Cape Town has a history of occupation dating back to the Early Stone Age (200 000 years ago to 1.2 million). Very little is known of the earliest Cape inhabitants apart from hand axes and weathered stone tools found dotted across the landscape. They may have been the ancestors of the Khoisan hunter-gatherers who occupied the land for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. The descendants of these Khoi people have recently applied for "First Nation" status. There are traces of two migrating groups of Khoi who frequented this area: the "Cochoqua" between Table Bay and Saldanha (West Coast), and the "Goringhaiqua" who lived around the Peninsula. The colonialists referred to these people as "Hottentots" - a name which comes from the Dutch language for ""stutter" - this was because the strange Click Language they spoke sounded to the Dutch as if they were "stuttering".
All along the South African coastline and mountain ranges there are Early Stone Age remnants of people who lived in caves. Many significant archaeological finds have been uncovered in South Africa. While most rock art on the Cape Peninsula has long been erased by time and by vandals, other places in the mountains have rock art panels remaining. To help improve funding to protect these unique sites, specialists from the Archaeology Department of the University of Cape Town are now hosting trips to the Cederberg Mountains. The Cape Lion and the quagga, (a type of zebra found only in Southern Africa), elephants, hippos, eland, hartebees, rhebok and other game were plentiful in the Cape then, which is reflected in this ancient rock art. The photo above right shows a painting of a rhino with young one behind. The handprint is a later addition to the panel. You can travel to game reserve areas east or north of Cape Town to see large wild animals. South Africa one of the only places in the world where you can see the "Big 6" - which includes Whales, and the "Big 7" if you include Sharks, and the "Big 8" if you include the Cape Fynbos Floral Kingdom!
South Africa now has 11 Official Languages to make room for the many regional dialects. Cape Town is a seaport city of many cultures, a place where north meets south and east meets west. Possibly the earliest sea voyagers around the Cape were Phoenicians sent by King Neco of Egypt, over 2'000 years ago. The original hunter-gatherers living here, the First Nation were the Khoisan, (Khoi San) and they only began to encounter the dark-skinned "Bantu" people, around 700AD when the Bantu speaking people began migrating south from other areas of Africa lying to the north.
In the begining of time, this land was inhabited only by these first "Hunter - Gatherers" - whose Marker Gene is now found in every genetic pool accross the planet - indicating they survived the "Super Volcano" which changed the earth some 69 000 to 77 000 years ago (Lake Toba - Indonesia). This volcanic eruption caused a "volcanic winter" with a possible 1000 year cooling period that followed, and a possible "Human Genetic Bottlneck". See more info on these subjects on Wikipedia
The Portuguese recorded their landing at Cape Point, Dias in 1488 and Da Gama in 1497. The Dutch started a fresh produce and water provision station at Table Bay in 1652. They brought slaves and rebel leaders from the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), some of whom were sultans and religious leaders of Muslim faith who are now buried in the Kramats around Cape Town.
A third of the slaves brought to the early Cape were Africans from Mozambique, about a third were from Madagascar, and the other third were Muslims from Java, Ceylon (Indonesia) and Bengal (India), brought by the Dutch and English until 1807, when the Cape slave trade ended. The early colonials came predominantly from Holland, England, France and later Germany. Nowadays many "white" South African can be a cocktail of the many slave nations mixed with German, Belgian, French, Dutch, Russian, Jewish, English, Scottish, Irish, Portuguese, Italian or Greek.
The Cape "Coloured" (mixed race) population were from the Khoisan, or brought here as slaves or political prisoners. The Cape slaves began to develop a common "slave language" known as "Melayu". In recent times their Muslim descendants have became known as Cape Malays (a derivative of the word Melayu), mistakenly implying that the Cape Muslims originated from Malaysia. Their ancestors form the back bone of the vibrant Cape community.
South Africa is a place where change in the human spirit has been made possible, largely due to the compassion of a great man who is known affectionately as Madiba. Nelson Mandela gives inspiration to our "Rainbow Nation".
South African Social History
|Koopmans-de Wet House||35 Strand Street,
|Ph: (021) 481 3800|
|Bertram House Museum||Cnr. Government Av./ Orange Street||Ph: (021) 424 9381|
|Slave Lodge||49 Adderley Str,
|Ph: (021) 460 8242|
|Groot Constantia||Groot Constantia Est., M41 Constantia||Ph: (021) 795 5140|
|Bo-Kaap Museum||71 Wale Street,
|Ph: (021) 481 3939|
|William Fehr Collection||Castle of Good Hope
|Ph: (021) 464 1264|