Dutch influence in the Boer-Afrikaner culture




The Dutch influence in the Boer-Afrikaner culture was the biggest of all the people that influence the Boer-Afrikaner culture and people. It was the Dutch people that founded the Cape Colony, by Jan van Riebeeck in 1652. The administration was in charge of the Dutch Company of East Indies the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie,VOC. The Cape Colony was part of a larger Dutch Empire in the Indian Ocean that included colonies in Indian and the actual Indonesia, known as Batavia. It was frequent the administrators and businessman of the time to circle between those different colonies. The Cape Colony was since its beginning a settler colony. Among the people that arrive at the Dutch Cape Colony there was not only Dutchman but also the 200 French and Walloon Huguenot refugees, Flemish and also many German workers of the VOC. After years serving the VOC the employees could gain to right to have a piece of land on which they had to cultivate crops that they had to sell to the Dutch East Company for a fixed price. They were known as Vryburghers, free citizens. Due to the authoritarian rule of the VOC some Vryburgher revolted against them and try to escape to the VOC control by going further inland. The VOC founded two new divisions in Swellendam and in Graaff-Reinet to control those Trekboere but they continued to expanded northeast in the direction of the Oranje River and they only stopped in the Great Fish River in 1780 in an agreement firmed with the VOC. Those Trekboere were the first developing the Boer-Afrikaner culture and the Afrikaans language as a different culture and language of the Dutch. In 1795 the colony was occupied by the British after the Battle of Muizenberg. In 1803 they return to Dutch power being this time directly managed by the Batavian Republic. However the breaking out of the Napoleonic Wars the Colony was again occupied by the British in 1806, after the Battle of Blaauwberg. This transfer was confirmed with the Anglo-Dutch treaty in 1814.The Dutch were no longer in Africa but there influence was decisive to the creation of the Boer-Afrikaner culture.

One of the biggest influences of the Dutch was on the genetic of the Boer-Afrikaner. Around 35 to 40% of the Afrikaners blood is of Dutch origin (including Flemish). However is interesting to see that, because of all the openness in the Cape Colony many of the people who came to the Colony where not Dutch and so most of the Boer-Afrikaners blood is not of Dutch origin despite being the biggest genetic origin, contrary to what some people think. Naturally some of the most well-known Afrikaner surname are of Dutch origin as Van Rensburg, Van Wyk, Prinsloo, Van Zyl, Smit, De Beer, Swanepoel, Van der Merwe, Swart, Strydom, Van Rooyen or Oosthuizen

Another area in which Nederland’s influenced a lot the Boer-Afrikaner culture was the language. The Dutch language was the official language at the Dutch Cape Colony, later on the British Cape Colony and at the same time in the Boer republics of the Oranje Vry Staat and the Transvaal. Even with the creation of South Africa Dutch continued to be the official language until 1925 time in which was replaced by Afrikaans. The Afrikaans language was developed from Dutch. It begin to be developed in the XVIII century by the Trekboers. The language was developed because of the big isolation of these Dutch speakers from Nederland’s and it was the spoken language when they still use the Dutch as the written language. Despite some influences of other languages 90 to 95% of the Afrikaans words are of Dutch origin some of them slightly modified but exists mutual legibility between the two languages, despite some difficulties of the Afrikaans speakers with the Dutch grammar and of Dutch speakers with the Afrikaans accent. The accent is based on the accent of the South of Nederland’s but has also influences of the Northwest German accent and of the Flemish accent. The accent varies from region to region.

Finally the Dutch influence a lot the Boer-Afrikaners in the religion. The main churches of the history of the Boer-Afrikaner people are Dutch Reformed churches, the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, the Nederduitsch Hervomde Kerk, official church of the old ZAR, and the Reformed Churches in South Africa are there biggest. These churches are based in the Dutch Reformed Church founded in the XVI century influenced by the ideas of John Calvin, Jacobus Arminius and other protestant reformers. The Dutch churches also open congregations in the Cape Colony and later in the Boer republics. In the Cape Colony the Dutch settlers but also the French Huguenot settlers created an Afrikaner Calvinism, more conservative than the Dutch, that influenced since then the history of the Boer-Afrikaner people in great moments as the Great Trek in which the Boers trekked because they think that the Vry Staat and the Transvaal will be the promise land for the chosen people. Later in the XIX century the Boer Calvinism separate from the Afrikaner Calvinism because of the Great Trek and the creation of the Boer Republics. During the XX the Reformed Church’s were not critic of the Apartheid, just in the end, giving to it more credibility.

The Dutch influence in the Boer-Afrikaner culture and in his people is very big and it was structural to it’s creation. We can say that without the Dutch and the VOC it will not exist the Boer-Afrikaner people and this post is a way to remember their decisive role in the Boer-Afrikaners history.

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