www.capetown.at Roddy Bray's Guide to Cape Town  
Click for Home Page
Click for Cape Town City Guide

Click for Heritage
SA Flag - Click for MP3 downloads
Audio Guides
Click for Directory of Cape Town Weblinks
Penguin at Boulders - click for Photos
Click for Storyletters

The British Era
(page 3)
Afrikaner Reaction
The 'Dutch' Cape population (they were in fact a mix of European nationalities by origin) did not take easily to this new mood of liberalism and change.

They and their religious ministers defended a narrow Calvinism and a slave-based economy. The ideas of the Enlightenment and of German rationalism, still less the precepts of the French revolution, had not penetrated the Cape under the VOC. Nor were they welcome in their distilled British form.

The energetic liberalism of the British middle class produced a response in the 'Dutch' population and newspapers expounding conservative views were produced. De Zuid-Afrikaan was founded in 1830, and challenged liberalism and the abolition of slavery. Dutch theatre companies, such as the 'Africander Amateurs' offered alternative plays. Dutch societies formed for the pursuit of the arts, science, education and literature.

The Reformed Church took on a centrality to life it had not had under the VOC and became much more active. In contrast to the British, who represented the force of colonialism, this population of European descent began to describe itself as 'Afrikaners'. It was a loose term, probably not exclusive to whites, but all those who used the form of Dutch that had evolved at the Cape.

In the 1830s, however, young Afrikaners in the city began to follow more liberal ways, and intermarriage between the merchants and the daughters of prosperous burgers, and trade between burgers and merchants helped to cement bridges across the cultural gap.

The gulf between the British and rural Afrikaner communities, however, grew wider with the emancipation of slaves (1834) prompting ten per cent of the European population to leave the Cape, with their slaves, and cross the Vaal River in search of independence. This 'walk out' on British rule is known as the Great Trek and has been the subject of many books, including Mitchener's 'The Covenant'.

The gulf between British modernity and Afrikaner conservatism remained and was only closed, temporarily, when in 1848 the British government proposed to ship British convicts to the Cape. There were vociferous public protests and the 'Neptune' was kept out at sea with her cargo of convicts for five months. Eventually she was sent on to Australia. It was a seminal episode, for it showed that in spite of their differences the white population of the Cape would unite in the face of a common threat to their interests.

Go to the next page >>>>>>

© www.capetown.at 2008. You may print this article for personal use; if for reproduction please acknowledge 'www.www.capetown.at.co.za'. You may not use this material for any electronic media except with written permission. www.capetown.at accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies or the work of service providers.


Heritage Sections
· Culture ·
· Environment ·
History · Society
Personalities · Areas

In this period of Cape History:



Reform Movement

Afrikaner Reaction

A City Develops

Imperial Capital

The Rise of Prejudice

Boom Years

The End of British Rule


Bibliography & Contacts


Return to top