by A.M. van Rensburg
Rachel Johanna Catharina van de Kaap
Anna de Coningh
Rebekka Plagmann stammoeder of
Sara van de Kaap
Maria van Bengale
Sara van Graan
Other families with slave 'stamouers'
Anna Willemse Stammoeder of
Geertruy Boshouwer Stammoeder of
Adriaentje van Cathryn Stammoeder of
Alida Cornelis Stammoeder of
Maria Steyn Stammoeder of
Adriaentje Claasen Stammoeder of
Cornelia Cornelisz Stammoeder of
This is not a
The early Cape was settled not only by ex-VOC workers who became free burghers and the Huguenots but also by slaves who lost their freedom and was brought to the Cape. To fix a date for the arrival of slaves at the Cape is a variable since we know that slaves were ship wrecked and would have made their way to the Cape prior to 1652. With the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck at the Cape we already have a slave mindset since within a month of the establishment of the settlement, van Riebeeck, was already requesting the directors to allow the importation of slaves. Less than a year after van Riebeeck's arrival at the Cape the first named slave joined the settlement, he was called Abraham, he was fleeing from his master in Batavia, he arrived as stowaway on 2 March 1653, on the ship Malacca. Eva van Madagascar was a gift from Verburgh and was brought to the fort 12 December 1654. The slaves from very early tried to get their freedom, Anthony from Madagascar ran away 12 March 1655, never to be seen again. A slave with the name Espagniola, from a French ship, was sent to Robben Island on 29 May 1657. There were also very young slaves: "Clein Eva" was about 5 years old and was a gift to van Riebeeck from the King of Antongil in Madagascar. There were two young girls, Cornelia 10 and Lijsbeth 12 years old, from Abyssinia they arrived March 1657 at the Cape. Domingo of Bengal was sent to Robben Island on 17 July 1658. Two other early slaves were Angela van Bengal and Domingo van Bengal.
Enslavement and its practice reveal the dark side of human nature. Unfortunately there has been a certain amount of shame and stigma attached to those who lost their freedom. Some who are descendants of these slaves have shared in this false sense of shame. This kind of thinking is totally irrational, why should one be ashamed of the fact that ones ancestor was the victim of slavery. If one wanted to lay blame it should be leveled at the perpetrators not the victims. The numbers of South Africans who has 'stamouers' who were slaves or descendants of slaves are far more than what one would expect. The irony is that those who could claim slave 'stamouers' would be far greater amongst the so-called 'coloureds' and 'whites' than amongst the blacks of South Africa.
The first slave to be freed at the Cape was Catharina Anthonis, who was born in Bengal, and liberated because Jan Woutersz from Middelburg wished to marry her - this was on 21 May 1656. Another slave Maria van Bengal, was a slave of the sick comforter Pieter van der Stael, she was sold into freedom 6 July 1658 to be married the 21 July to Jan Sacharias. We have the following account of her end, "A dropsical Bengalese woman married to a Netherlander and with the consent of the Commander .. (they) tapped from her fully five mutsjes of water. Another full tankard was removed on the following day. ... She died at daybreak five days later and so was relieved of her pain and suffering." The numbers of slaves at the early Cape amounted to about a dozen until the arrival of two shiploads of slaves from Africa.
DID THEY COME FROM
The next shipload of slaves arrived 6 May 1658 with 228 slaves from Guinea on the ship Hasselt. Considering the early arrival of these two boat loads of people and the continual stream of other slaves that was brought to the Cape one should not be surprised at the number of slave 'stamouers'. It has only been in recent years that greater research has been focused on these people. The slaves at the Cape came from many countries and cultures: India, East Indies, Abyssinia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Japan, Guinea, and Angola and many other places. There has been a lot of interest in the experience of the Cape Huguenot, it is amazing that only in recent times has the focus started to turn to the experience that the slaves had to endure. There seems to have been an unwarranted shame that has been associated with the slaves. The fact that our 'stamlande' also includes countries such India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Angola, Mozambique, Madagascar has been very little propagated. Unlike many other slave societies whose slaves were homogenous, the Cape had a real cosmopolitan slave population. The Cape was like the tower of Babel, with very diverse nationalities and languages. The slaves places of origin can mainly be divided in four equal part, Africa, Mozambique, Indian sub continent, and East Indies (Indonesia).
AND PRIVILEGES DENIED
THAT THEY LEFT BEHIND
The physical features of the people from where the slaves were taken are present and reflected in the population of South Africa today. The beautiful handcrafted Cape furniture is a reminder of the master craftsmen who were slaves. These ancestors built many of the Cape buildings with its distinctive gables, which form part of the distinctive Cape heritage. The building, which symbolizes the slave experience the most, is the Slave Lodge in Cape Town. Today the Lodge has been totally upgraded and converted into the South African Cultural Museum, the present beauty hides the horrors that our ancestors experienced there in the past. The day may come when it will be restored as a Monument to our slave 'stamouers'.
SLAVES INFLUENCE ON AFRIKAANS LANGUAGE
There were two main languages of the slaves which influenced Afrikaans. One group of slaves from India, Ceylon and Indonesia who had Indonesian parents used non-standard Malay. Another group of Slaves from Bengal, Coromandal Coast, Mallabar Coast and Ceylon historically had connections with the Portuguese. Thus the development of Creole-Portuguese. Hans den Besten a linguist from the Amsterdam Univesity supplied me with some of the following examples . In Afrikaans we can see words like 'koelie'; 'tronk' from 'tronkoe' - tarungka meaning jail; 'tamaai' from tama(n)joe; 'outa' from ou and 'ta'; also 'tata'; 'sambreel', 'tarentaal', 'kombers', 'koperkapel', 'kraal', 'mielie', 'ramkie', 'brinjal', 'kiepersol'; 'baba' which may have been derived from a term which originally meant father in Indo-Arian.
some have claimed the Afrikaans language to be the language of the 'Baas'.
Afrikaans is the result of bringing together the East and the West,
the North and the South. It was and should be the language that celebrates
our cultural diversity rather than the language of exclusion. On the
other hand those who attack Afrikaans is attacking not the language
of the white man, but also the legacy that our slave stamouer have left
behind in the development of this language
ALIENATION OF MALE SLAVES
Due to the lack of records on the slaves and their descendants the scope of this paper only record some 'stamouers'. Some of the 'stamouers' who were slaves or whose ancestor were slaves are included here, this list is being expanded. There were many others with no traceable family record and thus they are not included. The majority of genealogical traceable slave 'stamouers' were female. One of the few documented cases of a slave stamvader was Christoffel Snyman. Some of the more well know families are listed in the left column. Many other families have slave connections, which have not been included, since these slaves were not 'stamouers'. Keep also in mind that a 'stamvader' of a particular family may have had more than one partner, or there could be more than one stamvader of a particular surname even though the surname is similar. Therefor not everyone with a particular surname can necessary claim having a slave 'stamouer'.
There awaits a lot of further research to determine which slaves had a relationship with whom, and who are the parents of others. Such research will help to identify more 'stamouers'. The second challenge is for the descendants of the slaves to trace their family ancestry, this has only been partially done. Our slave 'stamouers' are a sad part of human history. But in no way does a descendant need to be ashamed of what others did to our 'stamouer', the shame needs to be placed somewhere else, and most definitely not with the victim or the descendants.