Dutch explore their African heritage

28 June 2010

The Western Cape, and Cape Town in particular, have been inextricably linked with Holland since 1652, when Jan van Riebeeck landed in the Cape of Good Hope. Many streets in the City – like Buitengracht and De Waal – and towns such as Stellenbosch were named after Dutch settlers who followed him.

Last week, the Cape experienced its second Dutch invasion, as fans of “Die Oranje” took the opportunity to explore their historical connection to South Africa.

Members of the Royal Netherlands Football Association Supporter’s Club, dressed in their traditional orange colours, visited a number of Dutch settlements in the city, and their world-famous travelling campsite “De Oranjecamping” even settled in the Boland town of Paarl, about one hour from Cape Town.

Jorg Groll, a member of the Dutch supporters club, said: “We travel into the city every day and have visited historical Dutch settlements like the Castle of Good Hope that was built by Dutch in the 17th century. We have also been to the Waterfront.”

Stephanie Breede, from Cape Town but who has a Dutch grandmother, said: “I’m here to catch up with my Dutch roots. This is so nice. It’s like a little Amsterdam. I like the Dutch music and the food is amazing. I’ve also had some lekker (very nice) Dutch beer.”

The city of Cape Town also did its bit to make the travelling Dutch fans feel at home. Organisers at the Fifa Fan Fest had traditional Dutch music and a Dutch master of ceremony to cater for the large “Orange Army” at the Fan Fest.

“This was done to cater for the large number of international visitors to the city,” said Cape Town 2010 spokesperson Pieter Cronje. “We wanted to make them feel welcome and give them something they could relate to.

“Many of the countries who’ve played in Cape Town have had some link with the city in the past, and today it was the turn of the Dutch, who have such an interesting history with the city,” Cronje said.

Hawkers along Cape Town’s Fan Walk were also doing a roaring trade. One trader, Steven Arendse, said: “This is my most profitable day of the World Cup. I wish the Dutch would play here more often. I’ve sold about 50 orange vuvuzelas, 50 Dutch scarves and 30 orange wigs.

“Unlike the French and Italian fans, I can understand them because Dutch and Afrikaans (one of South Africa’s 11 official languages) is very similar, and that makes my sales pitch easier,” Arendse added.

On Thursday night, when the Dutch national team took on Cameroon, one of the banners hanging in Green Point stadium said it all: “Die Kaap is Weer Oranje” (The Cape is Orange again).

Source: 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Organising Committee