The winter of 1741 was a bad time for the Dutch East India ships anchoring in Table Bay, the North West storms had inflicted heavy losses as the vessels were driven onto the beaches by the onshore winds.
To solve this perennial problem, the directors of the company resolved that their fleets should refresh at Simon’s Bar from mid-May until mid-August. The anchorage there was protected from the notorious winter storms. The time that the fleets left the Netherlands and sailed from the Indies was arranged so as to avoid a winter passage round the Cape if at all possible; there were inevitable delays and miscalculations that had to be brought into the equation, however. The security offered by Simon’s Bay was counterbalanced by the difficulty of land access, which made the supply of ships with fresh provisions very expensive. Simon’s Bay was a two-day journey from Table Bay and the last stretch was along a difficult track that squeezed between the mountains and rocky coast of False Bay.
Baron Gustaf Willem van Imhoff ordered the construction of the few essential buildings for the Simon’s Bay refreshment station shortly after he had been installed as governor general at the Cape in 1743. Could the land of the Fish Hoek valley not to be cultivated and thus alleviate some of the problems of supplying the ships in Simon’s Bay?
One of the last farms before the difficult part of the journey from Cape Town to the anchorage began, was ‘Zwaansweide”. It was owned by one Christina Diemar, the widow of Frederick Rousseau. Frederick had been a wealthy member of the Burger Council and he had extended and improved the farm a great deal. After his death Christina continued to run the property in a most efficient manner. The farm was well placed to supply the ships of the Dutch East India Company at Simon’s Bay. When van Imhoff decided to establish farming in a valley that gave easy access to Simon’s Bay, it seemed logical that a farmer of proven ability should be given the task. Christina received a gift in the form of land and commenced a new farming enterprise at Slangkop. The area known as Imhoff’s Gift. The current farmhouse was built in 1765. Pierre Rocher took over the farm in 1815. By this time, the snakes were probably not too much in evidence as he was able to keep 133 goats. He extended the boundaries of the property to the salt pans that lie just inshore at Chapman’s Bay. There was a vlei there that had a connection with the sea. In winter, this would fill and fish would enter the waterway. He had farming rights, but the fish were protected by a different ordinance, much to the frustration of the farmer who would dearly have loved to count fish amongst his produce. After passing through various ownerships during the nineteenth century, the property was subdivided. A piece of land was sold to Albert de Villiers; this overlooked Witsands and was named Ocean View. (This property was expropriated in 1960 for the construction of a housing estate.)
A wealthy businessman acquired Imhoff’s Gift in 1912, he was able to renovate the farm buildings and extend the original homestead. Two figureheads taken from shipwrecks were erected at the main entrance. One of these was from Royal Albert while the other was said to represent Admiral Tromp. (This was the father of the great Dutch Admiral that tied a broom to his masthead to sweep the English from all the seas.) The original home was severely damaged by a fire that swept down from Redhill 1958. Sadly, the figureheads were destroyed. Much of the old farm has been taken over by property developers, but many of the old buildings are still in use. The old homestead is now a restaurant, while interesting shops and studios occupy the old slave quarters, stables, and smithy. The farm animals of yesteryear are no more, but Slangkop is recalled by a reptile park nearby.
Do we deal with the challenges we face, or do we deal with the root of the challenges we face? – By Ricardo Herdien
Dealing with the root removes the hurting plant, allowing us to deal with situations where this root or type of root, does surface again. As we look at the extend of Apartheid, we realize that even though it has been a challenging process for our people, that it was not the root of the form of rejection and segregated pain that still plagued our people today. While the major media focus is pulled to Soweto, Soweto uprising was in response to other protests that were already in existence in the streets of Cape Town. But this is a factual story for another time. I want us to explore in light of the challenges our people of colour still face today, how these very challenges cannot be overcome if the root is not dealt with.
Let us ask Doman. Doman finds himself one of 9 previously slaves to Jan Van Riebiek, placed on independence and so to say democracy. Just after Jan Van Riebiek planted his first vineyard, he released 9 company slaves to independence. Independence worked as follows. They could farm and keep life stock and cattle. This was to ensure that fresh produce was ready for passing by traders. After 5 years of trade relationship not working, Van Riebiek being unable to produce the necessary fresh produce for those on route to the East.
Doman the head of the Goringhaiqua Khoi-Khoi was sent to Batavia to be trained as an interpreter to assist with negotiations for better trade and democracy. While Doman is at training, Van Riebiek has KhoiSan policy meetings with Commissioner Rijckloff Van Goens and they decide that fortification and segregation was the best way to prevent theft of produce (not that there was a problem with stealing, unless they introduced theft to a people who knew nothing about stealing their own stuff).
With the KhoiSan policies changed without the actual KhoiSan represented, Jan Van Riebiek introduce the first settlement segregation, which we later can align with the forced segregation “aka” se ma niks. Segregation (Oxford Dictionary):
“A social system that provides separate facilities for the minority group.” Doman and the 8 other slaves thought that they were finally their own boss, providing for the trading system that was once their own, sent for education to trade better but fooled into segregation and we still throw parties about apartheid? Apartheid for people of colour was just a repeat, just like today; of a root that was not dealt with in 1657. Recorded as the very first territorial segregation in South Africa. Know your worth, break the stigma, and rise and create your own opportunities. If you do not pursue your dreams, use your skills and talents to advance your own. Others will come into your life, use your vulnerability, and insecurities to build their dreams.
“Deal with the root, else there will always be remnants of the flowers of the past.“