South Africa: A Short History

By Arthur Keppel-Jones | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
AFRIKANERS

DURING the eighteenth century a new people evolved in South Africa, shaped out of the given human material by the peculiar geographical, economic and political forces of the country. The new people is described by travellers as divided, not horizontally, but vertically, into three classes.

The inhabitants of Cape Town were the first class encountered by the visitor. Before the end of the Company's rule Cape Town was said to contain more than twelve hundred houses. They charmed the beholder by their neatness and cleanliness, though this impression was sometimes modified by the smell of the oil applied by the slaves to their hair. Many of the houses had some claim to architectural beauty, a claim conceded by the taste of modern critics. They were doublestoried, square-fronted, sash-windowed, square-shuttered, and the gables and pediments, fanlights and wrought-iron railings are much admired. Each had its flat stoep in front, and as these were of varying heights they gave the street an appearance of picturesque irregularity. The houses were whitewashed and accentuated the glaring brilliance of the summer sun.

All the trade of the colony was legally a Company monopoly, yet every inhabitant of Cape Town, official and unofficial, was in fact a trader. Rumour reported that Mijnheer This or Mevrouw That had got in a stock of some commodity, and the public collected in a casual way at the house indicated. The goods might have been smuggled from a passing ship, or brought in from the householder's farm in the country, or from another farm. Imported goods were sold to colonists, colonial produce to the visiting crews. With this business most of the inhabitants combined that of taking in lodgers and boarders. Every house was both shop and inn, and the townsmen had a bad reputation with local farmers and people from the ships for cunning and extortion.

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South Africa: A Short History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • Chapter I - The Half-Way House 11
  • Chapter II - Afrikaners 24
  • Chapter III - Slaves and Hottentots 38
  • Chapter IV - The Bantu Frontier 51
  • Chapter V - The Great Trek 65
  • Chapter VI - Diamonds and Englishmen 82
  • Chapter VII - The Imperial Factor 96
  • Chapter VIII - The Uitlanders 116
  • Chapter IX - Nationalism 145
  • Chapter X - Union and Disunity 153
  • Chapter XI - Race Relations 166
  • Chapter XII - Hertzog 179
  • Chapter XIII - War, Apartheid and the Republic 196
  • Short Bibliography 225
  • Index 227
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