SOUTH AFRICA TABLET 2: Table Valley seems like Paradise

by Time Traveler

Leendert Janz (later spelt Janssen) and Nicolaas Proot had resided in Table Valley more than five months, and they could therefore speak from experience of its capabilities.

The Haarlem, one of the finest of the East India Company's ships, had put into Table Bay for fresh water and whatever else could be obtained, and in a gale had been driven on the Blueberg beach.

The strongly timbered vessel held together, and the crew succeeded in saving not only their own effects but the ship's stores and the cargo.

The neighbourhood of the wreck was not a desirable site for a camping-ground, and therefore when the Company's goods were secured against the weather, and a small fort had been constructed in which a few soldiers could be left, Janssen and Proot with the rest of the crew removed to Table Valley.

Close by a stream of pure sweet water, on a site somewhere near the centre of the present city of Capetown, they threw up a bank of earth for protection, and emcamped within it.

They had saved some vegetable seeds and garden tools which chanced to be on board the wreck, and soon a plot of ground was placed under cultivation. Cabbages, pumpkins, turnips, onions and various other vegetables throve as well as they had seen in any part of the world, and among them were men who had visited many lands.

The Hottentots came in friendship to trade with them, and brought horned cattle and sheep in such numbers for sale that they were amply supplied with meat for themselves and had sufficient to spare for a ship that put in with eighty or ninety sick.

Game in abundance fell under their guns, and fish was equally plentiful.

They were here in spring and early summer, when the climate is perhaps the most delightful in the world.

At length, after they had spent between five and six months very happily, the return fleet of 1648, under commandant of Wollebrant Geleynsen, put into Table Bay. The cargo of the Haarlem was conveyed to Salt River, and thence re-shipped for Europe.

And when the fleet set sail, it bore away from South Africa men whose reminiscences were of a pleasant and fruitful land, in which they had enjoyed health and peace and plenty.

The document which Janssen and Proot laid before the directors of the East India Company took its tone from their experience. It pointed out many and great advantages, and overlooked all dificulties in the way of forming a settlement in Table Valley.

Reference: History and Ethnography of Africa South of the Zambesi by George McCall Theal.