Defence minister to honour 17th-century Khoi peace broker

DEFENCE Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will this week commemorate Krotoa‚ the Khoi woman who in the 1650s was instrumental in negotiating a truce between warring Dutch-Khoikhoi groups‚ by unveiling a monument in her honour in Cape Town.

The event on Friday at the Castle of Good Hope was to promote national reconciliation and nation-building during women’s month‚ the South African National Defence Force said in a statement.

Krotoa worked as a servant in the household of Dutch leader Jan Van Riebeeck from the age of 10, and is credited with reaching an accord that ended the first Dutch-Khoikhoi war.

Krotoa knew several languages and established herself as a reliable interpreter between the Dutch and the Khoi tribes.

"Having foreseen the inevitability of change‚ following the arrival and settling of the Dutch in the Cape of Good Hope in 1652‚ Krotoa acted as facilitator between the Dutch and the Khoi‚ resulting in her being ostracised by the Khoi people.

"Also known as Eva‚ following her being baptised as a Christian‚ Krotoa was married off to a Danish surgeon called Pieter van Meerhof‚ in what was the first recorded official mixed race marriage in SA‚ and had several children with him."

When Van Meerhof was killed in a slave hunt in Madagascar‚ Krotoa’s status in the Dutch colony declined. She was later banished to Robben Island and her children sent to Mauritius‚ only to return to SA after their mother’s passing.

Long depicted as a controversial figure caught between two competing worlds of the Dutch and the Khoi‚ Krotoa is also credited with being among the chief architects of the Afrikaans language‚ according to the statement.

Mapisa-Nqakula‚ as custodian of the Castle of Good Hope‚ which is under the Department of Defence‚ will lead a symbolic repatriation of the spirit of Krotoa from the burial grounds of Die Groote Kerk in Church Square‚ where her bones were interred in an unmarked grave after being removed from the grounds of the castle nearly a century after she was buried there.

Mapisa-Nqakula will be joined by representatives of the Khoi and various other traditional leaders, as well as the Military High Command During the Ceremony.

The ceremony takes place as the Castle of Good Hope marks 350 years of existence.

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