The economic impact of the Khoe on the north-eastern frontier of the Cape Colony

Links, Calumet (2021-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : The role played by the Khoe in early Cape colonial economy remains largely unaccounted for in Economic History. The two exceptions are Fourie and Green’s The missing people: accounting for the productivity of indigenous populations in Cape Colonial History (2015) and La Croix’s The Khoikhoi population, 1652-1780: a review of the evidence and two new estimates (2018). This omission is significant since the Khoe formed the cornerstone of the Cape frontier pastoral economy. This thesis investigates the role Khoe labourers, both coerced and free, played in shaping the nort-heastern economy of the Cape Colony in the period 1787-1828. I also illuminate the devastating impact that frontier closure had on Khoe society. The study starts by investigating the substitutability of slave labour. Chapter One questions the substitutability of slave labour through a longitudinal study of the Graaff-Reinet district, located on the eastern frontier of the colony. I calculate the Hicksian elasticity of complementarity coefficients for each year of a 22-year combination of cross-sectional tax data sets (1805–1828) in order to test whether slave labour was substitutable for other forms of labour. I find that slave labour, indigenous labour, and settler family labour were not substitutable over this period, which lends credence to the finding that slave and family labour were two different inputs in agricultural production. I argue that the non-substitutability of slave labour was largely a result of the settlers’ need to obtain labourers with location-specific skills such as the Khoe, and that slaves may have served a purpose other than being a source of unskilled labour - such as providing artisan skills or acting as collateral. In Chapter Two I investigate the relationship between coercion and productivity in this pastoral setting. I find a positive relationship between loosening coercion and effort, and argue that as legislative protection against the mistreatment of the Khoe was promulgated into law, Khoe labourers decreased their levels of effort. This finding leads me to conclude that even in pastoralism, where effort is hard to observe and quantify, less coercion leads to decreased levels of effort. Chapter Three investigates the general theoretical argument that women historically broke free of traditional gender roles as a result of the fact that they held an advantage over men in animal husbandry. Working Khoe women on the north-eastern frontier of the Cape Colony present the perfect subjects to test this claim. Both Graaff-Reinet and Tulbagh districts were major meat and crop producers for the colonial centre at Cape Town, and relied heavily on indentured Khoe female labour. By using a pooled Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression I find that the presence of indigenous Khoe women on farms had no significant positive effect on sheep and cattle holdings for either of the two districts above that of Khoe men. As a consequence, I argue that Khoe women’s actual competitive advantage lay in home-based production. In the fourth and last chapter, I argue for the importance of incorporating family structure in inequality estimations. This is particularly important for inequality studies in Africa. When calculating the various inequality metrics, contemporary studies, regardless of the setting or context, assume either a conventional western household, or that resources are simply divided on a per capita basis. This study argues that kinship networks matter for the study of inequality in African societies. Households in economic distress often join those of relatives or other kin in order to mitigate the impact of extreme poverty. When studying the level of wealth inequality among the Khoe of Swellendam district in 1825, it is clear that frontier closure impoverished a significant portion of this community which, in order to reduce the impact of destitution, made use of extended kinship networks.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die rol van inheemse arbeid in die ekonomie van die voormalige Kaapse kolonie is tot dusvêr meerendeels verontagsaam in die studie van Ekonomiese Geskiedenis – buiten die bydrae van Fourie en Green se The missing people: accounting for the productivity of indigenous populations in Cape Colonial History (2015) en La Croix se The Khoikhoi population, 1652-1780: a review of the evidence and two new estimates (2018). Hierdie leemte is kommerwekkend gegewe die feit dat die Khoe die hoeksteen van die Kaapse pastorale koloniale ekonomie was. Hierdie verhandeling poog om die bestaande leemte te vul deur ondersoek in te stel na die rol wat beide gedwonge en vrye arbeid gespeel het in die ekonomie van die Kaapse noordoostersegrens, gedurende die tydperk 1787-1828. Ek ondersoek ook die verpletterende impak wat grens-sluiting op die Khoe gemeenskap as geheel gehad het. Hierdie verhandeling begin deur ondersoek in te stel na die beweerde vervangbaarheid van slawearbeid met ander vorme van arbeid. Hoofstuk Een bevraagteken hierdie aaname by wyse van ‘n dinamiese paneelstudie met data vanuit die Graaff- Reinet distrik op die oosterse grens van Suid Afrika se Kaapkolonie. Ek bereken Hicksiaanse-elastisteitskoeffisiente om die vervangbaarheid van verskillende vorme van arbeid met slawearbeid te vergelyk. Ek bevind dat slawearbeid nie vervangbaar was met inheemse arbeid of setlaarfamilie-arbeid nie. Hierdie bevinding versterk dan die veronderstelling dat slawe- en setlaararbeid twee verskillende insette in die landbouproduksieproses was. Ek voer ook aan dat die gebrek aan vervangbaarheid gespruit het uit die behoefte van setlaars om arbeid te verkry met liggings-spesifieke kennis, soos byvoorbeeld die Khoe bevolking. Slawearbeid op plase het waarskynlik nie gedien as ongeskoolde arbeid nie, maar eerder as vakmanne of as kolateraal vir lenings. In hoofstuk Twee ondersoek ek die verhouding tussen dwang en werksywer in ’n pastorale opset. Ek bevind dat daar ’n negatiewe verhouding bestaan tussen die vermindering van dwang en werksywer en voer aan dat die instelling van wetlike beskerming van die Khoe teen mishandeling hulle werksywer laat afneem het. Na 1809, toe die eerste wetlike beskerming tot stand gebring is, het minder dwang op arbeiders gelei tot laer werksywervlakke. Hierdie gevolgtrekkinge bevestig dat, selfs in pastorale landbou waar ywer moeilik is om te monitor of te kwantifiseer, minder dwang tot laer werksywer lei. Hoofstuk Drie probeer vasstel of vroue verlos was vanuit tradisionele geslagsrolle as gevolg van die feit dat hulle ’n voordeel bo mans gehad het in veeteelt. Die werkende Khoe vroue van die noordoostersegrens van die Kaapkolonie dien as ideale toetsonderwerpe. Beide Graaff-Reinet en Tulbagh was belangrike vleis en oes produsente vir die koloniale middelpunt in Kaapstad en was baie afhanklik van gedwonge Khoe vrouearbeid. Deur die gebruik van ’n saamgevoegde Gewone Kleinstekwadrate (GK) regressie bevind ek dat die teenwoordigheid van inheemse Khoe vroue op die plase geen wesenlike positiewe uitwerking, bo Khoe mans, gehad het op skaap en bees getalle vir Tulbagh en Graaff-Reinet distrikte nie. Alternatiewelik, stel ook voor dat Khoe vroue ‘n belangrike rol gespeel het as tuisprodusente en dat hierdie eintlik die voordeel was wat hulle bo mans gehad het. In die finale hoofstuk beklemtoon ek dat huishoudingstukture in ag moet geneem word wanneer ongelykheidsgetalle bereken word. Hierdie kwessie is veral belangrik by ongelykheidstudies van Afrika. Wanneer hedendaagse studies ongelykheidsgetalle bereken, word konvensionele westerse huishoudingstrukture as maatstaf gebruik of bronne word net gelykop gedeel tussen alle lede van die betrokke samelewing. Hierdie studie voer aan dat familialenetwerke belangrik is wanneer Afrikaongelykheid bestudeer word. Huishoudings wat dikwels in ekonomiese verknorsings verkeer het, het soms aangesluit by verlangse familielede of diegene wat beter af was om verligting te vind. Deur na rykdoms-ongelykheid te kyk binne die Khoe gemeenskap van Swellendam in 1825, is dit duidelik dat grens-sluiting tot geweldige armoede gelei het. Dit is ook duidelik dat die Swellendamse Khoe gebruik gemaak het van verbreedte huishoudings-strukture om die impak van hierdie armoede gedeeltelike te stuit.

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