Iziko Slave Lodge
Slavery in South Africa



There are many different types of resources available on Cape slavery. Here are some suggestions of good places to start.




There is now a rich collection of material written by historians on Cape slavery, although some of it is out of print and only available through libraries.


A good overview with references to follow up, are chapters 3 and 4 of R.Elphick and H.Giliomee, The Shaping of South African Society, 1652-1840 (2nd edition, Maskew Miller Longman, Cape Town, 1989), translated as ‘n Samelewing in Wording: Suid-Afrika, 1652-1840 (Tweede uitgawe, Maskew Miller Longman, Kaapstad, 1990).


A study which places slavery into the context of Cape society as a whole is Timothy Keegan, Colonial South Africa and the Origins of the Racial Order (David Philip, Cape Town, Leicester University Press, Leicester and University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1996).


Detailed studies of many aspects of Cape slavery are: Robert Ross, Cape of Torments: Slavery and Resistance in South Africa (Routledge, London, 1983), Nigel Worden, Slavery in Dutch South Africa (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1985) and Robert Shell, Children of Bondage: a Social History of Slavery at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652-1838 (Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg and Wesleyan University Press, Hanover and London, 1994). The first two are now out of print.


For the 17th century, see Anna Boeseken, Slaves and Free Blacks at the Cape, 1658-1700 (Tafelberg, Cape Town, 1977) which includes lists of slave sales in this period, and G.C. de Wet, Die Vryliede en Vryswartes in die Kaapse Nedersetting, 1657-1707 (Historiese Publikasie-Vereniging, Kaapstad, 1981).


For the 19th century and the period around emancipation, see the collection of essays in N.Worden and C.Crais (eds.), Breaking the Chains: Slavery and its Legacy in the Nineteenth-Century Cape Colony (Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg, 1994) and Rick Watson, The Slave Question: Liberty and Property in South Africa (Wesleyan University Press, Hanover and London and Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg, 1990).


Studies of slavery in specific regions of the Cape include:


On Cape Town: Nigel Worden, Elizabeth Van Heyningen and Vivian Bickford-Smith, Cape Town: The Making of a City (David Philip, Cape Town and Verloren Publishers, Hilversum, 1998) and Andrew Bank, The Decline of Urban Slavery at the Cape, 1806-1843 (Communications Series 22, African Studies Centre, University of Cape Town, 1991)


On Stellenbosch: Ad Biewenga, De Kaap de Goede Hoop: Een Nederlandse Vestingskolonie, 1680-1730 (Uitgeverij Prometheus/Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, 1999) and Wayne Dooling, Law and Community in a Slave Society: Stellenbosch District, c.1760-1820 (Communications Series 23, African Studies Centre, University of Cape Town, 1992).


On the Eastern Cape: C.Crais `Slavery and freedom along a frontier: the eastern Cape, 1770-1838' Slavery and Abolition 11 (1990)


For the impact of Cape slavery on other regions of South Africa see the essays in Elizabeth Eldredge and Fred Morton, Slavery in South Africa: Captive Labour on the Dutch Frontier (Westview Press, Boulder and University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, 1994)


A study of gender and slave families around the time of emancipation is Pamela Scully, Liberating the Family?: Gender and British Slave Emancipation in the Rural Western Cape, South Africa, 1823-1853 (David Philip, Cape Town, Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH and James Currey, Oxford, 1997).


On slavery and Islam at the Cape, see Achmat Davids, The Mosques of Bo-Kaap: A Social History of Islam at the Cape ((South African Institute of Arabic and Islamic Research, Athlone, 1980), Yusuf de Costa and Achmat Davids, Pages from Cape Muslim History (Shuter and Shooter, Pietermaritzburg, 1994) and Frank Bradlow and Margaret Cairns, The Early Cape Muslims (Balkema, Cape Town, 1978).


Studies of specific slaves and slave owners include: Karel Schoeman, Armosyn van die Kaap: Voorspel tot Vestiging, 1415-1651 (Human and Rousseau, Kaapstad, 1999) and Armosyn van die Kaap: Die Wereld van ‘n Slavin, 1652-1733 (Human and Rousseau, Kaapstad, 2001), Nigel Penn, Rogues, Rebels and Runaways: Eighteenth-Century Cape Characters (David Philip, Cape Town and Verloren Publishers, Hilversum, 1999) and Kirsten McKenzie, The Making of an English Slave-owner: Samuel Eusebius Hudson at the Cape of Good Hope, 1796-1807 (University of Cape Town Press, Cape Town, 1993). A vivid account of a specific incident is John Mason, ‘Hendrik Albertus and his ex-slave Mey: a drama in three acts’, Journal of African History 31 (1990), pp.423-445.


A collection of articles on slavery is published in the South African Historical Journal 27 (November, 1992) including, Nigel Worden, ‘Diverging histories: Slavery and its aftermath in the Cape Colony and Mauritius’, Greg Cuthbertson, ‘Cape slave historiography and the question of intellectual dependence’, Patricia van der Spuy, ‘Slave women and the family in nineteenth-century Cape Town’, Wayne Dooling, ‘Slavery and amelioration in the Graaff-Reinet district, 1823-1830’ and Mohamed Adhikari, ‘The Sons of Ham: Slavery and the making of Coloured identity’.


Many other articles on slavery can be found in the journal Kronos: A Journal of Cape History.




Materials for schools on Cape slavery include: Candy Malherbe and Nigel Worden, Always Working (Shuter and Shooter, Pietermaritzburg, 1986), translated as Werk, Altyd Werk (Shuter and Shooter, Pietermaritzburg, 1988); Barbara Johannesson, The Cape of Slaves (Heinemann for SACHED Trust, Johannesburg, 1995) and Nigel Worden with Ruth Versveld, Dorothy Dyer and Claudia Bickford-Smith, The Chains That Bind Us: A History of Slavery at the Cape (Juta Publishers, Cape Town, 1996). All include maps, illustrations and suggested activities.


Two recent school textbooks that deal with slavery in innovative ways are: Emilia Potenza and Diane Favis, Hands-On History (Maskew Miller Longman, 1994) and Leslie Beck, Nicolette Clark and others, In Search of History: Primary Book 1 (Oxford University Press, Cape Town, 1995).




Novels with Cape slave characters include: V.M.Fitzroy, When the Slave Bell Tolled (Howard Timmins, Cape Town, 1970); Rayda Jacobs, The Slave Book (Kwela, Cape Town, 1998) and, for younger readers, M.Cassiem d’Arcy, The Golden Kris (Maskew Miller Longman, 1988).




John Badenhorst Slavery of Love (produced by Three Worlds Films and Afrikan Connection Productions in association with SABC), 115 minutes, 1999, is about Cape slaves.




An excellent place to start is Carohn Cornell, Slaves at the Cape: A Guidebook for Beginner Researchers (Slavery and Heritage Project, 2000, available from Edumedia, 3 Station Road, Mowbray 7700, tel: 021-6899536).


A useful listing of court cases in the Cape archives involving slaves is Hans Heese, Reg en Onreg: Kaapse Regspraak in die Agtiende Eeu (Navorsingspublikasies No.6, Instituut vir Historiese Navorsing, Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland, 1994).


Documents on attitudes to slavery and emancipation are printed in Andre du Toit and Hermann Giliomee, Afrikaner political thought: Analysis and documents, 1780-1850 (David Philip, Cape Town, 1983).




Cape Metropolitan Tourism has published a ‘Slave Route’ brochure on slave sites in the Western Cape. The Slave Lodge (Iziko Museums) is described in Helene Vollgraaff, The East India Company’s Slave Lodge at the Cape (South African Cultural History Museum Cape Town, 1998).