Krotoa was born at the Cape, circa 1642 – died Cape Town, 29th July 1674. A female Hottentot interpreter, Eva was a member of the Goringhaikona (Strandlopers or Beach-combers), a Hottentot tribe which lived in the vicinity of Table Bay. The captain of this tribe, Herry, was her uncle, and her sister was the wife of Oedasoa, captain of the Cochoqua (Saldanhars).
Shortly after their arrival at the Cape, Jan van Riebeeck and his wife took Eva into their home. They gave her a Western education and instructed her in the Christian religion. She soon learnt to speak Dutch fluently, and, later on, was able to make herself understood in Portuguese. Although she did not receive official payment for this, she was used as an interpreter, especially between V.O.C. officials and Oedasoa, with whom she sometimes went to stay.
Van Riebeeck had a high opinion of her ability as an interpreter, although later he warned his successor not to accept everything she said without reservations.
On the 3rd May 1662, Eva was baptized in the church inside the Fort of Good Hope by a visiting minister, the Rev. Petrus Sibelius, with the secunde, Roelof de Man and the sick comforter, Pieter van der Stael, as witnesses. She was also the first Hottentot to marry according to Western customs.
On the 26th April 1664, and with the permission of the Council of Policy, she was married in a civil ceremony to the explorer, Pieter van Meerhoff, and she received a dowry of fifty rix-dollars from the V.O.C. On the 2nd June 1664 the marriage was also solemnized in church. Of the children born from this marriage three survived.
In May 1665 Van Meerhoff and his family left the Cape when he was sent to Robben Island as commander. In 1667 he was murdered during an expedition to Madagascar and on 30 September 1668 Eva returned to the Cape with her children, where the V.O.C. gave them the old pottery workshop as a home.
She lapsed into such a dissolute and immoral life, however, that the V.O.C. again sent her to Robben Island on 26th March 1669, and placed the three children in the care of the free burgher, Jan Reyniersz. Eva returned to the mainland on various occasions, but was always banished to the island.
In May 1673 she was allowed to have a child baptized on the mainland and, in spite of her outrageous way of living, was buried in the church inside the Castle on the day after her death.
In 1677 the free burgher, Bartholomeus Borns recieved permission from the Council of Policy to take two of Eva’s children, Pieternella (Petronella) and Salamon van Meerhoff, with him to Mauritius. There Pieternella van Meerhoff married Daniel Zaayman (from Vlissingen), and, on 26th January 1709, arrived with her husband at the Cape, where she became an ancestor of the Zaayman family in South Africa. There were eight children born of this marriage, four sons and four daughters, of whom most (or all) were probably born on Mauritius.
The family has descended in the male line from the eldest son, Pieter Zaayman; two sons were baptized in Cape Town on 17 February 1709; two daughters were apparently married at the Cape (to Diodati and Bockelberg). A third daughter, Maria Zaayman, had already arrived at the Cape from Mauritius in 1708 with her husband, Hendrik Abraham de Vries, of Amsterdam (one of the four De Vries ancestors in South Africa) there being with her four children, of whom three boys were baptized simultaneously in Cape Town on 4 November 1708.
A fourth daughter, Eva Zaayman, date of birth unrecorded, was married (apparently at the Cape) first to Hubert Jansz van der Meyden, and later (20 September 1711) at Stellenbosch, to Johannes Smit of Delft. As far as is known no children resulted from these marriages.
Source: SESA (Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa)
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