• Dickie Zebregs

From the Cape: About the History of Cape Furniture

South-Africa was empty before the Dutch came, and they rightfully claimed the ground” was often said, together with the argument that the inhabitants were nomads. A misconception, for the Khoikhoi who lived there, were not wanderers but were transhumance herders that followed the natural migration of their animals. But the Dutch were not the first Europeans to set foot in South-Africa, for the Portuguese Bartholomeus Diaz did so on his journey to Asia. He sailed by the cape which he called Cabo da Boa Esperança, or Cape of Good Hope. The first encounter with the Khoikhoi did not end well, for Diaz show one of the herders with his crossbow, hence the first meeting between the indigenous and the Europeans resulted in death. More Portuguese would arrive in South-Africa, but a clash between the Khoikhoi stopped them from coming and the myth that the Cape was dangerous and wild came into existence. Later, other European ships stopped at the Cape and traded with the Khoikhoi, such as the Dutch. The first Dutchman to arrive was Willem Lodewyckz, joining the early expedition to Asia under Cornelis de Houtman in 1595. He tried to trade with the Khoikhoi as well. “…hebben de onzen haar enige messen, lijnwaad, bellen ende spiegelkens gegeven alsook enige wollen klederen. Doch wisten zij niet wat zij daarmede doen zouden, derhalve wierpen die weg” (…we gave them our only knives, bedlinen, bells and mirrors as well as wool clothing. Although they did not know what to do with it and threw it away.). The Dutch kept coming, as we know from countless depictions of Table Mountain, and the stop was necessary. The sailors could get some rest and fresh meat could be traded with the inhabitants of the Cape. The need for fresh food for the sailors on their way to the Dutch-Indie