Very few people living in Grahamstown today know that there once was a neighbourhood known as Hottentot Village. As the name suggests, most of its residents were of Khoekhoe descent, but the colonial name of ‘Hottentot’ was how it was officially known from its inception. Once the name became viewed as politically incorrect, it faded from use, taking with it much of its sense of history.
In fact, the residents of the area were the first black residents in the new town named after Col. John Graham in 1812. They received title deeds to their plots in 1829, long before other black residential areas, such as Fingo Village, even came into existence. This had important repercussions over the centuries.
When many residents of Hottentot Village were suspected of supporting the rebel coloured and Xhosa forces in 1851, their homes were burnt to the ground. But the land-owners remained and rebuilt. Their story is one of the deeply-buried and little-known histories of Grahamstown.
The Isikhumbuzo Applied History Unit of Rhodes University is hosting an imbizo to discuss ‘Whatever Happened to Hottentot Village’ on Wednesday, 5 April at the Dakawa Arts and Crafts Centre. Mr. Ashwell Adriaan, of Makana Heritage Solutions, will lead the discussions and share what is known about where the old Hottentot Village was. The imbizo is designed to give participants an opportunity to give their own feed-back on the topic.
Anyone who is interested is invited to attend the session which runs from 4 to 6 PM.
Contributed by Julie Wells, head of Isikhumbuzo Applied History Unit