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Article
Sailors and Clashes with the Khoe
Clashes The English  
Clashes with the Khoe
The entrance to Table Bay was probably missed by the first explorers, Dias and de Gama, and by the Portuguese trading fleets of 1501 and 1502, all of whom passed the Cape far out to sea.

It was Admiral Antonio de Saldanha, bewildered by a storm, who first sailed into Table Bay in 1503, and his experience did not bode well.

De Saldanha climbed Table Mountain to gather his position, and soon encountered the Khoekhoe. He offered them mirrors, glass beads and a rattle in return for two sheep and a cow.


He took the animals away, but perhaps the bargain had been misunderstood. A group of 200 Khoekhoe ambushed the sailors and took the animals back. De Saldanha was wounded.

In 1505 and 1506 subsequent fleets traded without incident, but in 1510 a scuffle broke out and sailors were beaten. The sailors petitioned Fransisco D'Almeida, the retiring Portuguese Viceroy to India, and he agreed to lead a punitive expedition.

With 150 men they marched into the Khoe kraal and looted their belongings and cattle - and even took their children. The Khoe, similar in number, but enraged, charged the laden soldiers with spears and routed the Portuguese force, killing the Viceroy and 64 others.

Clashes continued periodically between European sailors and the Khoe. Dutch East India Company sailors tried to establish trading relations but soon they also stayed away from the Cape after 13 Dutch sailors were killed by the Khoe in 1598 upon a dispute. They tried once again to trade at the Cape during the 1620s, but, once more, a massacre of 32 Dutch sailors in 1632 poisoned their relations with the Khoe.
The English and the Khoe
The use of the 'Trade Winds' across the southern Indian Ocean made it essential for ships to take on supplies in South Africa, before heading off on the long journey east

There was increasing trade with the Khoekhoe from the first English East India Company fleet in 1591. It's commander, George Raymond determined to establish good relations, and avoid the hostility experienced by the Iberians.

He kept his fleet several weeks at the Cape, distributing gifts to the Khoe and trading with them, under the careful watch of armed soldiers. Successive English fleets put in at the Cape, and the Khoe grew to know certain ships and sailors and trust developed.

One of the barriers to dealing with the Khoe was language - the Khoe click language was unintelligible to Europeans. They also knew very little of their culture or territory.

A director of the EEIC - Sir Thomas Smythe - hatched a bizarre plan to teach a Khoe to speak English. He sent secret instructions that a chief should be kidnapped and brought to England - see the King's English and Postal Stones.



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