DEON MELCK spoke about Slavery in the Cape in the 1600s at last week’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge, held at Badgemore Park Golf Club.
He told of the rise of slavery in the Cape of Good Hope as the Dutch East India Company expanded its interests and welcomed settlers from France and Germany to farm the land.
Cheap labour was supplied by slaves from African countries further north and by 1652 there were 11 slaves in Cape Town’s castle. At that time the castle was dark, dank and on the coast.
Mr Melck has traced a family tree which includes the descendants of German settler Laurens Campher and a slave girl Ancella.
When Ancella was eventually freed, Laurens married her and took her with their three children to his farm, Murati in Stellenbosch where he grew vines and cereals.
Mr Melck’s interest in this genealogy stems from his own family’s purchase of Murati in the 1760s and again in 1987.
Mr Melck showed Rotarians records that indicate Laurens gave up farming in 1720 because Murati was unprofitable.
It seems that Laurens was obliged to pay high wages to his farm workers since Ancella would not have tolerated employing slaves.
Jill Morrish thanked Mr Melck for a very interesting subject brought to life by his family’s involvement with Murati.