| The British
|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
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.
· Culture ·
In this period of Cape History:
A City Develops
The Rise of
The End of British Rule