Related SAHO features:
- The Amersfoort Legacy, a history of education in South Africa
- Batavian Republic 1803-1806
- The Great Trek
- History of Indians in South Africa (section on slavery and indentured labor)
This day in History:
- 28 March 1658 - The first slave ship, Amersfoort, arrives in the Cape carrying 170 slaves
- 25 March 1807 - British Parliament passes the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act
- 27 October 1808 - Slave rebellion at the Cape led by Louis of Mauritius. Over 300 slaves and Khoi Khoi servants from outlying farms marched on Cape Town demanding their freedom
- 22 September 1927 - The British colonial government declares the abolishment of slavery in Sierra Leone
Further reading and Links:
- 'Ama, A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade' by Manu Herbstein published by e.reads (available at: www.ama.africatoday.com)
- ‘Slave Laws in South Africa’ by Alistair Boddy-Evans (available at africanhistory.about.com)
- ‘Heritage of Slavery in South Africa’ (Iziko project)
- ‘Indian Slaves in South Africa’ (an ANC document available at anc.org.za)
- ‘The Cape slave code of 1754’ (document part of the Batavia website, batavia.polresearch.org)
- The lodge women of Cape Town, 1671 to 1795 by Prof. Robert C.-H. Shell (PDF available at batavia.polresearch.org)
- 'Slavery and Abolition' – A Journal of Slave & Post Slave Studies (50 year old quarterly magazine, frankcass.com)
- Batavia, a virtual factory of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), available at (batavia.rug.ac.be)
- Bo-Kaap museum, Cape Town. This museum is situated in the historic Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, South Africa, an area that became home to many Muslims after the abolition of slavery.
- Slave Lodge, Cape Town. The Slave Lodge was housed in one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town (IZIKO museums).
- 'Studies in World History on Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation' (online journal, available at h-net.msu.edu).
It is not easy to find first-hand information on slavery at the Cape. Some people who were enslaved in the United States of America left oral histories, letters and even books behind telling people about life as a slave. In South Africa, very few sources that described history from a slave’s point of view, such as books, diaries or letters, have survived. After the emancipation of slaves, it seems nobody took the trouble to transcribe personal slave histories.
However, there is one exception. Katie Jacobs was interviewed in 1910, seventy years after slaves were emancipated. At the time she was 96 years old. Other information on Cape slave history can be obtained from:
- Official records such as court records and inventories
- Church records especially churches that ministered to slaves and later to emancipated slaves and missionary societies. Many slaves settled on mission stations after emancipation.
- Diaries and books written by slave owners and visitors to the Cape.
- Paintings and drawings of the time
- Archaeological excavations.
The shortcoming of all these sources is that they tell the story of slavery either from the point of view of the authorities, owners and free people or give only indirect glimpses of slave life. One can therefore easily overlook the experiences of slaves.