THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE

The ideal stopover The Portuguese were the first Europeans who sailed south around Africa, but the VOC were the first to see the value of this region. The Cape of Good Hope, as the Portuguese called it, lies exactly midway on the voyage to Asia , the ideal place for replenishing with fresh drinking water, vegetables and meat. This was

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48. Journal of a ship’s surgeon

Like all his colleagues, the ship’s surgeon of the Westerveld keeps a record of the treatments, cures and medicines administered on board. He drew a skull in the margin of this journal when a person died. The ship’s surgeons were responsible for the health of the crew; in the middle of the 18th century, the VOC employed about two hundred

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49. Medication taken on board

Scurvy, typhus, malaria, beriberi, dysentery and venereal diseases: the ship’s surgeons were mostly powerless in face of the diseases that ravaged the crews. A ‘drooling cure’ was supposed to heal venereal disease. Ointment containing mercury was rubbed onto the patient until he began to salivate. He had to accept the risk of contracting mercury poisoning, which could affect his kidneys,

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50. Register of deaths

The voyage to the Cape was not without risks. Accidents or diseases such as scurvy were common on board. This made the Cape so crucial as a provisioning post. This list names the number of the sick and dead for each ship. This information was kept carefully up to date in the Cape. Registration of deaths on ships arriving at

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51. The instruments of ship’s surgeon Cornelis Solingen

VOC physician Cornelis Solingen made many of his surgical instruments himself. The parrot nosed forceps was designed to hold broken bones in place when setting them. The double saw was used to amputate limbs. The mouth screw meant to keep the mouth of the patient wide open to protect the fingers of the surgeon when extracting teeth – without any

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52. Sailing instructions

The VOC gave its ships precise sailing instructions. This page shows the instructions for the route across the Atlantic Ocean right up to the Cape. It also includes instructions for the ‘Cart Track’. The letters correspond with those on the chart, that you can see to your right. Sailing instructions from the VOC 1768 Archief VOC, inv. no. 5036

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53. Safely across the equator

The Wageweg, the so-called ‘Cart Track’ in the Atlantic Ocean, was the compulsory course for VOC vessels to follow towards the Cape of Good Hope. This route was set out in great detail and ensured that the ships did not drift off course. When the captains arrived safely in the Cape, they handed in their sea charts. The ships returning

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54. Fortress at The Cape

‘…that we have set out the proposed fortress and that we are hard at work on this.’ In this letter, Jan van Riebeeck informed the Heren Zeventien of the progress of the construction of the fortress at the Table Bay at the Cape of Good Hope. He founded the provisioning post here in 1652, in commission of the VOC. A

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55. Krotoa, a Khoikhoi-girl

Van Riebeeck wrote regularly about Krotoa in his diaries (Day Registers) regarding the day to day events at The Cape. She is a Khoikhoi girl he took into his house as a servant for his wife. They soon named her Eva. Just before Van Riebeeck left The Cape in 1662, Eva was baptised. She married a Danish surgeon for the

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56. Land for the free ‘Boers’

The VOC recorded the first land leases to ‘free farmers’ in these Cape Resolutions (edicts). The farmers had to provide for the growing demand in food for the ship’s crews and passengers. In search of fertile soil the farmers explored the deeper hinterlands and as a consequence ousted the original population. The farmers formed a new section of the population that

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57. ‘Noble Savages’

Most European considered the indigenous population of the Cape – the Khoikhoi and the San people – to be savages. As one of a very few, the German natural philosopher Peter Kolbe looked at this differently. He considered them as ‘noble savages’. He thinks their customs primitive nevertheless, but he also believes that they possess ‘more love, kind-heartedness and reasonableness

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58. Panorama of Stellenbosch

After Cape Town, Stellenbosch is the oldest European settlement in South Africa. Its name was derived from Simon van der Stel, the first governor of the Cape colony. He explored this area in 1679, when it was still called Wild Woods or Wildenbosch. Van der Stel was quite impressed by the fertility of the soil. The first settlers arrived in

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59. Table Bay

On this chart, Johannes Vingboons has drawn the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652. One can clearly see why the Dutch chose Table Bay for their settlement: ships could be moored up safely while the surrounding mountains offered protection and supplied fresh drinking water. What’s more, Table Mountain was an easily recognised marker for navigators. The painter and cartographer

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60. The fortress and the gardens

Van Riebeeck created a fortress and a garden at The Cape. The vegetable garden had to provide sufficient food for the VOC ships. Head gardener Hendrik Boom was given the task of laying out the gardens. Among the many species he planted was a pear tree that still stands there today. It became soon apparent that more food was required

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61. The company gardens

Over the years, the original company gardens became gradually less important for the provisioning of passing VOC ships. This gradually changed the gardens to a place where the residents of the Cape came to relax. The company gardens in Cape Town Josephus Jones, 1791 Kaartenarchief Topografische Dienst, inv. no. 15.76

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62. Reconstruction of the dodo

This is a modern reconstruction of the dodo. In contrast with earlier, the bird is depicted here as a slimmer bird. The dodo is the first animal that became extinct because of intervention by man. Perhaps that is why there has always been a lot of interest in the animal: we know its behaviour and the appearance of the dodo

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63. Dodo

“The size of our swans”, thus Jacob van Heemskerck described the dodo, which he encountered on Mauritius. Outward bound to the Moluccan islands he stopped there to stock up fresh food and water for his fleet of five ships. The drawings of the dodo in the logbook of the Gelderland are unique. These are the only sketches in the world

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64. Mauritius

Mauritius had an abundance of clean water, fruit, fish and fowl. It was therefore the perfect station for VOC ships on their voyage to Asia. Admiral Wybrand van Warwijck named the island after Stadtholder Prince Maurits. The Dutch founded a small colony here in 1638. Chart of the Island of Mauritius Anonymous, 1700-1750 Verzameling Buitenlandse Kaarten Leupe, inv. no. 333

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65. Interest in the Khoikhoi

‘Quoi (…) this literally means human being’ is what the local tribes called themselves, Robert Gordon wrote. On his travels to the interior of South Africa, he meets many Khoikhoi, who are named ‘Hottentots’ by the Dutch. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Gordon was interested in their culture. He gave a detailed description of a number of customs and traditions

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66. ‘Vêrlander – the orphans of the VOC’

The ‘Vêrlander’ project consists of portraits and stories of the local groups in Africa, Indonesia and Australia. The common thread in the stories about the people in these portraits is their search for their own identity. The fact that their ancestors were affected by the contact with the VOC still determines their identity and their place in society even today.

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67. ‘Vêrlander – the orphans of the VOC’

The ‘Vêrlander’ project consists of portraits and stories of the local groups in Africa, Indonesia and Australia. The common thread in the stories about the people in these portraits is their search for their own identity. The fact that their ancestors were affected by the contact with the VOC still determines their identity and their place in society even today.

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68. Panorama of The Cape

This impressive panorama with a length of over seven and a half metres was drawn with the purpose of pointing out the weak points in the defences of this part of the South African coast. The Scottish-Dutch natural philosopher Robert Gordon produced these maps when he was the commander of the VOC garrison at The Cape. The Knokke fortress and

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The Khoikhoi

These drawings of the Khoikoi were made by an artist who was probably in the service of the VOC. These are the only images made by a European eyewitness in the 17th century colony at The Cape. These portraits are unique because they provide a realistic representation of the Khoikhoi and not a stereotyped image. The sketches were discovered as

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The Khoisan

Between two fires Khoisan is a collective term for the Khoikhoi and San peoples. They have always been between two fires; they were driven away by the Europeans, they were battled by other indigenous peoples and they were treated badly during the Apartheid regime with their status as ‘coloureds’. To this day, they have been fighting equal rightys in vain. Their

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