chapter  5
34 Pages

Slave Raiding Across the Cape Frontier

WithElizabeth A. Eldredge

In the nineteenth century the tradition of slave raiding, as practiced by Boers and trekboers in the eastern Cape, spread with the advancement of the Dutch frontier. Captive indigenes, the booty of countless commando raids, helped to satisfy the labor demands of these cash-poor pastoral farmers before the abolition of the overseas slave trade and became one of their principal labor sources for decades after. In districts such as Graaff-Reinet, labor demands on Boer farms were consistently high. Individual Boer families owned up to ten to twelve thousand head of livestock, either sheep or cattle or a combination, and needed many herders. The fat of the sheep was considered almost equal in value to the rest of the carcass, by being manufactured into soap. It was more profitable to kill their sheep, for this purpose, only, than to sell them to the butchers at so low a price as a rix-dollar or less, and even so low as five shillings.