Krotoa (Eva) van Meerhoff (van die Kaap), SM/PROG - Inappropriate Material?

Started by Sharon Lee Doubell on Tuesday, April 24, 2012


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4/24/2012 at 3:11 AM

I've received a message from Private User about content on Kratoa's profile:

Hi Sharon
I see you have become the curator of my Krotoa profile. For this reason I am contacting you about Krotoa's profile.
Krotoa 'Eva' van Meerhof SM/PROG
There has been some additions to the "About Me" section, one which I would like to bring to your attention. The last one. Perhaps you are able to advise on the appropriateness of such an addition as I find it somewhat inappropriate that someone is using this platform to make their political ideologies known. I don't feel comfortable with this type of article being placed on a Geni profile. What are your thoughts on this?

As her message concerns a shared profile, I felt it was up to all of us to contribute to the decision:

4/24/2012 at 3:13 AM

my initial answer: (sorry about the caps, but without bold it is the only way to give vast pieces of writing some headings to help sore eyes :-)

Hello Y.
I see we are 8th cousins.

I BECAME THE CURATOR of the profile for Krotoa BECAUSE I MADE IT INTO A MAIN PROFILE - which means that in any merges etc from then on, the information on this profile is considered to be the best to be deferred to. So that's a good thing; and you're right - it means you have a Curator watching out for it.

Before I did that, though - IT HAD BEEN MERGED with numbers of other duplicate Krotoa profiles, which meant that THE MANAGERS OF THOSE HAD BECOME JOINT MANAGERS WITH YOU on the merged ‘uber’ Krotoa profile. (The aim of Geni being to produce 1 world tree - and from the SA point of view, we aim to have 1 South African tree so everybody benefits from the full links of everybody else.)

This means the Krotoa profile is not yours only anymore. (Although the programme sees that your profile was the oldest and gives you the honour of being its creator.)

In the merges - which have been happening for a long time prior to the making it a Main Profile - as much information as possible is kept from each of the merged in profiles. So the NEW ‘ABOUT ME’ BITS MAY NOT HAVE BEEN ADDED TO, SO MUCH AS, ‘ACCUMULATED’ from all the other About Me's of the Kratoa profiles on Geni.

This is fantastic because it BRINGS TOGETHER EVERYONE'S HARD WORK on their profiles in adding sources. Sometimes (and you are saying you think this is so in this case) contradictory opinions are placed next to each other. For me, as an historian – this is exactly what history is made of. STANDING THE DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES NEXT TO EACH OTHER and weighing up the validity of the argument in the face of a completely opposite (or sometimes only slightly differing) perspective on what ‘truly’ happened.

Now, from what I see – the piece you are objecting to was actually added by me from a blog I found on the Cape-Slavery-Heritage Website. If I recall, I was seeking out reviews of Dan Sleigh’s book ‘Eilande’ and this was what I found. To be honest, it doesn’t strike me as more political than any of the other entries, and it reads to me as politically conciliatory, if anything. I added it because it seemed to provide quite an indepth research study of the characters surrounding Krotoa – so it never seemed to me to be pushing a modern political agenda, beyond, I suppose, saying that there are gaps in what has already been studied. But most historians think that about the past, otherwise they’d be out of a job :-).

But it is certainly worth discussing how far from the Truth it appears to you to be straying; and whether it is designed to give offence. In so doing, we could get an even more indepth understanding of the events surrounding Kratoa; and come to a provisional conclusion about how it might be most historically useful to present them on this profile for other people to assess if they land here. This is exactly the way good history is made.

4/24/2012 at 3:24 AM

I know Daniel Jacobus Botes has been reading Eilande; Private User has worked on the profile; & Private User recently helped with images because Daan feels this one is not so accurate. Private User and <private> van Niekerk also have an interest, I can see.

4/24/2012 at 3:33 AM

Private User Otto Diedericks Private User Private User Gabriel Francois De Wet Inge Wagner Theunis Viljoen Private User Chris Steyn Jaco Strauss Private User Private User - are the other managers.

Private User
4/24/2012 at 3:34 AM

The story of the three diplomats, Autshumato, Kratoa and Doman are as much a part of the founding of modern South Africa as that of Jan van Riebeeck. Commander Van Riebeeck’s fortunes were absolutely bound with those of these three complex Khoe figures steeped in tragedy

4/24/2012 at 4:47 AM

I read "Eilande" years ago and LOVED it. Not only because it was well researched and a great read, but also because it covered many of my ancestors and left me with a greater understanding of their lives and times. And none more so than Eva Krotoa. For the first time I understood her torn loyalties and felt that I was left with a better understanding of her rather tragic life. Especially the last few years.

And I wouldn't mind a street named after her rather than many others including Mandela. Naming the road that links Table Bay to the Hottentots-Holland area after Eva rather than Mandela would make a lot more sense, at least to me.

BUT having said that, I would agree with the original contributor that a person's profile is not a place for political campaigns. There we should attempt to state the facts as neutral as is possible against the context of the times in which they lived.

Against the background the last paragraph (even though I sympathize with it) is probably a little out of place in her profile. For the record, here is what it states:

Perhaps one day, the city of Cape Town may chose to address its ignoring of the three diplomats and find a way to highlight this history for our children. Many streets, buildings and sites celebrate much lesser and dubious figures and any reference to black historical figures are obliterated by a highly entrenched colonial bias. Because of this ideological bias we project a dramatically skewed version of our past with layer upon layer of partial truths served up as history. All history is a version or interpretation. This account is also an interpretation. But part of reconciliation and nation-building is to begin to draw the versions together and emphasise the ties that bind us, even if we may not find these to be too agreeable to our various ways of thinking.

This reads clearly more like an editorial than an impartial statement of fact. I therefore agree that it should rather be removed...

Jaco Strauss

4/24/2012 at 4:51 AM

Aubrey, you are right about their contribution.
The irony however is that they would have sunk in oblivion if it was not for geneaologists and brilliant objective writers like Dan Sleigh and our own urge to find all your ancestors regardless whether you like the discovery or not.

Private User
4/24/2012 at 4:59 AM

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with it - my "five cents" for what its worth.

Private User
4/24/2012 at 5:09 AM

I have no objection to the last article on her profile. I have found the Cape-Slavery-Heritage Website very useful and informative. If people are offended by the last paragraph of the article it could be removed, but I don't find it offensive.

4/24/2012 at 5:57 AM

Thanks for the input guys. Jaco Strauss, I think you are right that the last paragraph feels more like an editorial. Seems fair enough to remove it, then, if everyone agrees that's reasonable.
I'll wait until tomorrow, though - just so that late comers to this discussion can still figure out what we were talking about.

Private User
4/24/2012 at 7:33 AM

Could it not be removed and a link supplied to the article for those who would like to read it?

4/24/2012 at 10:42 AM

I think it is fair comment.

4/30/2012 at 3:04 AM

Classical Greek historians used a special way to record history:
1. Thorough research
2. Systematic recording of the facts
3. Facts recorded in a way that develops themes
4. At the same time, no comments about the facts
The idea was to stimulate you to think about the thematic development of the facts and to draw your own conclusions.
Maybe we could use a similar approach in Geni. Makes consensus easier because we focus on the facts only and not on the interpretation of the facts.
To apply this to Krotoa:
What about facts only in the About section.
Add link to Cape Slavery Heritage website with a comment like: more information available here.
Sets us free to use our time to research the facts rather than discuss whether comments are OK or ought to be on Geni or having editorial discussions about comments/interpretations of facts.
Hope this helps to clarify why I agree with June Barnes :-)

Private User
4/30/2012 at 11:15 PM

Well said Chris - maybe many on Geni rely on other people's research too much! ;)

5/11/2012 at 3:29 AM

Hmm, this assumes that Historical Narrative can ever be Objective.

But the minute 'facts develop themes' someone is imposing a subjective pattern on them. CHOOSING WHAT COUNTS AS THE FACTS AND ORDERING THEM, ARE ALL HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE ACTIVITIES that change with the personal viewpoint and the era of the historian.

The Classical age historians’ hopes that you describe, of attaining this kind of objectivity – is a methodology called 'logical positivism’. Not even the Sciences assume this is possible when it comes to studying humanity anymore. WE CANNOT OBSERVE OURSELVES AS HUMANS FROM OUTSIDE THE CONTEXT OF BEING HUMAN, LET ALONE RECORD THAT OBSERVATION OBJECTIVELY.

So the ‘objective’ facts are reduced to the dates of occurrences; with the proviso that even here, descriptors that go beyond birth, death, marriage records are subjective eg ‘imprisoned’; ‘enslaved; ‘abandoned’; ‘became an alcoholic’; ‘had a child out of wedlock’ are all subjective terms, based entirely on the historian’s point of view.

So, IF WE ONLY RECORD THE COMPLETELY OBJECTIVE FACTS, agreed on by every single manager, IN THE ‘ABOUT ME’, WE ARE REDUCED TO A COUPLE OF DETAILS OF DATA – most, if not all, of which are available on the profile data and timeline. Then why bother with an ‘About Me’ narrative at all?

I’m still arguing for the inclusion of ALL DATA THAT IS CONSIDERED ‘FAIR COMMENT’ (Ie not obviously pushing a political agenda and so potentially patently ahistorical) by at least one of the profile’s managers. With the proviso, that anything that people consider to be dubiously ‘objective’ MUST HAVE A REFERENCE CONTEXT, so that it is not presented as though it should be assumed to be a decontextualised given fact. (I believe that, for this reason, everything we add should be referenced like this.)

Just including the reference, to me, is less helpful that including the whole extract, because HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON THE OBJECTIVE CRITERIA OF WHICH TO SHOW AND WHICH NOT TO? Ultimately it reduces About Me s to a couple of lines of undisputed facts about births, deaths and marriages, with lists of hypertext references following; or with page references to books not on the net. I find it easier to see what the reference is referring on the profile page. That might be a matter of taste; and is probably a separate Geni discussion altogether.

5/11/2012 at 4:09 AM

As an example of the multitude of text on the profile that we'd have to immediately censor if we decided to apply a standard of only 'facts', is this extremely subjective paragraph;

"She lapsed into such a dissolute and immoral life, however, that the V.O.C. again sent her to Robben Island on 26th March 1669, and placed the three children in the care of the free burgher, Jan Reyniersz. Eva returned to the mainland on various occasions, but was always banished to the island.
In May 1673 she was allowed to have a child baptized on the mainland and, in spite of her outrageous way of living, was buried in the church inside the Castle on the day after her death.
Source: SESA (Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa);

5/11/2012 at 2:01 PM

Point taken. Let us reconsider in 12 months time - then some sensitivity might have worn off! Also don't change the headgear in that period!

5/13/2012 at 12:09 PM

As a descendant of a less notable slave(Helena Christina van de Kaap),I don't have a problem with the 'offending' paragraph.It's written very carefully.Wish there was as much detail on my ancestors.I do get a sense of conservative and liberal views colliding on Geni(South Africa)-that's inevitable.We have to muddle through somehow-my immediate extended family encompasses quite a variety of different social/political/religious beliefs-but we still share DNA!It's taken me a while,but nowadays I try to read accounts in the contexts of the times they were written in.Of course the Cape-Slavery-Heritage site is at the other end of the political/historical spectrum compared to say,an AWB site,and please,folks,I'm not criticising anyone here...

Private User
5/14/2012 at 1:16 AM

Alistair Moncur Knox I agree - we can only view things from the perspective of the times in which events happened, putting aside all prejudices etc. that we have developed. We cannot allow ourselves to take on the responsibility/guilt of/for the past and use the conscience that we have through experience developed to have an understanding of events. Equally we cannot apply prejudices we hold today to influence our interpretation of the past. Not easy to be objective!!

5/14/2012 at 11:56 AM


8/9/2012 at 2:01 AM

Cape Town is celebrating Womens' Day by naming the square at the intersection of St George's Mall & Castle Street, KROTOA PLACE.

8/15/2012 at 1:02 AM

It's high time forgotten people like Krotoa were remembered in street names-too much rich history has been swept under the carpet in honouring city councillors/property developers and politicians almost exclusively in parts of Cape Town over more than 100 years.At the same time I'm not in favour of removing all signs of an ugly past-we must never forget,lest history repeat itself.

8/28/2012 at 3:17 AM

Too true :-)

9/21/2012 at 12:57 PM

Krotoa commemorated:
By South African Post Office · Updated about a week ago.

Last week the South African Post Office issued a miniature sheet with one stamp and a souvenir folder to mark 360 years since the arrival of the Dutch at the Cape. The miniature features the Khoi interpreter, Krotoa, celebrating the important role she’s played in South Africa’s history.

Private User
9/21/2012 at 2:18 PM

thanks for sharing Peter - will have to ask my brother to get it for me!

9/24/2012 at 3:55 AM

Thanks @Peter - posted that onto our Geni SA FB site too.

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