Microhistory unlocked new avenues of historical investigation and methodologies and helped uncover the past of individuals, an event, or a small community. Reclamation of “lost histories” of individuals and colonized communities of colonial South Africa falls within this category. This study provides historical narratives of indigenous Khoikhoi of modest status absorbed into Cape colonial society as farm servants during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Based on archival and other sources, the author illuminates the “everyday life” and “lived experience” of Khoikhoi characters in a unique way. The opening chapter recounts the love-loathe drama between a Khoikhoi woman, Griet, and Hendrik Eksteen, whose murder she later orchestrated with the aid of slaves and Khoikhoi servants. The malcontent Andries De Necker, arrested for the murder of his Khoikhoi servant, attracted much legal attention and resulted in a protracted trial. The book next features the Khoikhoi millenarian prophet-turned-Christian convert Jan Paerl, who persuaded believers to reassert the land of their birth and liberate themselves from Dutch colonial rule by October 25, 1788. The last two chapters examine the lives of four Khoikhoi converts immersed into the Moravian missionary world and how they were exhibited by missionaries and sketched by the colonial artist, George F. Angas.
Russel Viljoen is professor of history at the University of South Africa.
Introduction: Microhistory and Reclaiming Histories of the Modest
Chapter 1. Love, Lust and Loathe: The Story of “Lost Love”: Griet and Hendrik Eksteen, c.1739–1759
Chapter 2. Master, Malcontent, and Murderer: Khoikhoi Andries and Johannes Adriaan de Necker in Dutch-South Africa, c.1764–1766
Chapter 3. Jan Paerl c.1788–1851: Restitutionist, Religious Prophet, and Respectable Convert
Chapter 4. “Soil Once His Own”: The Colonial and Christian World of Lebrecht Hans Ari: A Khoikhoi and Moravian Convert at the Cape, c.1774–1864
Chapter 5. “Sketching the Khoikhoi”: George French Angas and His Depiction of Genadendal Khoikhoi Characters at the Cape of Good Hope, c. 1847