Opting Out of Colonial Rule: The Brown Voortrekkers of South Africa and Their Constitutions. Part One

Although there is a tendency to identify the population which has come to be known as the Coloured in biological (racial) terms, they also constitute a social category which reflects the blending of African and non-African traditions. One segment of these people came to be known as the ‘Basters’. They were semi-nomadic pastoralists and frontiersmen, whose place of origin coincided roughly with the north-western portion of what was to become the Cape Colony. This paper deals with the formal written constitutions (and their local effects) that various Baster nations drew up during their political development. These constitutions provide interesting examples of the spontaneous growth of law books amongst people who had lived for a time at least under customary law. Dealt is with: a) the Rehoboth and Griqua. Focus is largely on the Rehoboth Basters of Namibia; b) the Baster political communities of Little Namaqualand, grouped around Komaggas, Steinkopf, and Concordia mission stations; c) the remote frontier republic of Rietfontein in the Kalahari Desert. – Notes, ref.

Title:Opting Out of Colonial Rule: The Brown Voortrekkers of South Africa and Their Constitutions. Part One
Author: Carstens, Peter
Year:1983
Periodical:African Studies
Volume:42
Issue:2
Pages:135-152
Language:English
Geographic terms: South Africa
Namibia
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020188308707601
Abstract:Although there is a tendency to identify the population which has come to be known as the Coloured in biological (racial) terms, they also constitute a social category which reflects the blending of African and non-African traditions. One segment of these people came to be known as the ‘Basters’. They were semi-nomadic pastoralists and frontiersmen, whose place of origin coincided roughly with the north-western portion of what was to become the Cape Colony. This paper deals with the formal written constitutions (and their local effects) that various Baster nations drew up during their political development. These constitutions provide interesting examples of the spontaneous growth of law books amongst people who had lived for a time at least under customary law. Dealt is with: a) the Rehoboth and Griqua. Focus is largely on the Rehoboth Basters of Namibia; b) the Baster political communities of Little Namaqualand, grouped around Komaggas, Steinkopf, and Concordia mission stations; c) the remote frontier republic of Rietfontein in the Kalahari Desert. – Notes, ref.