Jan van Riebeeck


Jan van Riebeeck

Johan Anthoniszoon "Jan" van Riebeeck (21 April, 1619–18 January, 1677), was a Dutch colonial administrator and founder of Cape Town. He was born in Culemborg in the Netherlands as the son of a surgeon. He grew up in Schiedam, where he married 19-year old Maria de la Quellerie on 28 March 1649. (She died in Malacca, now part of Malaysia, on 2 November 1664, at the age of 35). The couple had eight children, most of whom did not survive infancy. Their son Abraham van Riebeeck, born at the Cape, later became Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.

Joining the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1639, he served in a number of posts, including that of an assistant surgeon in the Batavia in the East Indies. He subsequently visited Japan. His most important position was that of head of the VOC trading post in Tonkin, Vietnam. However, he was called back from this post as it was discovered that he was conducting trade for his own account.

In 1651 he was requested to undertake the command of the initial Dutch settlement in the future South Africa. He landed three ships "Drommedaris", "Reijger" and "Goede Hoop" at the future Cape Town on 6 April 1652 and fortified the site as a way-station for the VOC trade route between the Netherlands and the East Indies. The "Walvisch" and the "Oliphant" arrived later, having had 130 burials at sea.



Charles Davidson Bell

Van Riebeeck was Commander of the Cape from 1652 to 1662; he was charged with building a fort, with improving the natural anchorage at Table Bay, planting fruit and vegetables and obtaining livestock from the indigenous Khoi people. In the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town there is a wild almond hedge still surviving that was planted on his orders as a barrier. The initial fort was made of mud, clay and timber, and had four corners or bastions. This first fort, Fort Duijnhoop [ [http://www.nationaalarchief.nl/amh/detail.aspx?page=dfort&lang=en&id=564 Fort Duijnhoop at the Nationaal Archief (National Archives, The Netherlands)] ] , should not be confused with the present-day Cape Town Castle. The Castle, built between 1666 and 1679, several years after Van Riebeeck's departure, has five bastions and is made of brick, stone and cement.

Van Riebeeck reported the first comet discovered from South Africa, C/1652 Y1, which was spotted on December 17, 1652.

He died in Batavia (now renamed Jakarta) on the island of Java in 1677.

Legacy in South Africa

Jan van Riebeeck was of cultural and historical significance in South Africa among the Afrikaner population, who viewed him as the founding father of their nation. This regard was also prevalent in that his image appeared ubiquitously on stamps and the South African currency from the 1940s up until 1993 when the South African Reserve Bank changed the currency to an apolitical design of the fauna and flora of the region.

6 April used to be known as Founder's Day but the holiday was abolished after the democratic elections of 1994. His image hardly features anywhere anymore, apart for his and his wife's statues that remain standing in Adderley Street, Cape Town.

Today Afrikaners also view him, who according to some sources was sent unwillingly to the Cape as punishment for private trading, with some ambiguity.

References

* Collins, Robert O. "Central and South African history. Topics in world history". New York: M. Wiener Pub. 1990. ISBN 9781558760172
* Hunt, John, and Heather-Ann Campbell. "Dutch South Africa: early settlers at the Cape, 1652-1708". Leicester, UK: Matador 2005. ISBN 9781904744955
* Riebeeck, Jan van, and Robert Kirby. "The secret letters of Jan van Riebeeck". London, England: Penguin Books 1992. ISBN 9780140177657

Notes


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Look at other dictionaries:

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