Image Right: Book Children of the Mist - S Balson (BUY ONLINE NOW!!)



It is important to note that the Khoi-Khoi, or Hottentots, were pastoral people who lived a laid back life at one with nature and their surrroundings. Their lifestyle would have been seen as slothful and lazy by westerners and was, as you will read in commentary below and elsewhere on the excellent numismatic website "South African Coins, Griqua Token Coins and South African currency - the forgotten currency". This presumption while quoted to support facts presented is wrong if taken in perspective because this "lazy" lifestyle had evolved from the Hottentot's traditional pastoral culture which was passed down through story telling and in a land where they had few enemies. Their lifestyle had worked for them for thousands of years - that was before the white man came and imposed his culture on them and branding them as "lazy".  

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The birth of the Griqua nation

Before the whiteman came small families of Hottentots lived in villages in the area now known as Cape Town. William Rhyne, a Member of the Council of Justice of the Dutch East India Company travelled to the Cape in October 1673 and recorded the manner of their living, which he found to be barbaric.

Image right: Map of the Cape of Good Hope (Saldanha Bay to False Bay) published in early 1700s by well known cartologist Guillaume de L'isle (1675-1726 from Venice) held in the Balson Holdings Family Trust. The map (click on image right) shows Hottentot villages (origins of the the Griqua people) present in this area at the time of the first white settlement. (More about the map at this link)

These first inhabitants in the Cape, the Khoi Khoi (men of men) or Hottentots were the foundation of the Griqua people born out of generations of shame. The raiding by the first Dutch settlers of the Hottentot cattle and sheep herds caused conflict from the earliest days, this was followed by the oppressive state of serfdom then slavery that the Hottentots found themselves being forced to endure across the colony. Rhyne's view of the blacks as "barbaric" prevailed among the growing white community who plundered their herds and took their lands and their freedom. A barrier was erected to keep out the Hottentots from the growing white settlement at Cape Town. This barrier is today marked by the historic 350 year old van Riebeek's Hedge of wild, or Hottentot almond (Brabejum stellatifolium) that sprawls through part of Kirstenbosch Gardens (see image right). Also expelled were the offspring of young white men with Hottentot women a mixed race they called the Bastards ("Bastaard Clients"). To make matters worse, much worse in 1713 a major outbreak of smallpox devastated the Hottentot population in the Cape Colony.

The cohabitation of white male farmers with female Hottentot slaves on remote farms across the Cape colony dramatically expanded the number of Bastards. The Bastards saw themselves as better than the Hottentots (source White supremacy and black resistance in pre-industrial South Africa) and joined the white settlers in their raiding parties - learning a depth of savagery for which they would later be slammed. Large numbers of this new group of outcast Bastards and indigenous people became "troublesome" and were expelled from the Cape of Good Hope after having their traditional lands stolen from them under white man's laws. They were expelled together with law breaking white settlers who joined them in lands away from the colony's influence. Roving gangs of Bastards on horseback, known as the Bergenaars, started raiding native tribes further inland and pillaging their herds - even reaching the Orange river which they crossed before they settled at places like Hardcastle. From these earliest times the Bastards were led by the Kok family.

Hemmy Gysbert in his Latin oration delivered to the Hamburg Academy on 10th April 1767 describes the Hottentots thus,

This race of men has a good physique, is swift of foot, and averse to hard labour: the majority of them succumb to old age, except those who fall victim to weapons or wild beasts. In colour they are dark rather than black. They are tall and thin, yet so powerful they can withstand the charge of an ox in full career. Their eyes are beautiful but watery, their noses flattened, their breath foul-smelling. Their teeth are ivory white. Their fingers are equipped with little talons, like the claws of eagles. They have graceful ankles and small feet. Their hair is like wool and adorned with pendants or coral` and numerous types of trinkets, made of lead, copper or brass. The great majority of them go about naked or wearing sheepskins they call "Krossen", and which they wear instead of clothing, their private parts they cover with a loin cloth, known as the Kul-Kross. The woman have pendulous breasts, which they can throw over their shoulders and offer to their babies. The chief ornaments of the women are in the form of beads. To protect themselves against the heat of the sun they anoint their faces and bodies with an unguent made of animal fat, butter and soot. Some of them live off the raw flesh of animals, the rest eat it half-cooked, dragging the flesh through their teeth.

The Bastards were at this time, and remained, a truely multiracial tribe made up of thieves, heroes, coloureds, Hottentots, blacks, giants, whites on the run and no-hopers escaping the long arm of the law. As a result they were, as a group, always in trouble with the settlers who continued to extend their sphere of influence, using white man's rules to drive them further and further afield.

In 1795 the British took over control of the Cape colony from the VOC (or Dutch East India Company).

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The early influence of the London Missionary Society on the Griquas:

By the late 1700s the Griquas settled a large tract of land in central South Africa north of the Orange river and extending far beyond Griqua town, Kimberley and Philippolis to the east - collectively known as Griqualand West. (Much of this area is now known as the Orange Free State). See map for geographical areas occupied by the Griquas. In 1801 William Anderson established a London Missionary Society mission at Aakaap and then, later, at Klaarwater (later Griqua town - see below). The recorded rise and fall of Griqua town under the Griquas can be seen at this link

William J Burchell's woodcut vignettes and comments on Griqua life (October 1811)

The Church at Klaarwater

I attended the service in the church or meeting house.

It was rudely built of rough unhewn timber and reeds,
covered with a thatch roof, and having a smooth,
hard earthern floor, kept in order by being frequently
smeared with cow dung. The building might contain a
congregation of three hundred persons, in the way in
which the Hottentots squat on the ground. The
furthest building is the dwelling house of one of the
missionaries, and the intermediate hut is a storehouse.  

Hut of the Hottentot Chief at Klaarwater

Captain Dam's hut and his waggon. Behind
them are seen some of the trees of the
missionary's garden, enlosed by a hedge of dry
bushes. The trunk of a tree is fixed up near the
hut or the purpose of preparing (or, as they
call it, breyen) leathern reims or halters, and for
hanging game and various other things upon.
Such an apparatus is called by them, and by the
colonists, who also make use of it, Brey-paal.

More on Burchell's comments at this link

In 1813 the Rev John Campbell, a director of the London Missionary Society visited Klaarwater and put in process the renaming of what had become the world's first cohesive multiracial tribe. They took on the name "Griqua" after a Hottentot tribe the "Gurirgiqua" - and the renaming of Klaarwater to Griqua town (a historic town which survives today).  For many years the Griqua bergenaars laid siege to this part of Southern Africa and north of the Vaal river killing the nomadic Bushmen, participating in hunting parties and stupidly taking on the expanding Zulu forces under Shaka (an act which resulted in great loss).

During this time the missionary Rev John Campbell was attributed by Alexander Parsons with producing four coins to be used by the Griquas. The bronze 1/4; 1/2 and silver IIIII; 10 coins are today extremely rare (see image of the four coins at this link). However, the coins were never used by the Griquas despite wide spread claims by numismatists that they were based on the Parsons' flawed research published in 1927.

You will need to see "The Griquas of South Africa and their Money" for the facts.

Image right: An artist drawing of a Griqua family home at Griqua town in 1834 - nearly 20 years after the Griquas were supposed to have been advanced enough to understand how to use coins - I don't think so! (See the comments of Dr F K Mitchell S Africa's best known numismatist on this point). 

The Rev John Campbell (1766 to 1840) was a very religious man and a philanthropist who wrote many books including two covering his trips to S Africa and various meetings with the Griquas. (The Balson Holdings Family Trust holds copies of the books, Travels in S Africa, published in 1815 and Travels in S Africa, a second journey published in 1822.) Campbell founded the Religious Tract Society of Scotland and the societies for "fallen women" in Edinburgh and was a Director of the London Missionary Society - an organisation he used to further his aborted dream of minting coins for the Griquas.

Campbell's first book "Walks of Usefulness" was published in 1811. The Balson Holdings Family Trust holds the 1812 reprint of the book as well as an original letter by John Campbell written in September 1811 to the publishers of the book, Wm. Kent, booksellers in High Holborn, in which he requests this second print of the book as the first edition of "Walks of Usefulness" is "all sold off". (Click on images framed in blue for screen sized image)

What is of interest to us is that the letter above was written by Campbell just nine months before he embarked on his first trip to S Africa (24th June 1812) on the boat Isabella.   

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Bushmen, boers, greed and religion - the Griquas forced to move:

Life was hard and dry at Griqua town and the Griquas sought better pastures for their growing herds of sheep and cattle Dr Philip would come to their aid. (A detailed history of life at the settlement at Griqua town can be seen at this link (1801 to 1871)

Image right: the desolate vegetation around Griqua town - today.

Source: "The Cape Records relative to the condition and treatment of the native tribes of South Africa from an inquiry" by Donald Moodie (published 1841) records

At a single stroke of the unscrupulous pen of the representative of the London Missionary Society (Dr Philip) contributed to from the highest and best of motives by many of the most enlightened, religious and humane community in the world, to Adam Kok's own plundering and murderous Bergenaars are, for the protection of the Bushmen ! converted into Griquas and the Bushman territory into the "Griquas' own country". (Dr Philip ceded the land now known as the Orange Free State to the Griquas in the early 1800s)

The Griqua's jumped at the opportunity afforded by Dr Philip, the Bergenaars under Hendrick Hendricks, Adam Kok's son-in-law, were reported to have ruthlessly exterminated the Bushmen in the region north of Philippolis now known as the "Orange Free State". Tragically the Bushmen were supposed to have been protected by the Griquas under this agreement.

Dr Philips on Hendrick Hendricks:

"He (the chief ) is entirely under the influence of Hendrick Hendricks, his son-in-law, who is one of the leading men among the Bergenaars and the worst and most dangerous man among that party. Hendricks is clever and he is plausible but he is a thorough scoundrel and such is his power over the old chief (Adam Kok) that whatever resolution he may form and whatever declaration he may make concerning it, in half an hour Hendrick can make him change his mind."

Source: The Cape Records relative to the condition and treatment of the native tribes of South Africa from an inquiry (published 1841) - Donald Moodie

This part of Griqualand West, bordering the Kingdom of Lesotho, was first illegally occupied by a small transient population of the Boers in the 1820s who wanted the land for grazing. Later occupation by larger numbers of the boers followed when conflict arose with the British who had taken over the administration of the Cape Colony in 1795. The first major uprising by the Dutch burghers in the Cape came in 1815 when the British government enacted the "rule of law" over them and the second, and main reason for the great trek by the boers through the lands around Philippolis, was their refusal to accept the abolition of slavery in 1834, the Boers continued to have black slaves at this time despite the outlawing of this practice. Their unfavourable view of coloured or black people did not auger well for the Griquas.

During the 1830s large communities of boers had moved onto the Griqua lands and started leasing their lands in what is now the Orange Free State on a forty year basis. These leases were often struck for a bottle of brandy and very little record was kept - a recipe for disaster. Under consecutive British Governors the integrity of the Griqua lands became more and more fragile as their region was first broken into alienable and inalienable districts. Hendrick Hendricks played right into the boer's hands often drinking late into the night at a boer farmhouse where he enjoyed being "treated as a whiteman" for as long as it suited the boers - in other words, getting his signature on the sale of lands they sought.

Images right and below: land title given to burghers in 1898 (signed by Paul Kruger)

Document in the Balson Holdings Family Trust collection

R Gordon Cumming's book "Hunter's life in South Africa" describes the Griqua people in the 1840s thus (pg91), "They are, without exception, of an indolent disposition, and averse to hard work of any description; much of their time is spent in hunting, and large parties annually leave their homes and proceed with their waggons, oxen and horses on hunting expeditions into the far interior, ansenting themselves for three to four months at a time."

In the late 1840s conflict between the boers and the Griquas over land was reaching a critical stage - with Sir Harry Smith visiting the country and declaring that lands currently held on a 40 year lease by the boers could become freehold for the payment of three hundred pounds in a region defined as "alienable"- while in the "inalienable" region around Philippolis the boers could not own the land but retain possession if the Griquas could not afford to pay for the improvements made by them - an annual rental covering the ongoing lease of the land.

It was during this time that the Republican Boer Government to the north of Philippolis started issuing its own land titles to its burghers - abjucating the lease that had once stood between boer and Griqua landowner.

But more trouble was to follow. It was in the heart of the Griqua lands, at Hopetown, that the famous "Eureka and Star of Africa diamonds" were found - drawing unwanted "white" riff-raff searching for a "quick buck" into their midst. The famous diamond mine at Kimberley resulted many years later. The names of De Beers and Barnie Barnato are today synonymous with this period. The Griquas have always claimed that the land Kimberley stands on today was once part of their territory - a claim the Afrikaner boers disputed.

In 1859 the boers gave Adam Kok the ultimate choice - sell up your lands to the boers or fight - knowing that the Griquas had no chance of winning a war against them.

Revenue stamp issued by the British for Griqualand West

Image right: Jan Bergover, the Griqua treasurer at Kokstad

In 1861/2, most of the Griquas gathered at Philippolis were forced to sell out to the evolving Afrikaner nation in the Orange Free State (Griqualand West) after a long and bloody conflict during which the British Governors of the Cape, who had their own agenda to appease the Boers, deserted them. They moved to NO MAN'S LAND aptly named as it was largely devoid of people following the massacre by Chaka's Zulu warriors of the black people who had earlier lived there. The British Governor in the Cape granted them sovereignty of this region - but, once again, the multiracial people had been used.

The new colonial power's citizens started to settle up to the borders of the Orange river in places like Cradock and Colesburg as the boers and (Dutch) Voortrekkers had moved inland displacing the Griquas. Below can be seen sizeable cheques in the Balson Holdings Family Trust collection drawn by British Colonials living in that region in the latter part of the 1800s.

Standard Bank Cradock - 1868

Standard Bank Colesburg - 1872
(changed to Cradock)

Standard Bank in Cape Town

Early Griqua Wedding Custom:

Capt Adam Kok IV, Captain of Campbell (and great grandson of Adam Kok III) and Nicholas Waterboer II (right) at Griqua town examine the historic "Griqua marriage chain". The ring was placed in the locket and then placed over the head of the groom by Andries Waterboer.

The bridegroom then took out the ring and placed it on his brides finger. Only then was the marriage legal by early Griqua custom. 

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Arrival in Nomansland (Griqualand East) - a new home:

While many Griquas remained around Philippolis most decided to take the perilous journey to NOMANSLAND. They lost nearly all their estimated 30,000 head of cattle after travelling through Basutoland, across the Drakensberg (Quathlamba or "The Barrier of Spears") and down a small and dangerous mountain track today called the Ongeluksnek (named after their trek and literally meaning accident pass). They literally had to rebuild their 360 wagons many times as the only way they could get them down the pass was by lowering them in pieces down some parts of the more perilous parts and steep declines into NO MAN'S LAND.

Image right: Adam Kok, leader of the Griquas at Nomansland

By the time they reached the area they were to later call Kokstad, in central NOMANSLAND, in 1863 the Griquas under Adam Kok were but a shadow of their former glory.

In A F Hatterlay's LATER ANNALS OF NATAL records he states:
"To our disgust and disappointment we found it (the laager) a very dirty place, consisting of about 200 mudhuts, a few old wagons, and a lot of dirty old Griquas sitting or lying outside their dens. A small church and a fort in the middle of the village and Adam Kok's house at one end. Adding to the miserable appearance of the laager a number of houses half built and allowed to remain with their four walls standing.

"It is, indeed, as one of our party called it, a village in ruins before it was built."

Captain Adam Kok ceded his land to Natal in a ceremony held at the Umtampura River in 1867 and attended by his Excellency Colonel Bisset. The Griqua Chief did so just four years after arriving in Nomansland because he was seeking help in removing small bands of Pondos who were continually stealing his people's livestock.

The Griqua chief's attempts to parrot the white man can be seen in his attire at the ceremony (see image right). He was described as wearing, a green tartan suit, with sword and umbrella, a large hat and black leggings.

The original portrait was drawn by Lieutenant H K Wilson of the 96th Regiment in Natal who attended the ceremony.
(See also "The Illustrated London News" 28th December 1867, page 704)

The move by Kok to cede to Natal was not a popular one and Natal took no action in possessing the isolated new territory with its native troubles. It was the Cape Colony some years later that snapped up Nomansland - claiming it as their own. This move, because of the earlier agreement Natal had with Kok, caused quite a fall-out between the British Governors of the Cape and Natal at that time.

The traders in NO MANS LAND viewed the Griquas arrival with approval. Mr Scott, a trader, wrote "Whatever faults the Griquas had, they one good quality for traders; they would buy anything." Dower in his book "The Early Annals of Kokstad and East Griqualand" puts this "buying mania" down to the fact that (before 1876) "they had been deprived of their accustomed pleasure of handling money. Now, when (Strachan and Co) money was obtainable for land they could not be persuaded to resist the temptation of merely handling the cash."

The administration of NO MAN'S LAND was handed over to Adam Kok by the British Governors in the Cape and Natal. Kok set about rebuilding his nation with the help of a few local traders.

Three famous Griquas

Nikolaas Waterboer
Leader (Griquatown)

Hendrick Hendricks

Adam Kok III
Leader (Kokstad)

The manner in which the Griqua Raad (government) made decisions is best described in the Rev Dower's book "The Early Annals of Kokstad and East Griqualand":

On page 18 he describes in jocular fashion the workings of the Griqua Parliament in Nomansland:
The duration of Parliament depended on the size of the animal slaughtered. When the beef gave out the House rose. No beef, no business, was the unwritten, but standing rule of this Assembly. It was a simpler and more effective extinguisher to Parliamentary oratory than our modern closure. The cooking operations for these "Achtbare Heeren" were carried on close to the House of Parliament, and the big pot was so placed that members while in session could see both the progress of the operations and inhale grateful odours, as an earnest of the coming feast.

Old Piet Draai made frequent visits to the kitchen to light his pipe. He was admitted to be the best judge of the earliest moment when the beef was eatable. When Piet's voice was heard proclaiming the joyful news "Kerls de kos is gaar" (Gentlemen the beef is cooked) the House rose with a stampede. These Griqua Parliamentary dinners were held much after the primitive fashion which obtained in England in the days of good King Alfred. The simplicity of manners saved the little State manifold needless costs in the way of crockery, cutlery and napery. The form of Government was roughly on the lines of the British Constitution. Imitation of the white man was the unacknowledged, although the real rule of procedure. "De Engelsche maken zoo", (The English act so). Beyond that there was no appeal.

He goes on to record:

"The Volksraad was a wonderful anachronism. Its sittings were held half yearly, and lasted as long as the commissariat held out. It was very free and easy both as to its composition and conduct of business. Very little real business was done, and very imperfect accounts of its proceedings were kept. After a session was over it was no uncommon occurrence for discussion to arise as to what had been decided."

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Griqua One Pound Bank Note and Currency:

From the very start the Griqua leader Adam Kok asked Donald Strachan, the region's most successful trader, to play a major role in the development of the Griqua nation in the land that was now called Griqualand East. Donald Strachan soon commanded the respect and affection of the Griquas as well as the local African tribes and Kok asked him to act as their Magistrate in Umzimkulu.

Under the extraordinary circumstances described by Dower (above) the Griqua Parliament or Raad voted, at great expense, to print its own one pound bank note not long after the cession of East Griqualand to Natal had failed to ease their internal problems with the marauding Pondos. At this time the Durban Bank in Durban, Natal had issued its own bank notes - this could have been the catalyst behind their thinking. It was Strachan's timely advice that stopped Kok issuing some 10,000 one pound notes in 1868. Like the Griqua Town coins of 1815 their proposed bank note had no government asset or gold standard on which to base its circulation or value and would have been a disaster if introduced.

Almost all the bank notes were destroyed.

The Strachan and Co trade tokens - currency in East Griqualand

Strachan did promise Kok that he would investigate alternative ways of getting around the problems associated with the Griqua's isolation from banks and the resulting dependence on the highly unsatisfactory system of bartering goods. Strachan's answer was to issue his own coinage in 1874 which then became the currency of the people in the Nomansland region for over 50 years. This ambitious project took a few years to complete, with four brass coins being minted in Germany.

The Strachan and Co trade tokens were accepted as bona-fide currency everywhere throughout Nomansland, including banks, shops and government agencies.

For those Griquas who had remained in Griqualand West things came unstuck in the 1870s when diamonds were found at Kimberley and whiteman's greed set in. Central to this was the discovery of the little known "Natalie Star" a rough, flawless, primrose coloured diamond weighing 350 carats named by Barney Blitz after his lover, a Griqua woman (Natalia Marneweck), whom he called "Mooi Klip" (pretty stone). (Source "Solitaire" by Graham Masterton published 1982).

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Uprising in East Griqualand against British Imperialism

Adam Kok, the Griqua's last recognised leader in ast Griqualand, died unexpectedly on the 30th December 1875 while travelling back from Umzimkulu to Kokstad. He fell out of his ox wagon and was killed when one of the wagon's wheels went over his chest.  

During the next few years a high degree of political instability shook Griqualand East. This was further aggravated by Griquas selling their land cheaply to European settlers - the Griquas had literally given away valuable land holdings (farms and plots in Kokstad) in exchange for food, or worse, a bottle of brandy. Eventually in 1878 the British decided to take control of the territory that they had given the Griquas. This was a move that led to the Griqua rebellion. In 1879, following their defeat by the British the Griqua nation was disbanded and the territory incorporated into the Cape Colony, as mentioned earlier, much to the chagrin of the Governor of Natal.

Image right: Taken at Brook's Nek at the annexation of Pondoland by the British in 1894. Standing L-R: Guy White; A H Williams; C Woodroffe; Middleton; Hugh Nourse; Capt Wynous. Seated L-R: Donald Strachan; John Scott; Cecil Rhodes; Major Hook (FAMP) Front: E H Hogge (Resident Magistrate Matatiele)

Strachan's "Abalandalozi", or preservers, keepers, caretakers, protectors played a major role at this time in squashing minor native rebellions in the region - especially with the Pondolisi.. Theal records in his "History of South Africa V" page 198 "These people consisted principally of little groups of refugees who had lost their hereditary chiefs, and who had settled in Umzimkulu under Mr Donald Strachan's protection when he was one of Adam Kok's Magistrates. Since that time they have regarded him as their head, and were devoted to him personally. Mr Strachan had resigned the appointment of Magistrate of Umzimkulu, but at Mr Brownlee's request he now became the commander of the auxiliary Bantu forces, and was followed to the field by quite a formidable though undisciplined army."

At this time Stanford, the Chief Magistrate of East Griqualand noted:

(pg 85) I left Strachan in Pondoland to supervise the work in connection with the road and generally to represent me for the time being with the Pondos.

(pg 105) Simon (the African headman who had raised Donald Strachan) advised Strachan that following the death of the Pondo Chief Umqikela's that he had been "smelt out" as the person causing his death and was under great threat. Strachan withdrew from Pondoland feeling that the Government with which he had been in direct communication did not give him the material support which he though necessary under the circumstances. Mr Strachan brought away with him the road inspector and the small detachment of C.M.R. under Lieutenant Woon which had accompanied him into Pondoland. Thus the work of road construction came to a sudden stop.

See also this link for more on the Abalandalozi

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The Griquas final stand in Nomansland and Griquatown's role in the Boer War

In 1897 and 1898 the Griquas, unhappy at their plight, threatened to rise up against the British under their leader Andrew Andries Stockenstrom Le Fleur and were arrested.

Image left: Le Fleur and his followers outside the Kokstad Magistrates Court in 1898 after handing themselves over to the British authorities

History records that they were rounded up by Donald Strachan and his army, the Abalandolosi, before they could do any damage but the Griqua people have a very different view on this:

By January 1897 Le Fleur's (the Reformer) attempts at reclaiming land had led to a perception that he was an agitator and he was arrested on a charge of inciting rebellion. A preliminary examination took place in March 1897. He was kept in jail until he could be tried at the circuit court in Umtata in October 1897, when he was acquitted.

When, after some time, no response was received from the Cape Colonial Government on the land claims, The Reformer called together 50 Griqua burghers at a place by the name of Driekop near Kokstad to discuss the issue. The Government had by now declared him an outlaw and offered a reward of £500 for his capture - dead or alive. A skirmish took place between The Reformer's people and the Cape Mountain Rifles at Driekop. The burghers had to defend themselves armed only with quince sticks, but came off unscathed and even managed to capture some of the soldiers. The Reformer advised his followers not to use further violence and the group went to the magistrate's office at Kokstad and handed themselves over. The Reformer was tried at Kokstad in April 1898 on a charge of attempting to wage war. He was found guilty of high treason on 29 April 1898 and sentenced to 14 years hard labour at the Breakwater Prison in Cape Town.

Today, a century later, his descendants including magistrate Andrew Le Fleur are still active in the Griqua and Khoisan revival movements.

The origin of Andries Stockenstrom Le Fleur (the Reformer's) name (according to Griqua Legend)

The Reformer's father was guide and bodyguard to Sir Andries Stockenström, Lieutenant-General of the Eastern Province. According to Griqua legend, Abraham one day saved Stockenström's life while he was being attacked by a band of Xhosas. Afterwards Stockenström said to Abraham:

"You are a brave man. One day, when you have a son, you must name him after me. Take this five pound note; it must be used to christen the boy; if he turns out to be a coward, you must beat him to death, because a brave man like you does not deserve a coward for a son."

Abraham le Fleur called his first son Thomas Lodewyk. When his second son was born, he named the boy after himself and Stockenström, thereby fulfilling God's revelation to him that this was the fulfillment of Stockenström's prophecy.

In the section below you will discover that the Griqua people are now, once again, over a century later close to gaining some lands back. (Our thanks to Louis Nel for this information)

Image right: Meeting of the authorities of East Griqualand at Lourdes deliberating about the defence of Lourdes during the 1898 Griqua rebellion.

Seated from left to right: Abbott Francis Pfanner of Emaus Mission; J.H. Scott Chief Magistrate of East Griqualand; The Hon W P Schreiner Prime Minister Cape Colony; W E Stanford Superintendent Native Affairs Cape Colony; Miss Windus; Captain E O Windus Resident Magistrate Umzimkulu

Standing from left to right: Trappist Father Joseph Biegner; W G Cummin Resident Magistrate Kokstad; E E Dower Private Secretary; Donald Strachan (trader and leader of the Abalandalozi); Rev Fr H Howlett priest in charge of St Patrick's Mission Kokstad; Brother Nivard Streicher Trappist; A F Payne, James Cole 

Enrolling troops in Griquatown

An interesting postscript to the Griqua's allegiance with the British despite being let down so badly so often by them occured in 1899.

The Illustrated London News reports on 30th December 1899 (page 956):

From Griquatown come two photos which have especial interest in connection with the Boer raid reported in that quarter from Hopetown on Nov 28. It appears that one hundred Boers entered the town, and robbed the police station there. Inspector Guillond, who was in command, was imprisoned for removing the breech-blocks from the Government rifles. Griquatown is in the district of Hay, Cape Colony.

Public buildings in Griquatown in 1899 Enrolling farmers as special police
at Griquatown after the Boer raid

In 1976 East Griqualand was made an independent homeland called Transkei by the National Party. Following the transfer of power to the blacks under the ANC the Transkei was once again incorporated into South Africa.

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The Griqua trek from Kokstad

In 1927, The Reformer (Andrew Andries Stockenstrom Le Fleur) led the last trek of Griqua people from Kokstad. People from Elandsdrif (Cradock), Trompsburg, Louisvale, etc. joined this trek. These people were originally settled at Keurvlakte (Nature's Valley), where they established themselves as fishermen and farmers. This trek was to play an important role in the eventual settlement of Griqua people from across the country in that area.

In 1939 The Reformer started negotiations with a farmer, a certain Van Rooyen, for hiring parts of a farm, Kranshoek, for use by the Griqua people and a site for his burial at Robberg in the future. His son, Thomas le Fleur, continued the negotiations after his death. At that time, The Reformer lived on a farm called Jakkalskraal, close to Kranshoek.

The Reformer died in a house adjacent to the site of his tomb at Robberg on 11 June 1941. It is still a regular place of pilgrimage for the Griqua people of South Africa. After his death, his eldest son Abraham Le Fleur succeeded him as leader of the Griqua people.

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The Griqua Community under Le Fleur - alive and well today

Comments from Louis Nel (received 19th January 2005):

It would interest you to know that the Griqua, under the banner of the Griqua National Conference of South Africa (established by AAS le Fleur I after his release from the Breakwater Prison at 15:00 on 3 April 1903) have succeeded in two land claims in the now Western Cape Province, namely the farm Jakkalskraal outside Plettenberg Bay and the Farm Ratelgat, previously called Luiperdskop) outside Vanrhynsdorp on the N7 to Springbok.

Attached please find a copy of the text (word doc - about 100k) I wrote for an exhibition of the provincial museum services on AAS le Fleur I. This was done in celebration of the centennial celebration of his release from the Breakwater Prison. Due to limitations on the number of words I could use it is at best an overview, but I hope it will at least give you some new information. The text was written in collaboration with the GNC and approved by them. The past being something that seems to change more often than the present I would only go as far as to say that the text represents the Griqua version of his life.

As an example I may mention Le Fleur's "capture" and subsequent sentencing. In almost all reference books I studied while preparing for the assignment it is claimed that he was captured after either having been hunted down or captured by a Xhosa chief and then handed over to the authorities. The so-called rebellion was, according to the Griquas nothing more that a meeting to discuss the land claims matter that Le Fleur had pursued rather actively. The Griqua burghers were armed with no more than quince sticks. After their first skirmish with the authorities Le Fleur himself urged his followers to hand themselves over.

Today AAS le Fleur is often referred to as "die kneg" or "servant of God" by the Griquas.

More on the Griqua revival at this link

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Nelson Mandela:

Nelson Mandela, the man who brought the people of South Africa out of their nightmarish existence under apartheid was born in the region once known as Nomansland.

Image right: The house at Qunu in the Umtata district in which Nelson Mandela was born.

As Mandela states in his autobiography: I was born in Umtata, Transkei, on 18 July 1918. My father, Chief Henry, was a polygamist with four wives. Neither he nor my mother ever went to school. My father died in 1930, after which David Dalindyebo, then acting Paramount Chief of the tribe, became my guardian.

It is clear, from Mandela's features (image right) that he has Khoi-Khoi (Griqua) blood running through his veins...

More on Mandela at this link


The brass discs around his neck
Made a jangling sound
Cadenced as his calloused feet
Struck the dusty ground

Running down from Kokstad
Along to Strachan`s store
To trade them in for maize and cloth
Tobacco, sugar, more!

"Kence" the money of the Griquas
Passed from hand to hand
Legal tender for all debts
Incurred in Nomansland

And what an empire Strachan built
On his brass token coins
From Mountain Home to Umzimkulu
They graced the people's loins.

Fifty years they traveled round
For whatever was bought and sold
The tokens of Strachan`s store…
Redeemed as good as gold!

Today they turn up now and then
Uncommon and quite rare
Strachan`s tokens of East Griqualand
The money once used there!

by James Podroza

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Related reading and sources:

S Balson "The Griquas of South Africa and their Money" (2004)
Rev W Dower's book: "The Early Annals of Kokstad and East Griqualand" (1902) - reprint available from Killie Campbell Library (University of Natal) 1978
S Balson and C Graham's book "Kence, the trade tokens of Strachan and Co" (1978)
Donald Moodie: "The Cape Records relative to the condition and treatment of the native tribes of South Africa from an inquiry" (1841)
Rev John Campbell's books "Travels in South Africa" (1822)
William Ten Rhyne and Henry Secreta Zevorzit's book: "An Account of the Cape of Good Hope and the Hottentotes, the Natives of that Country" (1673) - by (translated into English from Latin in 1704)
Clifton C Crais's book "White Supremacy and Black Resistance in pre-Industrial South Africa" (1992)
John Shephard's book: "In the shadow of the Drakensberg" (1976)
Alf Wannenburg's book: "Forgotten Frontiersmen"
S J Halford's book: "The Griquas of Griqualand" (Mr. S.J. Halford was the the Mayor of Kokstad in 1923 - he built the Dutch Reformed Church in Kokstad)
R Harber's book: "Gentlemen of Brave Mettle" (1975)
A F Hattersley's book "More Annals of Natal" (1936)
Robert Ross' book: "Adam Kok's Griquas" (1976) 
Holidays in Fiji

The Griqua National Council - and Louis Nel for recent developments on the Griquas

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