Episode 155 - The Eastern Cape economy surges and the Americans visit Port Natal as tension rises

History of South Africa podcast

27-01-2024 • 21 mins

Welcome back to the History of South Africa podcast with me your host, Des Latham - it’s episode 155 and the Cape economy is growing in leaps and bounds.

The years between 1840 and 1843 were a fascinating mix of economic development and military endeavour.
We will be returning to the arrival in Port Natal aka Durban of Captain Smith and his 263 men and unfortunately, there’s going to be fisticuffs, bullets, death and traitorous acts.
But it is true that the most significant development in South Africa after 1835 was the expansion of agricultural production. Luckily for us, an organisation called eGSSA, founded in 2004, is the virtual branch of the Genealogical Society of South Africa, and provides a virtual home for everyone from the beginner to the most advanced family historian.
And buried in their digital archives are digitalised copies of the Cape Frontier Times, a publication that began it’s life in Grahamstown in 1840. In between notices about births, marriages and deaths, that are known by old school editors as hatches, matches and dispatches, is a great deal of material about money, commodities, the economy.
Americans had also just discovered what was known as Cape Gum. This weeps from a tree known as Acacia Karoo or the Karoo thorn, or if you’re into Latin, the Vachellia karroo. What was going on as well was the genesis of an African peasant producer of agricultural goods — and these producers of food would become very important as our story progresses through the 19th Century.
Moving along.
You heard last episode how Cape Governor, Sir George Napier, the one-armed veteran of the peninsular wars against Napoleon, had signed an order for Captain Thomas Smith and his 263 to march to Port Natal, and seize the valuable port for the British.
That of course, was going to be opposed by the Boers. Adding fuel to the propaganda fire apart from the Volksraads decision in Pietermaritzburg to kick amaZulu out of southern Natal and the midlands, was the sudden an unexpected arrival in Port Natal of an American ship called the Levant.