Little Known Black History Fact: Griqua People of South Africa

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  • Griqua was the name given to a mixed race culture in the Cape Colony of South Africa, around the 17th and 18th Century.

    During apartheid, however, the Griqua were called “Coloured” by Europeans. The group originated through the interracial marriages and relations between the KhoiKhoi people and the European Colonists. The actual name was derived from the Chariaguriqua people whose princess became the wife of the first Griqua leader, Adam Kok I.

    The Afrikaan language-speaking (which derived from the Dutch) society was also referred to as Bastaards or Basters. However, the name Griqua prevailed when the British took offense to the other.

    The Griqua people had set up their own lifestyles in areas that came to be known as Griqualands (east and west). They established their own governments, political structure and flag, and they chose a Kaptein or Captain, as a leader of their semi-independent infrastructure. The first Kaptein was Adam Kok I, who was a freed slave. Adam Kok I was said to be one of the most influential free black men in early South African history. After he bought his own freedom and established the society, he, his sons and grandsons would become a dynasty of leaders that were crucial to South African history. Under the rule of Adam Kok I, the British leaders of the Cape Colony recognized his rule as crucial to the region and named him Kaptein of the Basters and official founder of the Griqua society.

    Adam Kok I died in 1795, and although his son, Cornelius Kok I and the Kok dynasty was often tested by rebels, the family prevailed until the discovery of diamonds in the natural soil of South Africa took over and the group was exiled by the Colony in 1874. Once the apartheid era was established they were dissipated and vaguely categorized as Coloured.

    Present day Griqua people have established their own church, which is Protestant in South Africa. They are represented mostly in South Central Namibia.
     

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