Krotoa 'Eva' van Meerhof SM/PROG

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Krotoa 'Eva' van Meerhof SM/PROG's Geni Profile

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Krotoa 'Eva', of the Goringhaicona , SM/PROG

Also Known As: "Eva van die Kaap", "Kratoa", "Eva van Meerhoff", "Krotoa of the Goringhaicona", "van die Kaap", "Pieternella van die Kaap"
Birthdate: (33)
Birthplace: Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Death: July 29, 1674 (29-37)
Robben Island, Cape, South Africa
Place of Burial: Cape Town, Cape, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Daughter of NN Father of Krotoa and NN Krotoa's mother, Autshumato's sister
Wife of Pieter van Meerhoff, SV/PROG
Partner of NN Soldier/Prisoner of Robben Island
Mother of Jacobus van Meerhof, b1; Petronella Van Meerhof b2 SM; Salomon van Meerhof, b3; Eva van Meerhof; Maria van Meerhof and 3 others
Sister of NN (sister of Krotoa/Eva)

Occupation: Interpreter
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Krotoa 'Eva' van Meerhof SM/PROG

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- An opposing and less symphathetic view of Krotoa, especially relating to the film KROTOA can be viewed in

A critical analysis of the film on her life, by Patric Tariq Mellet:


Krotoa, (Eva genoem deur Kommandeur Jan VAN RIEBEECK aan wie se huis sy opgevoed is), is ongeveer 1642 in die Kaap gebore. Sy was lid van die Goringhaicona (Strandlopers). Later is sy Hottentot vrouetolk. Sy trou met Pieter VAN MEERHOF (Nederlands vir Peter HAVGARD) burgerlik op 26 APR 1664. Sy sterf in die Kaap op 29 JUL 1674.

Bron: Die Geslagsregister van die familie PELSER, PELSTER, PELSZER, PELTSER, PELTZER en PELZER in Suid-Afrika sedert 1708 deur R. DE V. PIENAAR, Stellenbosch, 2004. bl. 8. Met verwysing na "SA Biografiese Woordeboek deel II, bl. 227-8; Ockert MALAN se 'Die Van Schalkwyks v.d. Nieuweveld', bl. 7-8; lees ook Dalene MATTHEE se boek 'Pieternella van die Kaap', en D. SLEIGH se boek 'Eilande'"

Bygevoeg deur Y. DROST, 23 NOV 2009



Krotoa (whom the Dutch called Eva) was apparently Autshumato's niece, the daughter of his sister, but it is hard to be sure of the nature of the blood relationship between them as Khoikhoi family terms did not always match those of the Dutch commentators.

Her first contact with the Dutch was, however, as a domestic servant. She was about ten when she was brought into the Van Riebeeck household, soon after their arrival, and here she began to learn Dutch. Her skill in this language soon impressed the family; by 1657 she was being used as an interpreter. By 1660, Krotoa had edged out her uncle as the principal interpreter for the Dutch settlement at the Cape. She was baptised in the Dutch Reformed Church two years later and by 1664 she had married a prominent member of the Dutch colony, the junior surgeon Pieter van Meerhoff. In 1660 she was described as fluent in Dutch and reasonably competent in Portuguese. Apart from various periods of absence to stay with her family members, she remained at the Castle until her husband became superintendent of the Robben Island prison in 1665.

Van Meerhoff's job at Robben Island was, as the historian Candy Malherbe says, not a plum post. He had a number of time-consuming and difficult tasks, including the monitoring of ships entering the bay, the supervision of convicts who collected shells for lime and stone for the building of the Castle, the control of a small garrison and the tending of a flock of sheep. For Krotoa, isolated from her family, the sojourn on the Island could NOT have been a particularly happy one. A doctor was called to her aid in 1667 for a condition that seems to have been related to over-consumption of alcohol.

After her husband was killed on a slaving and trading expedition to Mauritius and Madagascar, Krotoa was allowed to return to the mainland in September 1668. Soon afterwards, reports were made by the Dutch of her allegedly drunken and adulterous behaviour, and she left the Castle and her two children for the more friendly Khoikhoi kraals. In February 1669, however, she was imprisoned at the Castle and banished to Robben Island, this time as a prisoner. She died in 1674. The Dutch described her on her death as 'this brutal aboriginal, [who] was always still hovering between' the Dutch and Khoikhoi cultures, yet she was given a Christian burial in the Castle.


Krotoa, called Eva by the Dutch, is the first Khoikhoi woman to appear in the

European records of the early settlement at the Cape as an individual

personality and active participant in cultural and economic exchange. Eva

joined Commander Jan van Riebeeck’s household at the Dutch fort at around age

12. She was closely related to Oedasoa, chief of the Cochoqua Khoikhoi, but it

is unclear whether her family sent her to the Dutch to work and learn the

language or whether she made this decision on her own. She learned to speak

fluent Dutch and Portuguese, and acted as an interpreter for the Dutch for

most of her life. She converted to Christianity and in 1664 married a Danish

surgeon, Pieter van Meerhoff, who was rising in the service of the Dutch East

India Company. Together they had three children. After his death on an

expedition to Madagascar, Eva became an alcoholic and was eventually sent to

the prison colony on Robben Island for disorderly conduct. She died in 1674

and was given a Christian burial.

Zie over haar Theal, Hist. of S. Afr. I, blz. 29, 72, 156, 218.

Na den dood van haar man leidde zij een ontuchtig leven. De Kaapsche Stukken

uit de jaren 1664 en vlg. zijn vol klachten over ‘die leelijke prije, dat

Hottentoose swijn.’ Zij wordt bij haar dood genoemd ‘een manifest exempel

verthoonende dat de natuer, hoe naeuw en vast deselve ook door ingeprente

reden werd gemuylbant, nochtans tsijner tijt boven alle leeringen

seegenpralende tot haer aengeboren eigenschappen wederom uytspat.’ (Kaapsche

St. 1675, f. 1402). Ze werd echter op christelijke wijze in de kerk begraven.

Episodes van dronkenskap en prostitusie, na haar man se vroeë dood, lei tot

haar vlug terug na die Khoikhoi, onmiddellike arrestasie, en veroordeling tot

vyf jaar lange ballingskap op Robbeneiland, waar sy in 1674 sterf.

zie ook:

zie ook: Journal of Jan van Riebeeck. Volume I, 1649-1655

zie ook: Journal of Jan van Riebeeck. Volume II, III,


Birth Notes

gedoopt in het Fort

Death Notes

' This day departed this life, a certain female Hottentoo, named Eva, ' wrote

the Dutch diarist on 29 July 1674, ' long ago taken from the African brood in

her tender childhood by the Hon Van Riebeeck and educated in his house as well

as brought to the knowlegde of the Christian faith, and being thus transformed

from a female Hottentoo almost into a Netherland woman...'

bron: Every step of the way, The journey to freedom in South



Her khoi name was Krotoa.

She was named Eva by Commandant Johan Anthoniszoon 'Jan' van Riebeeck (Culemborg 21 APR 1619 - Batavia 18 JAN 1677) and his wife who arrived at the Cape on 6 APR 1652 to set up a Refreshment station for VOC ships. The first fort was called Duijnhoop.

She was raised by Commandant Jan van Riebeeck and lived with him and his wife Maria DE LA QUELIENE whom he married on 28 MAR 1649. Maria died in Malacca on 11 FEB 1665. Eva was playmate and childminder to their children.

Member of the Goringhaicona tribe, a Khoi (Hottentot) tribe indigenous to the area and niece of the leader, Herrie (Autshumato), of the Strandlopers (Autohoemao), outcasts of the Hottentot tribes that lived on the beach.

She later became a Hottentot interpreter for Jan van Riebeeck as she learnt Dutch and Portuguese.

Jan van Riebeeck and his wife and son left the Cape on 7 MAY 1662 for Batavia. Zacharias WAGENAAR takes over as Commandant of the Cape of Good Hope.

She married at the age of 21 years.

Became an outcast of the Cape community after her husband was murdered on Madagaskar and was later banished to the Island.

Children placed with Jan Reyniersz and his wife in FEB 1669.

Children placed with Barbara Geems, who apparently ran a brothel on 1 MAR 1669.

Source: Wikipedia


Eva (Krotoa) van die Kaap <>

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Born at the Cape, circa 1642 – died Cape Town, 29.7.1674A female Hottentot interpreter, Eva was a member of the Goringhaikona (Strandlopers or Beach-combers), a Hottentot tribe which lived in the vicinity of Table Bay. The captain of this tribe, Herry, was her uncle, and her sister was the wife of Oedasoa, captain of the Cochoqua (Saldanhars).

Shortly after their arrival at the Cape, Jan van Riebeeck and his wife took Eva into their home. They gave her a Western education and instructed her in the Christian religion. She soon learnt to speak Dutch fluently, and, later on, was able to make herself understood in Portuguese. Although she did not receive official payment for this, she was used as an interpreter, especially between V.O.C. officials and Oedasoa, with whom she sometimes went to stay.

Van Riebeeck had a high opinion of her ability as an interpreter, although later he warned his successor not to accept everything she said without reservations.

On the 3rd May 1662, Eva was baptized in the church inside the Fort of Good Hope by a visiting minister, the Rev. Petrus Sibelius, with the secunde, Roelof de Man and the sick comforter, Pieter van der Stael, as witnesses. She was also the first Hottentot to marry according to Western customs.

On the 26th April 1664, and with the permission of the Council of Policy, she was married in a civil ceremony to the explorer, Pieter van Meerhoff, and she received a dowry of fifty rix-dollars from the V.O.C. On the 2nd June 1664 the marriage was also solemnized in church. Of the children born from this marriage three survived.

In May 1665 Van Meerhoff and his family left the Cape when he was sent to Robben Island as commander. In 1667 he was murdered during an expedition to Madagascar and on 30 September 1668 Eva returned to the Cape with her children, where the V.O.C. gave them the old pottery workshop as a home.

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.

In 1677 the free burgher, Bartholomeus Borns recieved permission from the Council of Policy to take two of Eva's children, Pieternella (Petronella) and Salamon van Meerhoff, with him to Mauritius. There Pieternella van Meerhoff married Daniel Zaayman (from Vlissingen), and, on 26th January 1709, arrived with her husband at the Cape, where she became an ancestor of the Zaayman family in South Africa. There were eight children born of this marriage, four sons and four daughters, of whom most (or all) were probably born on Mauritius.

The family has descended in the male line from the eldest son, Pieter Zaayman; two sons were baptized in Cape Town on 17 February 1709; two daughters were apparently married at the Cape (to Diodati and Bockelberg). A third daughter, Maria Zaayman, had already arrived at the Cape from Mauritius in 1708 with her husband, Hendrik Abraham de Vries, of Amsterdam (one of the four De Vries ancestors in South Africa) there being with her four children, of whom three boys were baptized simultaneously in Cape Town on 4 November 1708.

A fourth daughter, Eva Zaayman, date of birth unrecorded, was married (apparently at the Cape) first to Hubert Jansz van der Meyden, and later (20 September 1711) at Stellenbosch, to Johannes Smit of Delft. As far as is known no children resulted from these marriages.

Eva (Krotoa) van die Kaap

Source: SESA (Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa)

Scridb filter


I am also related to Krotoa. She is my 10th Great Grandmother.

As you have indicated on her Geni profile that she could speak Dutch and Khoikoi, you will be interested in the following excerpt from page 124 of the book "The Castle Of Good Hope From 1666", ISBN 0-620-31938-0, which is available from the Castle Museum at the Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town:

Jan Peitersz Cortemünde, born in Amsterdam, but raised in Denmark, described Krotoa in 1672 when he met her on Robben Island as ".... a masterpiece of nature. She had embraced Christianity, spoke fluent English, Dutch, French and Portuguese and was conversant with the Holy Scriptures.... in short, she was most commendable, being trained in all womanly crafts and married to one of the physicians serving the company."

The source of the above excerpt quoted in the above-mentioned book is J.P. Cortemünde: An Adventure at the Cape in 1672, p.4.

Sincerely Fanus van der Merwe

23 APR 2012


Autshumato/ Herrie, Kratoa/Eva & Nommoa

In the first few decades of the 1600s two Khoe chiefs, Xhore in 1613 and Autshumato in 1631 were abducted and taken to England and Batavia respectively. Xhore made history in becoming the first black South African to go to England. Both Xhore and Autshumato were taught English and returned to the Cape. Chief Xhore later led the resistance to the first attempt to establish a British colony at the Cape with Newgate prisoners in 1614. Captain Crosse and the English setters were forced to beat a hasty retreat from the mainland to Robben Island. Chief Autshumato, named ‘Herrie the Strandloper’ by the Dutch, became the first postmaster on Robben Island and could communicate in English, French, Portuguese and Dutch. He was the man who first assisted and then resisted the Dutch when Commander Jan van Riebeeck established the Dutch settlement in 1652 at Table Bay.

Xhore and Autshumato were remarkable men who have always been relegated to the footnotes of official histories. Other great leaders of the Khoe at this time include Autshumato’s niece Kratoa who became Eva van Meerhof and is one of my ancestors, Gogosoa, Osingkhimna, King Sousoa, Khaikana Maikauka, Nommoa or Doman, Oudasoa, Ngonnemoa, Dorha and so many others. Their stories give a very different perspective to the simplified narrative of European conquest and settlement at the Cape, which was served up to South African schoolchildren throughout the 20th century. The impact of the Khoe on our culture, politics and even the language of Afrikaans has never been given due recognition.

Even the liberal historical narratives are highly patronising. This is particularly true of, the story of those that I call the three ambassadors. Autshumato, Kratoa and Doman, uncover between them, great skills of multilingualism, political shrewdness, people who had travelled and experienced different cultures, strategists, an understanding of economy, and in the case of Doman, military prowess.

Jan van Riebeeck and his successors used a variety of means to wrest the lands of the Khoe for themselves. These included using negotiations and treaties, buy-offs, threat, abductions, violence and conquest. In this process they made diplomatic use of these three local Khoe personalities; Autshumato, Kratoa also known as Eva van Meerhof, and Nommoa known as Doman. While they played out roles of being interlocutors, these three also played a prominent resistance role and walked a delicate tightrope in doing so.

Historical narratives taught to us was stunted by colonial and Apartheid ideologically manipulated story lines. According to traditional colonial history books, for instance, Autshumato was simply a troublesome good-for-nothing, ignorant, beach bum that van Riebeeck accidentally met on his arrival. Yet this ‘beach-bum’ had travelled to Batavia and back, had rendered services to passing ships for three decades, and could communicate in a number of European languages. Too many in our country still justify all sorts of claims based on ideologically distorted narratives of this time, covering our collective past.

Autshumato: To the Dutch, Autshumato whom they called Herrie, was simply the leader of a beachcombing group of Khoe whom they called the Strandlopers. As schoolchildren, we were taught a garbled version of those early settlement days and Autshumato was referred to as ‘Herrie the Strandloper’. It was projected to us that the Dutch upon their arrival had bumped into a beach combing vagabond bumpkin who was living by his wits. No mention was made of Autshumato’s many years of experience as an interlocutor with European visitors, nor his experience in showing the Dutch group the ropes which greatly contributed to their survival in a hostile climate and environment, nor his multi-lingual abilities with Dutch, French, English and Portuguese.

Autshumato, a leader amongst the Goringhaicona, had acquired the name Harry or Herrie two decades earlier in 1631 when the British had removed Autshumato to Batavia to ‘teach him English’ and provide some ‘training’ in English ways. The aim was for him to act as an agent between the British and the Khoe at the Cape. Thus began a favourable relationship between Autshumato and the British, which he played for all that it was worth.

When Autshumato ran into trouble with other Khoe groups on the mainland, he had the British install him and 20 followers on Robben island. Autshumato became the postmaster general, lighthouse-man and provisioner for passing British ships. He also looked after the French, Dutch and other European ships and became quite a linguist, diplomat and trader. The relationship was mutually satisfying for both parties.

Unfortunately, when the Dutch arrived to settle, all of this came undone for Autshumato. He would simply be a local black heathen to them. Initially Autshumato tried to take advantage of the Dutch presence, but as it became clear that the Dutch were in the Cape to stay and that they were prepared to use others to their greater advantage, the relationship turned to one of resistance. Autshumato did everything in his power to outsmart the Dutch at their own game, but once Autshumato lost his strategic bargaining power, it was the beginning of his end.

During the first few months of their arrival, the Dutch were quite vulnerable. Food and shelter for three shiploads of people was their chief concern. The workforce of Jan van Riebeeck had to quickly find their land-legs and the work at hand was to be back-breaking. They were surrounded by dangerous wildlife and the summery weather was beginning to change to the harshness of the Cape of storms. The local people lived a totally different lifestyle to that of the Europeans and were not interested in assisting them with their strange requests and tasks. Van Riebeeck was also highly pre-occupied with establishing defensive structures, aware of potential threats and risks from local inhabitants and from other passing ships including the British who had already proclaimed Table Bay, crown territory.

Van Riebeeck, through Autshumato let it be known that he wanted to barter for cattle and any other form of assistance. He found negotiations with the Khoe very difficult as the intrusive and threatening behaviour of the Dutch had made the Khoe cautious. Also worrying was the quantities of meat required and demanded by the new-comers. The killing and eating of livestock that was practiced by the Dutch would clearly put ‘supply and demand’ pressure on the local subsistence economy. The Khoe were rightly worried about the sustainability of their carefully managed livestock. Further worrying was the scarring of the environment as the Dutch felled trees, broke up stone, altered water flows and cleared tracts of land.

The Peninsular Khoe knew about issues of survival and withheld their livestock from the Dutch, regardless of the new products on offer such as copper, tobacco and alcohol. The Dutch interpretation of this non-cooperation was from a perspective that said that Europeans were civilised and reasonable and that the Khoe were uncivil, tricky and unreasonable. Van Riebeeck’s recorded responses were typical of European adventurers of his time. He wrote in his journal that it would have been much easier to take the cattle by force and enslave the Khoe. But the VOC compelled him to build good relations with the local population as it suited their long term vision.

The Dutch settlement party wrestled with how they would establish themselves under the circumstances. Van Riebeeck was forced to use Autshumato and anything that he could provide them with, to establish the settlement bridgehead. Autshumato was the only local person who could speak some European languages so as to facilitate the navigation of local bartering, bartering in the interior and who knew the landscape. The Dutch were wary of Autshumato and him of them. The Peninsula Khoe had effectively drawn a cordon around the Dutch to prevent them from independent contact with groups beyonf the Peninsular. Van Riebeeck had much to write about this uneasy relationship in his journal. It thus became a priority for the Dutch to develop other relationships and to train others who might be more loyal. This is how they turned to Autshumato’s young niece Kratoa.

Kratoa (Eva van Meerhof): Kratoa as a little girl, not yet ten years of age, had landed up on her own after her father died and her mother married another chief. Somehow she landed up at the Fort de Goede Hoop and got drawn into the van Riebeeck household. While Kratoa always retained her links outside of the fort, she also assimilated into the Dutch community and was renamed Eva. She was taught Dutch and adopted the Christian faith and lived in the ways of the Dutch settlers. Kratoa came from a complex extended family of notables amongst the Khoe people. Kratoa was the niece of Autshumato who was leader of an independent Goringhaicona clan, but she also had an uncle in the Chainoqua tribe and women regarded as mothers in the Goringhaiqua and Cochoqua respectively. She was well connected through her sister who had been married first to Goeboe the Chainoqua chief and was later, in a twist of war, married to Chief Oedasoa of the Cochoqua.

Over time, Kratoa found herself split in her loyalties and, as a result of her closeness to the Dutch, her Khoe people distrusted her as a black Dutch woman. Likewise the Dutch also saw her as an untrustworthy local. But to the Dutch at a crucial time she was invaluable. Her command of the Dutch language and understanding of Dutch custom and needs, far outstripped that of Autshumato and as soon as she was able to assist them, the Dutch wound down their dealings with Autshumato whom they found to be too shrewd and double-dealing. This move only served to alienate Kratoa even more from her people. Nonetheless history does show us that Kratoa’s heart was with her people and she often used her influence with the Dutch, to protect the interests of her people.

When she was no longer a naïve young girl pampered in a Dutch family, she was tormented about where she belonged, but she continued to work as an agent for the Dutch. Her Uncle, Autshumato was also going through his own turmoil, as he was no longer accepted amongst many Khoe in the changing environment. Another chief, Nommoa also known as Doman of the Goringhaiqua was antagonistic to both Kratoa and Autshumato. He organised in the wings to replace them as the main interlocutor with the Dutch. The Dutch were only too happy to have choices and also played each of these against the other. But particularly with Doman they were playing with fire.

Doman: Nommoa, similarly to Xhore and Autshumato before him, but consentingly, was taken to Batavia for instruction and developed a good understanding of Dutch. He promoted an image of himself to the Dutch, as a preacher-like man with leadership style, who looked up to them, even adopting the name Anthony. The Dutch nicknamed him ‘Dominee’ - Reverend - from which came the name Doman.

He fooled the Dutch into seeing him as a friend of the Dutch, but to his own people he warned that the Dutch were over-running the Khoe, their lands and culture. He urged resistance and spread the word that all of the troubles brought upon the Khoe was due to Autshumato and Kratoa having delivered their people to the Dutch. Doman also warned his people about the slavery he had seen in the East Indies and how it would take root in the Cape. He believed that the Khoe would become the slaves of the Dutch. Of the three diplomats Doman most resembled the Trojan-horse type character adopting the guise of a diplomat who only ditched the veneer of facilitator and go-between, after the Dutch realised that he had dragged them into a war of his own making. Strange as their relationship was (being both resisters and diplomats) without Autshumato, Kratoa and even Doman, the Dutch would have been lost. Other European attempts at settlement in many parts of Africa and Madagascar floundered at this time in history. The Dutch at the Cape were not having an easy ride. The three diplomats tipped the balance of forces in the favour of the Dutch regardless of their resistance. But they tried to play too many strategies at the same time and did not bargain on the Dutch linking up with their enemies behind the Peninsular Khoe lines. Had they played the Dutch and made alliances with the Cochocqua and other groups at the same time, the Dutch would have been checked. Also too much store had been placed on short-term gains. The Dutch furthermore also had a rear base in Saldhana Bay and a sea route to that base. The final advantage was when the Dutch brought horses to the Cape and developed a cavalry, giving them the superiority of mobile firepower.

Chief Xhore back in 1615 had a more workable approach to resistance – don’t allow a defendable beachhead to be formed, because it would become the base for offensive action. Xhore’s descendent Doman took too much time to mount his offensive and was too divisive in settling scores with fellow Khoe.

Resistance was mounting as the Dutch became more entrenched and skirmishes became more common. But the defences had been well established. War was brewing as cattle herds dwindled and the Khoe were also excluded from grazing lands. Each of these three diplomat-interpreters in one way or another turned their minds and actions to forms of resistance. But all of them also once mistakenly thought that they could ride and exploit the tiger. Autshumato alienated his base. Kratoa lived in a no-mans-land and had no base. Doman chose to fight on too many fronts against fellow Khoe and the Dutch who had already been given enough time to develop superior defences and become cavalry-mobile. Doman tried to bolt the door after the beast had broken out of containment.

A competitive rivalry twist also developed between the old interlocutors Autshumato and Kratoa, and Doman, which was to lead to the downfall of each in turn.

The fall of the three diplomats: Autshumato, no longer trusted by the Dutch, faced redundancy as an interlocutor between the Dutch and the Khoe. He rebelled and organised the theft of some VOC cattle and fled inland but then failed to garner broader local support. Kratoa initially went along with Autshumato and remained away from the fort for some weeks waiting to see how things would pan out. In the course of this rebel activity, a young Dutch herdsman of livestock was killed and this resulted in much tension between the Dutch and the Khoe. The Dutch however were not strong enough to engage in reprisals. They responded with initial conciliatory approaches, which lured Autshumato back.

Autshumato returned to the Fort due to the hostility that he faced amongst the broader Khoe groups. He brought van Riebeeck a peace offering of 40 cattle. He also protested his innocence of involvement in both the cattle theft and the killing that had taken place. But this is when Doman stepped in to usurp the place of both Autshumato and Kratoa, by building the case against Autshumato.

Kratoa had returned to the fort and somehow managed to dodge any tainting by these events. But full trust from the Dutch was no longer there. Autshumato’s trust credit with the Dutch had completely evaporated. He was found guilty of disloyalty, theft and being a danger to the settlement and as a result was exiled to Robben Island. He had been turned in by Doman, who then assumed Autshumato’s place. Doman also cast aspersions on Kratoa’s loyalty. Along with Autshumato, van Riebeeck records two other rebel Khoe men as being accomplices - Jan Cou and Boubou, who were also sent to Robben Island.

Kratoa began to display behavioural difficulties. Already as a young teen she had fallen pregnant by a passing French sailor and had taken to drinking strong alcoholic drinks. The alcohol addiction was to ruin her life. The banishment of her uncle to Robben Island, the tension in the Dutch community about her short disappearance and the ascendency of her detractor Doman led to further alienation with both the Dutch and Khoe communities. But this was about to change at least in terms of her relationship with the Dutch.

In 1658 all civil relationships between the Dutch and Khoe had deteriorated and war broke out. Doman, previously a covert resister, now chose to play open cards, exposing his hostility to the Dutch by leading a rebellion. Doman had shed the diplomat figure to become an open advocate of resisting Dutch settlement and expansion. The war that he launched was a series of raids and small attacks on Dutch infrastructure organised by himself and his ally Osinghkhimma, son of Goringhaicona Chief Gogosoa (known as the ‘Fat Captain’). This forced the Dutch to turn again to the imprisoned Autshumato for assistance.

The Dutch returned Autshumato to the mainland to assist them to end the conflict but Autshumato’s time was past and his willingness to assist had also dried up. Seen as a waste of time, the Dutch took him back to Robben Island, but Autshumato was now encouraged by the resistance. He stole a boat on the Island and rowed back to the mainland – the first escapee from Robben Island.

Autshumato disappeared for many months during the rebellion and emerged at the disastrous negotiations for peace in 1660. Autshumato gained nothing for the Khoe in the peace terms which favoured the Dutch and was a broken old man. He died in 1663 having lived a remarkable and complex life in very difficult times of momentous change. Any critical historical appraisal must count him amongst the founding fathers of modern South Africa. He was an enigma. He was a facilitator of settlement at times and a fierce resister at other times – a victim of colonialism and a fierce rebel. He was also the father of the tricky art of diplomacy in South Africa.

Nommoa or Doman was seriously injured during the first Khoe-Dutch war and the Dutch gained the upper hand. With Doman’s defeat and diminished status, the Dutch also secured a favourable peace and the Khoe lost their grazing lands for all time. The first ‘forced removal’ or ‘ethnic cleansing’ of black South Africans from their land, was complete. Van Riebeeck established that the European notion of ‘right’ to the land by ‘conquest’ was the rule of law. Although this Khoe-Dutch War was comparatively short and un-dramatic, it was this war and formal act of conquest that was the foundation of colonial South Africa. A now cripple Doman in defeat returned to serving the Dutch as an interpreter. On 11 December 1663 Commander Wagenaar notes that Doman died in a ‘Hottentot’ hut outside of the fort. The note remarks that his death would be a loss which will be regretted by none.

Kratoa ‘Eva’ found it difficult to cope with these events and with her role of interpreter and interlocutor. Her Khoe world had changed dramatically and her uncle was a broken man. Her own importance to the Dutch had reached its peak and she needed to become more rooted in their society or face a dejected future in the wilds. Her persona as Kratoa receded and she became Mrs Eva van Meerhof when she made history in becoming the first Khoe woman to formally marry a Dutch man, Pieter van Meerhof, in 1659. She had already had a child with Pieter and was pregnant with a second child by him when they agitated for marriage.

Their decision was frowned upon by all and they defied everyone including the VOC in insisting on getting married. Kratoa married van Meerhof just at the time that her family life with the van Riebeeck’s was disrupted.

Van Riebeeck was transferred to Batavia that year and Kratoa had just managed to secure a new anchor for her precarious existence in early Cape Society. With van Riebeeck gone, the van Meerhofs were an embarrassment at the fort, so Pieter was made the overseer of Robben Island and the family retreated to an isolated life on the island which now served as a prison or place of banishment. Here, for three years, Kratoa led a lonely life looking after her children, drinking and seeking out the few banished Khoe prisoners with whom she socialised. Often she and Pieter would fight over her neglect of the kids, her drinking, and dance sessions on the beach with her people.

Van Meerhof was a soldier and medic and thus the Robben Island stint was something of a slap in the face. After three years he got a break that he seized with enthusiasm. He was also an explorer who had travelled on behalf of the VOC to Namaqualand and now he got an opportunity to go on a slaving expedition to Madagascar. He jumped at it. It was to be his last chance at anything. Pieter was killed in a skirmish at Antongill Bay in Madagascar in 1667.

Mrs Eva van Meerhof was now the widow van Meerhof. She was a broken woman, totally messed up by the schizophrenic life that she had lead. The Council of Justice ordered that her neglected children be taken away from her and put into the care of the Church. Kratoa had become a drunk, abused herself and was abused by all. She was sent to Robben Island again, now as a prisoner, but later returned to the mainland. This continued over and over again. She fell pregnant a number of times by different men and each time her infants were taken from her into care. This tragic founding mother of modern South Africa and early diplomat died at the age of 31 in 1674. She is the early ancestral mother of many Coloured, white Afrikaner and indigene African families of today. She is one of my forebears and is buried at the Castle of Good Hope.

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.

It is recommended that anyone with a greater interest in these figures and times, read the three-volume Journal of Jan van Riebeeck to gain a greater insight. Van Riebeeck was quite candid in the journals. ...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.


the iblog Cape Slavery Heritage:Exploring the Roots of the People of the Cape - South Africa  

Discussion on the objectivity of this article

‘Drawing the longbow in the VOC Fort’

Kratoa of the Goringhaicona and Cochoqua (1642 – 1674)

© Patric Tariq Mellet

Kratoa of the Goringhaicona was born around 1642 at the emerging Khoena settlement on the banks of the Camissa River which flowed from the great Hoerikwaggo Mountain to the sea. The European travelers called the bay Table Bay and the mountain was called Table Mountain. The Camissa settlement became known as the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Town.

Kratoa who was well connected to the royal houses of different Khoena clans, lived a most extraordinary but short life, spanning only three decades. She died in 1674. (The Khoena is the plural for Khoe, also referred to as Khoi peoples who consisted of many clans with a range of wonderful names. The word simply means ‘people’ and in its singular form – ‘person’)

The Goringhaicona (children of the Goringhaiqua), were a relatively settled offshoot clan of maroons from the other Khoena groups – the Gorachoqua, Goringhaiqua, Chainoqua and the Cochoqua clans of the Western Cape of South Africa. They are described by Richard Elphick, a specialist in Khoena history, as runaways, outcasts, refugees, orphans and other persons ‘whose parents and husbands were dead’.

Amongst the Goringhaicona were also offspring born of relationships with passing seamen over the many decades of interactions prior to European settlement. The Camissa people were the root people for what can be called the ‘Camissa footprint’ which spread across South Africa over time. With European settlement and the arrival of slaves from other parts of Africa, Madagascar, India, China and Indonesia, who worked and lived alongside the Gorinhaicona, further relations between slaves and the Khoena also produced offspring in the Camissa community. By the mid 19th century when the Camissa roots were much layered and the Goringhaicona forgotten, the colonial authorities in an act of de-indigenisation labeled the Camissa descendants as ‘Coloured’ people. During her years with Jan van Riebeeck as an interpreter, emissary and negotiator, Kratoa adopted the Cochoqua as her people and by all accounts they adopted her. Kratoa’s sister was the wife of Chief Oudasoa of the Cochoqua. Kratoa also had a second ‘mother’ amongst the Cochoqua. She further had kinship ties with the Goringhaiqua and the Chainoqua. Simultaneously Kratoa maintained her ties with the Goringhaicona headed by her uncle Autshumao.

One of the greatest misrepresentations in South African colonial history narratives is that of the status of relations with the indigenes of Table Bay particularly in the 50 years prior to, and at the time of the landing of Commander Jan van Riebeeck in 1652. The inaccurate depiction of Chief Autshumao of the Goringhaicona as an ignorant vagabond leader of a bunch of beachcombers (Strandloopers) runs counter to much reliable historical information that has always been available but most often ignored or even suppressed. It is only in understanding Kratoa in the context of the first two decades of European settlement and with the background of the previous fifty years events at Camissa that her legacy can fully be appreciated.

Kratoa’s community context

According to European history, the Europeans had been passing through Table Bay since 1488 and, according to the Chinese accounts the Chinese passed through Table Bay in 1421. From the time of that Chinese voyage around the Cape by Admiral Zheng He, until 1652 when the first Dutch settlement occurred, there had been two centuries of interaction by the indigene Khoena people with a wide range of foreign visitors.

An introduction on the trading links, the communication and the cooperative relations of the Gorachoqua, Goringhiaqua and then the Goringhaicona with the passing Europeans was first provided to a mass readership in some detail by historian Richard Elphick in his book ‘The KhoiKhoi and the Founding of White South Africa (1975). Much of the source material is to be found in the journals of Commander Jan van Riebeeck and he in turn was able to record this largely from the stories of Kratoa and other interpreters.

The initial informal though brisk trading relationships that took root between passing ships and the Khoena people in the latter 1500s began to take a more formal form under Chief Xhore of the Gorachoqua after he was kidnapped to England in 1613 and returned a year later. Chief Xhore had later led the resistance to the English attempt to settle Newgate convicts at Camissa in 1615 under Captain Crosse, but nonetheless maintained relations as a trader with the Europeans until his death.

After Xhore’s death (at the hands of the Dutch) Elphick notes that trade relations with the Khoena took a nose-dive. But a short while later this gap was filled after Chief Autshumao, the uncle of Kratoa, was taken on a visit to Batavia (Jakarta) in 1631.

A new and intricate relationship was developed with Autshumao’s clan, the Goringhaicona, involving a range of services including a postal service to passing ships. This first involved establishing a service station for ships on Robben Island served by more than 30 Khoena under Autshumao and later by 1638 this service-community relocated back to the mainland where they continued to provide services. Under the entrepreneurial Autshumao an interlocutor bartering service relationship developed which slowly resulted in rebuilding the supply lines for the European travelers for the acquisition of meat and fresh water in exchange for a commission on transactions.

The Khoena name of the fresh water river running down from the sacred mountain known as Hoerikwaggo (Table Mountain) was ‘Camissa’ or the ‘Sweet Waters’ (soetwater). The Dutch referred to the Goringhaicona as the ‘Watermen’ because of their association with the Camissa River and the seashore. It was from Camissa that foreign ships were supplied with the vital commodity - fresh water, by the Goringhaicona. All the hallmarks were in place to regard this as the first proto-refreshment station at the Cape and thus the true foundation of Cape Town. The settlement of his people around Camissa was a strategic move on the part of Chief Autshumao. When there were no ships in the Bay his people lived off fish and other seafood. By camping at the Camissa Autshumao controlled a constant fresh-water supply, giving him a strategic advantage right on the beach. By all accounts the Goringhaicona were typical ‘survivors’ and highly entrepreneurial. Although a much smaller group than the other Khoena groups they initially dominated relations between the Khoena livestock herders and the Dutch by setting themselves up as the negotiators at a lucrative commission. It was because of this, as can be seen in the Dutch Commander’s journaL that Jan van Riebeeck was so antagonistic to Autshumao as Commander van Riebeeck believed that he was being over-charged for the services.

Autshumao and another of the Camissa people, Isaac (of whom little is known), had through their travels to Batavia (Jakarta) returned with much linguistic and other knowledge about the Europeans and this was used to their own advantage. Twenty years later, after much interaction with the Portuguese, Dutch, French and British, the Camissa community – the Goringhaicona as a group, would have been well acquainted with European languages enough to get by with general communication.

Authsumao, with his niece Kratoa at his side, stands out as playing a major role in all of the initial interactions with the Dutch Commander of the Cape – Jan van Riebeeck, due to his reliance on their linguistic skills. Even when van Riebeeck moved from the tent camp into the north wing of the partially built Fort five months after his arrival, he noted that Autshumao remained camped on the opposite bank of the Camissa River running below the north wing.

Although van Riebeeck is recognised as the colonial ‘founding father’ of Cape Town (and South Africa), he only actually resided in South Africa for 10 years and none of his family remained in South Africa. Kratoa’s descendants however are today to be found among thousands of South Africans of all national groups.

Commander van Riebeeck first provides a note on Kratoa in his journal in 1654 by referring to – ‘a girl living with us’ who was taken away by her uncle Autshumao and his group of followers after he had made off with a large number of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) cattle herd. From this first mention in the record, the Commander went on to mention her name over 200 times in 65 entries in the journal. Kratoa was a dominant factor in Jan van Riebeeck’s entire time at the Cape of Good Hope. Further light is shed on her status in the household when the Commander notes that she was taken into the service of his wife from the beginning (1652). Van Riebeeck also notes that Kratoa perfected the Dutch language and came to a full understanding of religion and Dutch culture under the tutorship of his wife. From the age of 15 years, Kratoa’s service to the VOC transformed to become that of interpreter, emissary and negotiator.

The Commander studied Kratoa like a hawk as she was manipulated to provide the VOC with intelligence and as much strategic advantage as possible. He also cultivated back up interpreters as distrust later set in. He used these to try and catch her out. Interpreting became a terrain of struggle and Kratoa turned diplomacy into an art. She played a chess game with van Riebeeck and his journal shows that he suspected her of this.

Commander van Riebeeck started with some muted paternalistic statements about Kratoa in the beginning of his journal and proceeded to describe the advantages and pitfalls of her contribution. As time marches on he exposes distrust and sounds warnings about Kratoa. He uses a phrase many times – Kratoa is accused of ‘drawing the long bow’ – meaning exaggerating, lying or deliberately misleading them. He also suggests that she is playing him at his own game. He says “she knows well by now how to introduce a little flattery and say the sort of thing she imagines you want to hear”.

By the third part of his journal, Eva, as she is referred to, pre-occupies van Riebeeck and dominates the journal as much as the struggle between the Khoena and the Dutch intensified. Different patterns of struggle with the colonists emerged and these were not in sync with each other. Indeed they were competitive and conflictual. Kratoa clearly came down on the side of the Cochoqua, her sister’s people and in his journal van Riebeeck identified a strong sense of loyalty in her for her own kin.

Kratoa’s role as interpreter, emissary and negotiator continued over seven years. It is remarkable that this crucial role was carried out by a teenager and a woman who not only rose to the challenge, but was also able to subtly turn the tables on her master so as to advantage her own people.

Kratoa in the service of the Dutch

Who was this extraordinary young woman who lived for only just over three decades? Why was the 10 year old Kratoa chosen by Jan van Riebeeck out of all the other children of the Camissa settlement which hosted the early Dutch fort?

The Europeans literally established their tent camp right in the midst of the existing Camissa settlement for convenience and protection. The Camissa River itself was diverted to form a moat around the Fort when it was constructed. The Cape was still a place teaming with wildlife. It was an inhospitable place in winter and winter was fast approaching. For the first five months in the heart of a terrible Cape winter, the Europeans and the Goringhaicona lived cheek by jowl on the banks of the Camissa River while the Fort was being built. Kratoa was a curious ten year old who along with her peers would have been running around inquisitively amongst the Europeans and the Ambonyese soldiers as they busied themselves fortifying their bridgehead at Camissa. When she was not running around with the other children she would be at her uncle Autshumao’s side. Maintaining a good relationship with the Khoena at Camissa was the key to the survival of this Dutch settlement project. The local people of the Camissa settlement right down to the children already had enough understanding of various European languages through years of interaction by passing ships with which they traded. Kratoa clearly stood out as her ‘uncle’s child’ who probably was more conversant with rudimentary Dutch, English, French and Portuguese than the others. She was a prime candidate for further instruction.

By the written accounts of her appearance, she further stood out as having both Khoena and some European features and was of fair complexion. Kratoa had no father and had a strained relationship with her mother. Her appearance suggested that somewhere down the line it was likely that there was some European ancestry. Her family connections with the inland Cochoqua and the fact that she was related to the royal families that inter-connected some of the Khoena clans was a strategic issue for Jan van Riebeeck. Control of such a young person who could walk into royal kraals, gave van Riebeeck a strategic advantage. She could carry information back and forth and positively influence key role-players if she could be trained and molded.

Historian Richard Elphick makes the point that we should be careful not to overlay the traditional European concept of kinship or nuclear family on the Khoena people. Words such as ‘uncle’ or ‘mother’or ‘sister’ and ‘niece,’ ill-fit the Khoena kinship connections. Likewise there were no rigid kinship walls between Goringhaicona, Goringhaiqua, Cochoqua and the Gorachoqua, even although with the arrival of the Europeans, tensions and conflicts evolved between these groups and also with others such as the Chainouqua. Elphick shows us that Kratoa had a complex set of family relationships across these clans, and that these included persons of influence and power.

Some writers have chosen to project Kratoa’s place in the van Riebeeck household as though she were a foster child taken into the bosom of the Commander’s family. There is very little facts to support such assumptions. The living arrangements too would not have allowed for Kratoa to be part of the nuclear family of the Commander. When the early rudimentary Fort was complete, the van Riebeecks only had three tiny rooms for a household of 12 persons – his immediate family, slaves and Khoena servants. This was hardly the intimate family environment where a fostered Khoena child was taken into the bosom of the Commander’s wife. Kratoa’s world was also shared by two Abyssinian slave girls of her own age – Lysbeth and Cornelia, given to Maria de la Quellerie, the Commanders wife by a visiting French naval officer.

Karel Schoeman in his chapter on Kratoa in ‘Seven Khoi Lives’ gives us a much more comprehensive picture of Kratoa’s upbringing between the ages of 12 and 17. It shows a teenager who was as much, if not more so, a part of her traditional Khoena society as she was a fringe member of the Commander’s household. For strategic reasons it was in the interest of Commander van Riebeeck to also nurture the relationship between Kratoa and the Cochoqua and thus the contact was facilitated. Schoeman refers to this as ‘promising contact’ in van Riebeecks eyes.

Kratoa’s pre-teen and teenage years must have been very difficult. The child entering puberty was prone to abuse by any of the 140 roughneck men in the 146 strong (female depleted) European and Ambonyese community where protection was hardly able to be guaranteed. For instance, two years after entering service at the Fort, Kratoa had absconded with her uncle and had to be brought back to the Fort after Van Riebeeck had pursued them. Between the age of 12 and 15 she was further instructed in language, religion and culture of the Dutch, not for philanthropic reasons, but to act as an interpreter and diplomat. At 15 already the Commander indicated in his journal that she was doing interpretation work.

A clear indication that she was not fostered nor truly accepted into Dutch society in the traditional sense was that she remained un-baptised, a sign of non-integration into the European community, until the age of 22 and then this was by her own request. Baptism was the true measure of acceptance into the European community. Her dress amongst the Europeans is also noted as not that of the European women and children, but that of the Asian slaves. This was symbolic of her servitude status at the Fort.

From 15 years to 22 years old Kratoa was set to work as the official interpreter, emissary and negotiator. She was initially prized by Jan Van Riebeeck and commended for her service. Increasingly as Kratoa entered her post-teens, the tone in the Commander’s journal changed to view her more disparagingly and with suspicion. She was suspected of aiding her people with strategic information and advice, particularly during the first Khoe-Dutch war of 1659 – 60. Kratoa was both a clever and wise young person. She too must have recognised that she was in a powerful position to carry useful information, warnings and good counsel to her people. Commander van Riebeeck notes that the child, the teen and the young adult over a 12 year period regularly stripped off her Asian dress- kabaka, sarong and kaparangs, and donned her traditional Khoena clothes and adornments to engage in rituals and communion with her people. By all accounts she took great pleasure and pride in doing so.

Kratoa clearly also experienced a tug-o-war of emotions and mental conflict, as well as conflicts of loyalty. Kratoa was torn between being Eva and Kratoa; between being part of the European world and part of the Khoena. She was being marshalled, briefed and de-briefed by her handler, the Commander. She was asked to go amongst her people and to report back. She was also asked to go amongst her people to lie to them even although the religion taught to her said that lying was wrong. She saw the ruthless and manipulating side of the Commander one day and the gentleman singing her praises the next. Contradictions jumped out at her. As she matured she was less able to be manipulated by van Riebeeck and was split in her loyalties between the VOC and her sister’s people, the Cochoqua.

Kratoa’s entire life was filled with trauma heaped upon trauma. It was a life full of danger. She was distrusted by the Dutch and also by various persons with differing interests amongst her own people.

One day she was journeying in a caravan of cattle atop a prized beast - happy with her own people and treated like a princess; another day she was travelling with European men who plied her with alcohol and abused her at night; and yet another day being waylaid and robbed by a rival Khoena band. The inner turmoil must have been great.

Her skills as a diplomat and linguist also had a lot riding on it. The wrong word in the wrong company could result in reprisals and death. What a responsibility for a young girl. The lives of the people you loved would have been at stake. There were also intense periods of violent conflict and war.

Kratoa’s experience would have been one of longing for normality. On top of all of these experiences she was a young unmarried mother with two small children.

In her later teens Kratoa had two ‘illegitimate’ children at the Fort, indicating that she had been abused as a female teen in this overwhelmingly male environment. This abuse would have gone hand in hand with the introduction of alcohol into her life. This latter aspect of her experience was to have a devastating effect on her future.

Kratoa was able to delight in returning to her people on visits. Tell-tale signs of a yearning for love, and to be settled emerges even from the observations of the Commander in his journal. The teenager had been thrust into a political world of intrigue, drama and tension with little chance of delighting in simple childish things. There was also little chance to follow in the path of the other women around her as she was thrust into a male world. There was little chance to enjoy love and motherhood. She was outstanding at the same time as a woman at this point in history, as no other female contemporary is to be found engaged in a role that was otherwise exclusively a male domain.

All of these factors together amounted to a cocktail of pain and must have resulted in much inner conflict. It is no wonder that with all of these things piling up inside of her that in the last decade of her life, Kratoa was pushed over the edge.

Kratoa and Resistance

Kratoa frequently went off to live amongst her people, most particularly to her sister and brother-in-law amongst the Cochoqua. Van Riebeeck tolerated and even encouraged this because it opened up a rewarding trade relationship and resulted in intelligence gathering. For van Riebeeck, Kratoa was the source of a wealth of knowledge.

But it was not a one-way street. Kratoa was enterprising and was able to discharge her own loyalties to her people. She was able to provide intelligence and to position her people to gain strategic advantages. Amongst her people she blossomed and showed an enterprising streak. Her Uncle Autshumao’s skills for being an adept trader and entrepreneur came to the fore in her.

Kratoa particularly between 1658 and 1661 blossomed and found herself. She turned a situation of being used and abused into an advantage for herself and the Cochoqua people. She made her unique position both work for her and contribute to her people.

Kratoa’s chief critic was her competitor, the fellow interpreter and an open resister of the Dutch, Nommoa (Doman). He criticized her and implied that she was a sell-out. But was she? Kratoa certainly gave excellent interpretation and diplomatic service to the Dutch, but equally she provided the same for Oudasoa and the Cochoqua. In looking at the information available, one is indeed sometimes left wondering whether Kratoa worked for Oudasoa rather than Commander van Riebeeck. It also emerges that she was quietly providing intelligence to the Cochoqua in their more subtle struggles with the Dutch. Her information from Oudasoa conveyed to the Dutch during the Khoena-Dutch war was nuanced in favour of the Cochoqua’s stance. She further showed great loyalty to her uncle Autshumao when he increasingly became persona non grata to the Dutch. All of this was noticed and commented upon by Commander van Riebeeck.

In his final testimony before leaving the Cape, Commander van Riebeeck established that Kratoa mainly worked as an interpreter with the Cochoqua and other inland Khoena clans. He also states that not all of her information could be dependable as well as referring to other facts relating to her ‘dependability’ which were ‘verbally conveyed’ but ‘because of its nature must remain unknown’. The Commander provided his successors with advice to keep her on a short leash. To understand Kratoa’s resistance role one needs to look at the Khoena’s overall resistance strategy – one that ultimately failed after the second Khoena-Dutch war of resistance. The Khoena strategy was one of containment. That is to keep the Dutch isolated from the interior by means of a blockade and, to keep them economically dependent on the Khoena. Jan van Riebeecks counter-strategy was to break out of any blockade and to open direct contact with the interior by means of divide and rule tactics.

The Khoena’s Achilles’ heal was their own divisions. There were three different tactical approaches to dealing with the Dutch and these were unfortunately competitive. Kratoa played her crucial part in the third approach as an ally of Chief Oudosoa.

Autshumao’s tactic was to pressurize the Dutch to stay locked in to the Table Bay area and to remain dependent on the Goringhaicona for all trading with the interior. He went to great lengths to ensure that direct contact between the Dutch and the other Khoena clans were kept to a minimum. Autshumao also resorted to trying to play up the English threat to the Dutch which he knew to be their fear. Autshumao and his small Goringhaicona clan were however soon overwhelmed by the Dutch.

The second tactician was Nammoa also known as Doman, who had learnt much about the Dutch weaknesses after he had travelled to Batavia (Jakarta) and back to the Cape. He followed a similar tactic to that of Autshumao, but with significant differences. He saw Authshumao’s Goringhaicona as insignificant in numbers, not militant enough and undisciplined. Nammoa sought to replace the Dutch dependency on Autshumao and also on Kratoa with himself. In turn he also attempted to develop a united front between the Goringhaiqua and Gorachoqua to stand up against the Dutch and flex their muscles. Under Nommoa the Peninsula Khoena went to war in the first Khoena-Dutch war of resistance from 1659 – 1660. The result of the conflict was a stalemate, but Nommoa’s power and influence was reduced and the Dutch made significant gains. The third tactic was employed by Chief Oudasoa of the Cochoqua with his ally Kratoa. The containment strategy took a completely different approach through what was essentially a diplomacy and brinkmanship tactic. Oudasoa had large herds of cattle outside of the immediate reach of the Dutch as well as the numerical strength to oppose the Dutch and isolate them to the Peninsula. But he needed to bring his entire operation nearer to effect a blockade. He also faced the hostility of all of the Peninsula Khoena clans. Oudasoa needed to tread carefully and played his approach very carefully. He needed to either subject the Peninsula Khoena to his rule or he needed to win them over to a united front. He thus operated in a manner which kept both options open.

Oudasoa knew that if he entered the territory being occupied by the Dutch in a piecemeal manner, and if small groups of Cochoqua were constantly attacked by Peninsula Khoena, the Dutch would eventually get the upper hand. Oudasoa utilizing the skills of Kratoa, attempted to present the Dutch with an offer he believed that they could not refuse. He offered to bring his cattle and people into the Peninsula where he would keep order amongst all of the Khoena as long as the Dutch assisted him in such a move and extended a sole and direct trading relationship with the Cochoqua. Effectively this would have made the Cochoqua the sole Khoena authority in the region and a large and economically powerful enough Khoena presence surrounding the Dutch would have effectively contained them.

Kratoa played a crucial part to realize this strategy. She first did her rounds raising enough cattle to provide van Riebeeck with a taster for the economic gains that he could make. She then set up meetings at the highest levels between Jan van Riebeeck and the Cochoqua. And finally as interpreter she passionately argued the case for the Cochoqua.

But van Riebeeck smelt a rat. He began to distrust where Kratoa’s loyalties lay. He refused to go along with Oudosoa and first wanted the Cochoqua to demonstrate loyalty to the Dutch by allying with the Dutch against the Peninsula Khoena. This would have amounted to removing the thorn in the side of the Dutch without any immediate gain for Oudosoa. The chief was no fool and decided to walk away, telling van Riebeeck that he would have no part in his war.

The diplomatic brinkmanship of the Cochoqua through Kratoa did not win the day and Oudosoa’s struggle would continue for another decade. Kratoa however had exposed herself and her loyalties to her people and was to pay a heavy price for this. Her role as interpretor and emissary came to an abrupt end and her relationship with her protector, Jan van Riebeeck, soured and this threatened her place in Dutch society at the Fort.

There were few entries about Kratoa in the Commander’s journal from this point onwards and the last entry showing Kratoa as interpreter was in 1661. By 1662 the Commander and his family were also about to leave the Cape. Over the next decade after the Peninsula Khoena had been subdued, the Dutch and the Cochoqua were on a collision path that ultimately resulted in the second Khoena-Dutch war of resistance leading to the defeat of the Cochoqua and the Khoena strategy of containment. The importation of horses, more soldiers and guns gave the Dutch the strategic advantage in war.

The last tragic decade of Kratoa’s life

Kratoa’s life underwent a new dramatic change in 1662 when Commander van Riebeeck left the Cape. It coincided with the death of her uncle Autshumao, her mother’s death and the death of her sister, the wife of Chief Oudasoa.

Faced with her uncle, mother and sister’s deaths, and with the growing distrust in her by the Dutch, the deaths of the few Dutch friends that she still had and, the fact that her main patrons the van Riebeeck’s were about to leave the Cape, Kratoa needed to find some security. She found her tenuous security in getting baptized as a Christian and by entering a marriage which could be characterized as one of convenience with a VOC official. While some Europeans opposed this marriage as scandalous it was a convenience not only for Kratoa but also for the VOC as it provided a means to spirit Kratoa away from the public gaze without too much ado.

The man that she married was a Danish man, Peter Havgard who by a custom enforced by the VOC adopted the Dutch persona of Pieter van Meerhof. Known as the VOC surgeon, he worked as a barber, responsible too for amputations. The marriage allowed the company to quickly dispatch Kratoa and van Meerhof to company duties on Robben Island – a kind of exile. This did two things – it cut off Kratoa from supplying information to her people and it took her out of circulation amongst the emerging gentry where the presence of the young Khoena woman was an embarrassment, particularly because of the prior dalliances of their husbands during the time when women were in short supply.

The years of sexual abuse to which Kratoa seemed to have been exposed now needed to be forgotten as the Company men and their new European wives wished to look respectable. The van Riebeeck project and experiment with her life had deeply traumatised Kratoa, who in the last decade of her life stepped over the edge.

Pieter van Meerhof grew tired of Robben Island, even although unlike Kratoa he was away from the island periodically on expeditions. After having another child with Kratoa, he seized an opportunity to go on a slaving operation to Madagascar and in the course of the expedition he lost his life. Their marriage had only lasted three years. After her husband was killed, Kratoa was temporarily allowed back on the mainland and she tried to fit into the very different European world to that of her teens. Kratoa had two more children viewed as ‘illegitimate’. She was rejected by the new gentry and forced to ‘know her place’ amongst the transient lower classes, mainly men, who only wanted her as a drinking companion and to satisfy their sexual urges.

With van Meerhof’s death, Kratoa’s only security was gone and the full weight of the years of trauma and displacement weighed heavily on her. Her ever deepening dependency on alcohol, first introduced to her in her childhood, took her right over the edge. Her children were removed from her, she was hunted down, thrown into the Castle dungeon and then she was banished to Robben Island.

During this time on Robben island, in 1673, a certain Willem ten Rhijne, a Dutch visitor to the Cape, described Krotoa as:

".... a masterpiece of nature. She had embraced Christianity, spoke fluent English, Dutch, French and Portuguese and was conversant with the Holy Scriptures.... in short, she was most commendable, being trained in all womanly crafts and married to one of the surgeons serving the company." 

This description contrasts sharply with the figure painted by the Church Council and the VOC authorities at the time. (W ten Rhijn - Early Cape Hottentot; page 125.)

Historian Karel Schoeman points out how this version by Willem ten Rhijne and another positive note in 1672 by JP Cortemunde contrasts sharply with the accounts in Commander Wagenaer’s Journal for 1671 -74 wherein he refers to Kratoa as ‘drinking herself to death’ and to her ‘vile unchastity’.

Kratoa had walked a thin line that determined her relations with her own people and the Dutch. When it mattered most, in the time of war and she truly found herself caught in the middle. She played an important role in choosing to provide her people with strategic information. She also became the advocate for the Cochoqua strategy to isolate the Dutch settlement and develop an equitable trading relationship. For this she was scorned by the Dutch, rejected and treated as one who had betrayed them.

As she found herself more and more of an outcast she turned to alcohol and it took her closer towards her tragic end. She was called a deceitful whore and a vixen by the people who once embraced her. Karel Schoeman says that on her death Commander Wagenaer’s Journal talks of her ‘irregular life’ and says that ‘she finally quenched the fire of her lust by the passive acceptance of death’. It would seem that the Journal tells us more about the writer than about Kratoa.

The last decade of her life when she was clearly suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome after a decade of abuse often is projected in an amplified and judgmental manner without due analysis of the other two decades.

Kratoa had developed her own form of resistance to colonialism after having found herself in the extraordinary circumstances of her teenage years. Right up to her death she refused to be down at heal and cursed the society which had abused her.

It was only in death that Kratoa found a place of her own in being buried first in the grounds of the Castle of Good Hope. Her descendants crossed every group, ethnic and class boundary. Perhaps it was only much later that her spirit found peace when her remains were moved to a plot at the Groote Kerk built alongside the then still visible Camissa stream. Camissa received back her own. Kratoa truly can be regarded as the founding mother of many.

What was Kratoa’s Legacy?

The first thing that must be acknowledged is that without Kratoa and the information she provided, Jan Van Riebeeck would never have been able to pass on such a rich wealth of information on the local indigene people to us. Kratoa provided the information even although she could not write. Van Riebeeck, in a sense, was the scribe. In his journal, regardless of the flaws and bias, there is a result available for posterity of the peculiar teamwork which paints a picture of all of the Khoena clans named and described in details which may never have been conveyed for the future and of Khoena characters who may otherwise have been lost in the sands of time. This is a great legacy which makes Kratoa much more than an interpreter and diplomat.

Kratoa’s life is bound up with the hidden story of the people and events on the banks of the Camissa River of the 1650s and 1660s. By looking at the life and times of Kratoa and her other indigene and slave contemporaries we are able to discover something of ourselves that has been lost in time. Like the Camissa River which still flows hidden beneath the City of Cape Town, so is it with the descendants of the Camissa people. Connecting with Kratoa is one of the keys to unlocking the heritage of many South Africans and rediscovering the strength symbolised by this great ancestor.

By understanding Kratoa, what she was up against and how she handled herself regardless of what was thrown at her we can have a better sense of who we are as a people who rise up above adversity. Kratoa was a linguist, a diplomat and emissary and a powerful woman in her own right. Faced with incredibly difficult circumstances, she walked amongst landmines of her day and found her own way to make her mark for her people. While adversity dragged her down she refused to live her life down at heal. Adversity took its toll and took her to an early grave but she remained unbroken into the social conformity that had been thrust upon her.

Linguistically Kratoa was a pioneer of the Afrikaans language. Afrikaans is a Creole language with strong Seaman’s Dutch at its roots. But it also has German, Portuguese and French roots too. However, Afrikaans itself largely emerged amongst two streams of people who had European languages as their 2nd or 3rd languages – the Khoena and the slaves of the Cape. The Khoena of the Camissa Settlement and the slaves of the Camissa Settlement were exposed to all of the European languages and likewise had their own Khoena and Melayu dialects which were also introduced into daily discourse. Thus the languages of the Khoena and slaves influenced the emergence of Afrikaans in an indelible manner.

But perhaps more importantly Xhore, Autshumao, Kratoa and Doman as interpreters were the earliest midwives in the birthing of Afrikaans as a language. They were the first to cross the borderline of suiwer-Nederlands into the world of the patois Cape low-Dutch or the Creole Afrikaans language. The first 12 slaves mainly from India, and the new waves of slaves from West Africa and Indonesia and Madagascar all also contributed to the emergence of this new language. It was vital for communication that boundaries in language needed to be crossed.

Kratoa was the first indigene African to convert to Christianity in South Africa and she was the first indigene African to formally marry a European.

It is with Xhore, Kratoa, Austhumao, and Nammoa and the Camissa settlement that the people today labeled as ‘Coloured’ have their roots. The indigenes of Camissa and the slaves who were forcibly brought to Camissa from other parts of Africa, Madagascar, India, Indonesia and China, gave birth to the many people throughout South Africa today who can share a pride in being the children of Camissa.

What happened to Kratoa’s children?

Historian Upham Mansell briefly touches on the last years of Kratoa’s life in a work on her slave contemporaries. He elaborates on the fate of Kratoa’s children and explains how Kratoa was accused by the Dutch Reformed Church Council of being a drunk and “playing the beast at night” and reverting to her ‘native habits’.

On the 8 February 1669 a new Church Council of the Dutch Reformed Church was elected consisting of Adriaan de Voogd, Johannes Coon, Adriaan Wils and Gerrit van der Bijl. At the first sitting of this Church Council a decision was taken to remove Kratoa’s three children from her care. The church councilors having taken this decision pulled the wool over the eyes of Kratoa to lull her into a sense of false security. They simply conveyed a reprimand and suggested that only if she did not mend her ways that her children might be removed from her care. The decision to remove the children had however already been taken and they were about to execute their decision. Kratoa, then known as the widow van Meerhof lived in the old pottery, then a make-shift abode. Kratoa got wind that all was not right and feared for what may be done to herself. She fled when her children were seized and her house was sealed up to keep her away. The children were put into the temporary care of the outgoing Church Deacon Jan Reijniers and his wife in February 1669. They passed the responsibility on to associate Barbara Geems. The Reijniers were considered to be ‘honest and godly people’ and had already been made the adopted parents of another infant Khoe child by the name of Florida. This child died a short while later.

In reality Jan Reijneiers was a notorious cattle rustler and sheep thief who had been caught at it by Chief Gogosoa of the Goringhaiqua. The chief had kept van Reijniers as hostage and strung him up after he was caught stealing some years previously in 1661. In 1666 Reijniers was also convicted of theft by the authorities. Barbara Geems ran a brothel. The three children of Kratoa were formally committed to the care of Jan Reijniers and his wife on 1 March 1669.

An order was given by the Fiscal, Cornelius de Cretzir that Kratoa be found, removed from wherever she had found sanctuary and arrested. On 10 February 1669 Kratoa was apprehended and arrested. She was taken and thrown into the donker-gat dungeon (black-hole) at the Castle of Good Hope. On 26 March 1669 Kratoa was banished without trial to Robben Island where she was to remain until her death on 29 July 1674.

Kratoa’s children Pieternella van Meerhof and Solamon van Meerhof were shipped off to Mauritius in 1677 as wards of Theuntje Bartholomeus van der Linde and her husband Bartholomeus Borns on the ship ‘De Boode’.

Jacobus van Meerhof, the eldest of the children was later also sent off to Mauritius to join them. He would later be sent back to the Cape but died mysteriously on the return voyage.

Kratoa also had two other children which officialdom called ‘illegitimate’. These were Jeronimus and Anthonij. It is not known into whose care they had been placed nor whether either the Church Council or the authorities at the Castle officially even concerned themselves with these children. The records are silent. The only records on Anthonij is that he was alone, unmarried and without children when he died during the smallpox epidemic in 1713. One clue that exists is that Anthonij had the surname Everts suggesting that he was brought up in the care of Anne and Evert of Guinea, two freed African slaves.

Pieternella (or Petronella) was to return to the Cape with her husband Daniel Zaaiman after the Dutch East India Company (VOC) abandoned Mauritius. She died aged 50 in Stellenbosch in that fateful year of the smallpox epidemic in 1713. Daniel died the following year. Kratoa’s descendents can be traced through four of Petronella’s 8 children, through the Diodata girls in Indonesia, and the Bockelenberg, de Vries and the Zaaiman (Zaayman or Saayman) lines in the Cape.

• Catharina Zaaiman who was born in 1678 inMauritius. She married Roelof Diodata and had two children, Elizabeth and Agnita. The family moved from Mauritius to settle inBatavia (Jakarta). • Magdalena Zaayman who was born in 1682 in Mauritius and married Johannes Bockelenberg and they had four children – Petronella, Johannes, Anna Elizabeth and Susanna Bocklenberg. • Maria Martha Maryke Zaaiman who was born in 1683 in Mauritius and married Hendrik Abraham de Vries who had 4 children Daniel, Jacob, and Izak de Vries. • Pieter Zaaiman who was born in 1686 in Mauritius and married Anna Koopman who had 8 children – Pieternella, Daniel, Bartholomeus, Engela, Francina, Barend, Cornelis, and Christiaan Zaaiman

These descendents in turn married into many other families in South Africa and it is through thousands of these descendents carrying many different surnames that the old Goringhaicona, Goringhaiqua and Cochoqua lines of the Khoena people still live on. No children are recorded for the other four of Pieternella’s children. These were: Eva Zaaiman who was born in 1680 in Mauritius and died in the Cape. Daniel Zaaiman who was born in 1692 in Mauritius and died in the Cape. Johannes Zaaiman who was born in 1704 in Mauritius and died aged 21 in the Cape. Christiaan Zaaiman who was born in 1708 in Mauritius and died 9 months later in Cape Town.

Kratoa was banished to Robben Island and her children tucked away in Mauritius to get rid of the embarrassment of the Goringhaicona who had entered into white colonial society. Leading figures in Cape Society in the early 1700s – Adam Tas and Henning Huysing scornfully referred to ‘the Black Brood amongst us’. An almighty attempt was made to airbrush the Kratoa legacy from the Cape Heritage. But in returning from Mauritius, Pieternella (Petronella) and her children ensured that the footprint of Kratoa proliferated throughout South Africa.


HB Thom edt; Journal of Jan van Riebeeck 1652 – 1662; Van Riebeeck Society; AA Balkema, Cape Town / Amsterdam (1958) AJ Böeseken; Die dagregister en briewe van Zacharias Wagenaer 1662 – 1666; (1973) AJ Böeseken; Memoriën en instruction 1657 – 1699; (1966) Mansell Upham; Made or Marred by Time; Karel Schoeman; Seven Khoi lives; - Cape biographies of the seventeenth century; Protea; Pretoria (2009) Alan Mountain; First People of the Cape; David Philip; Cape Town (2003) Riaan Voster and Alan Hall; The Waters of Table mountain; Nicolaas Vergunst; Hoerikwaggo – Images of Table mountain; SA National gallery Iziko Museums; Cape town (2000) Nigel Worden, Elizabeth van Heningen, Vivian Bickford-Smith; Cape Town Making of a City; David Philip; Cape Town (1998) Adrien Delmas & Nigel Penn; Written culture in a Colonial context: Africa and the Americas 1500 – 1900; Written culture and the Cape KhoiKhoi – From travel writing to ‘full description; UCT Press (2011) William Crooke edt; Tavanier: Travels in India; transl V Ball; (1925) Sir Richard Carnac-Temple; The travels of Peter Mundy in Europe and Asia 1608 – 1667; (1967) JP Cortemünde; Adventures at the Cape of Good Hope; (1962) HCV Leibbrandt; Precis of the archives of the Cape of Good Hope; Journal 1662-70, 1671-74; WA Richards & Sons (1901, 1902) John Cope; King of the Hottentots; Howard Timmins; Cape Town (1967) Richard Elphick; KhoiKhoi and the founding of White South Africa; Raven Press; Johannesburg (1985) O Schapera edt; Dictionary of South African Biography: The Early Cape Hottentots – Willem ten Rhijne; (1933)

Further Reading on Krotoa / Eva

NOTICE: FILM ON KRATOA to be aired on SABC2 at 21h00 on 9 June 2013 - Programme HIDDEN HISTORIES


Calvinism and South African women: Christina Landman 2

February 28, 2013 in Gender Violence, South Africa, uncategorized No Comments »Tags: Afrikaner Calvinism, Christina Landman, Krotoa, Moravian, South Africa

Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, October 2009, 35(2), 89-102

Calvinism and South African women: Christina Landman

a short historical overview Research Institute for Theology and Religion

University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Calvinism and South African women: a short historical overview – page3

This article argues that “lay” Calvinism – as it was received and eventually practised locally – rested on three apparently conflicting pillars.One is the notion that sin is something that the believer must take personal responsibility for. Two is that the soul is the site of personal connection with God. And three – in apparent contradiction – is that salvation is predestined.

While the laity left the issue of predestination undisputed, they adhere specifically to the practical demands of keeping the soul unblemished which,as we all know, incorporated strict rules for women as far as status, behaviour and dress code were concerned.

Krotoa was 10 years old when the Van Riebeecks came to the Cape. Within two years she became an interpreter and cultural broker to Jan van Riebeeck, and wore Dutch clothes. Furthermore, she was prepared for baptism, which only happened a week before the Van Riebeecks left the Cape in 1662.

How did Krotoa receive the lay form of sin-soul-salvation Calvinism?

As she herself had not written down anything, we are left to speculation based on our deductions from Jan Van Riebeeck’s Journal that she led a double life which, eventually, led to her mental deterioration.

Krotoa probably would have had no problem in identifying with a fatherly, creator God, a Satan and a resurrected One, since these were present in the Khoekhoe pantheon in the forms of the great Tsui//Goab, the evil//Gaunab and Heitsi Eibib who was resurrected daily (Shapera 1930; 1960). However, for Krotoa sin was not personal guilt and responsibility, but a betrayal of the clan’s cultural wholeness. Soul was a concept foreign to the local Khoekhoe, who made no distinction between body and soul.

To be a body, for Krotoa, meant engaging in communal dancing and celebration. And salvation was not the soul predestined for eternal life, but the body as a site of initiation. When she was 14, Krotoa requested leave of absence to visit her sister’s kraal, where she underwent initiation (Landman 1998:8–14). She returned to her Dutch dress code, however, and was baptised six years later.

Jan van Riebeeck’s successor, Zacharias Wagenaer, despised Krotoa. Krotoa had now lost the confidence of the Khoekhoe because of her Christian baptism and was therefore no longer functional to the Dutch. She married a white man, the Danish surgeon Pieter van Meerhoff, in 1665. This did not please Wagenaer, who was embarrassed that a marriage between people of different classes and races took on a Christian form. He sent Van Meerhoff off to supervise Robben Island which was then already a prison. The couple stayed on Robben Island for three years with their three children, Pieternella,

Salomon and Jacobus. Physically removed from her Khoekhoe family and without Dutch employment, Krotoa started drinking heavily. When her husband died on a trip to Mauritius, she lost control of herself and was brought to the mainland where she was given a cottage. Here she started partying recklessly with some dubious characters and neglected her children.

page 4

This behaviour was an embarrassment to both her Khoekhoe heritage and her Christian faith. Her children were taken away from her and she was sent back to Robben Island as a prisoner where she died on 29 July 1674 at the age of 32. In his diary Wagenaer expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that she was given a Christian burial.

With such an ambivalent introduction of Calvinism into female piety, one should be surprised that there was even a second generation of women converts locally. For this, however, the first missionaries should receive the credit.George Schmidt, Vehettge Tikkuie and the sin-soul-salvation model The men who came to South Africa as missionaries suffered for their faith in their home countries. George Schmidt (1709–1785) was no exception.

He was incarcerated for his faith in Moravia, found a spiritual home with the Moravian Brothers at Herrnhut in Germany, and came to South Africa as a missionary in 1737. His first convert was the Khoekhoe woman Vehettge Tikkuie.

The Moravians were not Calvinists and showed greater affinity to Lutheranism. From a missionary perspective, their teachings were similar to the sin-soul-salvation model to which the first generation converts were exposed. For George Schmidt – as can be deduced from his Tagebuch (Bredekamp & Hattingh 1981) – sin is described in terms of a strong detachment from the values expressed in the Bible. Soul is defined according to a strong fear of hell and damnation. Schmidt himself recorded his words to Vehettge Tikkuie: “I have come to save your soul from your body and from hell.” Salvation is presented in terms of a strong dependency on Christ’s salvation through prayer and a body-restrictive lifestyle. Again Schmidt recorded these words to Vehettge: “I have come to show you the way to heaven.”

How did Vehettge Tikkuie receive this sin-soul-salvation version of Christianity?

Again, deductions need to be made from Khoekhoe life at the time. Vehettge suffered in understanding dancing and drinking to be sin, since the women were responsible for brewing beer in the kraals. Also, the soul was a foreign concept to somebody who could hardly understand how covering your body in full was a prerequisite for salvation. And as far as salvation was concerned, heaven and hell were places unknown to Vehettge in whose culture men died and became ancestor spirits: pleasing them was salvation.

Like Krotoa, Vehettge experienced tension because of the clashing of cultures and religions. She often brought back her Bible to Schmidt and was accused of deserting her Christian calling every weekend for drinking and dancing in the kraal.

Added by Y. DROST, 26 NOV 2013


Aknowledgement to eGGSA - Transcibed by Corney Keller.


3 May

Eva, an adult female, the first native of this country, known as Hottentoos witnesses: Roelof de Man, junior merchant and second in charge of the fort, and Pieter van der Stael, kranckbesoeker

Meij anno 1662

Den 3:en d:o heeft dom:e Sijbelius wederom een predikatie gedaen, ende gedoopt een bejaarde vrous persoon de eerste van dese ingeborene lantsluiden, genaemt Hottentoos, is genaemt met den naem Eva de getuijen sijn Roelof de Man, ondercoopman, en tweede persoon van deser fortresse, en Pieter vander Stael kranckbesoeck:r mede van deser fortresse.


Krotoa, or Eva, born circa 1642, was a member of the Goringhaicona (Strandlopers) tribe and the niece of Autshumato, a Khoi leader and trader. As a young girl, she worked in the household of Jan van Riebeeck, the first governor of the Cape colony. As a teenager, she learned Dutch and Portuguese and like her uncle, worked as an interpreter for the Dutch who wanted to trade goods for cattle.

On 3 May 1662 she was baptised by a visiting parson in the church inside the Fort de Goede Hoop. On 26 April 1664 she married a Danish surgeon by the name of Peter Havgard, whom the Dutch called Pieter van Meerhof. She was thereafter known as Eva van Meerhof and was the first Khoi to marry according to Christian customs. In May 1665 they left the Cape and went to Robben Island. Van Meerhoff was murdered in Madagascar 1668 on an expedition.

Eva returned to the mainland on 30 September 1668 with her children. Suffering from alcoholism, she left the Castle in the settlement to be with her family in the kraals. In February 1669 she was imprisoned at the Castle and then banished to Robben Island. She returned to the mainland on many occasions just to find herself once more banished to Robben Island. In May 1673 she was allowed to baptise a child on the mainland. Three of her children survived infancy. She died on 29 July 1674 in the Cape and was buried on 30 September 1674 in the church in the Fort.

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Krotoa 'Eva' van Meerhof SM/PROG's Timeline

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

Kratoa is born in the Gorinhaicona settlement at the mouth of the Camissa River in Table Bay.Circumstantial evidence supports the possibility that Krotoa lived with her `uncle' Autshumato (called Harry by the Dutch) at the time of the Dutch landing. The records confirm that she was separated from her sister in infancy, as well the fact that Eva showed consistent hostility to the Goringhaiqua clan and to her own mother, who lived with them. In contrast, her fate and fortunes were closely tied with those of Autshumato for whom she clearly expressed deep concern and compassion on several occasions. [ Wells last accessed Apr 2013 by Sharon Doubell]