www.capetown.at Roddy Bray's Guide to Cape Town  
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European Settlement
(page 5)
Frontier Expansion
The influence of the VOC diminished with distance from Cape Town. Cape Town was the only harbour and the VOC's purpose was to control trade, they therefore had little concern for the rural areas and did not spend significant sums on their administration.

The powerful figures were those Boers (farmers) who had prospered and consolidated large mixed farms grazing sheep and cattle and producing grain and grapes. These farms were like small principalities, largely self-sufficient but trading surplus for certain luxuries.

The farms were worked by Khoe workers and slaves purchased from VOC auctions in Cape Town. Boers adopted a paternalistic attitude to their slaves - a coercion based upon affection, petty rules and harsh discipline. Psychologically it was a powerful mix, because it bred a feeling of inferiority. This was reinforced by the designation of childish dress codes and names.

Wealthy burghers built impressive homesteads in a style reminiscent of Holland, that became known as 'Cape Dutch'. Many very fine and attractive examples remain in the winelands. They also maintained houses in Cape Town and became influential among VOC officials, often leaving their farms under the management of senior slaves to concentrate upon their 'town affairs'.

The sons of burghers drove the expansion of the colony. In the social hierarchy that had developed, Europeans expected to own a farm, they did not work for other farmers - that was equated with the role of slaves. They had to be 'baas' - and so they needed farms of their own. This simple, but powerful social motivation, drove successive generations to venture further and further away from Cape Town, creating a maverick 'frontier' racked by hostility with the KhoeSan and later the Bantu. They were called 'trekboers' (more...)

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

In this period of Cape History:


The First Years

A Town Develops

Simon v.d. Stel

VOC Control

Frontier Expansion

Cape Town in the 1700s

Cosmopolitan Cape Town

The Boom of the 1780s

The VOC Legacy

Bibliography & Contacts


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