South Africa for the Genographic Project; National Genographic Genographics (2008)
First People of the Cape; Alan Mountain; David Philip; Cape Town (2003)
Final Report: Living History Project June 2008; Prof Himla Soodyall Phd; National Health Laboratories Service & School of Pathology; Johannesburg (2008)
Hunters and Herders of Southern Africa: A comparative ethnography of the Khoisan peoples; Alan Bernard; Cambridge University Press (1992)
Bone artefacts from the middle stone age at Blombos Cave, Southern Cape, South Africa; C Henshilwood & J Sealy; Current Anthropology 38, NO 5. (1997)
The Archaeology of Southern Africa; P Mitchell; Cambridge University Press (2002)
On becoming herders: Khoikhoi and San ethnicity in Southern Africa; A Smith; African Studies 50 No 1; (1991)
The Native Races of South Africa: A history of the intrusion of the Hottentots and Bantu into the hunting grounds of the Bushmen – the aborigines of the Country. G Stow; Struik; Cape Town (1964)
The National Question: Decolonising the Theory of Nationalism; James M Blaut; Zed Press; London (1987)
Nationalist thought and the Colonial World: A derivative discourse; Partha Chattergee; Zed Press; London (1988)
The National Question in South Africa; Edt Maria van Diepen; Zed Press; London (1988)
On Identity; Amin Malouf; Harvill Press; London (2000)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we are led in the present by blatant falsehoods about the past we will cripple ourselves. When it comes to the distant past we certainly don’t know all of the answers and probably never will. It’s a journey of exploration that changes as more and more information comes to light. The distant past cannot simply be explored by one academic discipline either; it is a multi-disciplinary approach that is required – with archaeologists, geneticists, anthropologists, social historians, geologists and all that have something to bring to the table of exploration.

When it comes to looking at the Cape San or /Xam and the various Khoena tribes of the Eastern and Western Cape in pre-colonial and ancient times there is much muddying of the waters when trendy language and simplistic and sometimes blatantly false or pseudo history paints over important discoveries.

Very often it is political ideologies that obscure or blur our view of the distant past and this robs us and future generations of really important building-blocks in getting to understand and know our society today. Notions of ‘first nationhood’ and mythical ‘kingdoms’ abound as they always have and it can be opinioned that these are a distraction and potentially falsify the past and rob us of its real value.. Tailoring history, heritage and culture to become a lever in leveraging short term gains is another factor to be aware of and to ensure that we don’t get taken off on opportunistic tangents.

This short overview attempts to simplify a trajectory of human and societal development in the territory south of the Gariep before colonial times and before the first encounters between Indigenes and the Europeans. Here we explore how human beings populated Southern Africa and then organized themselves. We need to look at what were points of conflict and where there was peaceful coexistence flourishing.

Humans and apes are said to have common ancestry back in the Miocene period around 8-million years ago. Early ancestors of archaic humans can be traced back in various parts of the world from before 2,5 million years ago through markers that they left behind. When we refer to such common ancestry and talk of archaic humans, it must be noted that we are not referring to Homo Sapiens – modern Humanity.

We often hear people make sweeping claims that their ancestors occupied the land for millions of years or hundreds of thousands of years, but such statements are not rooted in fact and we must distinguish between early or ancient ancestoral roots in human evolution and Homo Sapiens (humans).

Anatomically modern humans evolved from archaic humans in the middle palaeolithic period about 200 000 years ago in Africa, marking the dawn of the subspecies who are the ancestors of all people in the world. The signs show that this important event took place in East Africa.

About 90 000 years ago modern humans started dispersing across Africa in journeys which saw them dispersing across the world. In the context of the territory of South Africa when we talk about “First People” we can only mean habitat by those first Homo Sapiens (modern humans) who moved into the entire Southern African region around 70 000 years ago.

There are signs and remains of the existence in the Southern African region of Archaic Humans or pre Homo Sapiens before this period but this must not be confused with “First People”. It is from the “First People” or oldest modern human inhabitants of Southern Africa that humans of this region evolved through early and later stone age processes into early and later iron age peoples and into social formations. The first social organization of people to emerge from the first people are those we call the San.

Both archaeology and genetic science indicate that advanced social formations who have been given the broad collective name of San or Bushmen and Sadawe and Hadza, emerged from the “First People” around 25 000 to 40 000 years ago in different places across Southern Africa from Angola in the west down to the Southern tip of Africa and from southern Kenya in the east down to the southern tip of Africa..

One of the many different San groups emerged in this period in the southern, eastern and central Cape whom we refer to as the Cape San or /Xam. It is they who are the only people who had first habitat in the region.

We need to be very careful of using the term ‘Khoena San’ or ‘KhoiSan’ as this does not do justice to the San in general and to the Cape San or /Xam in particular. The Khoena emerged much later through the coming together of migrating pastoralists and one San grouping, the Kalahari San.

Behar, Soodyall and the Genographic Consortium tell us that in dna terms the forebears of those we refer to as the Cape San (and in part of those who we refer to as the Khoena who emerge as a later social formation) had matrilineal ancestry which diverged from the rest of the human mtDNA pool sometime around 90,000 years ago and that parallel to this there were also at least five other matrilineal lineages arising out of the “First People”.

The Genographic Consortium also establish that an estimated minimum of 40 other evolutionarily successful lineages flourished in sub-Saharan Africa as well during the period of modern human dispersal 60,000 –70,000 years ago.

By 2500 years ago San as social groups of people were but the remnants of those diverse “First People”. Traces of San lineages were also shared in admixtures of other sub-Saharan peoples. The scientists also further say that only much later, at the beginning of the Late Stone Age, about 40,000 years ago did introgression of additional lineages occur into the mtDNA pool of San forebears and that these processes were further accelerated when other East African, (& Nilotic) and Sub-Saharan (Bantu) dna entered the mix during the periods of different East African and siNtu speaker (Bantu) engagements on the periphery of the Kalahari from around 2,500 years ago.

It is thus only 2 500 years ago when the Khoena first emerged with strong dna shared with the same forebears of the Kalahari San but also with other dna markers. This period marks the period of contact between the Kalahari San hunter-gatherers and external migrants who kept sheep and cattle and drank milk. These external elements had dna markers passed on to Kalahari San which point to Sandawe and Hadza from East African descendants of “First People”. But they also show dna from “Nilotic People” from the Nile region of North Africa. It is from this engagement of North, East and South that sheep farming pastoralism and the Khoena or Khoi people emerged in the Kalahari and migrated to various parts of South Africa.

The Khoena would also take on further dna markers as they later came into further contact with siNtu speaking Sub-Saharans probably from 200AD in the Northwestern arena and most certainly around 600 AD in the Eastern Cape.

It is clear that early siNtu speaking Sub-Saharan migrants who would have been fairly weak and small formations in the beginning, also took on the mtdna markers of the San people and Khoena. This occurred long before later Nguni arrived across the Kei and Keiskamma by the 15th century.

These Khoena would live side by side with the San and gradually moved down from the Kalahari to the Gariep River and to southern Namibia where other San groups had habitat.. Here in this new region social identities began to form within the San and within the Khoena. It is from here too that the Khoena would gradually migrate to the Eastern Cape and then on to the Western Cape. In this migratory process new social formations or tribes would occur. In time and for various reasons some of these formations would also disappear.

In recent times social scientists and dna scientists have worked more closely together than before and particularly with the advances in genetics, more and more evidence is emerging that clearly shows that the San may have not been as isolated from other influences than previously thought. As already mentioned sheep which were not indigenous to Southern Africa seem to have been introduced from North Africa and the Middle East via East Africa. We are challenged to look past the paradigm of thinking that locks San and Khoena people into primitivism for all time.

Lots of new indicators are constantly emerging. For instance in 2014, Dr Carina Schlebusch, a foremost geneticist, found in her studies a hard Khoena link to East Africa that points to a journey from East Africa over 2000 years ago by following milk markers in the Khoena dna – Allele LP-SNP 14010G. This in turn shows a link to Niolitic North Africa and the Middle East.

The presence too of the Lembe, with their strong Jewish culture and dna markers, in Limpopo also points to a middle East connection. More and more evidence also emerges of old trading networks between the Khoena up through to far off lands to the North and East.

Exploration of social history that connects the South of Africa to the peoples of the world has not kept up with the hard sciences. One thing is clear is that we have to keep open minds and need to move out of existing dominant paradigms of thinking when exploring the social history of the Khoena and San of South Africa. Archaeological and DNA studies are constantly providing new evidence, and as a result, new perspectives and schools of thought often arise concerning the origins of the Khoena people of South Africa.

It is thus important that we note that the Khoena or Khoi people do not originate in the Western Cape, but migrated to the Western Cape over a probable 600 year period in a slow migratory drift from the Gariep.

Prior to their presence at the Gariep they migrated from the vicinity of the Kalahari perimeter. The larger part of the migration was through the Eastern Cape and another slower migration down the West Coast. Along these journeys through a process of multiplication of tribes by division of tribes, a footprint was left throughout the route in the form of inter-related tribes most of whom existed by the time of the European arrivals..

In the same journey the Khoena, Xhosa and the Cape San interacted with each other and each left a mark on the other. So in the migratory period the Khoena had relations of various sorts with the original Cape San inhabitants of the Eastern, Central and Western Cape.

These relations were marked by pastoral encroachment and friction on the one hand first by Khoena pastoralists, followed by early Xhosa pastoralists, and then by later Nguni pastoralists. But it must also be recognized that degrees of inter-marriage, social engagement or sexual relations also impacted each on the other. Degrees of assimilation took place. Between all four groups. Thus we must also be very careful not to think in a rigid purist ethnic silo manner.

The Cape San or /Xam had already been living across the Eastern, Western and Central Cape areas for centuries before the Khoena, Xhosa or later Nguni arrived with their pastoral culture. They had first habitat before all of these groups throughout the entire Cape. The Cape San or /Xam precede the arrival of Khoena pastoralists by a few thousand years. The fact that the Khoena pastoralists had dna marker roots that in part joined up with the Kalahari San long before, does not mean that they were the same social group as the Cape San hunter-gathers of the new regions that they entered. It was Khoena pastoralism before any other that resulted in displacement of Cape san or /Xam away from the coastal areas and into the mountains and drier regions.

The hegemony of pastoralism brought into the Southern Cape arena first by the Khoena and then by the Xhosa displaced the hunter-gatherer culture, but in some areas pastoralist and hunter-gatherers co-existed side by side. The later Nguni pastoralist migrations of abeThembu, Mpondo, Mpondomise and others had further influence on social formations and on habitat of the Cape San. To a much lesser degree it had some influence also on the Khoena.

It is over 600 years that the Khoena developed sustainable and cohesive communities which were resilient and strong enough to continue in existence throughout the migration processes of the Nguni. When Khoena pastoral communities grew too large and livestock plentiful, communities split off and moved ever further south. There are no overt signs that the development of these community formations was as a result of any huge antagonistic and violent clashes. There certainly would have been a degree of friction and probable skirmishes that would be natural in such breakaways. But nothing as large, absolute, deliberately planned and devastating as that of the European invasion, ethnic cleansing, and genocide carried out over two centuries first on the Khoena, then on the San and then on the Xhosa-Khoena, Xhosa and other eastern Cape peoples.

Each pastoral community were relatively well settled and had systems of livestock grazing that was rotational and weather-observant. Elphick tells us that signs are there that suggest there was a communication chain and trading chain that could be tracked from the southernmost communities right through to the Gariep, and beyond to the far off north. This migration drift of the Khoena ending in the Southwestern Cape would have been complete by the end of the 14th century. The Eastern migration drift and the Western migration drift from the Namaqua and resulting in Guriqua were complete long before the first European arrivals.

The anecdotal accounts were that once there had been a mixed Khoena-Xhosa people called the Cobuqua people who by the time of the arrival of the Europeans existed no more than only in oral history accounts.. Some of these mixed Khoena-Xhosa were likely to have been pushed southwards by the arrivals of Nguni. The abeThembu,, the Mpondo, the Mpondomise and others impacted on the descendants of the original Xhosa and Khoena. The mix of Cobuquq original Xhosa- Khoena moved southwards to the Zuurveld where they joined up with Inqua refugees and the Gonaqua. Here they formed the Gqenukwebe. At the time of the arrival these Gonaqua Xhosa and the Gonaqua themselves fought in resistance together against the Europeans. One thinks here of the alliance between Chiefs Chungwa and Klaas and David Stuurman.

The highly Nguni influenced remnant Xhosa that remained alongside the abeThembu saw a Kingdom, the house of Phalo emerge. It would later split into new Xhosa polity’s – the Rharabe and Gqaika. It was in the context of a clash between two contenders for the Xhosa leadership that the Inqua Khoena tribe made a huge miscalculation resulting in their demise. They took a decision to back the losing contender and as a result were consumed by the House of Phalo. Some became refugees and were incorporated into the older Xhosa-Khoena Gqenukwebe The Gqenukwebe name itself is derived from Gonaqua.

It is unfortunate and a corruption of the facts and complexities of interactions between Nguni and original Xhosa, and Khoena, San and mixed Khoena-Xhosa in the Eastern Cape that these events long before the arrival of the Europeans, are presented crudely in the European narrative as a violent ‘black’ invasion that destroyed the Khoena and San in the territory of the South Eastern Cape. The Europeans have always argued that they did not force out the Khoena or wipe out the Cape San and have presented ahistorical accounts of a relatively people-free land in which previous inhabitants were wiped out by black invaders from the north. This is blatantly untrue.

By the time that the Europeans arrived at the Cape the scenario in the Zuurveld of the Eastern Cape was fairly settled. Khoena and Xhosa-Khoena formations were living side by side in prosperity. From Table Bay to the Zuurveld and to the Gariep was home to an estimated 200 000 Khoena. The Khoena alone had hundreds of thousand sheep and cattle and were successful farmers.

The Cape San lived beyond the seaboard territories in the mountainous areas and numbered in the region of 30 000. To the South beyond the Gonaqua there were many Khoena tribal formation right down into the Cape Peninsula that were prosperous sheep and cattle farmers – Hoengeyqua, Gamtoos, Hessequa, Outaniqua, Attaqua, Chainouqua, Cochouqua, Goringhaiqua, Gorachouqua, Goringhaicona, Guriqua and other smaller offshoots of these. On the western seaboard and inland were the Guriqua or Grigriqua also known as the Chariguriqua, and then the Namaqua. The ethnocide visited on these peoples by the Europeans is well recorded. The genocide against the Cape San or /Xam is also well recorded. The violent expulsion of Indigenes and the destruction of their social infrastructure and their economy was a crime against humanity. Once conquering Indigenes those who were not killed or escaped northwards as refugees were turned into farm labourers little different to slavery while others were conscripted into militia called Commandos. The pacified Khoena were turned into efficient killing machines in these Commandos and were effectively used in the genocide campaigns against the free resisting Indigenes.

IN BRIEF SUMMARY: One thing that is agreed among inter-disciplinary scholars who have studied the Khoena is that events of catalytic importance happened around 2,200 – 2,500 years ago in the region of the Kalahari and it’s perimeter (also called the Northwest Circle) in Southern Africa whereby one branch of the San were engaged by external forces from East Africa with older links to North Africa and beyond which gave birth to the Khoena of the Kalahari and perimeter.

The Khoena as a social formation first emerged in the Northwest circle of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Limpopo with the Kalahari as epicenter. They then migrated southwards in three stages – first to the Gariep and Southern Namibia and then to the Eastern Cape and then to the Western Cape. Along this route the Khoena also mixed with other groups – among these both the early siNtu speaking Sub-Saharan African migrants who they called the Xhosa and the Cape San or /Xam. This migration trajectory is how the Cape Khoena tribes were born over a 600 year period and how they settled in the Western Cape

By the time of the European first exploratory arrivals the Khoena had firm habitat in the Eastern and Western Cape..

Note on the terms Bantu, Khoena (or Khoi) and /Xam or San: All of these terms have the same meaning and literally mean “PEOPLE” each used in a different culture. Scholars have given the terms added meaning to differentiate families of different peoples by linking these to linguistics and to different African lineages linked to dna.

Thus the linguistic term for people – “Bantu” was linked to those who have Sub-Saharan African dna who migrated into and out of the Great Lakes region. The Linguistic term for people, “/Xam” or “San” (the latter having the additional meaning denoting ‘forager’), was applied to those who have Southern African dna; and the linguistic term for people – “Khoena” or “Khoi” was applied to a new more modern people who had a mix of Southern African and East African/Niolitic dna and had adopted pastoralism.

We should not get hung-up on terms because as we dig deeper they have less of the socio-political meaning that they have come to acquire over time. All of these peoples are African and indigenous to Africa.

The complexities and the depth of highly developed African societies with social histories that interface with South Africa are now also coming to light after a long period of suppression by Christo-European intellectual hegemony, responsible for the destruction of African civilisations and, for papering over huge elements of a challenging African past. The evolution of Khoena social history over this migration requires much more collection of evidence and research.

For instance the interaction between the Khoena and the old African centres of trade and development at Great Zimbabwe and Mapangubwe, or with the fascinating Lembe would be interesting to explore. The gaps in social history must be explored and a challenge exists around notions of ‘primitivism’ and the European concept of ‘the noble savage’ which has strongly been overlaid on Khoena society and unfortunately has been adopted by some elements who then lock Khoena culture in a time capsule. This when linked to skewed histories based in what I call the ‘Great Lie’ (the story of a major ‘black’ invasion that destroyed indigene Khoena and San) distort the entire San and Khoena story.

Elphick gives us just a small glimpse of Khoena trading links in pre-colonial times with trade routes stretching up to East and Northern Africa and indeed were not an isolated ‘primitive’ group in South Africa, without linkages to an ‘outside’

REFERENCES:
Going full circle on KhoeKhoe origins by Alan G Morris in ‘The Digging Stick’ Vol 31; No 1; April 2014 (Archaeological journal)
Insights from DNA studies of Khoe-San; Journal of Archaeological Studies (2012)
Lactase persistence alleles reveal ancestry of southern African Khoe pastoralists; Uppsala Bio Life Science Pathfinder on work of Dr Carina Schlebusch [journal/ April] (2014).
The Chronological Evidence for the Introduction of Domestic Stock into Southern Africa; Bousman, C. Britt; The African Archaeological Review; (1998)
MtDNA control region variation affirms diversity and deep sub-structure in populations from Southern Africa, by Karina M. Schlabusch et al. BMC Evolutionary Biology (2013).
The Archaeology of Southern Africa; P Mitchell; Cambridge University Press (2002)
On becoming herders: Khoikhoi and San ethnicity in Southern Africa; A Smith; African Studies 50 No 1; (1991)
The Native Races of South Africa: A history of the intrusion of the Hottentots and Bantu into the hunting grounds of the Bushmen – the aborigines of the Country. G Stow; Struik; Cape Town (1964)
KhoiKhoi and the Founding of White South Africa; Early History of the KhoiKhoi (3-22); Narcotics, Metal and Long Distance Trade (62-68); Richard Elphick (1985)
The Struggle for the Eastern Cape 1800 – 1854; Martin Legassick; (UWC) KMM Johannesburg (2010)
The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity by Behar, Soodyal et al; The American Journal of Human Genetics (2008), doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.04.002
Human Beginnings in South Africa; HJ Deacon and Janette Deacon; David Philip; Cape Town (1999)
First People of the Cape; Alan Mountain; David Philip; Cape Town (2003)
Was there an interchange between Cushitic pastoralists and Khoisan speakers in the prehistory of Southern Africa and how can this be detected?; Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika edited by Wilhelm Möhlig & Axel Fleisch; Special Research Centre ACACIA project ‘Migration, Settlement and Cultural History on the Basis of Linguistic Sources’, University of Cologne Presented at Königswinter, March 28-30, 2007
The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity by Behar, Soodyal et al; The American Journal of Human Genetics (2008), doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.04.002
Going full circle on KhoeKhoe origins by Alan G Morris in ‘The Digging Stick’ Vol 31; No 1; April 2014 (Archaeological journal)
Insights from DNA studies of Khoe-San; Journal of Archaeological Studies (2012)
The Chronological Evidence for the Introduction of Domestic Stock into Southern Africa; Bousman, C. Britt; The African Archaeological Review; (1998)
Lactase persistence alleles reveal ancestry of southern African Khoe pastoralists; Uppsala Bio Life Science Pathfinder on work of Dr Carina Schlebusch [journal/ April] (2014).
MtDNA control region variation affirms diversity and deep sub-structure in populations from Southern Africa, by Karina M. Schlabusch et al. BMC Evolutionary Biology (2013).
Human Beginnings in South Africa; HJ Deacon and Janette Deacon; David Philip; Cape Town (1999)
So where do we come from?; Carte Blanche; Mnet Tv (2004)
Discoveries in South Africa for the Genographic Project; National Genographic Genographics (2008)
First People of the Cape; Alan Mountain; David Philip; Cape Town (2003)
Final Report: Living History Project June 2008; Prof Himla Soodyall Phd; National Health Laboratories Service & School of Pathology; Johannesburg (2008)
Hunters and Herders of Southern Africa: A comparative ethnography of the Khoisan peoples; Alan Bernard; Cambridge University Press (1992)
Bone artefacts from the middle stone age at Blombos Cave, Southern Cape, South Africa; C Henshilwood & J Sealy; Current Anthropology 38, NO 5. (1997)
The Archaeology of Southern Africa; P Mitchell; Cambridge University Press (2002)
On becoming herders: Khoikhoi and San ethnicity in Southern Africa; A Smith; African Studies 50 No 1; (1991)
The Native Races of South Africa: A history of the intrusion of the Hottentots and Bantu into the hunting grounds of the Bushmen – the aborigines of the Country. G Stow; Struik; Cape Town (1964)
The National Question: Decolonising the Theory of Nationalism; James M Blaut; Zed Press; London (1987)
Nationalist thought and the Colonial World: A derivative discourse; Partha Chattergee; Zed Press; London (1988)
The National Question in South Africa; Edt Maria van Diepen; Zed Press; London (1988)
On Identity; Amin Malouf; Harvill Press; London (2000)

RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM AND COLONIALISM IN SOUTH AFRICAN HISTORY

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I have heard some rather ignorant and puerile arguments made by Zuma’s Radical Economic Looter supporters about Russia never being involved in colonialism and never having been part of colonisation in South Africa. I suppose ignorance is bliss. Russians were among the largest single migrations of white settlers (25 000), fought on the Boer side in defense of independence and segregation, and were involved from the early days of the United Dutch East India Company at the Cape, and were involved in the Slave Trade.

RUSSIAN 1   RUSSIAN 2

There is also this weird notion that Russia is still the Soviet Union and thus our old and natural allies against imperialism and that Russian Oligarchy Capitalism is different and more ‘progressive’ than Global Capitalism – a natural ally of Black Tender- entrepreneur  Capital. But it is from a very murky criminal arena that Zuma’s Radical Economic Looters take their inspiration. And this is where the world of the Gupta’s exist.

There were once 11 criminal oligarchs who emerged from the old government forces of the Soviet Union, especially from the KGB and Soviet Military. They made their money initially through the global criminal shadow economy, particularly as Lords of War – the ILLICIT ARMS TRADE, but also through the other 4 of the five key pillars of the global criminal syndicate capitalist arena – namely HUMAN TRAFFICKING  & PEOPLE SMUGGLING, the ILLEGAL  DRUGS TRADE, the GREY GOODS & EXOTICS TRADE and MONEY LAUNDERING. A fight broke out between them and one of these oligarchs emerged not only as the richest man but also as the President – Putin. Putin has huge investments in Capitalism across the world , including the united states. It is this murky side of Russia which was alive and well even under the Soviet Union which through the global criminal shadow economy had close relations between South African Gold and Diamond Mining as the two countries richest in these mining products. There have always been Lords of War who facilitate. (Here I refer you to go and see a movie by that name, starring Nicolas Cage…and you will get an understanding of what I am talking about). There were always ways that powers who would be politically embarrassed if they did certain things openly, required front men to do the dirty deeds for them. Apartheid South Africa facing global isolation tapped into this world just like the super powers did. It is in this context that the Gupta phenomenon arose.

Because of just over 70 years of the Soviet Union, Russian Capitalism had huge hurdles to overcome – one of these being that Imperialism is the highest stage of Capitalism and imperialism required colonies and in the modern era neo-colonies or satellites across the globe. While Russia has these satellites around its own territory, and some client states it has no real global spread. South Africa is one place that offers Russia just such a neo-colonial opportunity. But to be able to assert pressure and manipulate South Africa Russia needs an economic stake and indebtedness. Here Putin – a willing and keen buyer found a willing seller and sellout in Zuma and his Radical Economic Looters.

But let’s just go back and dispel the myth that there was no Imperialist involvement and colonial involvement of Russia in the conquering and colonisation of South Africa.

The links between South Africa and Russia are very old. The first locally born Governor of the Cape, Hendrik Schwellengrebel’s father, Johannes, was born in Moscow in 1671 and died in Cape Town in 1744. His father was a longstanding early capitalist trader in Moscow and spent most of his life in Russia. Hendrik became the chief representative of the largest multi-national company, the Dutch VOC, which had colonised the Cape. Swellendam was named after him.

The Russian Tsar, Peter the Great enjoyed a very close relationship with the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the Dutch Royal family and had a particular interest in the affairs of the Cape Colony. The Tsar went out of his way to befriend one of the VOC’s best senior officials – the first VOC Governor Simon van der Stel who became his closest confidante. It was van der Stel who was responsible for the surge of development and efficiency at the Cape..

Russia had come into the maritime arena relatively late but the Dutch VOC played a big role in getting Russia off the starting blocks. Tsar Peter the Great, as a young man, assisted by one of the Directors of the VOC, Nicolaas Witsen, was accommodated in Amsterdam to learn everything about ships, shipping and maritime travel and trade and did so a one of the VOC shipping yards in 1697. It was here that his vision for a Russian Fleet was born and here that the foundations of the title “THE GREAT” was laid and it had everything to do with the VOC.. Indeed the relationship between Tsar Peter the Great and the Dutch colonial power at the Cape was so strong that Prince William of Orange and Witsen the Mayor of Amsterdam gifted Tsar Peter with his first ship built while Peter was in Holland. Once the fleet was up and running, the Cape of Good Hope was frequently visited by its ships.

Witsen was also one of Simon van der Stel’s best friends and he got the Russian Tsar interested in the Cape Colony. Under Peter the Great the first books were published in Russian about Africa assisted by Witsen and his friend van der Stel, and the first Russian maritime vessels were sent to round the Cape. It ended in disaster, but it is to be noted that so close was Imperial Russia and its Royal Family to the Dutch Royal family and the United Dutch East India Company that this Russian expedition included senior Dutch officers. Peter the great had huge dreams of maritime power and an equally huge interest in his friend’s economic vision for South Africa. These dreams were unfulfilled because of some basic blunders.

After Peter the Great, Tsarina Catherine the Great continued the maritime legacy of Peter this time with the temporary assistance of the British. It got Russia off the maritime starting blocks but she was to follow in Peter’s footsteps of unfulfilled dreams….but others did take the efforts forward in later leaps and bounds. This was just the beginning of a long relationship between Russians and South Africa that ultimately led to much Russian shipping rounding the Cape. Russian royalty and nobility made many an excursion to the Cape in the 19th century and had close relationships with the ruling elite at the Cape who were infatuated with the Russians. Even the Tsar’s son Grand Duke Prince Alexi was a prominent visitor to the Cape and was received by the Colonial Parliament.

Folly however again struck a blow to Russian ambitions when Russia sought to teach the Japanese a lesson using the Cape as a massing point for its attack ‘armada’ against Japan in 1904. Russian Imperialism blatantly used Cape Town as an African staging post for war regardless of the then pro-Japanese British, causing near hostility at Simonstown. Imperial Russia was taught an almighty lesson by Imperial Japanese navy that cut them down to size. One of the ships that was involved was the battleship Aurora which took a lead in the Russian Revolution. So here we have in our history a conflict involving three imperialist powers right on our doorstep in Cape Town. Most of the ‘British’ sailors at Simonstown naval base were actually West and East African sailors who had to stare down the Russians. The role of black sailors in global conflicts has always been relegated to the shadows. The first Naval battle of World War 1 actually took place on Lake Tanganyika between German and British gunboats with African sailors.

By the beginning of the 20th Century around 25, 000 Russian settlers had established themselves in South Africa. YES SETTLERS WHO STOLE BLACK LAND AND DISPLACED BLACK SOUTH AFRICANS! The Russian were amongst the strongest supporters of the Boer Republics in the Boer War. The largest international solidarity groups raising money, material aid, medical support detachments and fighters for the Boer army were in Russia and Holland and these included the royal families. The Russians were totally infatuated with the Boers and admired their way of life. Russian immigrants joined special detachments of Russian fighters to aid the Boer War effort.

Russians as one of the largest settler groups of all the European settlers were thus part and parcel of the numerous European colonial settlers in South Africa. They joined the Boers in defence of the Boer Republics and all that it stood for (segregation of and suppression of black people).

Additionally there is only one other short-lived case of Russians attempting to establish a colonial state of their own in Africa – Madagascar to be precise. Despite the efforts of Tsar Peter and Tsarina Catharina they were not a significant maritime power and this curtailed their Imperialist orbit to their immediate Asian and European neighbours. This was a simple twist of fate.

The African adventure into establishing a colony in Mauritius was when a rebel group of Russians, led by Count Maurice Benyowski, a Hungarian,  using the Cape as a rear base and supply line attempted to set up and maintain a base at  Antongil Bay on the north eastern coast of Madagascar. There he built  a  village  and  a  fort  at  the  mouth  of  the  Antanambalana  River  near  the  present  city  of Louisburg and declared himself a king of the local tribes.

Notably Madagascar was an important source of slaves to the Cape at this time and the ships carrying supplies for the privateer Russian colonial experiment also carried slaves back to the Cape. The Russians too made frequent trips from Benyowski’s settlement to the Cape and back. Benyowski  then returned to Europe but  later again went back to Madagascar in 1785 and set about transforming his little colonial kingdom into a city state in the form of a fortified village  above  the  sea  near Angontsy  and  Antongil  Bay.  After notifying the French of his ‘independent state’, the French who were the colonising power in Madagascar, put a quick stop to this. The French sent a military force and defeated the short-lived Russian colony and Benyowski was killed. From that time the Russian royal family and Russian capitalists disowned these rebels and kept their imperial interests closer to home, other than giving their support to the Boer Republics in an act of opposition to British Imperial interests.

So what of the Russians and slavery?

Dr Robert Shell in his major work on Cape Slavery – “Children of Bondage” mentions that ships operating out of Russian Ports were involved in the slave trade around the Cape which suggests involvement in the Indian Ocean slave trade which is still subject of much research after a long period of neglect. The Atlantic slave trade dominates the research in the slavery arena.

One record of a Russian ship involved in the slave trade was the Goliubchick which took 306 slaves to Matanzas in Cuba in 1838.  There were around 34 slaves who had died on the journey. In 1839 she was caught by British anti-slaver patrols and her slave cargo liberated.

Thus clearly the Russians were involved in transoceanic slave trading, even though not a major player. Rather they make up that smaller but yet significant sector of slave traders that include the Scandinavian countries, the Baltic and Russia. This was a small block compared to Portuguese, Dutch, French, British, Spanish and American, but it did involve a significant part of the slave trade.

There has been a small African presence and black presence in general in the Russian Imperial orbit for at least 500 years and the finger points at least in part to slavery and servitude, even although the vast majority of slaves in the Russian empire were not people of colour. The African slave descendants go back to the period of Turkish occupation of part of Russia and when the Turks with their slaves retreated from this part of the Russian orbit they left some slave descendants behind. There are also older roots to this black presence in the region that are being explored. As major slave traders of the region – the Crimean Tartars, though focussed on European and Asian slaves, were also linked to the African slave trading centre of Basra in Persia which was probably the world’s biggest slave market from 800 AD to 1300 AD.

Here is a snippet from an interesting letter to the editor of a Russian newspaper indicating an old black presence in the Russian Imperial orbit.

“Passing for the first time through the Abkhazian community of Adzyubzha, I was struck by the purely tropical landscape around me: against the background of a bright green primeval jungle there stood huts and sheds built of wood and covered with reeds; curly-headed Negro children played on the ground and a Negro woman passed by carrying a load on her head. Black-skinned people wearing white clothes in the bright sun resembled a typical picture of some African village.” (Markov reprinted in Vradii 1914, pp. 16–17; quoted in Tynes 1973, p. 2 and Blakely 1986, p. 9; as per ‘African Presence in former Soviet Spaces’ – Kesha Fikes and Alaina Lemon (2002)

This was a letter in 1913 to the Editor of the Russian language newspaper KAVKAZ in Tblisi, Georgia by a certain E. Marko raising the curtain on a ‘phenomenon’ along the Black Sea at Abkhazia of a clearly African descendant community. It was not the first time this community had been ‘discovered’ and surprize was feigned. It had happened many times before and after that the Negroes of Batumi Province were brought to light. Indeed this story sheds just a chink of light on the history of the small black component of the slavery systems in the Russian orbit that go back in time to before the first millennium.  

Russians and various peoples all the way through to Poland and the borders of Germany were initially enslaved captives of the Crimean Tartars who ran the entire slave trade for centuries in the region. This was eventually reversed by the Russians in the 17th century and they then became slavers and slave keepers.

However outside of the Caucasus the evidence of black slavery in Russia is sparse until the transformation from Slavery to Servitude under Peter the Great. At this stage of the advent of Imperial Russia black African servants began to appear in high society. This coincides with the Russian Royal family’s close relationship to the Dutch East India Company and Dutch Royal family and parallel interest shown by Peter the Great in maritime travel/trade and in Africa. The black population at the time of Peter the Great was largely servants, but originally most likely to have been purchased as slaves. The African slaves would have come from the slave markets across the Russian – Iranian border and also it was common practice for shipping in the region to use slaves as sailors too. This would have resulted in East Africans entering the Russian slave arena. The Russians called them Negry.

There has been much papering over Russian Imperial history, colonialism and slavery in that part of the world resulting in a lot of ignorance of this history in countries that fall under the western dominant sphere. The Imperial Russian royal family, nobility and capitalists were well connected to the most advanced early capitalist trans-global companies and the Royal family network that patronised the efforts of East India Companies. Thus it cannot be said that the Russians were never involved in what Walter Rodney called “Europe’s Underdevelopment of Africa” through the imperial and colonial footprint. Indeed today Russian capitalism and its imperialist intent is making up for lost time and Zuma and his neo-colonialist looters have been quite willing to play the same role that the African facilitators of slave trade did in the past.

There is an assumption that Russia was never an Empire, never colonialist, never embraced the slave trade and always had a positive attitude to Africans and other persons of colour who were never exploited in Russia. This erroneous belief is based either on false history or plain ignorance or mischief and has led to some suggesting that Russia has a clean record in its interaction with smaller countries in the world and Africa in particular, and cannot really be seen as ever being an imperialist and capitalist country. Zuma and his looter friends are white-washing the Russians (or should I say blackwashing them). The Russians were as “White” Capitalist as any other in global capitalism, but were temporarily halted by the Russian Revolution, two World Wars and the Cold war. But the capitalist boys are back in town and the old Russian infatuation with South Africa continues.

It is true that Russia cannot be said to have been a direct colonial power in Africa but through the relationships between Royal families across Europe, the Russian Tsars certainly interacted positively with colonialism and were beneficiaries of that colonialism as a feudal Imperial super-power allied to other powers directly involved in colonialism and exploitation in South Africa. In its own orbit the Russian Empire built its infrastructure on slave labour and the Corvee system using slaves from within those territories.

Russia too was certainly an imperial colonial power in its own orbit. Russia would never have been that great a power unless it had itself revolted against being enslaved by others in its early history and in turn enslaving the subjects of the powers that once enslaved them. Slavery in Russia was made up of war captives, survivors of disasters, persons sold into debt bondage and victims of kidnapping…. Just like the same scenarios in Southeast Asia, India and Southern China. A few African slaves were brought into Russia and largely became servants, little more than slaves, in the households of the nobility and royal family. The moneyed upper classes were frequent visitors to the colonial playgrounds and South Africa was one of these playgrounds. These Russian upper classes also were intimately tied into the Dutch East India Company and later also had a relationship with the British colonial administration of the Cape and a strongly supportive role of the Boer Republics. Russians also served in the French Foreign Legion Forces and a group of Russians attempted a foolhardy establishment of a private colony in Madagascar which was quashed by the French.

Putin and other Russian oligarchs amassed their fortunes on human trafficking, arms smuggling and drugs smuggling if one follows the reports over 30 years, and much of this arms fuelled African conflict and bloodshed just like happened with Western Powers in Africa.

Russian slavery and its trade in slaves (Polish, Lithuanian, Germans and Siberians) to the Tartars is documented and involved great cruelty. Slaves were castrated and had their ears and nostrils cut off, their cheeks and foreheads branded with the burning iron and they were forced to work with their chains and shackles during the day, and were locked up at night in holds. Young slave women were continuously raped. The Russians would have treated black slaves similarly and in this sense a slave was a slave regardless of colour. Slaves were originally referred to as kholopy and their owners had unlimited power over their slaves. Slaves could be killed lawfully by owners, and be bought and sold.

Slavery which was a major institution in Russia came to an end or rather was transformed into servitude and enserfment only in 1723 under Peter the Great. Like the end of slavery in South Africa in the Russian empire slavery only ended in name and the servitude and enserfment that followed was similar to the indentured labour system that replaced slavery in South Africa and elsewhere.

Slavery in Russia differed from the west only in that the vast majority of slaves came from Russia’s orbit of imperial dominance rather than from afar and thus in the main it was Europeans, Slavs, Turks and Asians that were predominantly enslaved and Africans were a really tiny proportion of the whole. This was largely because Russia was a poor maritime power and reach. The Africans brought to Russia increased slightly during the post 1723 era of paternal servitude among royal families who wanted to keep in vogue with other Royal households in Europe by having black servants. In the 1800s the Tsar alone had around 20 Africans in servitude in his household.

The Russian capitalist class, royalty and nobility have always had a strong interest in South Africa, in particular in mining and during the gold and diamond rush flocked to South Africa to make their fortunes and to support the Boers. The Russian Revolution put paid to this colonial capitalist class furthering their interests but as soon as the cold war was over and the defeat of the USSR communists, Russian Capitalist interest peaked again with de Beers opening up in Moscow and new linkages being made. During Apartheid the Russians always still had dealings with de Beers, but covertly.

Interests in South African mineral resources, markets and control of energy in Southern Africa’s economic engine has become a pre-occupation of Russian oligarchs and mafias. Russian organised crime quickly moved into South Africa and human trafficking of women into the night club and sex trade (slavery) quickly ensured that a strategic foothold was secured for the criminal vanguard of oligarch Russian Capitalism and its imperialist intent. In a world where capitalism and imperialism is realigning the ghost of pre-revolutionary Russian capitalist and colonial interest in Southern Africa is resurfacing. Global realignment between the most conservative popular authoritarian forces  of USA capitalist and Russian Capitalist forces, both with strong fascist overtones should make South Africa really cautious. Peter the Great’s unfulfilled dreams may yet come to fruition.

REFERENCES

  • The Economics of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century – William Gervase Clarence-Smith
  • Slave Trades, 1500–1800: Globalization of Forced Labour – edited Patrick Manning
  • Russia and South Africa before the Soviet Era – Apollon Davidson
  • African Presence in former Soviet Spaces – Kesha Fikes and Alaina Lemon
  • Children of Bondage – Dr Robert C Shell
  • Bondage: free/unfree labor in Russia, Europe and the Indian Ocean – Alessandro Stanzian
  • Imperialism the highest stage of Capitalism – VI Lenin
  • How Europe Underdeveloped Africa – Walter Rodney

THE WICKED MYTH OF A BLACK COLONIAL INVASION – DISTORTIONS KINDLED BY EUROPEAN COLONISERS

WHO ARE THE “FIRST PEOPLE” AND WHAT ARE THEIR ORIGINS

In today’s highly charged political arena erroneous claims are made, using terms like ‘First People’ and/or alternatively ‘First Nation’, that bear little credibility to the facts about who the ‘First People’ are in the South African context and more broadly indeed in Africa. When we talk about “First People” without any political baggage then we can only mean the emergence of Homo Sapiens (humans) on the continent.

Anatomically modern humans evolved from the archaic humans in the Middle Palaeolithic period about 200,000 years ago in Africa, marking the dawn of the subspecies Homo Sapiens, who are our ancestors. Archaeological discoveries of archaic humans should not be conflated with that of modern humans.

Behar, Soodyall and the Genographic Consortium tell us that in dna terms the forebears of those we refer to as the San have matrilineal ancestry which diverged from the rest of the human mtDNA pool sometime around 90,000 years ago in East Africa and that parallel to this there were also at least five other matrilineal lineages arising out of the “First People”.

The Genographic Consortium also establish that an estimated minimum of 40 other evolutionarily successful lineages flourished in sub-Saharan Africa as well during the period of modern human dispersal 60,000 –70,000 years ago. About 70,000 years ago the forebears of the San would have entered South Africa.

They further say that only much later, at the beginning of the Late Stone Age, about 40,000 years ago did introgression of additional lineages occur into the San mtDNA pool and that these processes were further accelerated when other East African, (& Nilotic) and Bantu dna entered the mix during the periods of different East African and siNtu (Bantu) engagements on the periphery of the Kalahari from around 2,500 years ago. This is when the Khoena (Khoi) first emerged with strong dna shared with the same forebears of the San but also with other dna markers. The Khoena would also take on further dna markers as they later came into further contact with siNtu speakers around 600AD in the Eastern Cape and siNtu speakers would take on dna markers of the Khoena and San too.

Humans and apes are said to have common ancestry relatively in the Miocene period around 8-million years ago. Early ancestors of archaic humans can be traced back in various parts of the world from before 2,5 million years ago through markers that they left behind. We often hear people make sweeping claims that their ancestors occupied the land for millions of years or hundreds of thousands of years, but such statements are not rooted in fact and we must distinguish between early ancestors in human evolution- archaic humans and Homo Sapiens (humans as we know ourselves to be).

The first Homo Sapien ancestors (Humans) began spreading from East Africa and were what can be called the ‘FIRST PEOPLE’, about 200,000 years ago and the ‘first division’ of ancestry, into which the San and others fall, emerge about 90,000 years ago.  Around 80,000 years ago a small group of Homo Sapiens also left East Africa and moved through the Horn of Africa to populate the rest of the world through a slow migratory drift. Some of these also returned back into Africa over different periods of time. Homo Sapiens of the ‘first division’ of ancestry, into which the San falls, can be shown through archaeological evidence to have moved into southern Africa around 70,000 years ago.

San populations from northern Namibia and Angola separated from the San populations in South Africa as early as 25,000 – 40,000 years ago and the Khoena pastoralists only emerged from the Southern Namibian and South African San 2,500 years ago showing small but distinct markers of East African and Nilotic dna markers going back first to East Africa and then to the Middle East and this was just a few hundred years prior to the first of the different waves of Bantu migration. The Bantu migrations were not “invasions” or “colonisation” as sometimes alleged, but rather a slow migratory drift over a very long period not too different from that of the Khoena across South Africa.

The South Africa San from around 12,000 years ago (and the later Khoena pastoralists about 500BC) had a great diversity of peoples that fell under these catchall terms. Studies of the movement of sheep from Southern Arabia and North Africa to end up being farmed by Khoena also attests to an East African, North African and even Middle Eastern connection to some San and to the Khoena in particular. There are also markers in both the San and Khoena of post Bantu migration dna which evidence genetic mixing with Bantu. All of this shows that the ancient background to the Khoena is a lot more complex than previously projected and popularly believed.

The entire humanity shares connections to the “FIRST PEOPLE” (the widespread Homo Sapiens that spread across Africa 70 000 years ago) and, this includes those who later emerged to become the San and the Khoena.

The puzzle that has consumed researchers concerns the WHEN and HOW and WHERE that the groups whom researchers collectively called Khoena (Khoi/Khoe) emerged. It is accepted that in great measure there is an ancient sharing of dna linkages to the San, but that in smaller measure there are also markers of other groups in Khoena dna prior to Bantu migration and prior to modern era mixing. Scholars who have applied their minds to this subject are archaeologists, linguists, ethnologists, geneticists, physical anthropologists and social historians, and have published a number of studies in this regard.

In recent times these social scientists and scientists have worked more closely together than before and particularly with the advances in genetics, more and more evidence is emerging that clearly shows that the San may have not been as isolated from other influences than previously thought. The Khoena particularly were certainly were exposed to other dna contributions. Lots of new indicators are constantly emerging. For instance in 2014 Dr Carina Schlebusch, a foremost geneticist, found in her studies a hard Khoena link to East Africa that points to a journey from East Africa over 2000 years ago by following milk markers in the Khoena dna – Allele LP-SNP 14010G. An open mind has to be maintained when exploring our past.

Political interests have also stood and hovered over these studies eager to latch onto anything that may give their political claims more credibility. One must be careful not to be led by political opportunism. It is important that one treats all claims with a degree of questioning and rather look at ALL information available without hastily jumping to conclusions.

It is not necessary to argue ‘race purity’, ‘first people’ nor ‘first nation’ to establish the important indisputable fact of ‘first habitat’ at the time of colonialism and the devastation that colonialism caused to indigene peoples. ‘First Habitat’ and being an ‘Indigenous People’ (Indigenes) is also not exclusivist and in different parts of South Africa it has different meaning. The sharing of indigenous roots for at least the last 1700 years between various peoples indigenous to the African continent is a social history and genetic reality too. Acknowledgement of these facts in no way weakens the argument of dispossession by the most marginalised and discriminated against indigenous peoples. In my opinion it actually strengthens the arguments for redress.

Political terminology does not assist when dealing sensitively with the complexity of human development in Africa (or anywhere for that matter). The political term ‘First Nation’ is a purely based on the modern European political term – NATION, relating to the emergence of post-feudal ‘Nation-States’ in Europe in modern history and bears no relationship whatsoever to indigenous peoples of Southern Africa. It actually is a colonial term.

THE KALAHARI FACTOR IN KHOENA SOCIAL HISTORY

Archaeological and DNA studies are constantly providing new evidence, and as a result, new perspectives and schools of thought often arise concerning the origins of the Khoena people of South Africa.

But the one thing that is agreed is that events of catalytic importance happened around 2,200 – 2,500 years ago in the region of the Kalahari and it’s perimeter (also called the Northwest Circle) in Southern Africa whereby one branch of the San were engaged by external forces from East Africa with older links to North Africa and beyond which gave birth to the Khoena of the Kalahari and perimeter.

The Khoena as a social formation first emerged in the Northwest circle of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Limpopo with the Kalahari as epicentre then migrated southwards in three stages – first to the Gariep and Southern Namibia and then to the Eastern Cape and then to the Western Cape. Along this route they also mixed with other groups – among these Bantu and Cape San. This migration trajectory is how the Cape Khoena as a people evolved over a thousand year period.

For over a century two schools of thought (with many variations within each) have dominated among those studying the Khoena. Then in recent times these came together in consensus and but then even more recently the consensus revisited with new facts leaned toward the one school of thought, particularly based on important new genetic information. Debates will continue but from the genetics arena fairly hard evidence has emerged to support the “out of East Africa, North Africa and beyond” school of evidence. This was addressed earlier in this story.

Essentially in a simplified form, the DNA evidence shows that the events that gave birth to the Khoena in the Kalahari and its perimeter was a coming together of San adopting pastoral influences around 2,200 – 2,500 years ago in that region with migrants from East Africa.

These migrants had migrated southwards sometime between 2,800 and 2,500 years ago and who in turn had roots further back in Ethiopia and Southern Arabia 3000 years before that time (6000 years ago).  Conclusive evidence has been provided to show that the Khoena in South Africa have West Eurasian dna along with Southern African (San) dna. The Khoena are shown that in addition to San dna to also have strong traces of Nilotic dna and Bantu dna and some Hadza/Sandawe dna all showing a mixture of roots along a migratory route. The notion of absolutely separated races or ethnicities (the notion of purity) is not borne out by dna scrutiny. So the Khoena are a relatively new development born among some of San who were genetically mixed with new migrants and who engaged in a new pastoral mode of living and economy.

Thus migrants along a trajectory from North Africa to East Africa to South Africa, mixing along the way over a long period and bringing sheep and cattle, at a particular point, engaged with the San and later in different epochs with Bantu on the edges of the Kalahari. From this mix a new pastoral community of Khoena came about in the Kalahari and over 200 more years began to drift further South to the Gariep. From the Gariep over another 600 years some of the Gariep Khoena drifted down to the Eastern Cape on a trajectory to the Western Cape, while others drifted down the West Coast similarly. In the Eastern Cape the Khoena for a second time engaged with Bantu and also again engaged with dispersed San.

The complexities and the depth of highly developed African societies with social histories that interface with South Africa are now also coming to light after a long period of suppression by Christo-European intellectual hegemony, responsible for the destruction of African civilisations and, for papering over huge elements of a challenging African past.

The evolution of Khoena social history over this migration requires much more collection of evidence and research. For instance the interaction between the Khoena and the old African centres of trade and development at Great Zimbabwe and Mapangubwe, or with the fascinating Lembe (South Africa’s black Jews) would be interesting to explore. The gaps in social history must be explored and a challenge exists around notions of ‘primitivism’ and the European concept of ‘the noble savage’ which has strongly been overlaid on Khoena society and unfortunately has been adopted by some elements who then lock Khoena culture in a time capsule.

This when linked to skewed histories based in what I call the ‘Great Lie’ distort the entire San and Khoena story. Richard Elphick gives us just a small glimpse of Khoena trading links in pre-colonial times with trade routes stretching up to East and Northern Africa and indeed they were not an isolated ‘primitive’ group in South Africa, without linkages to an ‘outside’ world.

By about 300 AD the Khoena through a process of multiplication by division spread through the Eastern Cape forming a number of tribes, one of the first of which was the Cobona or Chobuqua who were integrated with those whom the Khoena and San called the Xhosa, the earliest of siNtu speakers in the region. The language and customs of the Xhosa reflected the strong San and Khoena influences and integration. Senior Xhosa leaders preferred Khoena and San wives, a tradition that continued over the centuries. The great Makhanda’s mother for instance as late as in  the 18th century was a Khoena diviner and Makhanda himself (in the 19th century) was married to Khoena leader Hans Trompetter’s sister.

THE GREAT LIE

In the slow migratory drifts that brought Khoena, San and siNtu speakers together in the Eastern Cape there is no evidence at that time of any major threat by one on the other. The siNtu speakers were much smaller in numbers and not very powerful. Both the Khoena and San left a major mark on these people that they called Xhosas – ‘the angry ones’. Centuries later with later Nguni influences brought to bear by the Thembu, Mpondo and Mpondomise both the Cobuqua and the Xhosa came under Nguni influence.

Numerically the Khoena by far were more numerous than the Xhosa in the Southeastern Cape but they lived together largely in peace. The later Nguni trickle grew and grew and asserted hegemony particularly over the Xhosa. Both groups were pastoralist and over time the nature of pastoralism resulted in frictions with hunter gatherers, the San, who retreated into the mountainous regions of Bruintjies Hoogte, the Sneeuberg, Roggeveld and beyond. Here the San established a formidable presence some 30 000 strong and could well hold their own, as proven for a long time with the European onslaught. From the Zuurveld down to the Hottentots Holland Mountains the Khoena were well established numerically alongside Xhosa and fairly integrated with them, and had tens of thousands of head of cattle and sheep. At the time of the European invasions the Khoena numbers were fairly much on par with that of the Xhosa (if one looks at the comparisons in the first scientifically compile census of 1865 this is a strong indicator). There is no evidence of any sudden invasion by Nguni and no evidence of war and devastation among the Khoena at the hands of either the Nguni who were settled in the Eastern Cape long before van Riebeeck’s arrival , or by the older Xhosa of pre-Nguni times. There is however overwhelming evidence of sudden invasion, war, genocide and destruction by the Europeans and it is simply propaganda and wicked to suggest otherwise by equating a 1800 year slow migratory drift of people indigenous to the continent with an invading European colonial force.

South Africans were subjected to great distortions around our history in school curricula dictated by the neo-fascist Christian National Education. The ‘GREAT LIE’ that was fed to school children and reinforced at tertiary education institutions for a long time basically said that at the time of the Europeans arrival in South Africa, it was a largely uninhabited land, sparsely occupied here and there by very primitive people – ‘noble savages’ (not quite human and not animal) who had no notion of ownership or claim to the land in which they wandered about largely living by their wits.

This lie went on to say that foreign black hordes from the North arrived suddenly as colonisers more or less at the same time as the Europeans and ruthlessly started to take over the land of the wanderers and began to wipe them out. The few remnants of the wandering Khoena and the hunter-gatherer San, according to the ‘Great Lie’ succumbed to smallpox and then largely died out over time.

The Great Lie then says that the survivors were given every  assistance with the help of missionaries to embrace civilisation and lead wholesome lives. European civilisation in this dishonest story therefore saved the San and the Khoena from the destruction of the Blacks.

The ‘Great Lie’ had its own contradictions but everything was done to indoctrinate people of colour in the Cape that their real oppressors and their enemy was a foreign black invading force and that the Europeans saved the surviving Khoena and San and gave them the means to develop and take their place alongside the civilised world.

This process called ‘PACIFICATION’ of the Khoena was as bad, if not worse, than the brute force of the wars employed by the Europeans (15 wars of dispossession) to forcibly move the Khoena and take over their lands. ‘PACIFICATION’ also included destroying all forms of social organisation, institutions of leadership, alienation of San and Khoena from land, induction into servitude as servants and farm labourers, conscription into commando militias, engaging Khoena in crimes of genocide against the San, and indoctrination into Christianity.

It was the European that criminally assaulted the Cape San, Cape Khoena and Eastern Cape Xhosa and not invading colonising black hordes.

The impact of ‘ethnocide’ and ‘pacification’ was devastating and the Cape San and Cape Khoena too to some extent faced extinction had it not been for the assistance of others such as the Xhosa and Nama and northern San as well as for the phenomenon of slavery that allowed integration for survival. The Cape San who faced concerted genocide were driven to extinction. The few Cape San children who were not killed were taken as prisoners to become labourers on farms. They integrated with slaves and had offspring, which assisted a form of survival through natural assimilation.

The more numerous Khoena though stripped of their social formations, leadership institutions and land followed five avenues for survival – seeking refuge and reintegration among the Nama and Korana (and to some extent with Xhosa); integrating and assimilating with slaves and forming a new labour forces of Khoena-Basters; congregating at mission sites and utilising a theology of liberation to counter pacification; allying in armed resistance with the Xhosa against colonialism and pacification ; and forming Oorlam, Griqua and other revivalist formations and strategies.

The ‘GREAT LIE’ has been resilient and it still is quite dominant in all discourse regarding indigenous people. Key to understanding the experience and the grievances of surviving Indigenes lay in understanding what constitutes ‘colonialism’, ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnocide’ and not to go down the path of racist arguments about ‘Black Colonists’ that only serve to take the focus off the suppression and dispossession of Cape Indigene communities.

What is Genocide and what is Ethnocide?

Here academic researcher and writer Mohamed Adikari assists us. We must be cautious and focused when using terms lest we undermine our own arguments. When it is argued that both ‘black people’ and Europeans are responsible for colonising, dispossessing Khoena and San of their land and livelihoods and committing genocide a grave series of errors have occurred that only serve to let the European colonial perpetrators off the hook. We have already addressed the distortion on what is ‘colonialism’, here the issue of ‘Genocide’ and ‘Ethnocide’ is addressed with the assistance of Mohamed Adhikari’s work on this subject.

In the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) – Article II the following is made clear –

Genocide is a Crime against Humanity committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group through a) killing members of the group; b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

GENOCIDE: Adikhari outlines at least ten further definitions, but also provides a comprehensive understand of Genocide (and ethnocide) for the South African context in his work on the South African Genocide – The extermination of the Cape San Peoples, where ‘Genocide’ as ‘extermination’ is made clear. He defines ‘Genocide’ in the South African context “as the intentional physical destruction of a social group in its entirety, or the intentional annihilation of such a significant part of the group that it is no longer able to reproduce itself biologically or culturally, nor sustain an independent economic existence.” Adikhari goes on to say that “the ‘intent’ need not be explicitly declared (in our context there were times that it was explicitly declared and other times it was when Trekboer society and commandos just followed an exterminatory culture). He says “it is sufficient only that the perpetrators exhibit genocidal intent. Genocidal intent does not have to be present at the start of the violence as objectives can change during the course of an atrocity. Once the consequences of socially destructive actions – which can include conquest, land expropriation, massacre, forced labour, forced migration, the destruction of environmental resources, confiscation of food, the spread of disease and child removal – are recognised as possibly leading to extinction, to persist in these actions is to display genocidal intent” ….. and this Adikhari can lead to genocidal consequences. Now this can be argued as also being all experiences also shared by the Cape Khoena with some finer distinctions….. and most importantly it did not have the consequence of genocide with such intent. What the Cape Khoena experienced was forced removal, ethic clearing and the consequence of ethnocide.

ETHNOCIDE: Adikhari states that “coerced cultural assimilation without extensive bloodshed (death on a scale large enough to debilitate the social life of the group in question) does not constitute ‘Genocide’. Ethonocide, crime against humanity and cultural suppression are more appropriate terms for this abuse. Mass displacement or deportation on its own does not amount to genocide – nether do conquest or suppression of revolt without genocidal intent”. The Khoena were not wiped out or exterminated and still exist in various formations today. The Cape San don’t. It is thus a very important distinction to make because if one does not make this distinction it can undermine the claims of both surviving Khoena communities and revivalist communities.

Essentially from an original Cape San population of 30, 000 at the time of van Riebeeck, by the 1970s only 30 ‘unhybridised’ Cape San still survived according to Adikhari. He goes on to show that in South Africa today there are 7,500 people who identify as San. These are not the Cape San. About 1000 are Khomani and //Xegwi and, 6,000 are recent immigrants from Namibia and Southern Angola who were part of the SADF forces when it retreated from Angola and withdrew from Namibia in 1990. The Cape San were destroyed – eliminated or ‘exterminated’ and no other group including the Khoena suffered this atrocity. Very few people today can identify as Cape San. The survival of Cape San memory and genetic linkage largely only exists because of the assimilation of captive San children who had offspring with slaves and pacified Khoena on Cape farms. This heritage and memory survives within modern Khoena and those classified as ‘Coloured’. We should however be cautious of calling this Khoisan identity because that sanctions assimilation and to a degree violates the memory of a distinct Cape San people. It also papers over the violation and genocide of Cape San by pacified Cape Khoena commandos led by Europeans. The memory should always recognise Cape San and Cape Khoena as distinct groups with some common experiences and some common antiquity roots and dna.

WHO ARE THE CAPE KHOENA PEOPLES?

We have already looked at the Kalahari origins of the Khoena and the origins of the Cape Khoena flows from the understanding of those origins.

By 200 – 300 AD the Khoena of the Kalahari and its perimeter had migrated down to the Gariep River territory where they co-existed with the Southern San. The Khoena formations that developed there were the NAMA who would move very slowly down a part of the West Coast and who would give birth to the GURIQUA clanlets which could be found in the Southwestern Cape at the time of colonization. Then there was also the ENIQUA of the Gariep; and the GORA of the Gariep, also known as the KORANA who lived alongside the various groups of San and there was a degree of integration.

At the Gariep the KHOENA engaged with Tswana and Sotho, and also later at its lower reaches with amaXhosa and there too was a degree of integration and with mixed groups forming. Over the next 300 years through a process of ongoing social organisation through multiplication of tribes by division and ever moving southwards, the breakaways from the Gariep Khoena spread and new social formations were born – one giving birth to the other.

East of the Gariep in the Eastern Cape the Chobuqua (Cobona) emerged with habitat around the area between Port St Johns and the Kei River and from here a break-away group of KHOENA gradually moved ever Southwards in a slow migratory drift down to the southwestern and central Cape where they entered the southernmost lands of the Cape San (or /Xam) people. Along this migratory route between 600 – 1000 AD the Khoena and San were joined by some of the earliest siNtu speaking migrants who had been part of a gradual southwards migratory drift from the Great Lakes region.

This very small early Bantu migration along the eastern trajectory met the Khoena who had migrated from the Gariep. They also met the //Xegwi and !Kwi San who already had habitat before the Khoena arrival. This is how the original Xhosa formation came about – a coming together of San, Khoena and early Bantu (siNtu speakers). Those first Bantu could not have been a large invading group because the culture and language of these early Bantu was dramatically altered to reflect much of the Khoena and San culture and language which left its mark. Later Nguni arrivals would again stamp a stronger Nguni mark on the amaXhosa.

In comparison, not much of a mark was left on the Khoena and San by the siNtu speakers language and culture. This is not the usual hallmark of a conquering people and suggests that at this time the Xhosa were not a dominant group. Later Nguni speakers who moved down from the area of what we call KZN today around the 14th century into the Eastern Cape and were more organised social formations with military capacity and in their areas of settlement they became a dominant force. The Nguni first dominated in the areas north of the Kei River (Zwede, Xesibe, Hlubi (southern), Bomvana, Mpondo, Mpondomise, and Thembu) and then later as these new Nguni influenced the earlier siNtu/Khoena who were living around the Kei – namely the Xhosa and Cobuqua, the territory from the Kei River down to the Gamtoos saw its own social revolution.

THE SPREAD OF THE AMAXHOSA: In this social revolution with the influx of new siNtu Nguni groups, firstly the Xhosa and then Chobuqua it would seem, largely assimilated and over time became the Xhosa house of Phalo, which then split into the Gcaleka and Rharhabe houses (lineages and great chieftainships). Two dominant social formations in turn developed from the Rharhabe house – the Ngqika house born of Mlawu and, the Ndlambe regency (the regent for the young Ngqika who conflicted with him) and then there were also the Sigcawu formation.

But south of these social formations were the older southernmost Xhosa formations who shared close and integrated familial and ancestral relations with the Khoena and San – the GQUNUKHWEBE – who by the time of the colonial assault were led by Chief Chungwe who was closely allied to the Khoena of the region – Hoengeyqua, Gonaqua, Gamtoos, Inqua and even the Attaqua.

Peaceful coexistence was shattered for awhile as a result of the wrong alliances being made by particular Xhosa tribes and Khoena tribes against mutual enemies. This was highly influenced by the Nguni influence over the Xhosa, particularly the introduction of deference to royalty and the paying of tribute to kings. Pieres tells us that the Inqua chief Hinsati made the mistake of giving refuge to Xhosa royal Gwali, who was dethroned by his brother Mdange acting on behalf of Phalo. As a result of a war around this act the Inqua were defeated and were assimilated into the Sukwini, Gqwashu and Nkarwane clans. These three clans are part Xhosa and part Khoena. Similar stories relate to the Khoena incorporation or creation of the isiThathu, Ntinde, Giqua. The very name of the Gqunukhwebe for instance derives from the Khoena tribe known as the Gonaqua. Khoena, San and Xhosa internal conflicts spilled over into each other’s ever changing social formations. These inter-African tribal interactions and similar between the Xhosa and the San, which occur over a long period of time with different periods of intensity are a natural phenomenon in African social history that cannot be compared to the sudden colonial invasion with the intentional purpose of clearing areas for calculated deliberate European settlement. The Xhosa effectually when fully analaysed are a hybrid people of an early siNtu, Khoena, San and Nguni mix, with many having as much claim to Khoena and San ancestral heritage and culture as those trapped under the label ‘Coloured’.

The Gqunukhwebe, Khoena-Xhosa mix were to become strongly influenced by the Ndlambe and particularly after the British crushing and murder of Chungwa. The catalyst for radical change of identities and power relations was first the relatively weak but very destructive Boer incursions, but more damaging was the powerful British military and social engineering interventions.

The Khoena groups were one by one crushed and pacified by the European settlers but pockets of Rebels under the leadership of Chiefs Klaas and David Stuurman made an alliance with the Ndlambe Xhosa, in the form of a resistance confederacy and over more than three decades kept the combined struggle alive. Thus to this day there are Xhosa and Khoena Stuurmans. It is a complete fabrication that the Khoena and San were assaulted and crushed by a foreign invading hoard of blacks from the north. There is shred of evidence for this nonsense story.

It is of interest to note that the dna make-up of Xhosa people in at least one large sample tested has been shown to reflect about 17% of the same Southern African dna demarcating San and Khoena dna as those classified as ‘Coloured’ who in the same large sample testing showed 30% having the Khoena and San dna markers. Notably the same tests showed those self-identifying as ‘Coloured’ also having 31% sub-Sharan dna (bantu). Thus large numbers of both those today called ‘Coloured’ and ‘Xhosa’ show descendancy from San and Khoena.

NOTE 1: WHO ARE THE NGUNI?  Around 600 AD, as a result of a different gradual but more substantial Bantu migratory drift into the areas of KZN where Tsonga from Mozambique came together with Bakoni from the western regions of South Africa and with the San, a further new South African born formation developed, referred to as the Nguni language group. They would later in time join the earlier siNtu speakers in the Eastern Cape through a slow migratory drift. This downward knock-on formations of locally born social organisations made its way into the north of the Eastern Cape and have already been mentioned – Zwede, Xesibe, Hlubi (southern), Bomvana, Mpondo, Mpondomise, and Thembu. The Nguni, who evolved in South Africa, were not a sudden invasion of Black colonist aliens that arrived one day to rob and, kill and plunder as some propagandists have elaborated.

All of these groups mentioned evolved as a range of South African born formations. They were not a foreign invading force but an evolutionary trajectory born of the mixing of Bakoni (from Sotho/Tswana/Khoena from the West),  San (East Coast San) and the southernmost Tsonga – namely the Tembe. It is this local mix that gave birth to what we call Nguni. The largest initial group of Nguni in the East were the Ndwandwe, which in turn and in time saw the emergence of social formations such as the Ngwane and the Mthethwa. It is from the latter that the original small tribe of Zulu emerged alongside the Khumalos, Qwabe, Hlubi, Bhaca, Bhele and Zizi. The Nguni to the North in what later became Swaziland were the Mbo and the Langeni subdivision that birthed the Dlaminis. Between 600 AD and 1500 AD this represented the emergence of modern social organisation in the Eastern regions of South Africa. Trading links prior to European colonisation ran from Mozambique right down the East Cost to the Southern Cape from one social formation to the other.

NOTE 2: In the North Central and North Western parts of South Africa there are further complex histories of social formations which are also involving a mixing of peoples including Khoena and San starting from the periphery of the Kalahari.  Moving from East to West is the story of the Venda and Pedi formations including the Phalaborwa, Lobedu and Shona as well as the fascinating ancient Lembe traders with their Middle-Eastern linkages, the Singo and Rozvi with their stone-walled towns, and the Kgalagari, Kalanga, Tswapong. Then there is the uSotho story and the baTswana stories of the Morolong, Masilo and Mokgatla and, the sub-divisions forming the Hurutshe and Kwena story. The Nguni formations of the Eastern Regions also would migrate westwards over time with the emergence of the Fokeng and from these arose those later became known as Matebele. Then there are the Tlokwa, Kgatla and Tlhaping who also came into conflict with the Gora or Korana. The Rolong story and their conflict with Kora (Gora) for instanced reached the ear of van Riebeeck when Kora traders who had come down to Cape Town to trade with the Dutch, that they were attacked by the Briqua (the Rolong). The social formations in this part of South Africa had many complexities which would ultimately impact of the Gariep communities and more intensely so when the combination of the European colonists embarked on their Great Trek, the Mfecane/Difecane occurred and the British conflict with the Boers took place. What is simply important to note here is that the population and its many social formations in this part of South Africa are as old as the migratory shift of Khoena moving southwards from the Gariep. The territory north of the Gariep and from the Kalahari perimeter to the East Coast and up to the Limpopo is vast – and there was no European dictated border of South Africa in those times that demarcated a Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique or Lesotho. In these territories and to their immediate north there are signs of great civilisations which at least in their beginnings are as old as the emergence of the Khoena and are linked to migratory drifts from the Great Lakes regions. All of these peoples consider themselves as indigenes of their region and indigenous Africans.

The notions of ‘origins’, while of note, is actually not as clear and exclusive as some think nor is it the most important focus in the struggle for the rights of  those Indigenous people who are most marginalised and discriminated against. The most important issue is what happened to the Cape San and the Cape Khoena under colonialism in terms of people, social organisation, leadership structures, land and resources and how subsequent to this the dominant forces in South African society has continued to marginalise and discriminate and deny the social history, culture, existence and rights of indigenes. That is the ral struggle to overcome, not the notion that some persons of colour are aliens compared to others. Don’t buy into this ‘divide and conquer’ lie.

POSTCRIPT:

HOW MANY KHOENA EXISTED AT THE TIME THE TERM ‘COLOURED’ REPLACED OTHER TERMS?

It is very difficult if not impossible to say how many persons among those labelled ‘Coloured’ have the right to be recognised as Khoena (Khoi) today. However we do have a clue as to what those numerical parameters may have been at the time of the beginning of the 20th century.

In 1806 we find reference to around 18 000 Khoena/Baster Hottentots in the Cape Colony and their locations.

In 1806 the population of the Cape Colony was 25 000 whites, 29 000 slaves, 1 200 Free Blacks and 18 000 ‘Hottentot-Basters’ of whom 500 were in Swellendam, 5000 in Stellenbosch and 8 947 in the Gamtoos and Graaff Reinet district of the Eastern Cape and the others were scattered across the long western frontier. This however reflected the boundaries of the Cape Colony at that time and did not include 10 000 – 15 000 Khoena in the Gariep district.

Then in 1837 the Aborigine Protection Society references 33, 000 Khoena in a Report to the British Parliament. After this date, except for a very important document of 1865 the Khoena, Slaves, Prize Slaves and Free Blacks are recorded as ‘Coloureds’ – a catch-all term created by the British adminstration.

However when the British carried out the very first Census done in modern scientific format in 1865 and presented it to Parliament in 1866 the administration temporarily reverted to separating ‘Hottentots’ (‘Baster-Hottentot’) from ‘Other’ – denoting other persons of colour and, two separate figures are given. This does not happen in later years.

So in 1865 the population breaks down as:

WHITE - European & Locally born Euro-African		      181 592
OTHER - ex-Slaves/Prize Slaves/Indentures/migrants of colour  132 655
XHOSA - within the 1865 colonial boundary		      100 536
KHOENA - 'Hottentot' & 'Baster-Hottentot'		       81 598

TOTAL POPULATION IN THE CAPE COLONY			      255 760
Between 1865 and 1904 migration of persons of colour increased from St Helena, Philippines, China, India, West Africa, the Caribbean and North America, but particularly from  East Africa mostly as indentured labour to replace slavery. This substantially increased the ‘Other Coloured’ population by 1900. The African component, generally called Masbiekers were formally assimilated into the ‘Coloured’ population by the authorities in 1904 rather than ‘Native’ [Black] population).

It would thus be fair to say that the ratio of Khoena to ‘Other persons of Colour’ designated as ‘Coloured’ was less than 1:2 or one third of the total number classified by the authorities as ‘Coloured’. The Khoena as a result of the 169 years of war was the only population (other than the San) that reduced in numbers (by three fifths) from their original numbers at the time of van Riebeeck.

Europeans grew from 90 persons to 181 592 by 1865 and, Khoena from 200 000 persons reduced to 81 598 in 1865 of whom three quarters were likely to have mixed roots with slaves and others. Such was the effects of the crime of Ethnocide against the Khoena.

In the case of the Cape San the numbers reduced from 30 000 at the time of van Riebeeck to around 25 in the 1970s, to just one or two very old souls left in the 21st century who directly link to the Cape San as a result of Genocide.

WHO HAD HABITAT AND WHERE AT THE TIME OF COLONIAL INCURSION?

As previously established a preferable and more accurate anchor in discussing the ‘land issue’ as regarding Indigenes (or indigenous people) is to examine who had habitat and where at the time of colonial incursion – ie ‘FIRST HABITAT’.

Firstly in is important to dispel the falsehood that most of South Africa was uninhabited and that instead it had small groups of wandering people with no claim on land ownership. It is also important to distinguish between foreign visitation to the shores of South Africa via sea travel and the later colonisation (European settlement, dispossession of indigene land and resources, and subjugation) that took place.

Seaborne visitors to the shores of South Africa can be traced in history over a long time. In pre-modern history Knox-Johnston, a maritime historian, indicates that the story of the visitors and migrants of colour to the Cape can possibly be first traced back to the Phoenicians (people of Lebanon, Syria and northern Palestine) 2,500 years ago, followed by the Carthegians 140 years later. Beale further shows that the ancient Buddhist temple at Borobudur has a bass relief showing a sailing vessel indicating a trip down the east coast of Africa by Indonesians around AD 700 and in 2003 he built a replica that successfully proved the possibility of rounding the Cape at that time. Knox-Johnston further shows that the Chinese travelled down the African coast in AD 960 and the Arabs may have reached as far as the Cape in AD 1000 and that their cartography fairly accurately identifies South Africa in 1154. These Arab travellers referred to the South African indigenes as Wak Waks, differentiating these from East and North East Africans whom they referred to as the Zanjis.

Menzies, another maritime historian,  further makes a strong case for the Chinese having rounded the Cape at least by 1421 when China circumnavigated the world. The Chinese cartography of this time was much more advanced than that of the late-comer Europeans and notes detail like the Drakensberg mountains. While it is important to acknowledge these external contacts, we have no records of that early engagement with indigenes, nor reliable information on the impacts that may have been left. But there must have been engagement and impact.

In the modern period we know that according to maritime historians Gaastra and Bruijn,  a huge build-up of shipping which stopped at the Cape, took place between 1600 and 1652 numbering some 1071 ships and then post 1652 the entire shipping trade mushroomed decade after decade. During those first 52 years of visitations, one can calculate around 200,000 passengers passing the Cape on outward bound journeys and at least half that number on return voyages. For various reasons, among the crews and passengers were people of colour – most notably slaves from West Africa taken to Southeast Asia and from Southeast Asia and East Africa on westward bound journeys. During this time there is record that some indigenes that had travelled abroad to London, Java and Batavia as shown by Elphick and others. Social historians Crampton and Vernon show that evidence exists that people of colour as well as Europeans were shipwrecked, made it to shore, became accidental settlers and assimilated into indigene populations. Vernon chronicles many of these earliest shipwreck survivor stories from the 16th century in some detail too. According to SA Tourism, there were over 3000 ships of 37 nations that were wrecked off the South African coast since the 16th century. In the years before the European settlement of 1652 most of the survivors of those wrecks assimilated into local indigene African communities and these will have made impacts in pre-colonial settings.

As a result of records provided as a result of pre-colonial visitation to our shores from the early 15th through to the 17th century we are able to get a fair idea of the state of habitation in the two and a half centuries before colonisation. Archaeology also gives us an even older idea on spread of habitation, social organisation and mode of living. The information at hand more than dispels the myths perpetuated in the ‘GREAT LIE’.

The information available shows that the Cape Khoena and their Southeastern Cape siNtu cousins, the amaXhosa, and the earliest of inhabitants, the Cape San (/Xam and !Kwi) had first habitat of the Eastern Cape from as early as between 500 – 800 AD and were certainly well settled far down into the Western Cape and on the Cape Peninsula for over 800 years before European colonists established their first settlement at Table Bay.

By 1400 the Northern reaches of the Eastern Cape also had newer siNtu speaking migrants who had moved down in a gradual drift, in a social-organisation multiplication by division process over time from the area we today call KZN – namely the amaPondo, AbeThembu, and amaMpondomise who on arrival interact with the settled Khoena, San and amXhosa and the mixed community of Cobuqua.

At the time of European ‘first incursion’, the San and the Khoena (Khoi) shared first habitat in the Cape from the South-eastern Cape down to the Cape Peninsula and throughout the Western Cape up to the Gariep River. In the Southeastern Cape both groups also shared that habitat with the siNtu (amaXhosa) with whom they shared ancestral and familial relations for 800 years prior to the later Nguni migrations from the north, of amaPondo, AbeThembu, and amaMpondomise from around the 14th century. Evidence is that these different peoples co-existed in the same habitat, with the Khoena being more numerous in the area from the Zuurveld right down into the Overberg, with smaller groups living right down into the Cape Peninsula.

Strictly speaking the San had “first habitat” in the Northern and South-Central Cape and were known as the /Xam and on the Eastern Coast they were known as the !Kwi. Both the Khoena and the siNtu migrated into the terrain of the Cape San but this cannot be equated with colonisation and acts of war and extermination, though a degree of natural low level friction arose from time to time between pastoralists and hunter-gathers. There are no markers evidencing large scale or mass aggression.

There is no doubt whatsoever that on the Cape Peninsula and environs the Khoena social formations who had ‘First Habitat’ at the time of colonisation were the Cochouqua, Gorachouqua, Goringhaiqua and Goringhaicona.

These social formations shared soft boundaries with the Chainouqua, Hessequa and Attaqua in what was to be later named the Graaff Reinet district bordering the Zuurveld and the Swellendam District below. It is this “First Habitation” at the time of colonialist occupation that is the basis of the assertion that in the different areas south of the Zuurveld and inland up to the Gariep as explained, the Cape San and the Cape Khoena were the ‘indigenous people’ or ‘indigenes’, and in other areas the the siNtu-Khoena, the amaXhosa, the AbeThembu, amaPondo and amaMpondomise were also indigenes. On the Western Coast and inland up to the Gariep were the Nama Khoena and their sub-clans the Guriqua. The largest numbers of Khoena were concentrate in the Swellendam, Graaff Reinet and Zuurveld districts in the East and also the Namaqua in the West.

Later we can be more specific about the demarcated habitat in the Cape Peninsula and environs. There is no doubt that at the time of Jan van Riebeeck’s settlement of United Dutch East India Company (VOC) officials there was a sound territorial claim by a network of indigene peoples starting with the Cape Khoena and Cape San from the Cape Peninsula to the Gariep River and stretching from the West Coast to the East Coast and way up the East Coast to the  territory of the lower eastern Gariep.

LAND OWNERSHIP AS A MATTER OF INTERNATIONAL LAW: Did the Khoena make it known that they lay claim to the land, as in the manner that Europeans thought of as ‘land ownership’? Contrary to those that propagate that the Khoena did not have a way of thinking regarding land ownership, or that this would be difficult to prove in law, the recorded facts say differently. This can be seen from the pen of Jan van Riebeeck himself.

One needs to look at just one excerpt from the diaries of Jan van Riebeeck which sums up the feelings of the Khoena at the time and set the edges of the relations for the next 160 years. This excerpt is just after the pressurised signing of the ‘peace treaty’ after the second of 15 Khoena-Dutch wars.

“They (the Khoena), strongly insisted that we had been appropriating more and more of their land, which had been theirs all these centuries, and on which they had been accustomed to let their cattle graze, etc. They asked if they would be allowed to do such a thing supposing they went to Holland, and they added (in their own words): ‘It would be of little consequence if you people stayed here at the fort, but you come right into the interior and select the best land for yourselves, without even asking whether we mind or whether it will cause us any inconvenience’.

They therefore strongly urged that they should again be given free access to this land for that purpose. At first we argued against this, saying that there was not enough grass for their cattle as well as ours, to which they replied (in their own words): ‘Have we then no reason to prevent you from getting cattle, since, if you have a large number, you will take up all our grazing grounds with them? As for your claim that the land is not big enough for us both, who should rather in justice, give way, the rightful owner or the foreign intruder?’

They thus remained adamant in their claim of old-established natural ownership. They said that they should at least be allowed to go and gather bitter almonds, which grow wild in abundance as winter food there, and to dig for roots. This likewise could not be granted them…. when they persisted in their request, eventually they had to be told that they now lost the land as a result of the war and had no alternative but to admit that it was no longer theirs…… Their land had thus justly fallen to us in a defensive war, won by the sword, as it were, and we intend to keep it.” (5 – 6 April 1660. Van Riebeeck Diaries volume 3: 195-196)

Were the Khoena entirely nomadic? No! This is another European myth based on their lack of understanding about sustainable African farming science. Evidence of villages exist in European texts since the conflictual engagement between Franscisco d’Almeida in 1510. The Camissa trading and maritime settlement co-established between indigenes and the English prior to the VOC settlement also clearly demonstrates settlement rather than ‘beach-combing’. The accounts of the strength of cattle and sheep farming and the grazing patterns linked to seasonal and weather conditions illustrate sustainable herding rather than lack of settlement. Jan van Riebeek’s own journal accounts underline a relatively settled system of social organisation and habitat existed over centuries. Size of livestock herds which number in tens of thousands over a widespread area totally undermine the notion of pastoralism being simply a nomadic scavenging way of life.

 

REFERENCES:

The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity by Behar, Soodyal et al;  The American Journal of Human Genetics (2008), doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.04.002

Going full circle on KhoeKhoe origins by Alan G Morris in ‘The Digging Stick’ Vol 31; No 1; April 2014 (Archaeological journal)

Insights from DNA studies of Khoe-San; Journal of Archaeological Studies (2012)

Lactase persistence alleles reveal ancestry of southern African Khoe pastoralists; Uppsala Bio Life Science Pathfinder on work of Dr Carina Schlebusch [journal/ April] (2014).

MtDNA control region variation affirms diversity and deep sub-structure in populations from Southern  Africa, by Karina M. Schlabusch et al. BMC Evolutionary Biology (2013).

Going full circle on KhoeKhoe origins by Alan G Morris in ‘The Digging Stick’ Vol 31; No 1; April 2014 (Archaeological journal)

Insights from DNA studies of Khoe-San; Journal of Archaeological Studies (2012)

Lactase persistence alleles reveal ancestry of southern African Khoe pastoralists; Uppsala Bio Life Science Pathfinder on work of Dr Carina Schlebusch [journal/ April] (2014).

MtDNA control region variation affirms diversity and deep sub-structure in populations from Southern  Africa, by Karina M. Schlabusch et al. BMC Evolutionary Biology (2013).

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