Undefeated Ambition in an Unsympathetic Empire: the Kat River Settlement in the Cape Colony, 1853-1872
Carline, Katie Anita
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The Kat River Settlement, established in South Africa’s eastern Cape in 1829, became a place where Khoesan Christians built an independent outpost of respectable colonial society. The Settlement lost official and missionary support after the residents’ rebellion of 1850-53, and scholars treat this episode as the end of the Kat River project. But this diminution of outside support did not cause Kat River residents to relinquish their aspirations. In the two decades after the rebellion, they responded to bleak economic prospects and supporters’ apathy by using church institutions to claim equality with British congregations, protect their economic interests, pursue education, and incorporate new communities into the Kat River project. These efforts reveal how Khoesan people combatted their disadvantages in a colonial state and participated in imperial networks of Christianity. Examining Kat River after 1853 demonstrates how the Settlement’s ideals endured and continue to inform contemporary Coloured cultural politics.