Rock art of resistance

Painting of a raider on horseback (bottom right) with a musket and domestic stock.

Dr Sam Challis (Africa Fellow 2022) has written a fascinating piece for The Conversation about his work on rock art in South Africa.

Not all South African rock art is ancient; some dates back to the colonial period – and was created by runaway slaves. It tells a remarkable story.

With the founding of the Cape Colony in 1652, European colonists were forbidden from enslaving the indigenous Khoe, San and African farmers. They had to look elsewhere for a labour force. And so slaves, captured and sold as property, were unwilling migrants to the Cape, transported – at great expense – from European colonies like Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, the East Indies (now Indonesia), India and Sri Lanka.

Far cheaper was the illegal trade in indigenous slaves that grew in the borderlands of the colony. Khoe-San people were forced into servitude as colonists took both land and livestock. Together with immigrant slaves they were the labour force for the colonial project.

Desertion was their most common form of rebellion...

You can find out more at The Conversation. Dr Challis will also give a seminar at IASH during his visit in winter/spring 2022.