SOUTH AFRICA TABLET 13: Autshumao, Goringhaikonas, Beachrangers, Goringhaiqua, Saldanhars, Kaapmans, Gogosoa, Gorachouqua etc.

by Time Traveler

In the evening Mr. Van Riebeek and some others went ashore to examine the valley and select a site for the fort.

It was toward the close of the dry season, and the land was everywhere parched with drought.

The sources of the little streamlets which in winter ran into the Fresh river were all dried up, and their channels were gaping to the sun.

The wild flowers of many hues, which at other seasons of the year delighted the eyes of visitors, were now to be sought in vain.

The summer heat was past, but no rains hat yet fallen to clothe the ground with a mantle of beauty, and make it what Janssen and Proot had seen.

In many of the minor outlines of the vale the hand of man has effected a striking change since that day.

The stream of sweet water, which the early voyagers called the Fresh river, then ran down its centre from the mountain to the sea.

In the neighbourhood of the present Church-square there was in winter a great swamp fed by the stream, where hippopotami often disported themselves.

All vestiges of this have long since disappeared.

In other parts of the valley hollows have been filled up and hillocks levelled down, and along the flank of the Lion's rump a slight alteration in the countour has been made.

The grand features of Table Mountain in the background, the Devil's peak on one hand and the Lion mount on the other, are all unchangeable save by untold ages of time.

As Antonio de Saldanha, first of Europeans to enter the bay, saw them in 1403, and as they are under our eyes to-day, so were they seen by Commander Van Riebeek on that Sunday in April 1652.

When the boat returned, two inhabitans of the Cape peninsula went on board the Dromedaris. One of them was a man who was closely connected with the Europeans for the remainder of his life, and was the same in whose charge the horses were to have been left, if the missing ships of Van Teylingen's fleet had put into Table Bay instead of passing on to St. Helena.

His name was Autshumao, but he was better known afterwards as Harry, or Herry as Mr. Van Riebeek wrote it. He had spent some time on board an English ship, in which he had visited Bantam, and had acquired a smattering of the language of those among whom he had lived.

This knowledge, very imperfect though it was, made him useful as an interpreter between the Europeans and his countrymen.

The few families - fifty or sixty souls all told - forming the little clan of which Harry was the leading member, were then the only permanent inhabitants of the Cape peninsula. They had no cattle, and maintained a wretched existence by fishing and gathering wild roots.

Mussels and periwinkles also made up a portion of their diet, for they were in that stage of culture which is marked by the kitchen middens along the coast, though they were acquainted with the pastoral form of living.

They called themselves Goringhaikonas (as written by Mr. Van Riebeek. Almost certainly the word contained one click or more, and the sound according to this spelling is only approximately correct. This remark holds good with regard to all the Hottentot words in the early records.)

They were usually entitled Beachrangers (Strandlopers) by the Dutch. An impoverished, famine-stricken, half-naked band of savages, hardly any conceivable mode of existence could be more miserable than theirs.

There were two large clans, which were possessed of herds of horned cattle and sheep, and which visited Table Valley and its neighbourhood periodically when the pasturage was good.

One of these clans, known to themselves and their neighbours as the Goringhaiqua and to the Dutch first as the Saldanhars and afterwards as the Kaapmans, had a fighting force of five or six hundred men.

They were under a chief named Gogosoa, who had attained a very great age and was so stout that he was commonly called the Fat Captain.

The other clan was the Gorachouqua, nicknamed the Tobacco Thieves by the Dutch. They had a force of three or four hundred fighting men, and obeyed a chief named Choro by Mr. Van Riebeek, probably 'Kora by themselves.

The Goringhaiquas and the Gorachouquas, wandered about with their flocks and herds, sometimes pitching their mat huts beside Table Mountain, sometimes at the foot of Riebeek's Kasteel, or in the vale now known as French Hoek.

The smoke of their fires might at times be seen rising anywhere within the farthest mountains visible on the north and the east.

The Goringhaiquas, being the most numerous and wealthy, were looked upon by Mr. Van Riebeek as better entitled than the others to be called the owners of this part of the country.

They were feeding their herds on the opposite side of the bay when they party of occupation arrived.

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