The Cape Colony was first settled from 1652 by the Dutch East India Company to serve as a “halfway” refreshment station along its trading route from Europe to India.

Prior to this period, some European ships had passed, but no formal attempts at settling the territory had been undertaken


The Earliest Inhabitants of South Africa were The San (Bushmen) and the Khoikhoi then followed by Bantu people who inhabited South Africa.


The San people were short and had light brown skin. They had click sound in their language. They lived in highland areas of South Africa.

Their main economic Activities were hunting and gathering. They had permanent settlement and they lived in caves.


The Khoikhoi resemble the San but they are taller, Khoikhoi means “men of men” in their language.

The San group helped the Khoikhoi to graze their animals. The frequent contact between San and Khoikhoi as they referred to one group of Khoisan.


These made up the largest group, this was the early inhabitants of South Africa. They include the Iswana, Venda, Gueza, Zulu, Ndebele, Swazi, Shona, Xhosa and Ngoni.

They lived a settled life and grew crops such as maize, beans and pumpkins. They used iron tools and produced enough food which encouraged population growth. The surplus encouraged trade between the communities.




The Dutch or Boers came from Holland (Nether land) and firstly settled at the cape in Table Bay in April 1652 under the leadership of Jan Van Riebeek. Dutch farmers called themselves – “BOERS”.

Dutch farmers called themselves – “BOERS”. When they settled at the cape they called themselves by the name of Afrikaners that meant the “whites of Africa” who developed language known as Afrikaans.

Dutch had a company known as United Dutch East India Company (UDEIC). The company had trade with India and other Arabs in Asia. At the cape they grew vegetables, fruits and kept animals such as cattle. They had barter trade with Khoikhoi exchanging tobacco and alcohol for the cattle.

Reasons for Dutch settlement at the cape

1. The cape was a good place where ships could stop to be refueled.

2. The cape had a good climate to support settlement of the whites. (Temperate and cool climate).

3. The Dutch wanted to produce vegetable and fruits for the ships which sailed to India.

4. The cape could provide fresh water for the sailors.

5. The cape could be a base of projecting their ships on Atlantic and Indian Ocean.

6. A center for caring sick people.

QN Explain why  Dutch settled at the cape during the 17th century?

Dutch settlement at the Cape

The first white people to settle at the cape were Dutch or Boers from Holland who settled at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 under the leadership of Jan Van Riebeeck.

After settled at the cape they called themselves by the name of Afrikaners which means “whites of Africa” and spoke language known as Afrikaans. Dutch had the company known as Dutch East India Company (D. E. I .Co) under Jan Van Riebeeck which formed during the 1602.

At the cape Dutch grew vegetables, fruits and kept animals such as cattle. Also they practiced barter trade with Khoikhoi by exchanging tobacco and alcohol for the cattle.

During this period, the Portuguese discovered the route to India and the Dutch used the same route

The following are motives of the Dutch settlement at the cape;

1. To control land for production, Dutch aimed to settle at the cape in order to produce vegetables, fruits and other food staffs.

This was after realizing that they will produce more if they will settle at the cape. This was dome through grabbing agriculture land from local people especially Khoikhoi.

2. The aim to establish stations, the one of the Dutch reason to settle at the cape was to get Refreshment, fresh water and fresh food like vegetables to the sailors.

Some of their staffs were allowed to start agricultural activities. But in the beginning, only nine free burghers (free Boers) started cultivation of fruits and vegetables.

3. To enjoy good climatic condition, the cape climatic condition was different from other African countries whereby there was cool climatic condition which support settlement of Europeans.

4. The need to control trade, Dutch settled at the cape in order to control trade activities which passed at the cape. Dutch believed that after settling at the cape they will monopolize trade trough selling supplies to the ships which came from other European nations as well as control local trade within the cape. Example the trade between Afrikaners and Khoikhoi.

5. They aim to refuel ships and treatment of sick sailors, the cape was a good place where trading ships could stop to be refueled and then continue. Also those sick sailors treated at the cape before to continue with their journey.


The effects/impacts of the dutch settlement at the cape

1. Enslavement of African, Boers established large plantations, so they needed labors to work to their fields so African were forced to provide their labor (They turned the Khoikhoi into slaves to work for them in farms)

2. Displacement of the African communities, The Dutch displaced the native Africans from the fertile areas and took their livestock by force (They took land from Khoikhoi and Xhosa).

3. Occurrence of social segregation, The Dutch thought that they are superior so they mistreated and exploited the African and buying foundation for the Apartheidg. Khoikhoi could not get quality education, health services and shelters like the Dutch.

4. Expansion of European settlements, Dutch established settlement at the cape in 1685 and their families increased to 150 families.

5. Introduction of new culture, The Boers introduced the Dutch culture to South Africa that involved their way of life which was totally different from that of African.

6. Unequal exchange led to exploitation of South African resources

7. Political structure of the Khoikhoi was destroyed.

8. Dutch raided cattle from the Khoikhoi.


The British first occupation of South Africa was in 1795 when they attacked and defeated the Boers at the Cape.

There was a peace treaty between the Dutch and the British in 1802 and the Cape was given back to the Dutch in 1803.

But in 1806 the British decided to re-occupy the Cape by defeating the Dutch.

The reasons which made the British settle at the Cape were:

1. They wanted to protect their ships on the sea route to India.

2. It was based on protectionism which the British could protect themselves against ships of enemies.

3. Area to get raw materials, market and area for investment.

4. They wanted to control the trade route on sea water (India & Asia)

5. Cape could easy link the British and Western Europe across the Atlantic Ocean.

Effects of the British administration at the cape.

1. They abolished slavery introduced by Boers.

2. They imposed English language as the official medium of communication.

3.  Khoikhoi continued to lose their land as the British took it for their settlements.

4. There was important of manufactured goods from Europe.

5. They imposed news way of life such as new religion, wearing style etc.

6. Introduction of circuit courts in order to settle disputes between Dutch and the Khoikhoi.

7. African resistance against the settlement and expansion of the Boers and the British on South Africa.

The Writer