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The Van Riebeeck Society was founded in 1918 with the purpose of making primary sources available in a readable and enjoyable form to anyone interested in Southern African history. Since then a volume has been published every year, with very rare exceptions. The Society depends for its continued existence on its members, whose fees finance the publications, and its editors who select and meticulously edit its volumes. Society publications have consequently achieved a high academic standard and out-of-print volumes have become valuable Africana.


OUR MOST RECENT PUBLICATIONS

      VOLUME II-49 (2018)

 

 

HENDRIK SWELLENGREBEL

IN AFRICA 

JOURNALS OF THREE

JOURNEYS IN 1776-1777

 

Edited by

Gerrit Schutte

 

 

ISBN  978-0-9947207-0-2

 

 

Hendrik Swellengrebel was born at the Cape on 26 November 1734, the fifth child of Hendrik Swellengrebel Snr, at the time the Secretary of the Council of Policy, but from 1739 Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, and of Helena Wilhelmina ten Damme. After bidding farewell to his parents on 25 March 1746, Hendrik Jr travelled as an eleven-year-old boy to the Netherlands with the return fleet.  

Already then, his father intended to return to the Netherlands eventually. He had four sons and three daughters – what future did the Cape offer those children? So, he sent his sons to the Netherlands to further their studies. After their arrival there, they were taken care of by Rev. J. Schermer and his wife in Utrecht. Hendrik attended the Latin school and afterwards read law at Utrecht University. Not yet 21 years old, he completed his studies in 1755 and after that established himself as an attorney and also became a canon in the chapter at the Cathedral.

In 1775 Hendrik Swellengrebel embarked on the VOC ship Alkemade, to pay a visit to the land of his birth, at that time no ordinary undertaking. The reasons for this visit were never explicitly revealed by him so far as is known. Certainly a desire to see his country of birth again played a role in this. Yet, it is not impossible that he also played with the idea of establishing himself at the Cape. His interest in the possibilities – including financial ones – offered by farming there, evident in his travel accounts and in his exchange of letters in the years thereafter, point in that direction.

At the Cape, in 1776-1777, Hendrik made three journeys through the interior of the Cape of Good Hope, once even as far as  the land of the Xhosa. His journals of these three journeys and the accompanying drawings commissioned by him were not published in his day and remained lying in the family archives in the Netherlands for over one-and-a-half centuries. In 1932 Dr E.C. Godée Molsbergen published ‘Journal of an overland journey that the undersigned Pieter Cloete made with Mr Hendrik Swellengrebel Esq. in the year 1776’, which he had found in the archive of the eighteenth Governor of the Cape, Joachim van Plettenberg, but which constituted only a brief summary of one of those journeys. The drawings themselves only became known even later, thanks to a publication in 1951 by A. Hallema, Die Kaap in 1776-1777. Akwarelle van Johannes Schumacher uit die Swellengrebel-Argief te Breda (The Cape in 1775-1777.  Water Colours of Johannes Schumacher from the Swellengrebel Archive in Breda).

In this volume Swellengrebel’s  journals of his three journeys are published for the first time in their entirety in the original Dutch and in an English translation, together with an introduction and annotations by the editor, Professor Gerrit Schutte. They provide an image of the Cape Colony often quite different from that provided by a variety of other travellers of the same time period. Swellengrebel even wrote very critical ‘Notes’ on Le Vaillant’s Voyages … dans l’intérieur de l’Afrique and played an important advisory role in the years of the Cape Patriots movement in the last decades of the VOC administration at the Cape.

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                             VOLUME II-48 (2017)

 

 

 

Edited by Con de Wet,

 Elizabeth van Heyingen

 Chris van der Merwe

 

ISBN 978–0–9814264-9-5

 

President M.T. Steyn is one of the heroes Afrikaner history, leading the guerrilla war against the British from 1899-1902, and fiercely resisting submission. He was struck down by a neural disease in 1902 and was unable to participate in the negotiations that ended the war. In 1902 he went to Europe for treatment and, after a partial recovery, he returned to South Africa. Although he was unable to participate fully in post-war political events, he became an 'elder' statesman (still in his 40s) who was consulted by the leading South African politicians on such subjects as the creation of an Afrikaner nation, the self-government of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, and the making of Union. He returned briefly to political life as vice-chair of the National Convention in Durban, to decide the terms of Union. His determination to preserve a strong Afrikaner identity, combined with his wise counsel and generosity, made a great impression on the other participants, including old enemies like Dr L.S. Jameson. Sadly, his health was too poor for him to contribute to the new Union. The letters in this volume are an extraordinary record of courage and intelligence.

 

Steyn was in favour of mother tongue education – he feared that Afrikaner culture and identity would be overwhelmed if English would become the sole language of communication in the schools and government. He was convinced of the richness of his Dutch heritage, of its language and culture, and passionate in maintaining it. He argued for the equality of Dutch and English as official languages, because, as Howard Phillips mentioned in his Foreword: Steyn believed, once the Afrikaners’ fear of being overwhelmed by English were removed, the relationship between the two language groups would improve greatly.


Steyn wrote his letters in Dutch, English and Afrikaans, depending on the recipient. He did not make a choice between Dutch and Afrikaans – he did not enter into the debate among Afrikaners on the desirability of Standard Dutch, Simplified Dutch or a developing new language, Afrikaans. The important point for him was to maintain Afrikaner identity, which was linked to language, and both Afrikaans and Dutch could serve that purpose.
To some of his friends, especially Jaap de Villiers, Steyn wrote in Afrikaans. Thereby he showed his sympathy for the developing language, although he is sometimes uncertain about the correct use of Afrikaans.
 

Steyn was not someone who strived after honour or riches; his main concern was to remain true to his principles. Today there may be difference of opinion about the choices that Steyn made; there may be criticism against ideological views of his time which he shared; but there can be no doubt about his integrity – the integrity which is so sadly lacking in present South African politics.

 

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                               VOLUME II-47 (2016)

 

 

Richard Victor Selope Thema (1886-1955) was one of the most influential black figures in South Africa in the twentieth century - yet he is largely forgotten today. This edited and annotated edition of his unpublished autobiography and selected other writings asserts his claim to a place in the pantheon of heroes of the black liberation struggle in South Africa.

‘RV’ – as he was known to his friends - was a leading member of the ANC for almost forty years from 1912, serving for many years on its National Executive. He was also a founder member of the All-African Convention, an elected member of the Natives Representative Council (1937-1950), and was in constant demand to serve on deputations and committees as one of the leading spokespersons for Africans of his generation. Thema was also widely recognised as the leading black journalist and intellectual of his time. Many of his early writings appeared in the ANC newspaper, Abantu Batho, but he cemented his national reputation as founding editor of the Bantu World, a position he held for twenty years (1932-1952). Under his leadership, Bantu World became the leading organ of the black middle class in South Africa, and a generation of black writers launched their careers in its pages under his tutelage. It is still published today as The Sowetan.

In his writings Thema was a tireless advocate of African rights and an implacable enemy of segregation. An ‘Africanist’ before that term was popularised by the Congress Youth League in the 1940s and 1950s, he can be considered an intellectual fore-father of both the Youth League and of the Pan-Africanists of the 1950s.

 

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MOST RECENT REPRINT

VOLUME I-24 (1943)

 

TEENSTRA M D -

 DE VRUCHTEN MIJNER REIZEN, OVER DE KAAP DE GOEDE HOOP

 

Edited by FCL Bosman,

 

ISBN 978-0-6399122-1-9

 

This year’s reprint, Teenstra’s  De vruchten mijner werkzaamheden, gedurende mijne reize over de Kaap de Goede Hoop, naar Java en terug, over St Helena, naar de Nederlanden, 1830, (Series I, Number 24, 1943), constitutes a significant contribution to our knowledge of Cape society in the 1820s. It was described by its editor, Dr F C L Bosman, as one of the most complete, reliable and best documented works of its period.   It gives us, he says, a linguistic and cultural historical picture of the Cape as seen by Teenstra in the almost four months he spent here in 1825.  In addition   Bosman’s footnotes contain a wealth of supplementary information which considerably adds to the value and interest of the book.

After describing what he saw and learnt in various parts of the colony, Teenstra included a fascinating verbatim account  ‘as the people at Caledon speak’ of a conversation he had with a local farmer, his wife and two of their slaves.   He explained that he had tried in illustrating the language spoken by the colonists to reproduce it in its greatest deviations (from the language as spoken in the Netherlands) and with the most typical expressions and idioms.   As Professor Raidt said in her book, Afrikaans en sy Europese Verlede, this conversation and Teenstra’s comments thereon are very important for various reasons.   For the first time Afrikaans is written to appear in print.   Further Teenstra describes Afrikaans as the language of the city and the rural areas, of whites and ‘non-whites’.   Many typical Afrikaans words are encountered and many characteristics of Afrikaans are present.   This piece proves that Afrikaans already more or less existed round about 1800 and was spoken as it is to-day.

 The book contains a linguistic discussion of Teenstra’s conversation and his comments by Professor J L M Franken, who deals in detail with the respects in which the language Teenstra recorded differed from the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands.  Both Teenstra’s material and Professor  Franken’s discussion are essential (and fascinating) reading for anyone interested in the early development of Afrikaans.

Although the bulk of the text is in Dutch, an English summary is provided, which successfully conveys both the essential content and the flavour of Teenstra’s original.

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SPECIAL OFFERS TO MEMBERS

In order to clear some space in our store room, we have a special offer to members. You may order any of the back volumes on the list at a price of R120 plus postage (within South Africa) – as many copies as you like and as long as stocks last. For a list of back volumes available click here.

We also have a number of second hand volumes available for sale. For a list of these volumes click here.

Contact the VRS office to place your orders at office@vanrs.co.za or 021 423 8424 (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9.30 to 12.30 or leave a message when no one is in the office).

 

 

 

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