Cape of Good Hope (03:21)
By 1652, South African coastline had become a supply station for traders sailing to the Indian Ocean. Khoi chief Autshumato had learned English and organized trade with English and Dutch merchants. View traditional stone fish traps.
First Dutch Settlers (03:50)
In 1652, the Dutch East India Company anchored a ship at the Cape of Good Hope. Commander Jan van Riebeeck was free to sign treaties or make war. His mission was to trade, but the Khoi were running low on livestock.
Driekops Eiland (02:44)
The Khoi were nomadic herdsmen. Archaeologists link ancient engravings on a river rock to Khoisan beliefs in a water serpent spirit. The site may have been used for female puberty rites.
Early Cape Town Colony (03:34)
Riebeeck recruited Autshumato's niece Krotoa to live in his household and learn Dutch. The Dutch East India Company farmed vegetables to supply passing ships and provided lodging for sailors. Possession inventories provide clues to the layout of settlement houses.
Establishing Roots (02:34)
Dutch settlers were attracted by the climate and socioeconomic opportunities. By 1700, a new generation had been born on the Cape. Krotoa gradually adopted Dutch culture.
Drakensberg Mountains Rock Drawings (05:18)
Bantu-speaking Xhosas and Zulu forced the Khoi and San off their land. The San were hunter-gatherers and one of the oldest people on Earth. Paintings show spiritual meaning of animals like the eland.
First Conflicts (03:09)
Dutch settlers moved inland in search of arable land, plowing fields in Khoi grazing territory. Riebeeck released employees to become independent farmers, or free burghers. Whites saw themselves as the ruling class and a threatened minority.
Colony Fortifications (02:56)
Riebeeck ignored Dutch East India Company instructions to limit the settlement size and constructed a fortress in 1666 to protect against indigenous threats. The company also created outposts like Stellenbosch. Dutch hunting practices were destructive to the Khoi and San.
San Mythology (05:59)
Tribal men told stories to German researchers in the 19th century—but most of their culture and language has been destroyed. Interviews also helped interpret rock paintings. Learn about the eland, the rain animal, and ritual dancing.
Beginning Slavery (03:53)
Losing land meant losing the San way of life. Krotoa felt torn between her tribe and the Dutch. Riebeeck needed cheap labor. In 1658, confiscated Angolan slaves arrived, starting a trade that continued from Malaysia and Indonesia.
A Slavery Based Colony (04:37)
Slaves from Southeast Asia worked in construction and lived in a disease-ridden lodge. Both company employees and private citizens owned slaves. Forced labor also supported the Cape wine growing industry.
Land Grabbing Trekboers (02:54)
Riebeeck organized an expedition into the interior led by Pieter van Meerhoff. Farmers exhausted pastureland and moved on, extending colony frontiers. Meerhoff considered himself a diplomat meeting new tribes.
Tulbagh Basin Resistance (02:07)
Khoisan challenged settlers around 1700. The Boers turned expeditions into plundering raids, starting a 30 year war of extermination supported by superior weaponry.
Imposing European Law (01:57)
As the colony expanded, the Khoi fell under Dutch jurisdiction and were treated unfairly in the legal system. Meerhoff married Krotoa, the first Khoi to have children with a European.
British Challenge (01:45)
Dutch East India Company employees named their colony Cape Town. Based on a tiny settlement, English arrivals claimed the cape in 1795 to avoid French takeover. When Meerhoff died, Krotoa was ostracized by both Khoi and Dutch communities.
Credits: The Colonists (1652 - 1795) (00:30)
Credits: The Colonists (1652 - 1795)
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