Grade 7 - Term 4: Co-operation and conflict on the frontiers of the Cape Colony in the early 19th century

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British arrival and the expanding frontier

A frontier marks the edge of a known area, but a frontier is not a formal border. A frontier can lie on a boundary, such as a river or a mountain range. The main difference between a border and a frontier is that a frontier can change.

Before the Dutch arrived at the Cape, there was no frontier. The Dutch settlers began to move further and further away from Cape Town, eastwards and northwards, in search of land to live and farm on. As they moved, the Cape frontier moved too. As they moved into the southern African interior, these Dutch settlers, also called Trekboers or Boers, made contact with indigenous people.

In 1806, the British (Great Britain) seized the Cape from the Dutch (Holland). The French (France) had just won a war against the Dutch and the British were worried that the French would take control of the Cape. The Cape was a very important stopping point on the profitable trade route from Europe to the East - the British wanted to make sure that they controlled it.

The British occupation of the Cape was different to that of the Dutch. While the Dutch just wanted to farm and trade, the British had a bigger plan. They were growing their empire throughout the world, so they made plans for more people from Britain to come and live in the Cape.

In 1820, British settlers arrived in what we call the Eastern Cape - home to the Xhosa people. Conflict between the Trekboers, the British and the indigenous people was frequent.

VocabularyDefinition
Frontieran area of land where two different groups meet, and fight for control of the land.
Empirea group of countries controlled by the government of another country.
Indigenous peoplepeople who live in the place where they were born/local people.

Last updated : 27-Feb-2018

This article was produced by South African History Online on 27-May-2011

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