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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Hendrik Albertus and His Ex-Slave Mey: A Drama in Three Acts
Author:Mason, John E.
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic terms:South Africa
The Cape
colonial law
Architecture and the Arts
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:This essay draws on documents relating to a single extraordinary episode, and on supporting materials, to illustrate aspects of the 'mentalitÚs' of slaves, slave owners, and Protectors of Slaves in the British colony of the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa). The narrative follows the story of a slave, Mey, who was harshly beaten twice within six days in 1832. Mey, and several other slaves who had been whipped for the same offence, accepted the first punishment; Mey complained about the second, which he alone suffered, to a colonial official called the Protector of Slaves. The Protector vigorously investigated the complaint. Mey's master, Hendrik Albertus van Niekerk, cooperated only reluctantly with the investigation. As the Protector pursued the case, van Niekerk suddenly brought it to an end by manumitting Mey, giving cash compensation to the other slaves he had whipped, and paying legal fines. The behaviour of each of the men fails to conform to the roles conventional wisdom has prepared for masters, slaves, and colonial officials. The essay demonstrates that the men were not eccentric, but that they were both rational and representative of their class. Notes, ref.