British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

11
CAPE COLONY: REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONERS OF INQUIRY ON THE HOTTENTOT POPULATION OF THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE, AND OF THE MISSIONARY INSTITUTIONS, 18301

[The principal provisions of the Hottentot Proclamations of 1809 and those of 1812, 1817, and 1819, which instituted an apprenticeship of Hottentot children, are recited, and their operation examined. In general, the conclusion arrived at is that the safeguards thereby established in the interests of the Hottentots have been largely ignored, notably as regards their right to possess land and the obligations of their employers to observe the conditions of labour contracts. The pass system is also criticized as having caused many inconveniences and as having placed the Hottentots 'under the control of every inhabitant of the colony'. Witnesses have given evidence for Colonel Cuyler on his conduct towards the missions.]

. . . Making due allowances for the circumstances which these witnesses have detailed, it should be observed that the restraints upon the Hottentots were continued long after the circumstances which justified them had ceased to exist, and that the changes in the system pursued at Bethelsdorp were not followed by any corresponding relaxation of the rule by which Colonel Cuyler2 took upon himself to regulate the admission of the Hottentots to that institution. That he viewed with jealousy the acquirement of land by them is proved by the haughty denial which he gave to an application by a Hottentot who had formerly been in his service; and it appears from his own admission, as well as from the evidence of the man upon whom he inflicted personal chastisement for a very slight fault, that he was not unwilling to give practical proof of the existence of that line of distinction by which, in his opinion, the condition of the Hottentots and that of the free burghers of the colony was separated. The superintendent of the missions [Dr. Philip], however, has not confined to Lieutenant-Colonel Cuyler alone the charge of hostility to the Hottentots, and to the missionaries; he has imputed to the colonial Government of the Cape a systematic attempt to place the Hottentot population in a state of entire subjection to the white inhabitants, to perpetuate the degradation of the former, and thus to establish a belief of their incapacity for the exercise of civil rights or for moral improvement. Upon a later occasion, the colonial Government has been charged by the superintendent with an intention of crushing the missionary institutions. The laws which have been already mentioned, and by which the contracts of Hottentots, and the apprenticeship of

____________________
1
Parl. Papers, 1830 (584), vol. xxi, pp. 21-22. Though Bathurst and Bourke had been kept informed of their impressions in letters of 1826-8, no formal report was expected until the middle of 1829 ( R.G.G., vol. xxxv, pp. 297, 303) and Bigge did not sign it until January 1830.
2
Colonel Cuyler was Landdrost of Uitenhage and had become an enemy of the missionary institution at Bethelsdorp.

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