Holland, England and France became Europe’s leading economic powers from the mid-17th century onwards. There was much commercial rivalry between them, including the invasion and takeover of each other’s outposts. They all regarded the Cape to be of great strategic importance due to its geographic location along the lucrative sea trade route to the Far East. Consequently, the Cape would become one of the most heavily fortified ports in Africa.
In 1652 the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company or VOC) established a refreshment station at the Cape. The Cape’s first fortifications were soon built as protection against both foreign and local threats.
The Fort De Goede Hoop was built in 1652 on the shore of Table Bay (where the Grand Parade is today) to defend the new settlement and its anchorage from possible foreign attacks. It also served as defence against perceived threats by the local Khoe.
The settlement expanded as the VOC claimed more land for grazing and some of their former officials were granted farms along the Liesbeeck River. The local Khoe retaliated against the dispossession of their land and other natural resources with cattle raids and by disrupting farming. A line of simple earth and timber fortifications or redoubts, connected by a timber fence, was built among the colonists’ farms as defence against such Khoe attacks.Visit Now
A significant proportion of South Africa’s Muslim population lives in Cape Town. The Cape Muslim Route highlights some of the history behind this, and contextualises the modern-day heritage of Islam at the Cape.
Between 1654 and 1795 Muslim political prisoners were regularly exiled to the Cape for resistance against Dutch rule. Muslim slaves and convicts were brought to the Cape to work on VOC buildings and farms, or for private citizens.
The town’s Muslim population initially grew as more Muslim slaves and convicts (including some Chinese Muslims) were brought to the Cape. Some Muslim slaves achieved freedom through marrying settlers or purchasing their own freedom and that of others. Convicts and some exiles who had served out their punishments were also allowed to live as free people but without the rights of citizens.
Most of the slaves in the Cape’s early colonial period came from Asian territories which the Portuguese and Dutch had colonised or where they had waged war and traded for some time. Slaves coming from these territories had therefore creolised both languages over time.
Thus besides Malayu-Portuguese, some words derived from Malayu, Bugies or Javanese languages survive alongside many African words in the Afrikaans language that evolved from Dutch. Find out more about Afrikaans...Visit Now