Thursday, April 6, 2017

Happy Birthday Cape Town

Stanley - Thursday

On this day in 1652, Johan Anthonizoorn van Riebeeck, known as Jan, arrived in what became known as Table Bay on the ship Dromedaris.  He was accompanied by two other ships, the Reijger and the Goede Hoop.

Landing at the Cape

Jan van Riebeek

He came as an employee of the Vereenigde Oost-Insische Compagnie (VOC).  In English it is known as the Dutch East India Company. Throughout the regions in which the company did business, you can see the letters VOC on buildings it built.

Logo of the VOC
The reason Van Riebeeck came to the Cape was to create a vegetable garden to provision VOC ships sailing between The Netherlands and the outposts in what is now know as Indonesia, Malaysia, Indochina, and even Japan.  This long voyage was brutal and many lives were usually lost, many of which were through scurvy.  Having fresh vegetables halfway on the trip was helpful both for physical and mental health.

The vegetable garden changed southern Africa for ever, not only for having the first white people living there, but also for the new plants that arrived – grapes, potatoes, apples, citrus, various ground nuts, and cereals.  Today, South Africa is a major producer of grapes and wine, and an exporter of a variety of fruits and grains.  Apparently Van Riebeeck learned a lot from the local Khoi-San peoples, who had lived in the area for a long time.

Vineyard with Cape Dutch style buildings in the background

The Afrikaner has long regarded Van Riebeeck as the founder of South Africa (despite the fact that other peoples already lived there), and his name appears as a street name in many towns.  Two towns are named after him, and his image adorned the South African currency.  (Actually the image used that was supposed to be that of Van Riebeeck was actually of another man!).  Of course, there is a statue of him in Cape Town.

Jan van Riebeek...not.
He and other VOC officials of the time were remarkable in that they undertook long voyages in extremely trying and dangerous conditions and established outposts and colonies over vast stretches of the planet.  Of course, the motive was always profit, and anything that impeded its accumulation was dealt with very strongly, and usually not very nicely.

Back to Cape Town.

Happy birthday, mother city of South Africa, you are one of the planets most beautiful.  And it is in you that one can see why the country is known as the rainbow nation – people of all colours and religions coexisting peacefully, living between the mountains and the sea, surrounded by beautiful flora.


Murder Is Everywhere
Author Recognitions and Events


April 28-26
Malice Domestic
Hyatt Regency
Bethesda, Maryland
Panel: The British Empire
(FYI- Sujata and I will be on the same panel!!!)

May 31
Janet Rudolph Literary Salon:
"The History of Hot Places: Clashes between Colonialism and Local Cultures”
Joint appearance with Michael Cooper

Jun 11
Books NJ
Sounds of the Paramus Library
Panel: How to Write (and Read) Mystery
Signing at the MWA-NY Booth

June 16-18
Deadly Ink Conference
Hilton Garden Inn
Rockaway, New Jersey


Murder in Saint Germain, Aimée Leduc’s next investigation, comes out June 6, 2017.


Paper back of Rat Run published 28th March.


"The Olive Growers,” appears in BOUND BY MYSTERY, an anthology edited by Diane DiBiasi celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Poisoned Pen Press, out in March.


Dying to Live (Kubu #6) to be released in May in UK & South Africa and in October in USA

May 19-21   
Franschhoek Literary Festival (Michael)

May 20        
Panel :One Voice, Two Authors with Alex Latimer and Diane Awerbuck 11:30 - 12:30

May 21        
Panel: The Author as Chemist with Joanne Harris and Ekow Duker 11:30 - 12:30


  1. Mmm. A city that began as an outpost of the Dutch East India Company. Where white people established the first agriculture, which changed the wild, remote place forever. Where the Dutch were interested trade and lucre and terribly unkind to the indigenous people. Where now a beautiful city thrives, and people of all races, creeds, and religions live together in peace and harmony. Sounds extremely familiar. Your city and mine have so much in common, Stan. And they are both wonderful. Mine is the older of the two, started in 1609. Yours, I admit, wins hands down when it comes to the natural setting. Happy Birthday, beautiful Cape Town, from your Netherlandish sister across the sea.

  2. Happy birthday to a gorgeous country of which you're justifiably proud!