House of JAN FLEMMER
Coloured Flemmer Family of Southern Africa
Part One Generation 1 & 2
MacDonald C. M. Flemmer
House of JAN FLEMMER
Coming In From The Cold The Cape and subsequently South Africa was discovered on the way to Prester John and the murder of Count d’Almeida at the foot hills of Table Mountain. Whether above or below the Belt of Islam, North or South, in Britain or in Africa, Prester John is still the Last Guardian of the Holy Grail. What the legacy of King Arthur is to modern Britain, this is what Prester John once was for medieval Africa. He was the legendary priest-king of Ethiopia. After Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, King João II aka King John II wanted Francisco d’Almeida to sail west and claim the new territories for the Portuguese crown. How different history could have been if both the Americas had fallen to Portugal. Instead he went East via the south point of Africa. In 1510, when the Cape of Good Hope was called the Portal to the Indies, the Viceroy of Portuguese India was led ashore, slain and hurriedly buried. The murder of Dom Francisco de Almeida has invariably been blamed on the Khoikhoi. Based on new research, the outcomes of that research, offer a different account of the murder: that day changed South Africa's history, and from that point on: this is where our Coloured Flemmer Family history begins.
House of JAN FLEMMER Although the Portuguese basked in the nautical achievement of successfully navigating the cape, they showed little interest in colonization. The area's fierce weather and rocky shoreline posed a threat to their ships, and many of their attempts to trade with the local Khoikhoi ended in conflict. The Portuguese found the Mozambican coast more attractive, with appealing bays to use as way stations, prawns, and links to gold ore in the interior. The Portuguese had little competition in the region until the late 16th century, when the English and Dutch began to challenge them along their trade routes. Stops at the continent's southern tip increased, and the cape became a regular stopover for scurvy-ridden crews. In 1647, a Dutch vessel, the Haarlem, was wrecked in the present-day Table Bay. After being rescued, the marooned crew recommended that a permanent station be established in the bay. The Dutch East India Company (in the Dutch of the day: Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC), one of the major European trading houses sailing the spice route to the East, had no intention of colonizing the area, instead wanting only to establish a secure base camp where passing ships could shelter, and where hungry sailors could stock up on fresh supplies of meat, fruit, and vegetables. To this end, a small VOC expedition under the command of Jan van Riebeeck reached Table Bay on April 6, 1652. While the new settlement traded out of necessity with the neighbouring Khoikhoi, one could hardly describe the relationship as friendly, and the authorities made deliberate attempts to restrict contact. Partly as a consequence, VOC employees found themselves faced with a labour shortage. To remedy this, they released a small number of Dutch from their contracts and permitted them to establish farms, with which they would supply the great VOC settlement from their harvests. This arrangement proved highly successful, producing abundant supplies of fruit, vegetables, wheat, and wine; they later raised livestock. The small initial group of free burghers, as these farmers were known, steadily increased and began to expand their farms further north and east into the territory of the Khoikhoi. The majority of burghers had 3
House of JAN FLEMMER Dutch ancestry and belonged to the Calvinist Reformed Church of the Netherlands, but there were also numerous Germans as well as some Scandinavians. In 1688 the Dutch and the Germans were joined by the French Huguenots, also Calvinists, who were fleeing religious persecution under King Louis XIV. In addition to establishing the free burgher system, van Riebeeck and the VOC began to make indentured servants out of the Khoikhoi and the San. They additionally began to import large numbers of slaves, primarily from Madagascar and Indonesia. These slaves often married Dutch settlers, and their descendants became known as the Cape Coloureds and the Cape Malays. A significant number of the offspring from the White and slave unions were absorbed into the local proto Afrikaans speaking White population. With this additional labour, the areas occupied by the VOC expanded further to the north and east, with inevitable clashes with the Khoikhoi. The newcomers drove the beleaguered Khoikhoi from their traditional lands and destroyed them with superior weapons when they fought back, which they did in a number of major wars and with guerrilla resistance movements which continued into the 19th century. Europeans also brought diseases which had devastating effects against people whose immune system was not adapted to them. Most survivors were left with no option but to work for the Europeans in an exploitative arrangement that differed little from slavery. Over time, the Khoisan, their European overseers, and the imported slaves mixed, with the offspring of these unions forming the basis for today's Coloured population. The best-known Khoikhoi groups included the Griqua, who had originally lived on the western coast between St Helena Bay and the Cederberg Range. In the late 18th century, they managed to acquire guns and horses and began trekking northeast. En route other groups of Khoisan, Coloureds, and even white adventurers joined them, and they rapidly gained a reputation as a formidable military force. Ultimately, the Griquas reached the Highveld around present-day Kimberley, where they carved out territory that came to be known as Griqualand. 4
House of JAN FLEMMER Burgher expansion as the burghers, too, continued to expand into the rugged hinterlands of the north and east, many began to take up a semi-nomadic pastoralist lifestyle, in some ways not far removed from that of the Khoikhoi they displaced. In addition to its herds, a family might have a wagon, a tent, a Bible, and a few guns. As they became more settled, they would build a mud-walled cottage, frequently located, by choice, days of travel from the nearest European. These were the first of the Trekboere (Wandering Farmers, later shortened to Boers), completely independent of official controls, extraordinarily self-sufficient, and isolated. Their harsh lifestyle produced individualists who were well acquainted with the land. Like many pioneers with Christian backgrounds, the burgers attempted to live their lives based on teachings from the Bible. During the Napoleonic Wars, the Cape Colony was annexed by the British and officially became their colony in 1815. Britain encouraged settlers to the Cape, and in particular, sponsored the 1820 Settlers to farm in the disputed area between the colony and the Xhosa in what is now the Eastern Cape. The changing image of the Cape from Dutch to British excluded the Dutch farmers in the area, the Boers who in the 1820s started their Great Trek to the northern areas of modern South Africa. This period also marked the rise in power of the Zulu under their king Shaka Zulu. Subsequently several conflicts arose between the British, Boers and Zulus, which led to the Zulu defeat and the ultimate Boer defeat in the Second Anglo-Boer War. However, the Treaty of Vereeniging established the framework of South African limited independence as the Union of South Africa. The British Colonization At the tip of the continent the British found an established colony with 25,000 slaves, 20,000 white colonists, 15,000 Khoisan, and 1,000 freed black slaves. Power resided solely with a white ĂŠlite in Cape Town, and differentiation on the basis of race was deeply entrenched. Outside Cape Town and the immediate hinterland, isolated black and white pastoralists populated the country.
House of JAN FLEMMER Like the Dutch before them, the British initially had little interest in the Cape Colony, other than as a strategically located port. As one of their first tasks they tried to resolve a troublesome border dispute between the Boers and the Xhosa on the colony's eastern frontier. In 1820 the British authorities persuaded about 5,000 middle-class British immigrants (most of them "in trade") to leave England behind and settle on tracts of land between the feuding groups with the idea of providing a buffer zone. The plan was singularly unsuccessful. Within three years, almost half of these 1820 Settlers had retreated to the towns, notably Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth, to pursue the jobs they had held in Britain. While doing nothing to resolve the border dispute, this influx of settlers solidified the British presence in the area, thus fracturing the relative unity of white South Africa. Where the Boers and their ideas had before gone largely unchallenged, European Southern Africa now had two language groups and two cultures. A pattern soon emerged whereby English-speakers became highly urbanised and dominated politics, trade, finance, mining, and manufacturing, while the largely uneducated Boers were relegated to their farms. The gap between the British settlers and the Boers further widened with the abolition of slavery in 1833, a move that the Boers generally regarded as against the God-given ordering of the races. Yet the British settlers' conservatism and sense of racial superiority stopped any radical social reforms, and in 1841 the authorities passed a Masters and Servants Ordinance, which perpetuated white control. Meanwhile, British numbers increased rapidly in Cape Town, in the area east of the Cape Colony (present-day Eastern Cape Province), in Natal and, after the discovery of gold and diamonds, in parts of the Transvaal, mainly around present-day Gauteng. The early 19th century saw a time of immense upheaval relating to the military expansion of the Zulu kingdom. Sotho-speakers know this period as the Difaqane ("forced migration"); while Zulu-speakers call it the mfecane ("crushing").
House of JAN FLEMMER The full causes of the Difaqane remain in dispute, although certain factors stand out. The rise of a unified Zulu kingdom had particular significance. In the early 19th century, Nguni tribes in KwaZulu-Natal began to shift from a loosely-organised collection of kingdoms into a centralised, militaristic state. Shaka Zulu, son of the chief of the small Zulu clan, became the driving force behind this shift. At first something of an outcast, Shaka proved himself in battle and gradually succeeded in consolidating power in his own hands. He built large armies, breaking from clan tradition by placing the armies under the control of his own officers rather than of the hereditary chiefs. Shaka then set out on a massive programme of expansion, killing or enslaving those who resisted in the territories he conquered. His impis (warrior regiments) were rigorously disciplined: failure in battle meant death. Peoples in the path of Shaka's armies moved out of his way, becoming in their turn aggressors against their neighbours. This wave of displacement spread throughout Southern Africa and beyond. It also accelerated the formation of several states, notably those of the Sotho (present-day Lesotho) and of the Swazi (now Swaziland). In 1828 Shaka was killed by his half-brothers Dingaan and Umthlangana. The weaker and less-skilled Dingaan became king, relaxing military discipline while continuing the despotism. Dingaan also attempted to establish relations with the British traders on the Natal coast, but events had started to unfold that would see the demise of Zulu independence. Meanwhile, the Boers had started to grow increasingly dissatisfied with British rule in the Cape Colony. The British proclamation Ordinance 50 (1828), which guaranteed equal legal rights to all free persons of colour, particularly angered them. Beginning in 1835, several groups of Boers, together with large numbers of Khoikhoi and black servants, decided to trek off into the interior in search of greater independence. North and east of the Orange River (which formed the Cape Colony's frontier) these Boers or Voortrekkers ("Pioneers") found vast tracts of apparently uninhabited grazing lands. They had, it seemed, entered
House of JAN FLEMMER their promised land, with space enough for their cattle to graze and their culture of anti-urban independence to flourish. Little did they know that what they found â€” deserted pasture lands, disorganised bands of refugees, and tales of brutality â€” resulted from the Difaqane, rather than representing the normal state of affairs. With the exception of the more powerful Ndebele, the Voortrekkers encountered little resistance among the scattered peoples of the plains. The Difaqane had dispersed them, and the remnants lacked horses and firearms. Their weakened condition also solidified the Boers' belief that European occupation meant the coming of civilisation to a savage land. However, the mountains where King Moshoeshoe I had started to forge the Basotho nation that would later become Lesotho and the wooded valleys of Zululand proved a more difficult proposition. Here the Boers met strong resistance, and their incursions set off a series of skirmishes, squabbles, and flimsy treaties that would litter the next 50 years of increasing white domination. The Great Trek first halted at Thaba Nchu, near present-day Bloemfontein, where the trekkers established a republic. Following disagreements among their leadership, the various Voortrekkers groups split apart. While some headed north, most crossed the Drakensberg into Natal with the idea of establishing a republic there. Since the Zulus controlled this territory, the Voortrekker leader Piet Retief paid a visit to King Dingaan, where the suspicious Zulu promptly killed him. This killing triggered other attacks by Zulus on the Boer population, and a revenge attack by the Boers. The culmination came on 16 December 1838, in the Battle of Blood River, fought at the Ncome River in Natal. Though several Boers suffered injuries, they managed to overcome the Zulus without suffering a single death. They killed several thousand Zulus, reportedly causing the Ncome's waters to run red. Zulu warriors, late 19th century after this victory, which resulted from the possession of superior weapons, the Boers felt that their expansion really did have a long suspected stamp of divine approval. Yet their
House of JAN FLEMMER hopes for establishing a Natal republic remained short lived. The British annexed the area in 1843, and founded their new Natal colony at present-day Durban. Most of the Boers, feeling increasingly squeezed between the British on one side and the native African populations on the other, headed north. The British set about establishing large sugar plantations in Natal, but found few inhabitants of the neighbouring Zulu areas willing to provide labour. The British confronted stiff resistance to their encroachments from the Zulus, a nation with well-established traditions of waging war, who inflicted one of the most humiliating defeats on the British army at the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879, where over 1400 British soldiers were killed. During the on-going AngloZulu Wars, the British eventually established their control over what was then named Zululand, and is today known as KwaZulu-Natal. The British turned to India to resolve their labour shortage, as Zulu men refused to adopt the servile position of labourers and in 1860 the SS Truro arrived in Durban harbour with over 300 people on board. Over the next 50 years, 150,000 more indentured Indians arrived, as well as numerous free "passenger Indians", building the base for what would become the largest Indian community outside of India. As early as 1893, when Mahatma Gandhi arrived in Durban, Indians outnumbered whites in Natal. The Boers meanwhile persevered with their search for land and freedom, ultimately establishing themselves in various Boer Republics, e.g. the Transvaal or South African Republic and the Orange Free State. For a while it seemed that these republics would develop into stable states, despite having thinly-spread populations of fiercely independent Boers, no industry, and minimal agriculture. The discovery of diamonds near Kimberley turned the Boers' world on its head (1869). The first diamonds came from land belonging to the Griqua, but to which both the Transvaal and Orange Free State laid claim. Britain quickly stepped in and resolved the issue by annexing the area for itself. The discovery of the Kimberley diamond-mines unleashed a flood of European and black labourers into the area. Towns sprang up in which
House of JAN FLEMMER the inhabitants ignored the "proper" separation of whites and blacks, and the Boers expressed anger that their impoverished republics had missed out on the economic benefits of the mines. The country of South Africa is mostly independent today. Long-standing Boer resentment turned into full-blown rebellion in the Transvaal (under British control from 1877), and the first Anglo-Boer War, known to Afrikaners as the "War of Independence", broke out in 1880. The conflict ended almost as soon as it began with a crushing Boer victory at Battle of Majuba Hill (27 February 1881). The republic regained its independence as the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek ("South African Republic"), or ZAR. Paul Kruger, one of the leaders of the uprising, became President of the ZAR in 1883. Meanwhile, the British, who viewed their defeat at Majuba as an aberration, forged ahead with their desire to federate the Southern African colonies and republics. They saw this as the best way to come to terms with the fact of a white Afrikaner majority, as well as to promote their larger strategic interests in the area. Inter-war period in 1879, Zululand came under British control. Then in 1886, an Australian prospector discovered gold in the Witwatersrand, accelerating the federation process and dealing the Boers yet another blow. Johannesburg's population exploded to about 100,000 by the mid-1890s, and the ZAR suddenly found itself hosting thousands of uitlanders, both black and white, with the Boers squeezed to the side lines. The influx of Black labour in particular worried the Boers, many of whom suffered economic hardship and resented the black wage-earners. The enormous wealth of the mines, largely controlled by European "Randlords", soon became irresistible for British imperialists. In 1895, a group of renegades led by Captain Leander Starr Jameson entered the ZAR with the intention of sparking an uprising on the Witwatersrand and installing a British administration. This incursion became known as the Jameson Raid. The scheme ended in fiasco, but it seemed obvious to Kruger that it had at least the tacit approval of the Cape Colony government, and that his republic faced danger. He reacted by forming an alliance with Orange Free State.
House of JAN FLEMMER The situation peaked in 1899, when the British demanded voting rights for the 60,000 foreign whites on the Witwatersrand. Until that point, Kruger's government had excluded all foreigners from the franchise. Kruger rejected the British demand and called for the withdrawal of British troops from the ZAR's borders. When the British refused, Kruger declared war. This Second Anglo-Boer War lasted longer, and the British preparedness surpassed that of Majuba Hill. By June 1900, Pretoria, the last of the major Boer towns, had surrendered. Yet resistance by Boer bittereinders continued for two more years with guerrilla-style battles, which the British met in turn with scorched earth tactics. By 1902 26,000 Boers (mainly women and children) had died of disease, hunger and neglect in concentration camps. On 31 May 1902 a superficial peace came with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging. Under its terms, the Boer republics acknowledged British sovereignty, while the British in turn committed themselves to reconstruction of the areas under their control. During the immediate post-war years the British focussed their attention on rebuilding the country, in particular the mining industry. By 1907 the mines of the Witwatersrand produced almost one-third of the world's annual gold production. But the peace brought by the treaty remained fragile and challenged on all sides. The Afrikaners found themselves in the ignominious position of poor farmers in a country where big mining ventures and foreign capital rendered them irrelevant. Britain's unsuccessful attempts to anglicise them, and to impose English as the official language in schools and the workplace particularly incensed them. Partly as a backlash to this, the Boers came to see Afrikaans as the volkstaal ("people's language") and as a symbol of Afrikaner nationhood. Several nationalist organisations sprang up. The system left Blacks and Coloureds completely marginalised. The authorities imposed harsh taxes and reduced wages, while the British caretaker administrator encouraged the immigration of thousands of Chinese to undercut any resistance. Resentment exploded in the
House of JAN FLEMMER Bambatha Rebellion of 1906, in which 4,000 Zulus lost their lives after protesting against onerous tax legislation. The British meanwhile moved ahead with their plans for union. After several years of negotiations, the South Africa Act 1909 brought the colonies and republics — Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State — together as the Union of South Africa. Under the provisions of the act, the Union remained British territory, but with home-rule for Afrikaners. The British High Commission territories of Basutoland (now Lesotho), Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Swaziland, and Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe) continued under direct rule from Britain. English and Dutch became the official languages. Afrikaans did not gain recognition as an official language until 1925. Despite a major campaign by Blacks and Coloureds, the voter franchise remained as in the pre-Union republics and colonies, and only whites could gain election to Parliament. In 1910 the Union of South Africa was created by the unification of four areas, by joining the two former independent Boer republics of the South African Republic (Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek) and the Orange Free State (Oranje Vrystaat) with the British dominated Cape Province and Natal. Most significantly, the new self-governing Union of South Africa gained international respect with British Dominion status putting it on par with three other important British dominions and allies: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It’s is against this historical back ground that the very real racial groups come into place. It is also with this history that new families came to the fore born out of mist and eerie. Some had the opportunity to choose but most was forced to adopt by simply given new names or identities by this new Afrikaner nation. This is just a tip in the ice-berg of how the newly formed white South African nation embarked on their cruelness towards the African, Coloured and Indian groups. A move not to recognise a son of “colour” from the South African soil the right of any sort, in the land of his birth. The Coloured Flemmer Family is just one of them. It is said that from the 3rd generation of Flemmer’s, us, became coloureds
House of JAN FLEMMER because the first 2 generations married coloured women. It is this 3 rd generation (our grandfather’s and grandmother’s) whom I will honour in my pen. Chrisjan Flemmer – Father of the 12 Branches of the Coloured Flemmer Family cemented his father’s name Jan Flemmer – The Stamvader of the Coloured Flemmer Family, by having twelve children with his wife Liza Holster. Liza hails from Cradock. These 12 children will become the 12 Flemmer Branches of the Coloured Flemmer Family of which we are part off. Jan Flemmer aka Oom Ghoei was born 1898/99 giving birth to the 1 st of the 3rd generation, his brother Chrisjan Flemmer aka Oom Dice were born the year after and the last born Willem Flemmer aka Oom Totie born 1935. In addition there are the branches of Andries Flemmer from Venterstad and Joseph John Flemmer from the Western Cape, and so the Coloured Flemmer Family fairy tale deepens with more eerie, mystery and legend. We Are Who We Are
We Are Who We Are Between the picturious mountains and open plains of the Karoo Midlands (Graaff-Reinett, Middelburg and Cradock) a new coloured family was born out of mist and legend. This is my unfinished story about who I am. It is a personal journey in the pursuit of our Coloured Flemmer family’s Stamvader - Jan Flemmer and his son Chrisjan Flemmer - Father of the 12 Flemmer Branches. The surname FLEMMER is of European, specifically Scandinavian, pinpointed Danish, likely but most unlikely German origin and can go back to France in the 1400’s, and may derived from the Flanders region in Belgium as the name would have suggested the meaning: a man from Flanders. In our family oral history it is said that the 3 rd generation of Flemmer’s from our stamvader 1st Jan Flemmer and his son 2nd 13
House of JAN FLEMMER Chrisjan Flemmer became coloureds around the turn of the century coincided with the formation of the Union of South Africa because as with the stamvader, his son, also married a coloured woman. This is possibly how we become bearers of a European surname. Whether the story is true or not, it lies deeply in the heart of our family mystery and legend. This will give you more insight and understanding of how the South African history made curved turns in the make-up of WHO WE REALLY ARE. It will follow the mentioned peopleâ€™s livelihoods, pains, hardships and joys. It's worth saying that they were labours of art and musicians by heart.
JAN FLEMMER the STAMVADER 1. Jan Flemmer married Ragel Essex - 3 children 1.1 Chrisjan Flemmer married Liza Holster 2.1 Katrina Flemmer: no info 3.1 Sarah Flemmer: probably died young CHRISJAN FLEMMER: FATHER of the 12 FLEMMER BRANCHES 1.1 Chrisjan Flemmer married Liza Holster -12 children 1.1.1 Jan Flemmer -Branch: Oom Ghoei 2.1.1 Chrisjan Flemmer -Branch: Oom Dice 3.1.1 Frank Flemmer -Branch: Oom Vonk 4.1.1 Charles Flemmer -Branch: Oom Charles 5.1.1 Lodewyk Flemmer -Branch: Oom Liet
House of JAN FLEMMER 6.1.1 Rachel Flemmer -Branch: Aunt Koenas 7.1.1 Sabiena Flemmer-Branch: Aunt Noenoe 8.1.1 Abraham Flemmer-Branch: Oompie Awie 9.1.1 Janewarie Flemmer-Branch: Oompie Warrie 10.1.1 Jacob Flemmer -Branch: Oom Jacob 11.1.1 Liza Flemmer -Branch: Auntie Liza 12.1.1 Willem Flemmer -Branch: Oom Totie 1. Joseph John Flemmer - Branch of the Western Cape 1. Andries Flemmer - Branch of Venterstad
The Stamvader - Jan Flemmer 17 January 1814. Inventaris van alle zodanige goederen, als er op Vrydag den veertienden dag dezer maand January in den jaare onzes Heeren een duyzend acht honderd en veertien ab intestato metter dood zijn ontruijmd ende nagelaten door Carel Cremer ten voordeele zyner onbekende uitlandige erfgenamen, zodanig als dezelve nalatenschap door my ondergeteekende Adj:t Commies der Weeskamer ter presentie der mede geteekende getuijgen is opgenomen en in geschrifte gebragt, mitsg:s bevonden te bestaan in het volgende, te weetenIn een huurhuys van mejuff: de wed:e Onkruijdt twee zilvere zakhorologies waarvan een toebehoord aan de soldaat van â€™t 60 Reg:t Jan Flemmert, die aan hem is afgegeeven geworden Crediten des boedels. Aldus geinventariseerd aan de Kaap de Goede Hoop ter huyze voormeld op den 17 January 1814. 15
House of JAN FLEMMER ALS getuygen: J: Serrurier, J: N: Rorich Mij present: P: E: Faure, Ad: t C: The Story of the South African Flemmerâ€™s - Jan Flemmer JAN FLEMMER and RAGEL ESSEX "Just before we held the Flemmer 150 Year Reunion in Cradock in 2003 I was contacted by a descendant of this couple. He was MacDonald Flemmer, part of a big Flemmer family that had lived in the Graaff-Reinet, Cradock and Middelburg area for generations. We were happy to welcome MacDonald and some of his family to the Reunion and subsequently he spent some considerable time trying to establish whether in fact the Danish Flemmer's were related to Jan Flemmer. Despite many attempts to track down birth or baptismal records, no early trace of the family could be found. I quote here something MacDonald sent me: "The Legend of the Coloured Clan of the Family Flemmer: As the story goes the family had almost no memoirs of our direct ancestors. The belief in the LEGEND purely is in the line of hearsay partly because there is no written evidence for this clan to present their line of ancestry. This Clan were not educated people up until the 4th generation. The children of JAN FLEMMER a white man with a rare English accent as his grand children who knew him can fatedly(sic) vividly remember, were bound to half education because of their father's marriage to a coloured lady by the name of RAGEL ESSEX (although she herself were from Scottish decent). This whole episode begins at the beginning of the 1900's.What I write here is information I have gathered from the earliest memories possible. Unfortunately there is no written evidence to verify this. At that stage JAN and his children were still classified as white people before the coming of the Union of South Africa in 1910. A sudden twist will follow when JAN'S only son CHRISJAN FLEMMER married another coloured lady by name of LIZA HOLSTER from Cradock.
House of JAN FLEMMER The children of CHRISJAN would become (be classified as) coloureds. CHRISJAN became a bricklayer and builder by trade and this skill would be passed on to his children and some of his grandchildren. Although not educated the children of CHRISJAN would be workers and labourers by art and musicians by heart. No evidence of the abovementioned people has been recorded i.e.: birth, baptism, marriage or death and hence the family legend." This family legend lies at the heart of historical South Africa with its racial divisions and all of the misfortune and heartache it has brought. The only comments I make are:
I have traced no one with the name Jan Flemmer in the Danish family which doesn’t mean he wasn’t one of them, but it seems unlikely. As Jan Flemmer's grandson, also Jan Flemmer was born in 1895; I would estimate that Jan Flemmer snr. Could have been born in the 1865 - 1870. Although it is possible that the name Flemmer was assumed by Jan when he was working on a Flemmer farm, it doesn’t explain the legend set out above. His grandchildren were adamant that he was white. He spoke with a rare English accent or do they mean strange? As in a Danish/English accent?
We don’t know and never will I suppose. Barring finding documents I have suggested the only way to establish a connection is by DNA testing. I had the pleasure of going to MacDonald's wedding in Cradock in 2005. He was a Manager with the Lottery Company. I also met Jacob Flemmer a police officer in 2003 and have been in correspondence with Jerome Flemmer, who was Marketing Manager with SAA." This is an edited extract from the book by Steve Herbert: Story of the South African Flemmer’s. Saddled with the burden of apartheid and colonial-slanted textbooks, South Africans have tended to take their identities from their political leanings. But "mixed marriages" are as old as South Africa itself. As 17
House of JAN FLEMMER the meaning of democracy dawns, more people are finding family tree research the key to understanding their own heritages. The first written records of births, deaths and marriages, incomplete though they are, came with Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, when he set out to establish a way station at the Cape of Good Hope with the aid of Robben Island. Perhaps the most representative of the mix of South African ancestry lines dating from those early days is the marriage of Krotoa, a Khoi interpreter who worked for Van Riebeeck and married a colleague of his, Danish explorer Pieter Meerhof. Burdened with the double obligation of fitting into European society and being loyal to her own people, Krotoa's life was made even harder when Meerhof was seconded to Robben Island as superintendent. Left as one of only two women on the island when her husband was killed on a slaving expedition, and shunned by both societies, Krotoa succumbed to depression and an alcohol-related death, but left behind at least eight children, the descendants of one of whom was the progenitor of the Zaaiman family in South Africa. Some of them went on to become key figures from all spectrums including white ex-premiers Paul Kruger, Jan Smuts and FW de Klerk. Then came the slaves: in 1658 the first two boatloads - one from Angola and one from west Africa - arrived, and some of these went on to marry Dutch citizens of the Cape or bear children by them after intermarriage became outlawed. One couple, Anna and Evert, who were purchased by the Dutch from African slave lords in Benin in 1658, produced a daughter who went on to have a son by prosperous Dutchman Bastiaan Colyn. Her son, Johannes, married a descendant of the wealthy Cloete family and purchased De Hoop op Constantia, still one of the finest estates in the Cape. After West Africa was declared out of bounds, the Dutch East India Company began bringing in slaves from the east - either from their base in Djakarta or China, Sri Lanka or India, often with Arabs as middlemen.
House of JAN FLEMMER The first boatloads arrived in 1681, and by 1730 they had extended their operations to include the Mascarenes, Mozambique and Zanzibar, with Portuguese colonists as middlemen. With only 19 European women and 100 white free burghers at the Cape in 1677, most 13th generation South Africans with colonial ancestry have at least one slave ancestor from these parts. Though European female numbers increased 30 years later, slave women were often favoured for their beauty, and many became the ancestral mothers (or stammoeders) of generations of families in South Africa. In 1692, four of the 34 Cape Town free burghers had ex-slave wives, but according to "Cape Town, Making of a City", compiled by Nigel Worden et al, this mestizo culture was gradually discouraged by the ruling Dutch, although this did not discourage illicit affairs - and illegitimate children borne out of such unions.One well-researched case is that of Isabella of Angola, who had children by a Dutchman thought to be Cornelis Claassen. One of Isabella's children is believed to be Armosyn van de Kaap, who became matron of the Slave Lodge and went on to have a daughter by a European. Armosyn's daughter later married German soldier Hermann Combrink, the stamvader of that prolific dual-hued family in South Africa.Often the only ticket for freedom for slave women - or their children - was through marriage to a white man. In terms of a 1685 decree, male halfslag Company slaves of European ancestry were permitted to buy their freedom at 25, females at 22, provided they had been confirmed in the Dutch Reformed Church and could speak Dutch. Because of this, many Muslims officially converted religions, providing yet another marriage barrier. Other Easterners taken as slaves were Muslim political leaders who objected to Dutch domination in the East Indies, perhaps the most well-known being Shaykh Yusuf, whose kramat near Faure is today an important pilgrimage destination for South African Muslims. It is still not known whether Yusuf's remains lie in the tomb or were transported back to Macassar, as the Dutch government reported, but some of his descendants did remain.
House of JAN FLEMMER One of his grandsons married Marie Jordaan, whose origins were in France.In 1688; a new influence brought with it another European aspect to the cultural kaleidoscope: the first French Huguenot Protestants escaping Catholic persecution in France were brought out by the Dutch. Settling the area now known as Franschhoek, many of the Huguenots owned slaves to cultivate the winelands, and halfcaste children, born mainly out of wedlock, were among the unfortunates who produced children who failed to pass the apartheid government's pencil test over two centuries later. By the early 1700s Dutch farmers had started moving inland. Though they were not officially allowed to be enslaved, Xhosa and Khoi were employed by the Dutch under conditions often equivalent to slavery, and inter-breeding among all three continued, often in the capacity of mistress or cuckold. In 1795, the British occupied the Cape for the first time, and after losing it to the Dutch again in 1803, seized it as their own in 1806. With the British occupation came the impoverished 1820 settlers, who were sent to help wrest land from the Xhosa in the Eastern Cape and the Zulu in KwaZulu-Natal. One of the better-known of these settlers to cross the racial divide was Henry Fynn, who befriended Zulu King Shaka and fathered children by many Zulu wives. Other English names which crop up regularly in the history of the Wild Coast, traditionally the home of the Pondo, are King and Cane, explorers who lived among the local tribes. Shipwreck survivors through the centuries have also produced many a blue-eyed black child in the area. In his book "The Caliban Shore", Stephen Taylor describes the meeting of survivors from The Grosvenor with an escaped Cape slave who had made his home on the Eastern frontier, an indication of other possible influences in tribal ancestry. Inter-tribal marriage was another influence, as Shaka absorbed smaller tribes in his quest for dominance. With British rule came the banning of slave importation in 1807, but boatloads of "prize negroes", slaves secured by the government from illegal slave ships, were still introduced into the colony as cheap labour. A number of British settlers married Madagascans and Mauritians imported in this way. In 1834, slavery was officially 20
House of JAN FLEMMER abolished, and mission stations dotted around the Cape absorbed many of those left jobless by the system. Another much-contested scheme to compensate for the loss of slave labour saw a wave of St Helena servants imported, which continued to the end of the 19th century. A large portion of Cape Town's Cape Flats today is the product of intermarriages, and many can remember their St Helena ancestors being broken by the system which crushed their progress with forced removals in the 1960s. For brief spells between frontier wars, there was relative peace among the many nations of the land, but it was not long before the Boer Dutch farmers grew unhappy with their lot under British rule without slaves, and headed north. By the time of the South African (or Anglo-Boer) War in 1899, after the diamond rush and the discovery of gold, Boers had married Brits, who had followed the original settlers in droves, both had married across the colour line, and slaves had married Khoi and Bantu.Though marriage across the colour line was outlawed, it was little deterrent to those with soul aspirations. Perhaps the most well-known and most ironic product of such unions was ANC stalwart and pragmatic long-time adviser and friend of Nelson Mandela throughout his exile on Robben Island, Walter Sisulu, born in 1912 in Qutubeni, Transkei. Though he had little to do with him, Sisulu's white father, Albert Dickinson, a Port Elizabeth government worker, went on to have another child by his mother, Alice. They never officially married, and Walter took on his mother's surname, adding Max Ulyate as his middle names. Though it has not been explored, the name Ulyate was a surname of a prominent family of 1820 settlers. It only takes a trip or two out of Cape Town to be reminded just how much craziness the system bred. Simonstown, a naval base and popular tourist spot, and Stellenbosch, the home of the Afrikaans language, are just two of the many spots named after Dutch governor Simon van Der Stel, who set about seizing land from the Khoi on his arrival in 1679.
House of JAN FLEMMER Though Van der Stel is widely accepted as being the greedy progenitor of apartheid whose sprawling, slave-worked estates were the elite homes of generations of Afrikaners, a little-known fact is that Van der Stel, born in Mauritius, was probably just a generation away from slavery. It is almost certain that his grandmother was from the south coast of India, and evidence shows that he and his sister covered up their mother's origin in order to be given white status when they immigrated to Holland. The only proven picture of the man disappeared in 1934, but another which is thought to be his portrait shows an arguably Eastern demeanour. Genealogist Hans Heese, himself a white descendant of Krotoa, puts it in his book "Die Herkoms van die Afrikaner 16571867", the modern-day white Afrikaner is of 34% Dutch, 33% German, 13% French, 6.9% coloured and 5% British origin - a formidable array of genes for the South African genealogist to contend with. Thus brings us to the end with a glimpse into the past about the makeup of the early South African Society and the beginning of the South African Creole Nation. It is from this background which will set the tone for the search of our own identity as a family within the New South African Society context, herewith carving our own destiny and therefore brings forward a new generation of families to the ever evolving new South Africa. Jan Flemmer and his son Chrisjan Flemmer, our direct ancestors, will always be remembered (at least by their descendants), from were ever they came from, that they has given their own flavor to the making of a new South Africa pie. I am a piece and product of that making and proud of it. I will end his story with a romanticized assumed conclusion. The first ever recorded Flemmer (t) in the South African history is that of a Jan Flemmert who is mentioned in a will were by the state took ownership of the belongings of a widowed Me. Onkruijdt.Document details (edited):â€œReference no.: MOOC8/30.1017 January 1814
House of JAN FLEMMER Inventaris van alle zodanige goederen, als er op Vrydag den veertienden dag dezer maand January in den jaare onzes Heeren een duyzend acht honderd en veertien ab intestato metter dood zijn ontruijmd ende nagelaten door Carel Cremer ten voordeele zyner onbekende uitlandige erfgenamen, zodanig als dezelve nalatenschap door my ondergeteekende Adj:t Commies der Weeskamer ter presentie der mede geteekende getuijgen is opgenomen en in geschrifte gebragt, mitsg:s bevonden te bestaan in het volgende, te weetenIn een huurhuys van mejuff: de wed:e Onkruijdttwee zilvere zakhorologies waarvan een toebehoord aan de soldaat van ’t 60 Reg:t Jan Flemmert, die aan hem is afgegeeven geworden.”My story here is that Me.Onkruijdt had become widowed and probably had to fend for herself. She may have become a prostitute in order to survive. As women at that time did not have jobs like men did and if they did not remarry or them then often became mistresses to the men. There is no mentioned of children. Jan Flemmert was maybe a paying customer of hers and did so with his 2 watches for “services rendered”. Ships would port in the harbour and many a young girl and single or widowed woman would wait in the pier for a man or soldier to take them away by the hand of marriage or to render services for survival. This maybe a scenario like that. This saga played out in the Cape of Good Hope. In February 1853 the next recorded Flemmer would set his feet on South African soil is Dr. Christian August (also called Ludwig for and replace August) Flemmer with his wife and 5 children in Algoa Bay. He would become the Stamvader of the white South African Flemmer’s. There is no Jan Flemmer from his children or even from his grandchildren. From the records I have, is that our STAMVADER Jan Flemmer eldest grandchild also Jan Flemmer nickname Oom Ghoei was born between 1895 and 1900. Therefore it would mean that our STAMVADER was probably born between 1840 or 1845. That is if you average the age of a male at that time when he would sire a child. That means that Oom Ghoei’s father Chrisjan Flemmer would have been born between 1870 or 1875. So our STAMVADER
House of JAN FLEMMER could not be of the family who landed in Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth) in 1853 and made their 3 week way to Cradock per ox-wagon. Neither could he be from the very first mentioned Flemmert as the dates and places would not match up. So were did he came from? Who were his parents? Who were his siblings? Who were his aunt and uncles? We can dwell in these kinds of questions and make several claims of whom and what he was. As for me he could not be from the first ever mentioned Flemmert in Cape Town nor could he from the Flemmer family who landed in Algoa Bay. The elders in my family claim that we are from German stock meaning European or white. Although there are Flemmer’s in Germany it is unlikely that we are from them as the Europe map shows that Denmark and Germany share border line. No evidence of German Flemmer’s of that time to be here. There was a Horst-Dieter Flemmer from Oberhousen Germany and came to live in South Africa in 1955 at the age of 22 so his birthday would be in 1933. He came to work on the Railways in Kroonstad. Thus Danish Flemmer’s come to South Africa not Germans. Anyhow most German Flemmer’s spell their surname Flammer. As you have read my previous documents the make-up of South Africa is mix of all nationalities thus created a Creole nation who is diverse as can be. Since the very first ships that sailed round Cape point up until today we as South Africa are probably the most diverse nation in the world. There were Khoi and San, Dutch, Brit, French, Danes, Malay, Indian and Chinese then there free burgers and slaves then there were Muslim, Christian, Jew and all of that. With all of that came Jan Flemmer, maybe he was an offspring of the many children born out of wedlock from a white father and coloured women, maybe he come from a family who disowned him, maybe he was a wonderer, maybe just one day he adopt the name Flemmer on his travels from farm to farm in search of work.
House of JAN FLEMMER Maybe just maybe he was this really mysterious person who had 3 children and a son who would sire 12 grandchildren for him, cementing his name Jan Flemmer for generations to come. The apartheid system did not help either as our grandparents would not find joy in talking to us their grandchildren the real nasty stuff of their abuse to our great-grandparents or then conveniently dumped them in coloured townships. I donâ€™t want to lay claim that my grandparents and great grandparents were white or European. I want nothing of that. My life and my writings will show that I am son of thus South African soil and I am descendant of a Creole make up. That means I am indigenous and my name Flemmer has nothing to do with my blood. Having said that Flemmer would be my last name in honours of the mysterious legend our STAMVADER Jan Flemmer. Our STAMVADER: 1. Jan Flemmer married Ragel Essex - 3 children 1.1 Chrisjan Flemmer married Liza Holster 2.1 Katrina Flemmer: no info 3.1 Sarah Flemmer: probably died young. Through his son Chrisjan Flemmer he would become a legend in my being as a Flemmer. His name will be for ever penned down in my writings, his name would be my pride and joy, and he would be my LEGEND. Many stories can be told about him but for now I will bring this episode to an end, join me in my journey through yet another link in my name - Flemmer.
Father of the 12 Flemmer Branches â€“ Chrisjan Flemmer The story of Chrisjan Flemmer begins when I had a call round about 20h00 while dinning with friends at the Waterfront restaurant in Bloemfontein. A small mall then, with restaurants overlooking a lake adjacent to the Bloemfontein Zoo. 25
House of JAN FLEMMER The date is 11th March 2000. That call would set me on this journey of looking for who I am. The call came from a school teacher who also happened to be an in married relative. The words were: your brother has been stabbed and no need to worry as he is in good hands at the local hospital in Middelburg Cape. My brother was the last born to my mother; I am the eldest and a sister between us. That call dampened my appetite. Not long after that we left for our homes. Couple of hours later at about 03h30 in the morning, the next call I received confirmed my fear, he did not make it, and my brother Armand Ricardo Dow was no more a living person on earth. Years before that while living in Cradock and working for a furniture store as a salesman, I would in my lunch hour go to the towns library and update myself with the days newspapers. The year is 1995.One day while waiting for the other readers to finish up I wondered into the history section – biographies and history is my thing. The book “Groot familie Naam Boek van Ou Kaapse Families deur Palmer en Di Villiers” caught my eyes. Upon looking for my surname Flemmer I came across Dr. Christian August (Ludwig) Flemmer and his wife Betty Camilla Augusta Abo and their 7 children listed having lived in and around Cradock town. They came from Denmark and arrived in Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth) February 1853 and made a 3 week ox-wagon trip to Cradock. While preparations for the funeral was going on, one of the things that needs to be done is to get the names of the pole bearers who will then carry the casket at several times during his last earthly voyage. Being the eldest I was task to compile the list. Being the big family that we are, I set out to try and include as much as possible family and friends, not an easy task if you ask me. Anyhow dumps trucked and confused as the names presented were the same name. When growing up I only knew my uncles (that’s outside my family home) by their nicknames (topic and story for another day). From all the names I ask to be submitted to me was either Chrisjan or Jan. When I asked why all these guys from different houses within the family had the same names, they told me that the names were given to them as they were the 1st and 2nd born grand 26
House of JAN FLEMMER and great grandsons of Chrisjan Flemmer and Jan Flemmer our STAMVADER respectively. That set me to my copies made from the Cradock library books. My grandfather was Lodewyk Flemmer, can it be that he got the name from Christian August (Ludwig) Flemmer? Then there is all these Chrisjan’s Flemmer in the family, could they got their names from this Christian August (Ludwig) Flemmer? The search was on to establish what is and what happened here. In 2002 I move back to Port Elizabeth from Bloemfontein having lived there before from 1996 – 1999. In the following years new revelations would come to the fore. In the build up to 2003 Flemmer Reunion I would travel the Eastern Cape flat. On these travels I found my source to Chrisjan Flemmer father of the 12 branches of the coloured Flemmer family. He was Oom Chrisjan Flemmer. Oom Chrisjan is the son of Jan Flemmer (Oom Ghoei) thus he is the grandson of Chrisjan Flemmer the father of the 12 Flemmer branches. The hours spend with him was priceless, many stories which I will pen down will come from him. He was the connection to old folk. Although he was the 1st son of the eldest child his father Oom Ghoei he was not the eldest 1st grandson born to Chrisjan Flemmer the father of the 12 Flemmer branches, that honour fell on Morris Flemmer the 1st son of Frank Daantjie Flemmer (Oom Vonk) who in turn was the 3rd son born to the father of the 12 Flemmer branches. And Oom Chrisjan was very clear on that. In that same time I was searching and doing research like hell. Always ending up in deadends. Frustrated I would for months not bother doing this family thing anymore but the seed was long-time planted. I and Oom Chrisjan will still engage in our “recording of Flemmer family history”. Then one day he said:” Boetie , jy sal moet laat ons vroeg een oggend uitgaan op die Middelburg pad sodat ek jou kan gaan wys waar is my oupa Chrisjan Flemmer, begrawe is’. For me it was like having hit the jackpot. Because there is no written evidence (birth, baptism, christening, marriage and death) of either Jan or Chrisjan Flemmer,
House of JAN FLEMMER here an opportunity arises that may I will see a tombstone or that sort of thing bearing the name: Flemmer. Before I get to ahead in this story I first need to clean the air of what some of the older people in the family claimed. As a child growing up the some of the older people would say that we are from German blood meaning we are descendants of European or white people. Today I will differ from that believe for more than 100 reasons. In my growing up years there was a word that was used to described us as coloureds – gam/gham, and the saying was or is “ek of jy is gam/gham se kind”. Let’s pause for a moment and go back to the time and story of Noah and his son Gham. What is meant by the term ‘GHAM’ when directed at ‘Coloured’ people. I often asked myself why ‘Coloured’ or Cape African Creole people are referred to as Gham or the ‘Children of Gham’.There is an old root for the use of this term and phrase which has as its foundation a ‘race theory’ rooted in an interpretation of a biblical story. According to this story the mark of Ham is ‘blackness’ and that a God sanctioned curse was placed on the children of Ham that they should be slaves or servants to the superior children of Noah’s other sons.This biblically based racist theory was introduced into South Africa in around 1708 by a man by the name of Adam Tas who was the intellectual father of racism and Apartheid in the Cape. Adam Tas had a major feud with the van der Stel family (the van der Stel’s were of mixed Indian Dutch parentage) and other Free Blacks in the early years in the Cape whom he referred to as ‘The Black Brood Amongst Us’. He was the first to call for pass laws and controls of all people of colour, indigenes, slaves, Free Blacks and those in intermarriages.A number of religious groups and political organisations like the AWB to this day use these same theories to argue that they are a master race and that ‘Coloured’ and African Indigenes are a sub-human form of life which they refer to as the ‘mud-people’ who have no status as humans in the sight of God. It is quite terrible that many people classified as ‘Coloured’ tend to use the term in a self-depreciating manner to describe themselves and
House of JAN FLEMMER others. One can only put this down to ignorance about how this term came into usage. It is no different to other derogatory terms such as Kaffir and Hotnot.The Greek and Latin pronunciation of Ham is Kham or Gham and the original meaning of the name Ham is BURNRT or BLACKENED. The name Ham is also associated with Khem which is the original name of Egypt.In the Bible in Genesis 9: 20-25 the story of Ham is related. The biblical character Noah had gotten drunk on the wine from his successful vineyard and had passed out naked in his tent when his son Ham, the father of Canaan walked in on the scene. Having seen his father’s nakedness instead of covering him up, he went outside and told his two brothers. (In some Jewish literature it suggests that Ham sodomised his father Noah) The two other sons of Noah went into the tent backwards and draped a covering over their father without looking at his nakedness. When Noah awoke and discovered his youngest son Ham had seen him naked (or done whatever to him) and had gone out and told the others he got angry. Other scholars suggest after cross-referencing with another biblical passage that Ham in fact had engaged in sexual intercourse with his father Noah’s wife. There also seemed to be politics and land conquest involving the Israelites and Canaanites that underpins the conflict.Noah in his anger called on the wrath of God and put a curse on Ham and his children for all time. The children of Ham and his son Canaan were for evermore cursed to be a class of slaves and servants. It was said that the children of Ham would be known by their mark of blackness. Ham moved south west into Africa and the Middle East where he became the forefather of those nations.In the 21st Century it is about time that we move away from ignorance and stop embracing this abomination of calling ourselves Gham or referring to others as Gham. Proponents of slavery have over the last 500 years been justifying slavery based on the theory of ‘the children of Ham’ and the ‘Curse of Ham’. People of colour were called Hamites or Gham. Even for those who want to use the Bible to justify their modern day actions the story involves one man Noah putting a curse on another man Ham and his
House of JAN FLEMMER descendants. Nowhere is it said that God sanctioned this or that this was a command of God. So for those who take their cue from this Abrahamic God this interpretation is even erroneous from a theological point of view. About two weeks before the 2003 Easter weekend I received a stressed call from my father in Cradock, who asked me a question that I had no idea how to answer? After a couple of seconds I spoke up with a question back to him, “what are you talking about” and he repeated his question, “how can you organize a family reunion without being in Cradock over the last months and why do they not have any knowledge of such an undertaking”. My winds were out of my sails, what’s happening here? I asked myself. There is a Flemmer Family Reunion taking place in Cradock and I, a Flemmer do not know about it.After a couple of phone calls to the hotel where the banners were put up I was in contact with Steve Herbert – the organizer of the reunion. He told that it was the 150th celebration of Dr. Christian August (Ludwig) Flemmer and his family arrival from Denmark to Cradock, and he is a descendant from that family. From that moment on a friendship would evolve till today and Steve Herbert would become my guide and mentor in Genealogy (the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history, as genealogists we use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members). Over a period of time he would give advice, guide me and give pointers on how to go about researching my family, the importance of record keeping, building a family tree, but most important he said was to have patience, hope and pray for luck when doing such a thing and do not forget to respect family members who do not want to talk about their families. I was now armed to continue on my journey. It was winter in GraaffReinet, that morning at about 07h00 it was still dark when I pick up Oom Chrisjan for our trip on the N9 in search of his grandfather’s grave. I had asked the kitchen staff at the Drostdy hotel to prepare
House of JAN FLEMMER lunch boxes for us, but my Oom Chrisjan would have none of that, he had his own coffee flask and lunchbox. Just after the Nieu-Bethesda turn off we hit the dirt road for another hour or so. “Kyk vir n groot peperboom” he said, we stop, he got out and calls me, and “ons is hier” he said. The excitement in me had no limits. There it was a small farm cemetery with about 8/10 graves under this big Pepper Tree. Disappointment followed when we cleared the grass that had overgrown the 3 gravestone still left in tacked. He pinpointed to be he thinks his grandfather was buried, on the day of the funeral; he was there as young teenage boy. Then he let it out; he was disappointed that there was no nameplate or gravestone. “Ek het my pa en oompies gese hulle moet n naamplaat opsit, maar hulle het gese dat hulle dit later sou doen, so hulle het nie!!!Want hier is niks”. Although there was nothing to show, he still took of his beanie and had o moment of silence and then he smiled – he was happy to give his grandfather a last visit. Three years later he died, I suppose a happy man having had an opportunity visit his grandfather’s grave. As for me, it was yet another hurdle in my path to reconnect with the root of my name. We spend another couple of hours there roaming the area, he showed me where his grandparents lived a farm cottage called Oliewenhout farm (Oupa Charles would say – Olienhout). The building was demolished, only rubble of bricks tells the story that there was a house before. He told me stories and showed me things which I will tell when I get to him in this storyline of the family. The following year 2004, I left for Kimberley from Port Elizabeth, on promotion from my work. I was for the next two years again out in the cold, not having any source to record the family timeline and stories. Finding any records of him being who he was ended up fruitless neither the churches nor the population register showed anything. The apartheid system had played their part in not recognize those who were the outcasts, the one who stay behind the bush when the veldt cornet come by for a visit to the farm. You simply did not exist. 31
House of JAN FLEMMER In my search for "who am I?” It’s here that I need to tell you how I became the person who I am. Today there is much debate about how we use the term African. There are many theories about the origin of the word Africa. The Romans used the words Aprica or Apricanus (sunny), while the Greeks spoke of Aphrike, the place that was free of cold. Both referred her to the land south across the Mediterranean Sea. The Phoenicians used the word Pharika meaning land of fruit`. We also know that Afarak were a Berber people who lived south of Carthage, now Tunisia. There is a further story of a chief named Africus who invaded North Africa and founded a town called Afrikya. There is no certainty on the subject, but we do know that as European cartographers and explorers extended their reach across the territory they had first called Terra Incognito; their maps began to extend the meaning of the word Africa to describe not just North Africa, but the continent as a whole. To a large degree the term Africa and African was used by people from outside of the continent to describe the continent and all that pertained to it. However, it was here in South Africa that the term African was first adopted as an identity by locally born people, who were neither colonists nor entirely indigenes. For over a century and a half, the term was mainly used by Creole people who were later to be called Coloured and the term even became a prominent surname, whilst the word Afrika became a popular first name.First local use of the term as related to identity in the Cape can be traced to two roots which occur roughly around the same time in the first decade of the 1700s. These can be referred to as the ‘Oude-Ram Afrikaner’ case and the ‘Bibault’ case.The ‘Bibault’ case of expression of Afrikaner identity was in 1707 when a young man from a mixed Slave and French family (father French, stepmother a freed slaved and siblings mixed), living in Stellenbosch, made an outburst in front of a magistrate after being arrested.
House of JAN FLEMMER Hendrik Bibault had been brought before the Dutch magistrate on a charge of being drunk and disorderly and challenged the magistrate by saying, what gives you the right to judge me. You can hit me and you can put me in jail, but I am an African (Afrikaner) and I cannot and will not keep quiet. I will do as I please. His was a strong expression of being of a different class of people to the Dutch burgers. The ‘Oude-Ram Afrikaner’ case traces back to the roots of the first people to use the term Afrikaner specifically as a group name. They were a mixed Khoi-Slave dynasty that originated in the Tulbagh farmlands of the Cape in the early 1700s and later after fleeing the district as drosters, settled in the Garieb district. The patriarch was Oude Ram` Afrikaner who was succeeded by his son Klaas Afrikaner also known as! Garuhamab. He was succeeded by the fighter, Jager Afrikaner also known as |Hom|aramab. Klaas was also the grandfather of Jonker Afrikaner, who founded the Namibian Orlams Afrikaner clan.Jager, was born at Roode Zand near Tulbagh. Initially, the family were dependants of the Dutch farmer Pienaar, but after murdering Pienaar in March 1796, they moved to Blydeverwacht, where they gradually established themselves as a powerful group, which became known as Orlam Afrikaners also known as |Aixa|aen . Jonker Afrikaner (|Hara-mÃ»b) was born ca. 1785 at Roode Zand (Groot Vlakte) near Tulbagh in the Cape Colony in South Africa. His father was Jager Afrikaner (1760-1823). He followed him as Captain of the Orlam Afrikaners (|Aixa|aen) in 1823. He was the fourth in the genealogy of the Orlam Afrikaners. He left his father’s settlement at Blydeverwacht (||Khauxa!nas - Schans Vlakte) in 1823 for central Namibia together with three brothers and some 300 followers, and established a large settlement at Windhoek around 1840 or before. It was from the Creole slave descendants that the Creole patois that became known as Afrikaans, developed. The first written form of Afrikaans also emerged in the 1700s in the form of literal translations of the Koran. Only much later in the later 1800s was the terms Afrikaner and Afrikaans adopted by the people who were proud to simply call themselves Boers.
House of JAN FLEMMER The first political organisations to adopt the term African were also Coloured political formations, the Kimberley Afrikaner League in the late 1800s and Dr Abdurahman`s African Peoples Organisation in 1902. The original Boer political party which had considerable representation in the Cape Parliament was the Association for the Protection of Boers. Their failure to deliver saw their demise and the rise of the Association of Real Afrikaners, which ironically had as their call to action “Africa for the Africans” - Afrika vir die Afrikaners. The facts about who were the original Afrikaners put a very different slant on the debate about Africaness. We also remember that white Afrikaner nationalists were so driven in their claim to the term African that successive Apartheid administrations, in replacing the term Natives`, used all sorts of terms such as non-European, nonWhite, Bantu and then finally Blacks, to describe indigene Africans. At one stage even the ludicrous term ‘plurals’ was a consideration. The term Blacks` only emerged in the mid 1970s and was cleverly manipulated as a means of division when the Black Consciousness movement appeared to be successfully rallying indigene African, Coloured and Indian youth to find unity in Black pride. The Afrikaans dictionary had no word for African in terms of reference for the indigene African people and having stripped Coloured people of the term, the Afrikaans dictionary and the law defined Coloured people in terms of what they ‘were not’. ‘Kleurlinge’ - people of colour. The law said two things about what made a person Coloured - 1) Coloured was anyone who was NOT White or NOT Black or NOT Asian… or 2) Anyone who was White, was Black or was Asian that had married Black, Coloured or Asian outside of their original group. (in terms of part two a terminology of classification was developed called ‘other Coloured’ and ‘other Asiatic’. The Apartheid definition of Coloured more than anything showed the ridiculousness of that ideology and race classification and each year lead to a reclassification scramble which were called the ‘chameleon dance’.From the early years of the 20th century the term African rose
House of JAN FLEMMER to popular prominence in opposition to the collective term Native` used by the colonial authorities as a label for the indigene African oppressed and also to assert unity across tribal and clan identities. The African National Congress (first called the SA Native National Congress), the African Claims movement, and the African Mineworkers Union amongst many other examples, rallied the Indigene African people to action. Pride in an African identity became a rallying point against Apartheid, Colonialism and the divisions created by its mischievous use of clan and tribal differences. African unity was a rallying point to combat divide and ruling policies. When we look back over the last 300 plus years, one thing that stands out in history is that White, Coloured and Indigene African people had some unity in their attraction to the term AFRICAN, even while we contesting its definition. Let’s get to know some individuals who can share some light on this in time in our history. Although these events were documented, this history which I present to you, you will not find in the conventional or perhaps in the previous dispensation history presentations. Kratoa - Eva van Meerhoff - Many called her EVA – others, like me call her “The mother of us All.” Kratoa was the niece of Chief Autshumato known to the Dutch as Harry the Strandloper. The Dutch called her Eva and took her as a young-girl into Commander van Riebeeck`s household. She became a housekeeper, a translator, an emissary. Kratoa’s story is a complex and sad story of a highly talented woman caught up between two worlds in a time of early war and dispossession of the Khoi by the colonists. Every aspect of her story shouts out - TRAGEDY and BETRAYAL. In many ways she was South Africa`s first diplomat and married a respected Dutch doctor and became Eva van Meerhof.The complexity of her life got the better of her. Used and abused, she ended up a prisoner both literally and figuratively. She was all but a drunken vagrant by the time of her death. Her children had been taken from her and nobody remembered how the early settlers had relied on her skills for their very survival. In 35
House of JAN FLEMMER these latter times she was scorned by the colonists and called ˜the bitch of the Dutch` by many of her own people.Kratoa is the motherancestor of many South Africans. Her blood flows in Coloured, White and African veins. Kratoa was initially buried in the grounds of the Castle of Good Hope in 1674, but later was moved to be buried below the foundations of the Groote Kerk in Cape Town.The hey days of Eva’s life as a diplomat can be gleaned from Commander Jan van Riebeeck’s diaries and other old documents. In recent times Trudie Bloem has written a moving novel on her life, entitled Kratoa - Eva, the woman from Robben Island The story of Kratoa Eva van Meerhof is a complex one, as is what name we should remember her by. I believe that for me, one of her thousands of descendant, the answer to what she should be called lies deep within her whole story and not just in the six years when she married Pieter van Meerhof. But for each of her descendants who all will have a different historical connection it would be their choice as to how they remember her.Kratoa, was born in 1643, the niece of Autshumato (Harry the Strandloper) leader of an independent Goringhaicona clan. But she also had an uncle in the Chainoqua tribe and women regarded as mothers in the Goringhaiqua and Cochoqua respectively. She was well connected through her sister who had been married first to Goeboe the Chainoqua chief and was later, in a twist of war, married to Chief Oedasoa of the Cochoqua. She was thus strongly related to Chieftainship or royal lineage. She always kept up the links with her people, even although at the tender age of ten, a year after the arrival of the Dutch settlers, she was taken into the household of the van Riebeeck family at Fort de Goede Hoop, where she was taught the Dutch language and the Christian faith. Over time as she grew older, Kratoa found herself split in her loyalties and, as a result of her closeness to the Dutch, her Khoe people did not always trust her at this time. Likewise the Dutch also saw her as an untrustworthy native.
House of JAN FLEMMER But to the Dutch at a crucial time she was invaluable. Her command of the Dutch language and understanding of Dutch custom and needs, far outstripped that of her uncle Autshumato and as soon as she was able to assist them, the Dutch wound down their dealings with Autshumato whom they found to be too shrewd and untrustworthy. This move only served to temporarily alienate Kratoa even more from her people. Nonetheless history does show us that Kratoa’s heart was with her people and she often used her influence with the Dutch, to protect the interests of her people. She also often slipped away to find comfort with her people.When she was no longer a naïve young girl pampered in a Dutch family, she was tormented about where she belonged, but she continued to work as an agent for the Dutch for some time. Her Uncle, Autshumato was also going through his own turmoil, as he was no longer accepted amongst many Khoe in the changing environment. Another chief, Nommoa also known as Doman of the Goringhaiqua was antagonistic to both Kratoa and Autshumato. He organised in the wings to replace them as the main interlocutor with the Dutch. The Dutch were only too happy to have choices and also played each of these against the other.As the Dutch switched their patronage from Kratoa to Doman, Kratoa felt rejected and again sought comfort in her own people. In fact at a crucial point during the Khoe resistance war she left the Fort and made her home amongst the Khoe again. But the sad fact was that Kratoa lived in a no-mans-land; a schizophrenic world. She felt used and abused by the Dutch.Kratoa had returned to the fort and somehow managed to live with the scorn of the Dutch for having rebelled with her uncle and disappearing into the bush to take up home amongst the Khoe. But full trust from the Dutch was no longer there. Autshumato’s trust credit with the Dutch had completely evaporated. He was found guilty of disloyalty, theft and being a danger to the settlement and as a result was exiled to Robben Island.Kratoa then began to display behavioural difficulties. Already as a young teen she
House of JAN FLEMMER had fallen pregnant by a passing French sailor and had taken to drinking strong alcoholic drinks. The alcohol addiction was later to ruin her life. The banishment of her uncle to Robben Island, the tension in the Dutch community about her short disappearance and the ascendency of her detractor Doman led to further alienation with both the Dutch and Khoe communities. In 1658 all civil relationships between the Dutch and Khoe had deteriorated and war broke out. Doman (Nommoa), previously a covert resister, now chose to play open cards, exposing his hostility to the Dutch by leading a rebellion. Doman had shed the diplomat figure to become an open advocate of resisting Dutch settlement and expansion. The war that he launched was a series of raids and small attacks on Dutch infrastructure organised by himself and his ally Osinghkhimma, son of Goringhaicona Chief Gogosoa (known as the â€˜Fat Captainâ€™). This forced the Dutch to turn again to the imprisoned Autshumato and to Kratoa for assistance. It was a short lived rekindling of relationships as all real trust had broken down. The war had in a way drawn a line between Dutch and Khoe identity for Kratoa. Her uncle Autshumato died soon after in 1663. The peace terms at the conclusion of the war favoured the Dutch.Although this Khoe-Dutch War was comparatively short and un-dramatic; it was this war and formal act of conquest that was the foundation of colonial South Africa. Kratoa found it difficult to cope with these events and with her role of interpreter and interlocutor. Her Khoe world had changed dramatically and the Khoe family to whom she was closely connected had disintegrated. Her Dutch adoptive family, the van Riebeecks were also about to leave. This was a major traumatic period in her life. Her own importance to the Dutch had reached its peak and she needed to become more rooted in their society or face a dejected future in the wilds. It was in this context that she briefly became Mrs. Eva van Meerhof and made history in becoming the first Khoe woman to formally marry a Dutch man, Pieter van Meerhof, in 1659. She had already had 38
House of JAN FLEMMER a child with Pieter and was pregnant with a second child by him when they agitated for marriage.It would be a marriage that was doomed from the beginning, with few company officials recognising her as Mrs. van Meerhof. In references she was still just Klein Eva the Hottentot. Just 6 years later, Pieter van Meerhof redeemed himself by abandoning Kratoa to go on an expedition to Madagascar where he was killed.Their decision to marry had been frowned upon by all as they defied everyone including the VOC in insisting on getting married. Kratoa married van Meerhof just at the time that her family life with the van Riebeeckâ€™s was disrupted. Van Riebeeck was transferred to Batavia that year and Kratoa had just managed to secure a new anchor for her precarious existence in early Cape Society. It was clearly a calculated and shrewd move on her part to avoid the hostility of the Dutch when her patron Van Riebeeck left the colony. With van Riebeeck gone, the van Meerhofs were an embarrassment at the fort, so Pieter was informally banished and made the overseer of Robben Island and the family retreated to an isolated life on the island which now served as a prison or place of banishment. Here, for three years, Kratoa led a lonely life looking after her children, drinking and seeking out the few banished Khoe prisoners with whom she socialised. Often she and Pieter would fight over her neglect of the kids, her drinking, and absconding to join her people in dance sessions on the beach.Van Meerhof was a soldier and medic and thus the Robben Island stint was something of a slap in the face. He saw it as a kind of punishment for taking up with a Khoe woman. After three years he got a break that he seized with enthusiasm. He was also an explorer who had travelled on behalf of the VOC to Namaqualand and now he got an opportunity to go on a slaving expedition to Madagascar. He jumped at it. It was to be his last chance at anything. Pieter was killed in a skirmish at Antongill Bay in Madagascar in 1667.Kratoa was now the widow. She was a broken woman, totally messed up by the schizophrenic life that she had lead. The Council of Justice ordered that her neglected 39
House of JAN FLEMMER children be taken away from her and put into the care of the Church. Kratoa had become a drunk, abused herself and was abused by all. She was sent to Robben Island again, now as a prisoner, but later returned to the mainland. This pattern of removal and return continued over and over again. She fell pregnant a number of times by different men and each time her infants were taken from her into care. She died at the age of 31 in 1674.Kratoa is the early ancestral mother of many Coloured, white Afrikaner and indigene African families of today. She is one of my forebears through both lines of my paternal and maternal great-great-great grandparents and is buried at the Castle of Good Hope.In tackling the question of how we refer to our ancestral mother we can chose to call her Kratoa, Eva or Mrs van Meerhof. But we should be aware of the historical context, and if we are, there is only one dignified reference that one can bestow on her memory. She was born and raised as Kratoa of the Gorighaiqua Khoe (or Quena) people. At the age of ten she was Christened Eva by the van Riebeeck family and removed from her family. Around the fort amongst company officials and slaves she was called Klein Eva the ‘Hottentot’. As such her Khoe identity was imprinted on her even by the Dutch who took her in for their own motives. She often stole away to take comfort amongst the people who called her Kratoa. At the crucial defining point – the time of War between her people and the Dutch – she went to live amongst her people. As a result, on her return the Dutch had soured towards her. She was the unwelcome ‘Hottentot’ in their midst. Her Patron was about to leave and she faced hostility from those whom she was to be left behind with at the fort. In this context Pieter van Meerhof married her, but was almost immediately informally banished with her to Robben Island as the marriage was considered unacceptable at the Fort. The Dutch were reluctant to recognise her as Mrs van Meerhof. To them she was Eva the ‘Hottentot’.
House of JAN FLEMMER There is also no evidence that she thought of herself as Mrs van Meerhof. On Robben Island again she preferred the company of the people who called her Kratoa. Six years after they were married for the purpose of gaining acceptance, it clearly had not worked. Pieter van Meerhof took off to Madagascar and never returned. Eva once more simply became poor Eva the ‘Hottentot’ wretch in colonial society. This continued for the rest of the 7 years of her short life.Colonial society at the Cape was much less like that in the Netherlands. It was more like Batavia, but even less refined. Of the settlers at the Cape at this time, the Dutch were only a very small group and mainly they were the senior company officials at the Fort de Goede Hoop. The broader settlers were a rough bunch of mainly Germans, other Europeans and Batavians as well as a regiment of Indo-soldiers from Ambonya, and a handful of slaves. At this stage there were no taboos on cohabitation across the colour line. But in the Fort amongst the senior company officials they were very wary of setting precedents and bestowing sanction to marriages with indigenes especially. Kratoa made history, but it was very short lived and she miscalculated any benefits that would flow from the marriage – ie acceptability.For most of her life she was Kratoa the Goringhaiqua or Eva the ‘Hottentot’. The short period of living in informal banishment on Robben Island as Mrs Eva van Meerhof, has to be weighed up against this background. Thus most of the descendants, who do recognise themselves to be such, generally chose to remember her as Kratoa. But this is a choice. There may well be those who wish to remember her by using the name of her husband of 6 years. It is not my choice. In public remembrance I would strongly argue that the name which we should remember her by, is not the name of her husband, or that given by van Riebeeck, but her indigene name. Kratoa lived in the Cape as a happy child for nine years before the colony was established. Regardless of her position at the fort she stood up for her people during the first anti-colonial war launched by her people and in her moments of need always turned to her people. Her relationship with
House of JAN FLEMMER her adoptive people the Dutch was always fraught and until recently over 350 years she has continued to be unrecognised. For these reason it is appropriate that we remember her as Kratoa. As we remember her so, it does not mean that we bury her other personas. Certainly her marriage to van Meerhof was groundbreaking. It unfortunately did nothing however to assist her integration into Dutch colonial society. Only in death did she find a home at the Fort where she is buried. Simon van der Stel and Anna de Koningh - The early Coloured elite. South African history records that Simon van der Stel and his son Willem stood out from the line of previous governors at the Cape after Jan van Riebeeck. Popular and official history however hid the fact that Simon was the Coloured offspring of the Dutch Governor of Mauritius and a freed Indian slave woman from Goa. The only painting of Simon was always conveniently tucked away, sketches produced for history books showed a very Dutch looking gentleman.When Simon van der Stel died his famous Groot Constantia estate was sub-divided and sold off. Groot Constantia was sold to the infamous Captain Olaf Bergh and his free slave wife Anna. Soon after Olaf passed away, and his widow Anna de Koningh became a wealthy woman as the new owner of Groot Constantia. Anna had inherited her motherâ€™s beauty and clearly made it work for her. She had risen from humble beginnings as one of the daughters of the slave Mooi Ansiela who stood out as a character in early Cape society. Martha Solomons - From Slavery to Nobility. Martha, freeslave daughter of Rebecca and a man from Wellington, by the name of Solomons, was born at the time of final emancipation in 1838, and at the age of six years was sent to her fatherâ€™s people in Wellington for her education. She led a varied early life, during which she lived in turn with three men, to whom she bore six children, but never married. During this time, she met Harry Grey.The Rev. Harry Grey was a clergyman from the county of Cheshire, in England. He was of 42
House of JAN FLEMMER aristocratic family, but given to the abuse of liquor and the company of’ women of humble origin’. These habits caused him to be regarded as a disgrace to the family, and in 1855 he was sent to the Cape as a ‘Remittance man’, that is, he was given a remittance (of twelve English pounds a month) on the understanding that he would never return.About 1864, Harry and Martha met at the Cape under circumstances not relevant to this story. They became good friends, with her struggling to keep her life together, and with him continuing his waywardness. In time he returned from his travels to Cape Town where he married Annie Macnamara in 1872, his first wife, who never left England, having died three years previously. In 1874 Harry Grey’s wife became seriously ill, and he sent for Martha to help nurse her. His wife, Annie, died at his home in Wynberg, and in due course Martha lived with him as his commonlaw wife. Martha bore Harry two children, John and Frances Grey. In 1872 Harry and Martha were married.Then, in 1883, whilst Martha was pregnant with their third child, Mary, events took a dramatic turn. The Seventh Earl of Stamford, a cousin of Harry, died without leaving a son. Normally the title would have passed to Harry’s father, but he had already died, and as Harry junior, now living at the Cape was the eldest son, the title passed to him. Harry Grey, the remittance man now became the Eighth Earl of Stamford and Ninth Baron of Groby, and Martha became the Countess of Stamford! As John was considered by English law to be illegitimate, he could not inherit a title. Frances died of smallpox at the age of three, but Mary, born after the marriage of her parents, became Lady Mary.Harry, the new Earl, never returned to England and so never took up his seat in the House of Lords. He died in 1890, leaving Martha very well off financially. The two children did not have a pleasant stay at the Cape, as there were strong prejudices against them because of their father’s known past and because their mother was coloured. In time they went to England, where both married. John became an electrician, married, and had a son who became a lawyer and later emigrated to New Zealand.To compensate John, who did not receive a 43
House of JAN FLEMMER title, the English parliament passed the John Grey Trust Act, into which a sum of £125 000 was paid, and from which John and his successors were to receive an income for the next two thousand years. Martha, the Dowager Countess of Stamford, now married a coloured man, Mr Pieterse of Wellington. She settled some money on her children, including those whom she bore before she married Harry Grey. But she never forgot her mother’s wish, namely that something should be done for the education for the children of her community.Now that she had the means, she put that idea into practice. She gave her church, the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in Wynberg, a large piece of land and some money, to build a school. This was the Battswood School, which later became the Battswood Training College for teachers.Martha, Dowager Countess of Stamford, died in 1916, and was buried alongside her husband and her daughter Frances in Wynberg. Her life’s story brings together an amazing network of differentstreams. There were inputs and influences from different countries (England and the Cape), racial types (English Caucasian and Cape coloured), languages and cultures (English and Afrikaans or Cape Dutch), social levels (aristocracy and working class), economic levels (rich and poor), education levels (Oxford University and bare literacy) and, above all, of levels of freedom (dominant rulers and slaves). Throughout this remarkable story, we see four threads, as it were, of common humanity, love, the striving for education, and the determination to rise Up from Slavery. Coenraad de Buys - The Afrikaner who assimilated with the Xhosa, STAMVADER of the DE BUYS people. By all accounts Coenraad de Buys, a Boer who settled in the Zuurveld in the 1780s, was an exceptionally tall man and an impressive figure. He was one of a number of white and coloured people (such as Hermanus ‘Ngxukumeshe’ Matroos and Hans Branders) who were on the Xhosa side in the frontier wars against the Boers and then the British.
House of JAN FLEMMER The wars carried on for 100 years.In the 1780s Coenraad settled on a farm near the Bushmanâ€™s River in the Zuurveld with his first wife, a Coloured/Khoi woman by the name of Maria van der Horst and they had seven children. But de Buys did a lot of wandering and also had many Xhosa wives. He later crossed the colonial border to live in the kraal of Chief Ngqika.Buys ultimately took Ngqikaâ€™s mother as his wife and became the main adviser to the chief. He also took another wife from the Thembu clan and had children with her. In 1813 de Buys moved north to the central region of the Gariep River and gathered his extended family together with allies from the Khoi, Oorlams Afrikaners, Basters and Xhosa. He welded these into powerful raiding parties and the European missionaries in particular became his target. In 1818 he moved northwards again, into what is now the Limpopo province. Coenraad had travelled across South Africa and left an indelible impression wherever he went. He was a true African whom Afrikaner historians chose not to highlight. Jean De Bus, a wine farmer from Calais, arrived at the Cape with the French Huguenots on board De Oosterland on 25 April 1688. He married a French woman, Sara Jacob, and his son Jean and grandson Jean (sometimes known as Jan) married Cape Dutch women. This last marriage produced a number of offspring including a son, Coenraad De Buys / Buys. Coenraad is regarded as the stamvader (progenitor) of the De Buys/Buys people. By 1773, about eight homesteads had been built in the Langkloof. The pioneers of the area included Jan De Buys on the farm De Ezeljacht. He was the father of Coenraad De Buys. Coenraad was born on the farm Wagenboomrivier in 1761. He had his own farm, De Opkomst, near Kareedouw/Montagu.When Coenraad was around 7 years old saw his father sitting on a chair "with his legs drawn up as stiff as planks". He was clutching his stomach and screaming. All that night he writhed in pain and died the next day. Coenraad walked to his halfsister, Geertruy's house and hold her about the death.Geertruy told Coenraad that she had seen another man die in same way - her father,
House of JAN FLEMMER Christina's first husband, Dirk Minnie.It is widely believed that Christina had poisoned them both. Coenraad decided not to go back home and lived with Geertruy and her husband, David Senekal, raising the livestock he received from his father's estate. Christina married David's brother, Jacob Senekal within six months. In the early 1780s Coenraad lived on a farm near the Bushmans River in the Zuurveld with a Baster-Khoikhoi woman, Maria van der Horst, with whom he had seven children. Maria was of slave descent. He often crossed the Fish River and raided cattle from the Xhosa. Langa, a Zuurveld chief, charged that De Buys had seized his wife and used her as a concubine, and two other chiefs said that De Buys had ‘withheld’ their wives and cattle. He went to live in the homestead of Ngqika well beyond the colonial border. Here he married Ngqika’s mother, Yese, and became Nqqika's main advisor. He also took a Thembu wife, Elizabeth, and had many children with her.During this time Coenraad was one of a number of white and coloured people who were on the Xhosa side in the frontier wars against the Boers and then the British.From 1799 the Rharhabe chief Ngcika (also known as Ngqika and Gaika)’s "Great Place" was shared by his erstwhile friend "Khula" or Coenraad De Buys. This place was apparently in the Tyumi river valley, just south of Hogsback.On 20 Sept 1799, Dr Johannes Van Der Kemp, a missionary from the London Missionary Society, met Coenraad De Buys in Kaffirland, where Coenraad acted as interpreter for van Der Kemp with Ngqika. Coenraad also acted as advisor to Ngqika. Over that year and the next Coenraad and Dr Van Der Kemp's friendship grew.At the end of 1800 Coenraad and Van Der Kemp decided to fight their way through the “Eastern Basemen” - probably those near the Storm Bergen -in order to find a new country. In the first days January 1801, they were to cross the Kabusie River, the first stage of their trek. Van der Kemp was washed away by the strong river and nearly drowned in crossing, but Coenraad took a few strides towards Van Der Kemp and plucked him out of the river basically without getting himself wet.
House of JAN FLEMMER During the Batavian period he moved to a farm in the Langkloof, where he lived with Maria, Elizabeth and large family of mixed-race children.Around 1812 Coenraad was living in George again, but soon had a falling out with Martha Ferreira. At her trial witnesses testified that Martha beat her slave Manissa almost daily with a sjambok and even caused Manissa to lose one of her eyes. On one particular day Manissa was sent to fetch wood. When Manissa didn't return after a while Martha followed her, but returned home without her.Later, about a half hours walk from the farmhouse, a bundle of firewood which was tied with twine (made of tulip petals) was found. At that same location was a trail of bloody footprints, puddle of blood, and a piece of taaiboshout (hardwood), drag marks, 'n karos and the small footprints of Martha Ferreira.This incident took place while Martha lived in a blockhouse; this was more than likely at Fort Frederick. Fort Frederick was built in 1799 to defend the mouth of the Baakens River and it stands overlooking the Port Elizabeth Harbour. Martha testified that Manissa, a Mozambican slave, was bought from an Englishman bought while they lived in Algoa Bay. She said that Manissa was very young, tender and small and that she had only chastised her except that she once hit on her back with a cane about five times.Martha further testified that Manissa suffered from "Mozambiquean sickness" and that she died from bloodletting, adding that the night before her death, Martha looked after her for the whole night, reporting her death to Veldkornet Jan van Niekerk, her brother. She had her slave, Esua bury Manissa.Several other cases were brought against Martha and, over time, the hearing at George concluded. Martha Ferreira was completely acquitted of some of the cases, while others were dismissed due to lack of adequate witnesses. The only charge, to which she was convicted, was wounding a slave on his head, for which a fine was imposed. During her trial at George, Coenraad de Buys testified against her, thereby further alienating himself from the community there.In 1813 Coenraad moved north to the central region of the Gariep River and gathered his extended family together with allies from the Khoi, Oorlams Afrikaners, Basters and Xhosa.Coenraad De Buys preceded 47
House of JAN FLEMMER organised trekking - he was 54 years old when he became a fugitive from a Boer rising in the Eastern Cape Colony, suppressed by the British in 1815. By 1818 Coenraad moved northwards to the present province of Limpopo, now trading with the Sotho-Tswana and perhaps the Portuguese near Mozambique. He left behind an enormous number of descendants of mixed origin, later called the Buys Bastaards, who formed a distinctive community. Coenraad was said to have fathered 315 children! In 1820 Coenraad decided to move north down the Madikwe (Marico) River into the Limpopo valley. The Tsonga and Afro-Portuguese in the valley could supply him with gunpowder in exchange ivory. He settled above the tsetse-fly and malarial belt in the Tswapong hills east of Palapye, in present day eastern Botswana. During the trip Elizabeth contracted yellow fever and died where they had settled. An already old, and for long unwell Coenraad was distressed. He undertook a last journey to Mozambique and asked his sons and their families to wait for him at the border, the Limpopo River. He never returned.It is believe that he died shortly after this. Coenraad's remains were never found and, although there were rumours that he intended traveling to the Portuguese East Coast, no proof was ever found of him ever arriving there. The town of Buysdorp was named after Coenraad De Buys. The 11000 hectares of land which today comprises Buysdorp (‘Buys town’) is situated in the foothills of the remote Soutpansberg (‘Salt Pan Mountain’) of the far northern Limpopo Province of South Africa. A hybrid community of some 300 individuals (de facto) or a few thousand (de jure), the Buys people have been confronted with successive political dispensations over the years. The hidden Blood-ties between the Xhosa, Whites and Coloureds. The amaXhosa`s first linkages with Asians and Europeans. There are whole clans of people living along the Wild Coast of South Africa and scattered about the Eastern Cape, who are the descendants of survivors of shipwrecks. One of these clans is the amaMolo whose ancestors were Indian (slave) castaways. 48
House of JAN FLEMMER Another - and perhaps better known - clan is the abeLungu. AbeLungu means the whites. Yet the abeLungu are black.The story of these black whites is intimately bound up with the nature of the Wild Coast and the very name of the place suggests why. South Africa is surrounded by sea on three sides. Its sea-routes are a shipping superhighway, and have been for hundreds of years. This highway has some of the most extreme weather in the world, especially along our eastern seaboard. The stretch we call the Wild Coast is particularly prone to terrifying storms. In addition, it is dotted with hidden reefs, practically devoid of natural harbours and subject to strange and capricious currents. As if that`s not enough, the Wild Coast is one of only a few places in the world which has true freak waves. These gigantic freaks of nature as high as a five or six storey building, are capable of breaking the back of a large ship and sending it to the bottom in a matter of minutes. The upshot of all this is that the Wild Coast has become a veritable ships` graveyard, notorious for its wrecks. Less well-known perhaps are the stories of their survivors. The Sunburnt Queen is the story of one of these castaways. It is a true story, and it`s about a little girl called Bessie who was shipwrecked on the Wild Coast about 250 years ago. Bessie was just one of thousands and thousands of people of all nationalities who were castaway on the shores of the Eastern Cape over the centuries. Most of their stories have been lost forever, but, by a double fluke of history, Bessie`s has not. Because she married into the Mpondo royal family she is remembered in the oral histories of her people, and because two of her children were still living when the first English missionaries first visited the area, her story was recorded in written history. Bessie`s ship was wrecked at a place called Lambasi Bay, which is better known nowadays as Port Grosvenor, after the famous English East Indiaman and its legendary treasure which sank there in 1782, about half a century later. The Wild Coast appears to have hotspots that attract more than their fair share of wrecks and Lambasi Bay is one of them. Bessie was adopted by the amaMpondo. She grew up to be a woman of great beauty and wisdom, and married Sango an Mpondo prince and chief of the amaTshomane. 49
House of JAN FLEMMER They lived at Mngazana, just south of Port St Johns, and it is there that Bessie lies buried. Mngazana is just one river down from the popular holiday resort of Mngazi mouth.Bessie and her husband had several children, at least 5 of whom lived to adulthood. Their female descendants were much sought after as the wives of chiefs and even kings and as a result the descendants of the little English castaway were involved in the most pivotal events of the 19th century in the eastern Cape, events which in many ways helped to shape modern South Africa. The Sunburnt Queen follows Bessie`s story, and those of her children and children`s children and an assortment of other strange and wonderful runaways, robbers, rascals and (very occasionally) rolemodels who made this country what it is today. Our history is remarkably rich and the story of castaways like Bessie is just one small part of a heritage waiting to be recovered and enjoyed.