Dutch Colonization of Africa

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by brianeschen, Feb 7, 2009.

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  1. brianeschen

    brianeschen Puritan Board Junior

    From another thread . . .
    I get the feeling I asked a question with an obvious answer, so I am ready to be educated.

    The reason I asked the original question is because the only information I have heard about the Dutch in Africa has been 1) the slave trade which they participated in and 2) the Dutch Calvinist settlement of South Africa to which they brought Christian culture (with the help of some Huguenots).

    I believe the slave trade was clearly wrong, but can't see the South Africa case as wrong. What am I missing?

    Thanks for your help.
  2. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    IMO the process of colonisation was a mixed bag. Most of the English colonies, as well as most of the Dutch, I would consider positive.

    Iberian colonies not so much.
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    If we changed the wording to "What's wrong with one culture invading another" the answers might be more obvious. What's wrong with one culture exploring places where they can dominate and use the local peoples for their own gain. That is what, by and large, most Dutch colonization consisted of.

    I don't know about Africa, but the Dutch were oppressive in Indonesia. Islam did not enter a terribly long time into Indonesia before Christianity entered, but the Dutch missionaries, riding on the same boats as the oppressors, made the population move towards Islam and today it is the largest Muslim nation on earth, despite hundreds of years of Dutch colonization. The British colonies in SE Asia fared much better and the British set up much of the infrastructure in Singapore and Malaysia.

    I would say that the British were much kinder colonizers, but they fought wars to help keep the Chinese hooked on Opium becuase it helped their own pocketbooks.
  4. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Moderator

    Colonizing an uninhabited land would be fine. But invading a land, imposing your culture upon another, and oppressing them as second class citizens or slaves is certainly wrong. The result was great animosity toward Christianity because of self-proclaimed "Christians" invading their land and treating them without the dignity that comes with being made in the image of God. The true gospel was/is often rejected because of what the Western "Christian" culture did in their imperialism. Obviously there is no grounds in Christianity to justify such atrocities. That was the result of cultural arrogance and pride. But the damage has been done. Thankfully, the Lord is overruling those evil acts to bring forth indigenous churches who are now teaching us Westerners a thing or two about what it means to take up our cross. :2cents:
  5. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    Hmmm. Methinks that a few of you have been drinking a wee bit too much from anti-Western, revisionist historians. The presentations above seem a little unbalanced in favor of the "lets bash all things white, male, and Christian" crowd, than they ought to be. It reminds me of courses I took in my undergrad studies, right alongside of the our "gay and lesbian" and "minority" studies.

    Much good was done for many of those societies, and it should be admitted that not all cultures are worth saving as to many of the practices that make them a distinct culture (think elements of Islamic society that prepare their young women for their wedding night with needle and thread, if you know what I'm talking about...) Many of the colonized peoples were wrapped up in gross idolatry and paganism, which distinctly shaped those cultures, and because of which we should be glad that they were often subdued and changed, even if not always in an ideal manner.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2009
  6. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    I would say what was wrong with the Dutch colonization of Africa was the part of the motives that were steeped in greed.
    What was right with the Dutch colonization of Africa was the part of the motives that were steeped in evangelism.
    I would say the same for the British, etc, colonization of America and the treatment of the Indians.

    I praise God for using man's wickedness for His good.
  7. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    The Dutch didn't really do much colonizing in Africa. They had a small community they started mostly with retired German security personnel and later at the end of the 1680s with under 200 French Calvinists. The main purpose was to start an agricultural community (hence the French) which could be used as a stop over for the Dutch Merchant Marine on their way to and from the East Indies.

    Later (I'm typing all this from memory, so there may be a date or two off) during the Napoleonic Wars Britain took over, I think in 1812, since Holland was occupied and forced into an alliance with France, but they were in a fairly small area on the tip of Southern Africa. There was an English colony as well some hundreds of miles East.

    Soon after that, the original German, Dutch and French settlers (and let's be clear, folks. Even by THEN, they'd been in Africa longer than most of the people reading this have been in the US) had morphed into a new race of people who weren't Dutch by any definition at all.

    They got tired of English rule, and about half (the joke is the medically unfit were left behind and are now called the Cape Dutch!) of the people left to find land where they could be free. This was in the middle of the 1800s.

    They figured it was God's providence that the land was largely uninhabited due to malaria, the Zulu holocaust, not much rain, etc...and set up several Republics, two of which lasted and formed governments.

    And that will do for now! Some day I'll plan on writing an essay for the PB about South African history through the eyes of an American Calvinist who lived there for a decade, and was involved in the modern "trek" to form a new homeland for them.
  8. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate


    The Afrikaners are interesting. I wonder if they would have been as angry if Britain had not put them in virtual death camps during the Boer war. :worms:

    An interesting sidenote when discussing British colonies: much of the mess in Ireland, the Middle East and India/Pakistan can be traced directly back to the British rulers playing a strategy of "divide and conquer." England was pretty paranoid when it came to their colonies after the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Note that India and Pakistan were used against each other (so were the Arabs and Jews) and the hate has just been built up over the years. South Africa got a bit of that as well which explains the Afrikaners getting really really ticked off and supporting Germany in 2 world wars. Sorry Brits but your government was pretty nasty for a while. :eek:
  9. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Can we hold you to this? I would love to read a summarized history. I saw a really cool documentary on South Africa, Long Night's Journey Into Day, in college, but I forget much of it. In fact, all my knowledge of the whole continent of Africa comes from movies or books. Movies: Long Night's Journey Into Day, Hotel Rwanda, Sometimes in April, The Color of Friendship (fictional movie for teens).
    Books: Achebe's Things Fall Apart and No Longer At Ease (plus a cool Vonnegut article on the Igbo people).
    Paton's Cry, The Beloved Country and of course, Conrad's Heart of Darkness

    Most of these were fictional accounts and only two dealt with South Africa.

    Edit: I do remember when substitute teaching a week for a history teacher, I did get to plan and present lessons on the Uganda child soldiers, and I used all non-fiction for teaching and researching that. I was so unaware of any of that, and this teacher hands me a stack of books and articles and says, "In World Cultures, you'll be teaching of present-day Uganda for the week." I had no idea...
  10. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Sure, Jessi

    Please take note, all who read, of the remark I made about Gail the other day on the What do you think of PBers thread. My comment was accurate!
  11. brianeschen

    brianeschen Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks. I'll be waiting for the history of South Africa. My knowledge of Africa in general is very limited . . . the only connection being with a missionary (one with a Dutch name, but he considers himself as much African as the next). I am always glad to fill up some holes in my understanding of history.

    The Dutch part is particularly interesting to me as my wife is from Dutch heritage. For those of you who bashed the Dutch, I can assure you she is very offended. :lol:
  12. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    And you do NOT want to offend Brian's wife :lol: looks, cooking, schooling, organizing...she's got it all, plus a whole lot of folks who will stand up for her.
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Can you name a historical occurrence of colonists occupying an uninhabited land?

    Maybe Antarctica qualifies.

    -----Added 2/8/2009 at 09:35:18 EST-----

    I think a counter-reply could be that for too long the revisionist histories of the West made them out to be the benevolent do-gooders who saved the world from native superstition.

    Only now can differing voices be heard.

    A balanced approach would show the evils of the colonial gov'ts as well as the evils of the local populations. A balanced view would show the evils of colonialism but be fair to those like the British who often built schools, orphanages and hospitals.
  14. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    My in-laws are Dutch. I do not ever even consider doing that. A very very bad idea (they hold a grudge forever!) :eek: :lol:
  15. brianeschen

    brianeschen Puritan Board Junior

    Am I allowed to take this thread :offtopic: if I started it? I know what you mean. When I first met my grandparents-in-law I was asked, "Eschen, that's not Dutch is it?" I thought he was joking. He wasn't.:lol:

    I believe that there is an historical occurrence listed in Genesis 11:8-9. (This from my Dutch wife by the way) ;)
  16. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes, Genesis 11 and Antarctica! Thanks.
  17. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    The examples of occupying a land I've read in the OT show scouring- eliminate the existing culture entirely... Kill the men, women, children and even livestock. Evangelism had nothing to do with it, for when scouring was not done, judgment came upon God's people.

    If indeed the Dutch had biblical justification for occupying the land, would it have been theologically proper for them to eliminate entirely the existing population as opposed to 'evangelizing' them?

  18. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Of course.
  19. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Moderator

    The ends do not justify the means.
  20. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    Obviously, but neither should the good that has come about through God's hand of providence working in history be downplayed.

    I think that this reaction to all things "Western" tends to overlook the gritty reality of historical fact that those cultures were not of the "noble savage" as imagined by Paul Gauguin (who, by the way, also despised his European heritige).
  21. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    The canon being closed, I think it would have been impossible for the Dutch (or anyone else) to have biblical justification of that kind. Even God's mandate to OT Israel extended only to a particular portion of land, the promised land. Israel was not to go off invading Egypt and scouring the populace there.
  22. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I think there is revisionism also in the opposite direction among Christians in reaction to postmodern Western hate-mongering of all things Western.

    Examples: Take a look at the Vision Forum catologue and a lot of Christian homeschooling books and you'll somehow think dressing your kids in colonial clothes is a godly activity. Or read some Christian accounts of American hisotry which are also horribly revisionist and many are mere apologetic propaganda for the South.

    Charges of revisionism cut both ways.

    -----Added 2/9/2009 at 02:32:41 EST-----

    P.s. suggestions that Christians "scour" lands are merely jokes...right?
  23. Jan Ziska

    Jan Ziska Puritan Board Freshman

    I studied South African history in uni. Did my final paper on the National Party.

    It is true that the Voortrekkers (Afrikaners et al who moved north from British territory) moved into a pretty much empty area (thanks to the human catastrophe known as the Mefecane). As they moved in, so did Bantu groups. The descendants of the Voortrekkers have as much right to these parts of SA as any other ethnic group, if you consider length of habitation to be the rule in these sorts of things (I don't, but that's another story).

    I have a huge amount of respect for the Afrikaner nation, but the National Party victory in 1948 was in many ways a tragedy. A proud, self-sufficient, Calvinist & hard working people are now a byword for arrogance, racism and greed.

    Also, I can see why the Voortrekkers thought they were given the land by God. Their victory at Blood River seems miraculous.

    As for the evils etc of colonizing, I think we can get a bit precious about it. Indigenous British culture was extinguished/colonized in succession by the Romans, Saxons, Angles, Vikings and Normans. All other European nations experienced similar issues.

    The British Empire simply did what empires or dominant cultures have always done. In its wake it left Christianity, the rule of law and parliamentary democracy. As far as empires go, it was one of the most benevolent.
  24. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    The Afrikaners, Indians and Pakistanis may have a different opinion (not going to touch Ireland: not opening that :worms:). A correction: Christianity was NOT brought to America or South Africa by Britain: dissenters who were Christians fled Britain for America (New England colonies, the Roman Catholic colony of Maryland) and there were these wooden shoe wearing folks down at the Cape to wave Hello to the Brits. :)
  25. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritanboard Softy

    I agree. Having been to some of these cess pools called nations and seeing what passes for culture in these areas... I am, by and large, all in favor of colonization. I think the world would in most cases be better if some of these Asian and African nations were more Western.
  26. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I could start with a list of several dozen places, the Madeiras, etc....but since the topic is Africa and Jan added something to it...

    There was a rebellion against Zulu misrule lead by a guy named M'zilakaze. He could have given Joseph Stalin lessons in scorched earth tactics. The rebels who became known as the N'debele, and are now the second biggest ethnic group in Zimbabwe, and who are currently leading the revolt against the worst dictator in Africa, moved north.

    The loyalists followed, sending their Impis, their military formations put together by age groups raised for battle against the rebels. They were on foot, and had to live off the land. The main ethnic group in the area, Sothus and related peoples were exterminated except for those whom the rebels incorporated into their own Impis and tribe. By the time they were away from the Zulus they were ethnically 90 percent Sothu because of this.

    There were some bands of local who survived, and lead by a charismatic leader named Masheshe settled in what is now the country of Lethsuto, which is bordered by mountains tailor made for ambush.

    So when the Afrikaners left the British zone parts of where they went were uninhabited, and parts were, especially by bushmen and the descendants of runaway slaves from the Cape now known as Coloureds. Our district veterinarian was the 10th generation born on his farm, which they bought from a tribe of Coloureds called the Griqua.

    Other areas like the lowvelt were made malaria free by the Afrikaners, and there were some tribes like the Rolong who allied themselves with the Afrikaners to the north.

    It all gets so magically confusing. I'll tell one story for Jessi and Gail and the rest who are interested, and please forgive me not looking up spelling on some of the names.

    The Griqua came up from the Cape with horses and guns, so they lorded it over the Bushmen and Hottentots. Remember, the western to central part of South Africa had no Blacks or Whites, but rather the "Khoisan", who are Bushmen and their relatives. So, a leader got his men together and attacked the N'debele during their Long March. They were accomplished raiders and took the tribes cattle, and some women as well.

    M'zkilkazi fell to the ground and wept. Cattle was the National Wealth of his people, and they were now totally broke. He called his Impis together and started after the Griqua on foot!

    The Coloureds have a weakness or two like the rest of us, and that is alcohol. After the raid the raiders decided that they were far enough away and all got blistering drunk. The captive women said that they needed to move on, since they were now polluted in the eyes of their people and would be killed as well, and that their people would never give up.

    The Impis caught up with the Griqua, and speared them to the ground as they laid in a drunken stupor. There were only three survivors.

    The leader survived, and vowed vengence of his own. After the Zulu civil war was over, and the N'debele were in the north of what is today called South Africa, hostiities broke out between several factions, and a group of Afrikaners, Rolong and Griqua, led by the surviving leader fought a pitched battle with the N'debele. The Afrikaner and Griqua used the same battle method; platoons of four men road to the front line, one held the horses, three fired, then retreated. When the N'debele broke, the Rolong (who had long greivences against the N'debele) went in with spears along with the horsemen.

    The N'debele crossed the river dividing South Africa with Zimbabwe, and that is why the second biggest tribe in Zimbabwe speak Zulu, and the name of their area is called Matebeleland.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2009
  27. brianeschen

    brianeschen Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you for filling up some of my holes . . . especially Tas, Gail and Tim. I appreciate it.
  28. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    I would like to add a colourful note, Dutch wanted to fight escorbut and diseases caused by long shipping with few fresh food, and thought about wine, they knew little of wine and Holland has no good weather for wine anyway.

    But the French Huguenots that fled to Holland from Catholic persecution knew a lot about wine, so they were encouraged by several means to go to South Africa and produce wine there, since then Wine is a major asset of South Africa, and exported to all the World :)
  29. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    if a culture practices femal circumcision and immolation of widows, and stopping those practices involves imposing your culture on theirs, is the imposition of a culture necessarily wrong?

    If so, how do you know? Aren't you implying that some cultures are superior to others?
  30. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, what's wrong with that?

    On another note, the Battle at Blood River, please remember, was not only a victory, it was a shut-out; 400+ against almost 13,000 (or more) and not one dead. I know people argue about the superiority of the Afrikaner's weaponry, but you'd think that a lucky spear throw would have gotten someone at some point during the battle. Add to that the covenant made before the battle by the Afrikaners, and you have some really compelling reasons that they saw it as God's hand on the field of battle. $.02
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