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Genealogy of Afrikaners

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How 'Pure' was the Average Afrikaner?

The ideology of Apartheid was based on segregation of races, yet if you look at the origins or heritage of the Afrikaner people the ideology is rather ironic. Just how 'pure' was the Afrikaner? Not very if you look closely at historical records.

An Era of Slavery

The first documented marriage between European settler and a slave was in 1656 at the Cape. Jan Woutersz married Catherine of Bengal – Jan was a caretaker on Robben Island and the family lived without discrimination in the community.

In 1664 a Danish soldier, Pieter van Meerhoff, became the first white person to marry a Khoikhoi, Eva. She acted as an unpaid interpreter and intermediary between Jan van Riebeeck, the governor of the Cape Colony, and various Khoikhoi chiefs.

It was also possible for a non-white to take a white bride. Christoffel Snyman, the son of a freed slave Anthony of Bengal and Catharina of Palicatte, married Marguerite de Savoy. The De Savoys were a prominent Huguenot family in the Cape.

Such 'mixed' marriages were initially more common amongst soldiers and lower grade Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, VOC) officials, but once burghers were allowed to pursue faming for their own account, rather than being directly tied to the VOC, it became more widespread. Senior grade VOC officials tended not to marry in the Cape since they would at some stage be returning home to Holland, where a mixed marriage would be frowned upon, or posted to another colony after a relatively short period. Soldiers and others tended to stay.

Genealogy of Afrikaners

Exhaustive research was carried out by Professor JA Heese for his book Die Herkoms van die Afrikaner (The Origins of Afrikaners) published in 1971. Professor Heese studied parish registers and numerous other sources to track down how many European (Dutch and German, mainly) settlers married non-European brides.

Between 1652 and 1800 over 1200 marriages were performed between white and 'black' or white and 'mixed blood' people. By that figure Professor Heese determined that approximately 7.2% of Afrikaner heritage is non-white. (Similar studies have suggested this might be as much as 10% in reality).

Professor Heese suggested a genetic mix for the average Afrikaner to be: 35.5% Dutch, 34.4% German, 13.9% French, 7.2% African/Asian/Khoi, 2.6% British, 2.6% Other European, and 3.5% undetermined. Hardly the ancestry you'd expect from such ardent segregationalists.

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