david coplan on the kinds of interaction in the transorangia


David B. Coplan, ‘People of the Early Caledon River Frontier and Their Encounters’, African Historical Review 44, 2 (2012).

When the early white settlers began crossing the Orange River during the early nineteenth century, they claimed to have found an empty land, and not to have encountered the San (‘Bushman’), Euro-Khoe (‘Bastaard’/Griqua and Koranna) and Bantu-speaking (Batswana and Basotho) inhabitants of the country. This was not at all so, and the undeniability of the encounter was soon made patent by the violent but sometimes collaborative relations that ensued. Distinguished South African historians have given us harrowing and pitiless accounts of Khoe-khoe and, more often and more fiercely, San resistance to their dispossession, enslavement, and extirpation by white settlers in Transorangia in the first third of the nineteenth century. Accounts of cooperation and mutually benevolent interaction also exist, though they are far more the exception. This account explores who the Transorangians were and how they perceived and dealt with one another. The ‘identity violence’ practised on the frontier has shaped how they have related until today.

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