Varschedrift : a contested landscape

In February of 1657, Commander at the Cape, Jan van Riebeeck, began to establish individuals (recently released from Dutch East India Company service) as farmers along the banks of the Liesbeek River. The uneasy peace which had existed for the previous five years with the local Khoekhoen (known as the Goringhaiqua and Goringhaicona) now became strained to the breaking point and led to the first Khoe War (May 1659 – April 1660). April 5th and 6th 1660

– Peace was renewed today with the chief and overlords of the Kaapmans, with Harry (Autshumao) and with all the principal men and elders. …. They strongly insist that we had been appropriating more and more of their land, which had been theirs all these centuries, and on which they had been accustomed to let their cattle graze, etc. They asked if they would be allowed to do such a thing supposing they went to Holland, and they added “It would be of little consequence if you people stayed here at the fort, but you come right into the interior and select the best land for yourselves without even asking if we mind or whether it will cause us any inconvenience.”
                                                                                  – Van Riebeeck’s Journal

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The Observatory Living History Project

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Discovering Observatory’s History Together

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