Information / History & Culture
A little bit about the History and Culture
Theophilus Hahn, a German anthropologist, recorded that the original name of the area was '||Hui! Gais', a toponym of the Khoe language meaning ‘where clouds gather.’
Cape Town’s history dates back to the time when the first Europeans, Portuguese, discovered the Cape in the year 1488. They gave the Table Mountain its name and called it Taboa da caba in 1503. The next European to visit the Cape was Vasco Da Gama in the year 1497 while he was searching for a route from Europe to Asia.
The mid-1600s saw the arrival of Dutch to the Cape with Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company came to establish a halfway station for providing vegetables, fresh water, and meat to the ships passing to and from Asia. Dutch ruled the place from 1652 to 1795 and then again from 1803 to 1806. The first Asian immigration began in 1654. The first slaves were brought from Java and Madagascar in the year 1658 to work on the farms. By the early 1700s, the population of slaves exceeded the population of European settlers. By 1780s, Great Britain and France went on a war against each other. Eventually, the British successfully invaded the Cape and announced free trade.
Ensuing political developments saw the Cape move towards independence from Britain and in 1854, the Cape Colony elected its first Parliament.
The discovery of diamonds and gold in the Transvaal region in the 1870s and 1880s caused a rapid change in the Cape Town. The rise to power of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes and the surge of new diamond industry caused greater instability thus leading to the Anglo-Boer War. At the same time, Johannesburg grew from its gold fields but Cape Town remained the primary port of the region. The mineral wealth generated during the period was the foundation of the industrialized society.
Under apartheid, the Cape became a ‘Coloured labour preference area’, to the exclusion of Black Africans. The Government tried to remove the squatter camps which were considered to be the focal points for black resistance. In the last forced removal in 1986, about 70,000 people were expelled from their homes.
Cape Town is the Southern-most point of the continent of Africa. It is a marvelously unique city. Cape Town’s culture can be referred to as a melting pot of a diverse population of Zulu, Xhosa, German, French, Indonesian, Dutch and British. From the Muslim neighborhood of Bo-Kaap at the foothills of the Lion’s Head Peak to the beautiful beach houses of Camps Bay, there is always something refreshingly new about Cape Town. Despite a turbulent history, the present-day Cape Town has emerged with its multi-cultural ethnicity, beautiful landscapes, and diverse society.