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Learn about the best written women in South Africa, see

Imagine retracing South African history from the day South Africa was colonised and brought in slavery in 1653, visiting the Castle in Cape Town to see the torture chamber, Wine Estates built by slaves and where a slave called Eva was sent to Robben Island to quarry stone as she was considered strong enough to carry the quarried stones.

The "!Oroǀõas" ("Ward-girl"), spelled in Dutch as Krotoa, otherwise known by her Christian name Eva (c. 1643 – 29 July 1674), was a !Uriǁ'aeǀona translator who worked for the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) during the founding of the Cape Colony.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

She is one of the best written about women in South African history, with her name appearing in the journals of the United East India Company (VOC) from as early as 1652. She was the first woman mentioned by her Khoi name in early European records of the settlement at ǁHuiǃgaeb (Cape Town).

The name "Krotoa" was most likely not a name but a Dutch spelling of the designation !Oroǀõas (Khoekhoegowab spelling: !Goroǀgôas), referring to the fact that she was put under guardianship, either of her uncle Autshumato (also known as Kx'aothumathub) or of Jan van Riebeeck and Maria de la Quellerie. Her actual birth name is unknown.

"Krotoa" was born in 1643 as a member of the !Uriǁ’aeǀona (Strandlopers) people. She was the niece of Autshumao, a Khoi chieftain and trader. At the age of twelve, she was taken to work in the household of Jan van Riebeeck, the first governor of the Cape colony. As a teenager, she learned Dutch and Portuguese and, like her uncle, worked as an interpreter for the Dutch who wanted to trade goods for cattle. "!Oroǀõas" received goods such as tobacco, brandy, bread, beads, copper, and iron for her services. In exchange, when she visited her family her Dutch masters expected her to return with cattle, horses, seed pearls, amber, tusks, and hides. Unlike her uncle, however, "!Oroǀõas" was able to obtain a higher position within the Dutch hierarchy as she additionally served as a trading agent, ambassador for a high ranking chief and peace negotiator in time of war. Her story exemplifies the initial dependency of the Dutch newcomers on the natives, who were able to provide reasonably reliable information about the local inhabitants.

The initial arrival of the Dutch in April 1652 was not viewed as negative. Many Khoi people saw their arrival as an opportunity for personal gain as middlemen in the livestock trade; others saw them as potential allies against pre-existing enemies. At the peak of her career as an interpreter, "Krotoa" held the belief that Dutch presence could bring benefits for both sides.

There are multiple accounts of how "Krotoa" came to work in the household of Jan Van Riebeeck. One account says the Dutch forcefully kidnapped the child as a !oroǀõas, although no hard evidence confirms this account.[citation needed] She was taken in as a companion and as a servant to Riebeeck's wife and children. However, many authors and historians speculate that she most likely lived in a sexually abusive space, based on the fondness Van Riebeek showed for her in his journals. Circumstantial evidence supports the theory that at the time of the Dutch arrival, the girl was living with her uncle Autshumato (also known as Harry by the Dutch), the circumstantial evidence being that she showed consistent hostility to the !Uriǁ’aekua and, by association, to her own mother, who lived with them. In contrast Krotoa's fate and fortunes were closely aligned to those of her uncle Autshumato and to his clan known as the !Uriǁ'aeǀona. The ǃUriǁ'aeǀona people who were sedentary, non-pastoral hunter-gatherers are believed to be one of the first clans to make acquaintance with the Dutch people. Prior to the Dutch's arrival Autshumato served as a postal agent for passing ships of a number of countries. If the theory of !Oroǀõas having lived with her uncle is true, then her early service to the VOC may not have been as violent a transition as it was made out to be.

It is believed that the birth of the first baby of chaplain/sick-healer Willem Barentssen Wijlant and his wife, coupled with the rapid spreading of a virulent disease in the settlement, sparked the initial negotiations to obtain services from a local girl. As Autshumato had a long history of working for Europeans, it is believed that the VOC first turned to Autshumato for negotiations. It is quite possible that Autshumato offered up his niece for servitude in order to better his standing with the VOC.

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