The First Cape Settlers

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The First Cape Settlers
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The First Cape Settlers

Cape Town was the first area to be settled in by the Europeans. The British were the first to settle in the Cape, although not in the area now know as Cape Town . Jan van Riebeek, a merchant of the Dutch-East India Trading Company, who was instructed to find a good base to provide the passing ships of the Company with fresh produce, saw the potential in the bay at the foot of the Table Mountain, and secured the area for the Company in April 1652. Van Riebeek settled the area along with around 100 men and women, one of which was his wife.

Firstly, the men erected a fort for their own protection, and they produced a large garden and started to grow produce for themselves and the passing ships. They eventually managed to obtain meat provisions, by trading with the natives of the Cape. Despite many setbacks their work paid off and the settlement started to flourish. As word spread, the number of ships which anchored there for supplies grew so much that a pier soon had to be built for safety and easiness. Ship repair workshops and medical centers were soon available for the passing sailors.

As the dock grew so quickly, slaves were imported from the East to spread the work, but soon more immigrants arrived, mainly Dutch but from all over Europe, easing the workload. In 1688, a large group of French Huguenots who were fleeing religious persecution at home, settled at the Cape.

With all the new arrivals and the population of the settlement growing steadily, the demand for agricultural land grew, and the settlement spread from Table Bay towards the north and north-east.

The Khoikhoi people or the Hottentots, who were natives of the Cape area, were forced to move away from the area, although the fought back to regain their land the settlers were too strong, and after a few years they were defeated and had to leave the Cape and move northwards.

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