These Oppressions Won’t Cease: An Anthology of the Political Thought of the Cape Khoesan, 1777-1879 (Paperback)
The Khoesan were the first people in Africa to undergo the rigors of European colonization. By the early nineteenth century, they had largely been brought under colonial rule, dispossessed of their land and stock, and forced to work as laborers for farmers of European descent. Nevertheless, a portion of them were able to regain a degree of freedom and maintain their independence by taking refuge in the mission stations of the Western and Eastern Cape, most notably in the Kat River valley. Through petitions, speeches at meetings, letters to the newspapers and correspondence between themselves, the Cape Khoesan articulated a continuous critique of the oppressions of colonialism, always stressing the need for equality before the law, as well as their opposition to attempts to limit their freedom of movement through vagrancy legislation and related measures. This was accompanied by a well-grounded distrust of the British settlers in the Eastern Cape and a concomitant hope, rarely realized, in the benevolence of the British government in London. Comprising 98 texts, These Oppressions Won’t Cease – was an utterance expressed by Willem Uithaalder, commander of Khoe rebel forces in the war of 1850-53 – contains the essential documents of Khoesan political thought in the nineteenth century.
Robert Ross has retired as Professor of African History at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is the author of numerous books on the history of southern Africa, notable the Cape Colony, including most recently The Borders of Race in Colonial South Africa: The Kat River Settlement, 1829-1856 (2014).