The Rebel Republicans - The ninth step ... Somewhere in South Africa - CycleBlaze

January 7, 2021

The Rebel Republicans


The view while enjoying coffee and rusks on the stoep of the Flame Tree Guesthouse this morning.
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The title for today's entry refers, not to the chaos in Washington DC yesterday, but to the establishment of the first rebel republic in South Africa, namely the Republic of Swellendam.   I had pretty much forgotten about its existence but my primary school history lessons were revived on a visit to the very good Swellendam museum complex.

To quote from wikipedia:

"In 1743 Swellendam was declared a magisterial district, the third-oldest in South Africa, and was named after Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel, the first South African born Governor, and his wife, Helena Ten Damme."

"By 1795 maladministration and inadequacies of the Dutch East India Company caused the long-suffering burghers of Swellendam to revolt, and on 17 June 1795 they declared themselves a Republic. Hermanus Steyn was appointed as President of the Republic of Swellendam. The burghers of Swellendam started to call themselves "national burghers" – after the style of the French Revolution. However, the Republic was short-lived and was ended on 4 November 1795 when the Cape was occupied by the Kingdom of Great Britain."

The museum is largely housed in the Old Drostdy but also includes the Old Goal and Mayville House.  The Drostdy, dating from 1747, was the office and residence of the local magistrate and is laid out as an approximation of what it may have looked like a couple of hundred years ago.  The Old Goal, also from 1747, includes a yard with a number of new buildings (built in the old style) housing exhibits showing the various important artisanal crafts of the time.  Mayville House, which stands on what was originally part of the Drostdy's property, represents a typical wealth burger's home of the time.  On that note, it is a pity that most of what we have to remember of the time is of the European settlers while what we have of the Khoikhoi and San are quite limited.  I don't think there is an easy solution to that problem.

This house, passed on the way to the musuem, is one of the many houses in the town declared a National Monument.
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The Old Drostdy.
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View from the Drostdy over the town.
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The Landrost's (magistrate's) office.
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The court room.
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The first of two write-ups on the early European settler history of Swellendam.
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The second.
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There was also a small exhibition on the second Anglo-Boer War and how it affected Swellendam.  The interesting bit related to owners of bicycles.

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Mike AylingWhen I was growing up in Umtata in the nineteen fifties we had annual bike registration and had to fix the tag under the front axle nut, no quick release for non racing bikes then.

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1 week ago
The Artisan's Yard behind the Old Goal.
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Mayville House. It contained a lot of good quality exhibits of domestic life.
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One of the weirder buildings in Swellendam is the Dutch Reformed Church. The original was built in 1802 but the current building dates from 1908. It seems to be such a mix of styles as to defy definition. I can't help feeling it would look better on Brighton Pier than in Swellendam.
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