Cultural Contact in Southern Africa: Law, Alcohol Sale
The following law suggests that slaves and Khoikhoi were considered particularly prone to alcohol addiction. There is some anecdotal evidence that this was a common stereotype held by Europeans at the Cape. Some scholars argue that alcoholism may indeed have been more prevalent among the Khoikhoi and African slaves because indigenous fermented drinks were not as strong as those brewed by Europeans. Furthermore, it is known that among the Khoikhoi, fermented drinks and dagga (like cannabis) were used for ritual purposes at the occasion of the trance dance. The following law regulates who may sell or serve alcoholic drinks, particularly prohibiting slave and Khoikhoi women from being involved. It is unclear, however, whether the law is meant to regulate alcohol or to control the leisure time activities of slaves. Since slave and Khoikhoi women are at the center of this issue, we may ask why it seemed “worse” to the authorities to have these women selling liquor rather than anyone else.
3 September 1754
“But whereas a still greater annoyance has been experienced in as much that some Persons who have obtained Licences to sell strong Liquors, do not scruple to have it done by Slaves or what is still worse by Hottentot and other women in their own Houses without any Superintendance whereby other Slaves are the more easily debauched into all kinds of bad practices; no Person therefore shall employ any male or female Slave or other Woman even were she already emancipated, to draw or sell strong Liquors in the Tap or Public Houses, under the same Penalty as before mentioned of the loss of Licence over and above a Fine of Two hundred Rixdollars and the male & female slave or other Woman so doing shall besides be severely flogged.”
"Laws and Regulations Respecting Slaves at the Colony the Cape of Good Hope since the Year 1658 till a. 1805." In Dutch laws translated into English. 1806. James Ford Bell Library, University of Minnesota.