Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Rock Art of Resistance in South Africa

South Africa has a famous tradition of rock painting going back thousands of years. But among the depictions of animals and traditional dances are other images like this one, which depicts a man on horseback, carrying a gun, with the cattle he is presumably rustling.

These images were painted by escaped slaves who lived around the fringes of European settlement. The Dutch settlers were legally prohibited from enslaving the local natives, so they imported enslaved workers from other parts of Africa. But some local Khoe-San people were enslaved, illegally. These locals of course found it easier to escape, but it seems that some people from other areas joined them. They formed mixed bandit gangs, hunting wild animals when they could but also stealing cattle and food from Dutch settlements. The Dutch settlers called these mixed gangs Skelmbasters.

And they left these wonderful records on their presence, and their resistance.

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