South Africa: The beginnings Part II; Rise of the Dutch Cape Colony and self destruction of the blacks

Steve Hofmeyr

I judge historical choices OUT of context only to guard against repeating mistakes. For the rest, I gladly grapple with hermeneutics. Reading history IN context, when in its time it was ridiculous to find otherwise. That (Apartheid, slavery, Inquisitions) is the way it was and children of their time did what children of their time did. For the same reason we don’t abscond from Christianity simply because Jesus never reprimanded slavery, which, much like Apartheid, was also legal in its day. – Steve Hofmeyr

Steve Hofmeyr is noted South African activist for human rights and a singer, and throughout all these years has been working hard for the preservation of South African heritage both black and white.

 

The white settlements: Outposts not colonies as harmony was ever present in outposts:

 

The white settlements in South Africa were rather outposts, not colonies as the Europeans only intended to use the land as a refueling station for their colonial offices in Asia (as Suez canal was not even discovered at that time).

As it is obvious that the first major permanent White settlement in Africa came in 1652, when the Dutch East India Company (a Dutch trading company) sent one of its officials, Jan van Riebeeck, to modern day Cape Town with the intentions of building a resupply station for company ships traveling to Asia and then from Asia back to Europe. As the first White settlement spread around this station, the Afrikaner settlers met the  non-Whites, tribes of Xhosa speaking (Khoisan) Hottentots and Bushmen who were happy to trade cattle, produce and other stuff with the new settlers eventually leading to intermarriages and the formation of the mixed race community known as ‘Coloured‘. Though, the region was not a colony but rather an outpost, it became known as Cape Colony.

First farmers of the Dutch community in South Africa

First farmers of the Dutch community in South Africa

By 1657, it was evident that the company’s farming efforts were inadequate. Hence, a small number of company employees were released from their contracts and were subsequently given uninhabited land to work on as independent farmers which would eventually supply the company’s needs. the first White farmers in Southern Africa – called Free Citizens – were created (Hence the name Orange Free State once given to Modern day Free State). Between 1680 and 1700, the Dutch encouraged White immigration to the South Africa in ever increasing numbers: Dutch, Germans and French Huguenots (Protestants escaping religious persecution by Catholics in France) all started arriving, quickly filling up the region in and around Cape Colony (Cape Town today). However, this immigration caused a wave of exodus of the local Xhosa speaking Bushmen.

Relations with the native Khoisan bushmen became turbulent. At First, their numbers were decimated by the introduction of European diseases to which they had literally no resistance (As their traditional healing methods were of no match to the European medicine), and then slowly they were departed from the area surrounding Cape Town. Since the Hottentots and Bushmen were nomads, there was no claimed land for the White settlers to seize. As the number of White farms increased, the roaming space of the natives grew smaller. The White settlers soon began complaining about stock thefts and petty crimes committed by the Hottentots and Bushmen leading to short and one-sided armed clashes (reminiscent of the wars between Red Indians and American Cowboys) then took place during which the Bushmen (who were never united) moved in large numbers north (Modern day Namibia) where their remnants have remained till modern times. At the same time, the Dutch decided to import slaves to work on farms in South Africa. most of these slaves were Indonesians referred to as Malays (as Indonesia at that time was a part of the Malaysian sultanate who had ruled Malaysia, Indonesia and part of the Philippines). a large number of black slaves from nearby African regions were also called in, with the nearest slave trade station being 1000 kilometers (621 miles apart from the Cape region).

The Dutch East India company, on written order from the Government of the Netherlands in 1652 issued orders for prohibiting inter-racial marriages, on fears of subversion. Simon van der Stel, then Governor of Cape Colony forbid all inter-racial marriages between Cape Colony residents and freed slaves. In 1685, the first law prohibiting interracial marriages in the Cape was formally proclaimed, and a Whites only school had been established for the children of colonists. Eventually the remnants of the Hottentot population, the Malays and Black slaves as well as a number of Whites, mixed together to produce a mixed race group which later was to be called Cape Coloureds. Some of these mixed racial types (Cape Malay & White mixed race) did however “pass over” into the officially classified White group, and modern estimates are that about 6 percent of Afrikaners who claim to be White, are actually of mixed ancestry.

Eventually, the number of white settlers grew & so did the first inklings of a sense of national identity (exactly as had happened in all the other major White settlements in the new lands). Dutch was the common and dominant language in the Cape Colony area, and after some years whites moved into the interior areas of South Africa and spoke an old dialect of Dutch and since they were mostly farmers they began to be called ‘Boers‘ and by this name they are still renown the world over.

Around 1770, some 120 years after the first White settlement was started, the farming community began to push evermore eastward from Cape Town, crossing what is the Southern Cape and finally encountering the first major Black tribe, the Xhosa, in the present day Eastern Cape – some 1,000 kilometres from Cape Town.

The farmers who moved were called “Trek Boers” or “Boer Trekkers” (trek means move) and they pushed further and further into the interior of the country, motivated partly by a desire to obtain new land but also by an increasing dissatisfaction with Dutch colonial rule at Cape Town. After meeting the Xhosa in the Eastern Cape, both the eastward migration of the White Trek Boers and the southwards migrating Blacks came to a halt: on the Fish River border between the two racial groups, a series of nine racial wars took place over a space of nearly 70 years (starting in 1781 and only grinding to a halt in 1857), becoming known as the “Kaffir Wars”. (Although the term “kafir” has of course come to be derogatory, the actual word itself is of Arabic origin, “khufr”, meaning non Non-Christian or Muslim, and thus equally applicable to Whites or any other racial group).

Eventually their Treks eastwards in to areas of Modern day Port Elizabeth led to race wars between the Xhosas and The Boers. these race wars severely tested the resolve of the Boer Trekkers, and later the British settlers in the area with many atrocities being committed by both sides mostly in retaliation for earlier attacks and often sparked off by cattle thefts. The wars came to an eventual end in 1857, after a Xhosa prophetess convinced virtually her entire tribe that a spirit had spoken to her and had instructed all the Xhosa to kill their cattle and destroy all their supplies.

On February 18th, 1857 – the sun would arise blood red in colour and all the dead Xhosa warriors would rise from the dead and sweep all the Whites into the sea – a violently anti-White outpouring which was not unusual for the time in what turned out to be a major disaster for the Xhosa, they followed this prophetess’ advice, destroyed their stores, killed virtually all their livestock and settled down to wait for their dead warriors to arise. Fortunately for the Whites, this was where the plan went wrong: on the appointed day nothing happened, and after several weeks, Xhosa power was broken by a combination of starvation and disillusionment. As a result, the Xhosas were dealt a heavy defeat and the Boers became victorious.

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