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To make matters more complicated, most of the new arrivals, while soon to be engaged in a monumental agrarian endeavor, were merely “tradesmen, artisans [and] mechanics” from Britain’s industrial towns and cities, some of whom “passed themselves off as rural folk, and sailed to South Africa with grand dreams of finding a natural paradise that would support them with little effort” (Mostert 520).
Yet even if the settlers had been adequately prepared for the rigors of agricultural development, some experts (Burchell notwithstanding) believed that the region chosen for settlement—known as the Zuurveld or “sour field” in Cape Dutch—was “unsuited for crop-farming” (Pereira and Chapman xiv).
Each party had been “promised 10 acre plots, rent-free for 10 years, arrangements for victualling, for the paying of ministers. The standard undergraduate introduction to South African history—Leonard Thompson’s (1995)—announces that the settlers “did not prosper as the government intended.” After “a few years more than half of them had abandoned their lots and became merchants and artisans in the military post at Grahamstown, or in…Port Elizabeth” (55).
In essence, then, Chandler’s preoccupation with day of labor, regardless of its immediate historical resonance.