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Landscape of Conquest: Frontier Water Alienation and Khoikhoi Strategies of Survival, 1652-1780

Leonard Guelke and Robert Shell
Journal of Southern African Studies
Vol. 18, No. 4 (Dec., 1992), pp. 803-824
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2637105
Page Count: 22
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Landscape of Conquest: Frontier Water Alienation and Khoikhoi Strategies of Survival, 1652-1780
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Abstract

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries European settlers ousted the Khoikhoi and San from much of the land they inhabited in south-western Africa using a strategic combination of technology and bureaucracy. The settlers possessed a powerful new fighting technology in the form of firearms and horses that enabled them to hold and defend lands taken from the Khoikhoi. The Dutch East India Company legitimised settler occupation of Khoikhoi land by granting them exclusive use of lands they acquired in freehold or on loan. The settlers took advantage of this permissive policy and their connection to the Cape Town bureaucracy to acquire choice watered land in the interior. These lands and the water resources and pasture they contained were denied to the Khoikhoi pastoralists who found it increasingly difficult to sustain themselves in a land in which access to limited water resources was necessary for survival. In a slow, non-catastrophic process the Khoikhoi were gradually squeezed out of the lands they had once occupied as European settlers alienated the springs and permanent water courses. The survivors of this process often became clients of European settlers and applied their skills in animal husbandry to the invaders' livestock instead of their own.

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