oa South African Journal of Cultural History - n Verkenning van die vryetydsbesteding onder die Maleise slawe aan die Kaap

Volume 11, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3053



It seems that the first ""Cape Malay"" slave was imported from Batavia by the Dutch East India Company in 1653. The greater influx appears to have been from 1658 onwards. Many aspects of their language, their music, and their cuisine were adopted by the Dutch (and later Afrikaner) culture at the Cape. This justifies inquiry as to the role played by the Malay slaves in the sporting culture of the Cape. The traditional scientific method of historical research has been followed whereby primary sources in the Cape Archives and secondary sources in the South African Library and the Africana Room in the Stellenbosch University Library were consulted in order to find evidence of any contribution the Malay slaves may have made to Cape culture. Very little primary material relevant to sport and games was found. The sources reveal that the slaves, like their masters, the early colonists, enjoyed amusements like fishing, dancing, music, horse-racing, games and cards. As their curfew was set for 21:00, indoor games like dominoes, draughts and kirram (carom) were common. Gambling was the most popular form of recreation and besides throwing the dice, the slaves were devoted to cock-fighting. In 1838 Ordinance No. I put an end to gambling and cock-fighting by stating that it was illegal to gather together on the Lord's day in any public or open place, ""for the purpose of gambling. fighting dogs or cocks, or playing at any game"". Although the sale of sharp implements to slaves was forbidden, they loved knives and duelling was one of the ""fashionable follies of the day"". Boys played ball and racket games, marbles and ninepins, they spun tops, trundled hoops, flew kites, slid on skates, and walked on stilts. It seems that the Malay youngsters were encouraged to stay at home and join in the old pastimes like singing, telling stories and playing draughts. They also took to European sport and in cricket and rugby they became indispensable as far as spectator atmosphere was concerned. It is evident that the Malay slaves at the Cape have been making a positive contribution to the general culture of the Cape and especially to the sporting life, ever since the 17th century. Today kirram, for instance. is widely played by the Cape coloured community.

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