Image: Jan Van Riebeeck

Jan van Riebeeck (1618-1677) founder and

Jan van Riebeeck (1618-1677) founder and first Dutch commander of the European settlement at the Cape of Good Hope, in what is now South Africa. The Dutch East India Company commissioned him to establish a rest and resupply station at the Cape for Dutch ships en route to the East Indies. Riebeeck landed at Table Bay on April 6, 1652, with about 100 men, and there he built a fort and hospital. He also established farms in the area around the bay.

The station was not meant to be expanded

The station was not meant to be expanded beyond the area of the bay, and Riebeeck`s instructions were to keep the Cape establishment as confined and small as possible. His main problem was finding labor to work on the farms, particularly since the indigenous Khoikhoi and San peoples were not interested in such work. He advocated the importation of slaves, although these were not brought into the colony until later. Riebeeck tackled the problem by releasing men from their company employment to farm as free burghers. This practice created the class of independent farmers who became known as Afrikaners, or Boers. In 1662 Riebeeck was transferred to Malacca, after repeated requests to be moved. By then the Cape settlement was well established and included a hospital, several workshops, a mill, a corn granary, houses, stables, and vegetable and fruit gardens. A jetty had also been built, making it possible for passengers to disembark straight onto land.

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