SOUTH AFRICA TABLET 7: Jan van Riebeek's comments on a settlement at the Cape

by Time Traveler

The directors placed in the hands of the great voyager Jan van Riebeek the document drawn up by Janssen, that he might comment upon it, which he did at some length.

He thought that the settlement could be enclosed with hedges of thorn bushes, such as he had seen in the Caribbees, and which constituted the chief defence of the islanders.

He had noticed how hides were preserved in Siam, and how arrack was made in Batavia.

He remembered what was the price of antelope skins in Japan when he was there, and he had seen a good deal of Northern China, and believed that its varied productions would flourish at the Cape.

In Greenland he had observed the process of procuring oil from whales and seals, and saw no difficulty in carrying it out in South Africa.

At the Cape he had resided three weeks on shore, during the time the cargo of the Haarlem was being transferred from the beach to the fleet under Wollebrant Geleynsen.

Jan van Riebeek's opinions concerning the advantages of a settlement and the resources of the country coincided with those of Janssen, but they differed with respect to the character of the Hottentots.

Van Riebeek had frequently heard of white men being beaten to death by them, and he considered that it would be necessary in building the fort to provide for defence against them as well as against European enemies.

He did not deny that they could learn the Dutch language, or that Christianity could be propagated among them, but he spoke very cautiously on these points. If it were as Janssen appeared to believe, it would be a good thing, he observed.

In this respect a clergyman would be able to perform the best service, and if the Company hose to be at the expense of maintaining one, his present would tend to the improvement of the Europeans also.

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