|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
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'
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· Culture ·
In this period of Cape History:
Cape Town in the
The Boom of the