Treks & Land conflicts 1600s-1800s

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Jan van Riebeeck Source: oldwynberg.co.za

Land is a very important commodity. It is used for farming, which provides food, providing living space and can also be seen as a sign of wealth and success. Minerals are also extracted from the earth and land that is rich in gold or diamonds can has been the cause of conflict between groups of people.

During the 19th century conflict over territory and control of certain areas of the world caused several wars. In 1812 American and British forces clashed over Canada and its rich resources. The conflict between the Khoikhoi and the Dutch during the 17th century was also ultimately about territory, but also involved issues like cultural differences. The Khoikhoi were a migrant nation and did not believe in the ownership of land, whereas the Dutch believed in the ownership and cultivation of farmland. Eventually the Khoikhoi were virtually extinct as a culture and nation, while the Basotho, under Moshoeshoe, created their own homeland, Lesotho, and retained their identity to a degree. In America many Indian nations were destroyed by the European desire to expand and dominate territory.

In 1820 the settlement of the area north of the Orange River began in earnest, which laid the ground for later conflicts over land. The weakness of local tribes as a result of drought and the Mfecane was thoroughly exploited and a great part of South Africa was won for European colonisation in this manner.

Frontiers were changed and shifted according to various circumstances and for many different reasons during the 19th century. European colonisation was responsible for bringing advancement and development to many countries and continents, but at the same time was also responsible for the destruction of many lives and cultures. In many cases the changes were enforced and driven by greed, but in others by necessity.

The conquering of territory is still an issue in today's world, where commodities like oil and diamonds cause war and destruction, especially in Africa and the Middle East.

Last updated : 07-Jun-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 21-Mar-2011