The Cape Rebels were not Cape Dutch PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 12 March 2012 08:00

Cape Rebels. In the photo: Boers of the northeastern Cape frontier

The following article was taken from the blog “Republican Trekker Volk”.

The Cape Rebels Were Not Cape Dutch

Cape rebels flag (Vryburgervlag)During the discourse on pointing out & exploring the distinct identity of the Boers from the Cape Dutch & thus from the bulk of the nomenclatured Afrikaner population: certain uninformed folks have ignorantly used the Cape Rebels as an erroneous example of pro-Boer sentiment among the bulk of the Cape Dutch or to even go so far as to erroneously assert that there is "no difference" between the Boers & the Cape Dutch [ thereby betraying their total ignorance or agenda on the topic even further ] while totally forgetting that the vast majority of the Cape Rebels were from the Boer communities of the northeastern Cape frontier & that very few actual Cape Dutch ever joined up with the Cape Rebels as the Cape Dutch as a whole were much more aligned with the British Colonial power.

While spending years looking into the history of the Boer people as well as the Cape Dutch & Afrikaner people in general by reading numerous books & articles: I have picked up on intricacies & events that were often not taught to people after the Afrikaner Broederbond began to rewrite the history of the Boers & co-opt them into a synthetic & artificial pan Afrikaans political movement which was aimed [ as part of its goal ] at securing control of the macro State of South Africa as created by the British with a British act of legislation.

Part of this agenda labeled all White Afrikaans speakers as "Afrikaners" & turned Boers retroactively into Afrikaners thereby denying the Boers to right to their own history & heritage & conditioned them to share it with a people who were not part of it & often opposed the aspirations of the Boers during the time frame in question. As the Boers were now arbitrarily within the political sphere made to be part of larger Cape Dutch population [ whose intellectuals began to propagate the term Afrikaner to describe themselves in the late 19th cent at a time when the Boers were mainly independent within their Boer Republics ]: the Afrikaner establishment was able to control the destiny of the smaller Boer people by simply implying that the Boers were now part of them instead of the distinct nation that the Boers had been since circa 1700 during the bifurcation period which led to the existence of the Trekboers on the expanding Cape frontier.

The following sourced article that I have composed demonstrates that the Cape Rebels were in fact mainly Boers & not Cape Dutch simply because the vast majority of those who became Cape Rebels were from the Boer people of the Cape frontier.

The Cape Rebels were mainly Boers from the northeastern Cape frontier who fought on the side of the Boer Republics which were located across the Orange River. As inhabitants of the Cape Colony they were British subjects therefore often paid a huge price for siding with their cousins of the republics. Those who were caught were often tried in court & executed as they were viewed as rebels to the Cape government. There is a glaring misconception promoted by some who assert that the Boers were part of the Cape Dutch population - but that is a gross distortion. The Cape Dutch population was larger than the Boer population but the Cape Dutch were the folks who inhabited the south western Cape region who coalesced into a community at a time [ circa 1700 ] when the Boers were becoming a distinct people on the Cape frontier which shaped them into a distinct people even further.

During the late 17th cent: the most impoverished folks who could not cope in Colonial society & who chaffed the most under VOC rule & who had the least tolerance for its autocratic rule [ 1 ] were compelled to trek inland into Africa & away from the western Cape region & consequently away from the population which the trekkers began to refer to as the Cape Dutch. [ 2 ] The trekkers who were moving away were in turn called Trekboers. [ 3 ] By the mid 1700s there arose two distinct Afrikaans [ whom its speakers referred to as Dutch / die taal / Boeretaal etc. ] speaking groups in Southern Africa. [ 3 ]Trekboers The largest group was centered in & around Cape Town up to Paarl & Stellenbosh & were often known as the Cape Dutch who were pro Colonial & had no desire for independence as they saw no reason to break with the Colonial power. The smaller group was nomadic & was very anti-colonial & had spread out over the expanding Cape frontier from Swellendam right up to the Sundays River & were initially known as Trekboers a term which was later shortened to Boer. [ 3 ] It was overwhelmingly from the Boer communities of the Cape frontier that the participants of the Great Trek were from [ 4 ] due to their long standing anti-colonial nature. Those folks were renown as Boers & those who left the Cape & trekked northwards were known as Trekkers. [ 5 ]

The fact of the matter is that it was not until the 1930s when Afrikaner Broederbond historians began re-writing [ 6 ] the history that the Boers of the era were called Voortrekkers in retrospect as that act was part of the Afrikaner's attempt at co-opting the history of the Boers in order to promote a State based teleocratic agenda which was inimical to Boer self determination. The insinuation behind the deft promotion of the term Voortrekker was to imply that those Boers who trekked were "pioneers" for a macro mythological "Afrikaner" group when in reality it was mainly Boers who trekked [ who were 500 miles separated from the Cape Dutch & rarely interacted with them ] as the Cape Dutch did not share the Boer outlook of wanting independence. Those Trekkers [ later called Voortrekkers ] soon established various Boer Republics north of the Orange River two of which were internationally recognized. [ 7 ]

Therefore by the time of the second Anglo-Boer War there had LONG since been established two distinct Caucasian Afrikaans speaking groups. Indeed even since a century to 150 years before the Great Trek. Even the term "Afrikaans speaking" is presumptive because it was Cape Dutch intellectuals who coined the term Afrikaans to describe the macro language which developed at the Cape since the 17th cent. [ 8 ] The Boers were not the ones who coined the term Afrikaans as they simply referred to their dialect as die taal [ 9 ] or Boeretaal. The Boer dialect was distinct from the Cape Dutch dialect & historians have classified the Boers' dialect as Eastern Border Afrikaans [ 10 ] after the region where they & their dialect were formed. Therefore those who refer to the Cape Boers as being part of the Cape Dutch are either ignorant of history or are perpetuating a fraud in order to marginalize the existence of the Boer people. [ 11 ] Claiming that the Boers are part of the Cape Dutch is tantamount to claiming that the Acadians are part of the Quebecois or that the Canadians are part of the Americans or that the Moldovans are part of the Romanians or that the Serbs are part of the Croatians. The Boers struggled to survive on the harsh Cape frontier in the face of danger [ 12 ] & paid for their distinct identity which they carved out on the Cape frontier in blood & sacrifice therefore erroneously & ignorantly accusing them of being part of the Cape Dutch is an insult & shows callous disregard to why the Boers ever arose in the first place. [ 13 ] The Cape Dutch looked down on the Boers & never understood why the Boers wanted freedom [ 14 ] in Africa as they could not understand why anyone would want to be independent from the Colonial power.

The Cape Rebels were overwhelmingly from the Cape frontier [ 15 ] & even often from the same towns [ ] that the Voortreekers were from [ ] thereby demonstrating that the Cape Rebels were Boers not Cape Dutch. There was a lot of Cape Rebel activity at Colesberg near the border with the OVS Republic. Authors have noted how the Boers failed in trying to get the Cape Dutch inhabitants of the western Cape to rise up against Britain during the second Anglo-Boer War. That was because as authors like Mordechai Tamarkin have noted [ within the book: Cecil Rhodes and the Cape Afrikaners ] the Cape Dutch were generally content with British rule. While much smaller numbers of Cape Dutch did join up with the Cape Rebels - the fact of the matter is that a lot of Cape Dutch were on the side of the British & were fighting AGAINST the Boers. [ 16 ] Therefore the erroneous contention that the Cape Boers were part of the Cape Dutch simply adds insult to injury. This misunderstanding is compounded further when some folks erroneously assert that the Great Trek was from Cape Town [ 17 ] [ probably confusing the centennial commemoration of the Great Trek which did start at Cape Town which at that point had been co-opted & run by Afrikaners & led by a Cape Dutch Afrikaner politician named D F Malan ] instead of the Cape frontier [ or then known as the eastern provinces of the Cape ] as some folks appear to be totally ignorant of the towns & communities of the Cape frontier which was settled & populated by the Boer people - not by the Cape Dutch.


1. Quote: [ The rise of an expanding settler society fueled tensions between free burghers and the VOC. Free burghers criticized the autocratic powers of the local VOC administration, in which the governor had full control and the settlers had no rights of representation. They denounced the economic policies of the VOC that fixed the prices at which settlers could sell their agricultural products. They called attention to the corrupt practices of VOC officers, who granted themselves prime land and then sold their own crops at higher prices to the company. Above all, they complained about the VOC's failure--at least in their eyes--to police the frontier boundaries and to protect the settlers' crops and herds from Khoikhoi and San raiders. ]

From: Library of Congress Country Studies.

Found at: [ ]

2. Quote: [ When the White population at the Cape split over the colonial issue - as detailed above, those who wanted to escape colonial rule migrated away from the Cape, while those who had no nationalistic zeal and who wished to keep their links with Europe stayed behind. These people who stayed behind were all Dutch citizens, and when the British occupied the Cape, were perfectly happy to become loyal British citizens.

Those who stayed behind in the Cape became known amongst the independence minded Boers as the "Cape Dutch" - symbolizing their attachment to Europe. This group loyally supported any European colonial government, and vehemently opposed all attempts by the fledgling Boer population to break ties with the colonial governments. This group stood in strong opposition to the fledgling Boer population and differed with them on all levels - starting with their approach to colonialism and extending all the way through even to language. It is not widely known for example that there are for example marked accent and pronunciation differences between the Boers and the "Cape Dutch".

The vehemence with which the Cape Dutch opposed the Boer population was underlined when the Boers were excommunicated from the Cape Dutch Reformed Church when they moved away form the Cape.

This group of Cape Dutch settlers therefore always opposed the Boers' drive for independence and anti-colonialism, and, along with the British settlers, were the true colonial masters of Southern Africa, while the Boers always tried to get away from this mentality and state of affairs. ]

From: The Boers of Southern Africa. Arthur Kemp.

Found at:
[ ]

3. Quote: [ These early Dutch farmers were joined by other Europeans and their populations grew. The Dutch East India Company imported slaves from Angola, Mozambique, Madagascar and other parts of the Dutch Empire to work on large plantations close to Cape Town. The seminomadic Dutch farmers expanded their settlement further from the Cape and came into conflict over land with local African populations. Their contact with the local Dutch government became more and more tenuous and most of them lived hard rural lives, moving farmsteads frequently, and quite independent of government and education. By 1745 they were known as Trekboers, which means "wandering farmers," a term which was later shortened to Boers. They were unaware of the changing politics in Europe. ]

From Bowdoin College.

Found at: [ ]

4. The Boers who left the Cape during the era of the Great Trek came from towns like: Grahamstown / Uitenhage / Swellendam / Graaff-Reinet / Somerset East & Cradock.

5. Noted throughout the article: History of South Africa of History World at: [ ]

6. Quote: [ When the Afrikaner Broederbond 's National Party won the elections, and took over the governance of South Africa from 1948 and launched the system of apartheid, the first thing they did was to completely rewrite the Boers' history. Suddenly, all the accomplishments of the Boers became 'Afrikaner' accomplishments.

The Boer Women's Monument in Bloemfontein, erected in memory of the murdered Boer women and children who died in the British concentration camps written about so eloquently by British pro-Boer campaigner Emily Hobhouse, even became the Afrikaner Women's Monument - a truly vile insult to their memory. The Voortrekker Monument is described in terms which honour the memory of Afrikaners -- not the Boers who had actually undertaken the Great Trek. ]

From: Boer, Afrikaner Or White - Which Are You? By Adriana Stuijt.

Found at: [ ]

7. Quote: [ The Republic was now in possession of a Convention, which from the nature of its provisions seemed to promise a peaceful future. In addition to Great Britain it was recognized in Holland, France, Germany, Belgium, and especially in the United States of America. The American Secretary of State at Washington, writing to President Pretorius on the 19th November, 1870, said: " That his Government, while heartily acknowledging the Sovereignty of the Transvaal Republic, would be ready to take any steps which might be deemed necessary for that purpose. " ]

C W van der Hoogt. The Story of the Boers. Page 96.
[ ]

8. [ ] The reverend S J Du Toit his brother D F Du Toit & Gideon Malherbe of the Western Cape started the Society of True Afrikaners in 1875: an Afrikaans language rights movement which started to get Afrikaans recognized.

9. Professor Wallace Mills.

Quote: [ - Afrikaans (at the time almost always referred to as ‘die Taal’- the Language) was a spoken, not a written language. ]

Found at: [ ]

10. Afrikaans Language Museum. Eastern Border Afrikaans.

Quote: [ Eastern Border Afrikaans has its roots in the farming community that moved further and further from the Cape. A large number of residents in the Cape were Dutch [ Note: High Dutch ] speaking and they made up part of the farmers that moved away from the Cape. At the end of the 18th century this group settled on the East Border and they lived a very secluded life and spoke their own type of Afrikaans until well into the 19th cent. ]

Found at: [ ]

11. The Boers have only ever been a minority of the total White Afrikaans speaking population.

12. Quote: [ The Boers' self confidence in their military prowess in the first half of the 19th century stemmed from the robust, often dangerous lives they led daily on the frontiers of civilization. ]

From: Micheal Barthorp. The Anglo-Boer Wars. Page 9.

13. The Boers arose as a people due to the impoverished folks who left the western Cape region starting in the late 17th cent.& began trekking inland & were originally known as Trekboers. Thus the Boer people would never have arose were it not for those impoverished forebears who wanted to get away from Colonial society & Dutch rule.

Quote: [ Impoverished whites living at the fringes of colonial society also had few options, but these included the real possibility of dropping out of its grindingly class-conscious constraints. Many just packed up their wagons and rolled out into the interior, where they lived by the gun, either hunting game or taking cattle from the Khoi by force. Beyond the control of the Dutch East India Company, these nomadic trekboers began to assume a pastoral niche previously occupied by the Khoi. By the turn of the nineteenth century, trekboers had penetrated well into the Eastern Cape, pushing back the Khoi and San in the process. Not that the indigenous people gave up without a fight. As their lives became disrupted and living by traditional means became impossible, the Khoisan began to prey on the cattle and sheep of the trekboers. ]

From: [ ]

14. Kemp notes: [ This group of Cape Dutch settlers therefore always opposed the Boers' drive for independence and anti-colonialism, and, along with the British settlers, were the true colonial masters of Southern Africa, while the Boers always tried to get away from this mentality and state of affairs. ]

From: The Boers of Southern Africa. Arthur Kemp.

Found at:
[ ]

15. The Anglo-Boer War Museum web site notes on its Cape Rebel page the following: [ These were Afrikaans speaking Colonials from the Cape Colony who joined the Boer Forces because of familial and cultural ties. They came from all over the Cape Colony e.g from Cradock, Graaff-Reinet, Somerset East and Middelburg. ] Found at: [ ] Note that the towns mentioned are all within the Cape frontier & even the same towns where the Voortrekkers were from during the era of the Great Trek.

16. Theuns Cloete of Boervolk Radio noted this himself during the first interview that he did with an American shortwave radio program called The Right Perspective found at: [ ]

17. Noted by authors like Thomas W. Hazlett within an article found at: [ ] who not only does not realize that the Great Trek was from the Cape frontier - not Cape Town – but even tragically confuses & conflates the Boers with the Afrikaners & does not realize that most Boers of the frontiers did not own slaves as pointed out by Professor Wallace Mills & the Encyclopedia Britannica. The Afrikaner Broederbond created mythology is so pervasive that even Westerners often parrot the erroneous conflation of Boers with the Cape Dutch as both groups were later arbitrarily lumped under the ambiguous Afrikaner designation.


Other articles on same theme on “Volkstaat”:
Cape Rebels flag (Vryburgervlag)
The vast majority of the Cape Rebels were Boers - Ron