Diversification and mobility of Khoikhoi labour in the eastern districts of the Cape Colony prior to the labour law of 1 November 1809

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Until recently research concerned with Khoikhoi in the nineteenth century tended to focus on the important labour legislation, especially on the labour law of 1809, the child apprenticeship law of 1812, and Ordinance 50 of 1828. Now the trend is to look at the available documents for this as for earlier periods, with an eye to discover as much as possible about the Khoikhoi themselves, particularly the ways in which they responded to threats or challenges and interacted with other groups. The study which follows is devoted to the occupations which they entered into either by virtue of their native skills and aptitudes or the new opportunities which came their way. It was intended to carry this study through to mid-century but it became clear that the subject was too large for a thesis for the master's degree. Contrary to expectation material regarding occupations, though it has been necessary to piece it together from a myriad tiny fragments, is wide-ranging and plentiful. Therefore this thesis has been limited to the period prior to the labour law of l November 1809 since it is not possible to pass this milestone in legislation pertaining to the Khoikhoi without a lengthy analysis of the existing body of work. There is, possibly, even more to be said about the apprenticeship law of 1812 and subsequent regulations, while analysis of the 50th Ordinance in the context of Khoikhoi and their occupations is an enormous task.

Bibliography: p. 202-208.