Inter se nulli fines : representations of the presence of the Khoikhoi in early colonial maps of the Cape of Good Hope

27 May 2009

This paper deals with early cartographic representations (both cosmographic and chorographic) of the presence of Khoikhoi at the Cape of Good Hope. While the boundaries of the Dutch settlement at Table Bay and the land allotted to farmers were professionally drawn by land surveyors, the locations of the dwellings of Khoikhoi communities on early colonial maps of the Cape are distributed in various ways. However, the vast majority of maps simply ignore their presence. A second group of maps locate the dwellings as if in a fixed position. Finally, and these are the most interesting, some maps tend to take account of the transitional status of Khoikhoi locations by using a variety of graphic means. The attitude towards the concept of land ownership held by the Cape settlers, who appropriated specific locations, and that of the indigenous Khoikhoi communities, who were nomadic herders, are widely divergent. The purpose of the article is to explain the cultural context of the selected cartographers which motivated them to evolve various cartographic conventions to represent a previously unknown territory and its nomadic peoples.