Today is the 366th anniversary of Jan van Riebeeck’s landing at the Cape. For better or for worse, van Riebeeck’s arrival had a profound impact on how Cape Town – and the rest of South Africa – would develop.
Van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape with three ships, and the intention to set up a refreshment station for ships passing by on their trade route. According to SAhistory.org.za, he had been warned by his Dutch bosses NOT to colonise the area, as his only job was to provide food and water to ships from the VOC (Dutch East India Company).
But soon afterwards, the Dutch and English became engaged in a naval war, and van Riebeeck was instructed to urgently complete construction of a fort in the Cape. From this fort, the Dutch settlers farmed some food and bartered for meat from the local Khoisan people who lived in the area.
On this day in 1652 Dutch sailor Jan van Riebeeck establishes a resupply camp at Cape of Good Hope. It eventually becomes Cape Town.?? pic.twitter.com/fOPidB1WhI
— Klaas Meijer (@klaasm67) April 6, 2018
Despite the original intention not to establish a colony, in February 1657, the Dutch issues permits to 9 servants to start private farms in the Cape. They became known as the Free Burgers, and they farmed the banks of the Liesbeek River to provide wheat during a shortage. The Khoisan people refused to work as laborers for the Dutch, so the Dutch shipped in slaves from Batavia (now Jakarta) to work on the farms.
Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival on 6 April 1652 established the first permanent European settlement in South Africa. Cape Town quickly outgrew its original purpose as the first European outpost at the Castle if Good Hope, becoming the economic and cultural hub of the Cape Colony. pic.twitter.com/HsS475uQHP
— BTS SOUTH AFRICA (@BTSSouth_Africa) March 23, 2018
When van Riebeeck left the Cape ten years after his arrival in May 1662, the Dutch colony in Cape Town consisted of 134 officials, 35 Free Burghers, 15 women, 22 children and 180 slaves.
Twitter users had a field day observing the anniversary of van Riebeeck’s arrival, which marked the beginning of colonialism in South Africa.
Today in history 6th April 1652
Jan Van Riebeeck arrived in South Africa accompanied by 82 men and 8 women with
three ships: the Dromedaris, the Rejiger and De Goede Hoop.
I wonder how they packed the land in three ships ? pic.twitter.com/gJ3qwdDllV
— KatlehoMK ?? (@KatlehoMK) April 6, 2018
Many people noted the irony of former president Jacob Zuma appearing in court on corruption and fraud charges on the anniversary of van Riebeeck’s arrival.
In 2013 Jacob Zuma said that all South Africa’s problems started when Jan van Riebeeck arrived in the Cape. How ironic is it that JZ is in court on numerous charges on the 366th anniversary of the arrival of JvR.
— #Reach (@ApothecaryRich) April 6, 2018
#JacobZuma going to court the same day Jan Van Riebeeck arrived at the cape.
6th April pic.twitter.com/HDJXxzcElf
— Khanyè (@PrinceK_SA) March 25, 2018
If van Riebeeck was a hipster:
— Olivier Ou Dier (@OlivierOuDier) April 6, 2018
Picture: Twitter @OliverOuDier