The Boers were not colonials PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 July 2010 08:57

The “colonialism” is the extension of the sovereignty of a nation on lands and peoples beyond its borders, often to control their economic and human resources The term also indicates the set of beliefs used to legitimize or to promote that system.
The term “colonialism” also means the imposition (not necessarily bloody) of the own economic, political and cultural system, to other nations.

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


The Boers were not colonials


Il Grande Trek boeroWesterners who are new to researching Southern Africa often have the initial erroneous presumption that the Boers were Colonials due to their Caucasian / ethnic European appearance but the fact of the matter is that they never were as the Boers are the result of a homegrown culture which sprang up on African soil out of the diverse groups the VOC brought to the Cape starting in the mid 1650s. The original White arrivals were brought out from northern Europe as servants of the Dutch East India Co. / the VOC - a semi private company which set up a victualing station at the Cape for passing ships & founded Cape Town. Those first arrivals were by & large of German & Frisian ethnic origin - most of whom were flooded out of their homes by the VOC & later forced to accompany Jan Van Riebeeck to the Cape- as well as smaller numbers of Dutch. Then about 35 years later large numbers of French Huguenot refugees escaping political & religious persecution in France were sent to the Cape were they would within the next generation amalgamate with the other arrivals & shape the emerging homegrown language which would later be called Afrikaans. Though the Boers often called - & still often do call - their dialect the taal or the language which was a different dialect even from the dialect spoken by the White proto Afrikaans speakers of the Western Cape who would go on later to label the language Afrikaans.

Starting in the late 1600s & throughout the 1700s significant numbers of the poorer proto Afrikaans speaking members of the Cape began to trek out of the Western Cape & inland becoming pastoralists in an attempt at escaping the autocratic rule of the VOC & to find better grazing land. The term Trekboer was used to describe these nomadic frontier folk as they were essentially migrating or trekking farmers who began occupying the northern & eastern Cape frontiers & were already quite distinct from the urbane inhabitants of the Western Cape who were often referred to as the Cape Dutch. Over time the term Trekboer was shortened to Boer to describe the frontier folk who were markedly independence oriented & would later have their first freedom struggle against the Dutch power in 1795.

The Boer people & culture therefore did not develop in Europe then suddenly transplant itself later in the Cape as the Boers developed in Africa & are a combination of many diverse origins. While most of their ancestors did in fact arrive from Europe: it is important to remember that they did not come as Colonists on behalf of a European power but in fact as servants of the Dutch East India Co. Later many were let go & became free citizens in an attempt by the VOC to cut costs. When about 300 French Huguenots arrived in the Cape as refugees - escaping religious persecution in France - from 1671 until 1707 (one family as late as 1726): the basis of the Boer nation was formed as these French Huguenot refugees viewed Africa as their new home & shaped the emerging Afrikaans language. Numerous other German Protestants also came as political & religious refugees as well. The basis of the Boer people / nation therefore was the amalgamation of the Dutch & Frisian settlers with the French Huguenot refugees & German Protestant refugees.

Further dispelling the erroneous colonial notion of their origins: The Boers have even been referred as the “White tribe of Africa” in the past & some Bantu groups did in fact recognize them as a tribe during the era of the Great Trek.

The nascent Boer nation broke their ties to Europe early on most notably during the late 1600s & throughout the 1700s when they began trekking eastward & inland in order to escape the authoritarian rule of the Dutch East India Co. Therefore: when uninformed or ill-informed Westerners assert that the Boers are “White colonials” they betray their total lack of knowledge on the matter. While many of those who remained in the Western Cape could certainly be considered colonials to a certain extent - the Trekboers & by extension the Boers can not honestly be considered as such since they promptly broke away from European domination & viewed themselves as being African & developed their own dialect which was classified as Eastern Border Afrikaans after the expanding border regions of the eastern Cape frontier where the Boers developed.

The Voortrekkers - who would later go on to found the more successful & various other Boer Republics - were of Trekboer descent. Furthermore: the Boers developed into a nation / people long before their first encounter with a Black (Bantu) group. Their first encounter with a Bantu group was with the Xhosas during around 1777. 125 years after the first arrivals of their European ancestors at the Cape. This is a very significant point as it moots any ignorant notion opposing their presence in their own land of birth. While their ancestors did encounter indigenous people in the Western Cape: they were the Khoisan peoples (a yellow-brown skinned people with Oriental looking features) who were once native to & hence the aboriginals of much of the southern & eastern half of Africa before being displaced & annihilated by migrating darker skinned Bantu groups. The Khoisan groups are now only found in the Northern Cape & Namibia (mainly the San / Bushmen) while the remaining Khoi were absorbed into the emerging Cape Coloured population.

The Voortrekker leaders were a unique blend of European style General & African Chief & the Voortrekkers trekked / migrated in clans following a specific elected leader & were descended from a long line of semi nomadic people who had a rather long historical record of trekking.