Paarl History

 

OUR DIVERSE CULTURE
Paarl is the third oldest European Settlement in South Africa and is home to a culturally diverse community – the product of a unique history.

The people of Paarl are descendants of the Khoisan, slaves from African and Asia, Dutch settlers, French Huguenots, Jewish immigrants, Italian Prisoners of War, and Xhosa migrant labourers.

The Khoikhoi

The Khoikhoi and San were the first people to utilize the area and original San rock art can still be seen at nearby Wemmershoek and Bainskloof. Originally, Paarl Mountain was named “Tortoise Mountain” by the Khoikhoi.

The Berg River Valley formed the traditional border between the Peninsular Khoikhoi (the Gorachoqua and the Goringhaiqua) and the Cochoqua. The latter group moved their cattle around the various grazing areas of the Berg River and Drakenstein valleys.

The approximately 18 000-strong Cochoqua was one of the richest and strongest of the Khoi tribes, but they were eventually defeated during the second war between the colonists and Khoikhoi and most of their livestock looted.

On the death of their leaders, the tribe dispersed, with some trekking towards the Orange River, while others were in the service of colonists.

EUROPEAN SETTLERS

The Dutch

The original purpose of the Dutch settlement in the vicinity of latter day Cape Town, was to provide fresh food and water to the ships of the Dutch East India Company, on their way to the East. Founder of Cape Town, Jan van Riebeeck, built up fresh meat stock by bartering livestock from the local Khoikhoi.

In 1657, Abraham Gabbema led an expedition to find more Khoi groups to barter with and to search for the legendary treasures of Monomotapa. On the day that they arrived in the Berg River Valley, the granite boulders, towards the west side of our town, glistened in the sun and this inspired Gabbema to name this mountain “the Diamond and Pearl Mountain” from which the name Paarl was later derived.

In October 1687, thirty years after the Gabbema expedition, Governor Simon van der Stel granted the first farms to Free Burghers. Twenty-one of these farms were in Drakenstein (Paarl), and five were on the foothills of Paarl Mountain.

The French

When the French Huguenots arrived in the Cape in 1688, some were granted land in the Drakenstein area.

Their intimate knowledge of the wine industry would be instrumental in establishing the now internationally-renowned wine industry of South Africa.

The headquarters of the South African wine industry, the KWV, is situated in Paarl, on one of the earliest farms (La Concorde, as it is known today) to be granted by Governor Simon van der Stel.

Conflict

The traditional European practice of private land ownership soon clashed with  the communal land use of the Khoikhoi. Land was now granted to the French Huguenots and this meant that water was limited and the wild animals that were hunted by the Khoisan, systematically disappeared from the area.

European diseases, such as small pox, further decimated the indigenous peoples. Many of the Khoisan were forced to move to the interior or became labourers for the colonists.

The Slaves

Between 1658 and 1808, some 63 000 slaves were brought to South Africa from different parts of the world, to sow, harvest, and thresh the wheat and also to load wagons, weed the owner’s fields, and look after the livestock. On wine farms they harvested and pressed grapes. Women did housework and in some cases acted as wet nurses for their owner’s children.

Het Gesticht (a small unbaked brick church) was built in 1813 to provide slaves with a place of worship. From 1820, onwards it became known as the Zion Church and is the fourth oldest church building in South Africa.

After being emancipated in 1834, slaves in Paarl were awarded property in the vicinity of modern-day Berg Street and School Street.

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Pietermaritzburg, South-Africa History

Umgungundlovu – Place of the Elephant

The symbol of Pietermaritzburg is the elephant. The Zulu King, Dingaan (died 1843), was known to his people as “The Elephant”. As a result, his residence was called Umgungundlovu (“The Abode of the Big Chief”) the literal translation being “The Abode of the Elephant”. When the Location System was established in Natal by the Colonial Government in the 1840s, each location was placed under the control of a Zulu chief, who was directly responsible to Lieutenant-Governor Martin West in the capital, Pietermaritzburg. By a natural transition, the capital became known to the Zulu’s as Umgungundlovu, the place where the Big Chief (Martin West) resided. This, then, is the significance of the elephant symbol of Pietermaritzburg, which features on the city’s crest. The azalea is the city’s floral emblem.

Pietermaritzburg is one of Africa’s most important historical cities. Contrary to its strong British Colonial architecture, the founding of the City of Pietermaritzburg had nothing to do with the British. In 1838, the Dutch-speaking Voortrekkers moved into Natal from the Cape and laid out a town between the Umsunduzi River and the Dorp Spruit (stream). They named it after their leader, Pieter Retief. At the time of the town’s centenary in 1938, it was decreed that the leader of the second trek into Natal, Gert Maritz, should also be commemorated and the city’s official name became Pietermaritzburg.

Here is a city proud of its heritage and determined to conserve buildings of character. Outstanding among the many Victorian and Edwardian buildings of red brick is the City Hall, built on the site of the old Voortrekker Raadsaal (meeting hall) in 1900 and declared a National Monument in 1969. Notable for its domes and fine stained glass windows, it is the largest all-brick building in the Southern Hemisphere and an ideal starting point for tourists. 
The city also has strong links with the French Royal House, through The Prince Imperial – Louis Napoleon. Pietermaritzburg has one of the most significant liberation histories in the world. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela have extensive links with the city and the great liberal author Alan Paton was a Pietermaritzburg citizen. Another one of the city’s 39 historic (national) monuments, Publicity House, is only 100 metres from the City Hall. The international “I” (for information) sign ensures visitors a warm welcome. Maps and brochures are available, plus unique Pietermaritzburg and Colonial Natal souvenirs, postcards, and even video programs to show the folks back home.

On the morning of June 1, the troop set out, earlier than intended, and without the full escort, largely owing to Louis’s impatience. Led by Carey, the scouts rode deeper into Zululand. Without Harrison or Buller present to restrain him, the Prince took command from Carey, even though the latter had seniority.

At noon the troop was halted at a temporarily deserted kraal while Louis and Carey made some sketches of the terrain, and used part of the thatch to make a fire. No lookout was posted. As they were preparing to leave, about 40 Zulus fired upon them and rushed toward them screaming ……

A few hitching rails in the central area are reminders of the city’s romantic and leisurely past. One is outside the Imperial Hotel, from whence Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial of France, rode to his death in a Zulu ambush in 1879.

Another stands near the entrance to The Natal Witness, South Africa’s oldest daily newspaper, founded in 1846 by David Dale Buchanan, a Scottish immigrant. Opposite the newspaper offices are the soaring columns and copper domes of the old Natal Parliament buildings, where tourists catch a glimpse of the splendor of colonial days.

These buildings, and the old Supreme Court (Tatham Art Gallery) completed in 1871, are linked to the central network of quaint pedestrian lanes – a charming attraction for visitors. Upon the hill overlooking the city there is much evidence of the settlement’s transformation into a garrison town. Fort Napier was founded in 1943 when the 45th Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) camped there and remained for 15 years – a record in the British Army for the length of overseas service.

The fort’s St. George’s Church, built in 1897 by troops as a memorial to their comrades, and the nearby cemetery with its military graves dating back to the 1840s, are favorite spots for tourists who like to soak up the atmosphere of a bygone era. Because of its founders, Pietermaritzburg played an important role in Afrikaner history, and the few tangible reminders of the trekking pioneers attract thousands of visitors every year.

After Pieter Retief’s death at the hands of the Zulu’s early in 1838 and the subsequent massacre of more than 600 Voortrekkers in the Weenen district, a vengeful commando under the leadership of Andries Pretorius defeated the Zulu army at the Battle of Blood River on December 16, 1838.

At a prayer meeting before the action, the Boers vowed to build a church if they were granted victory, and the Church of the Vow was completed in 1841 in Pietermaritzburg. It is now a fine museum.Andries Pretorius’ house and statues of Retief and Maritz complete this popular tourist complex.

Also evident is the later contribution of the city’s Indian population, descendants of indentured labour brought to Natal in the 1860s to work in the sugar cane fields. They added a distinct Eastern blend – Hindu temples, Moslem mosques, colourful saris, spice shops and the annual fire-walking ceremony on Good Friday.

Cape Town

castle of good hope

As the oldest city in South Africa, Cape Town boasts a number of important historical buildings, many of which are still in use today and open to visitors. The city’s architecture is a testament to the many and varied influences on South Africa’s unique history and a dream for any architecture enthusiasts!

tuynhuys

Tuynhuys, the Cape Town office of The Presidency, has in various guises been associated with the seat of the highest political authority in the land for almost two and a half centuries. The building seemingly had modest beginnings with the earliest known reference to the site being in 1674 when the Dutch East India Company first built a “garden house” to store the tools for the Company’s large garden first established by Jan van Riebeeck in 1652. In about 1682, the toolshed was converted into a guesthouse to entertain foreign visitors of the Governor Simon van der Stel.

The Castle of Good Hope, erected between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company, is the oldest building in the whole of South Africa.

Fun facts about the Castle of Good Hope:

The castle is a blend of medieval and 17th-century architecture, designed in a pentagon

The building consists of five bastions: Oranje, Nassau, Leerdam, Catzenellenbogen and Buuren – titles of Prince William of Orange

The bastions were used as prisons and storerooms in years gone by

The Castle houses the Western Cape military headquarters and is home to the South African Military Museum

Tours of the Castle are very popular