The multicultural dynamics of the Eastern Cape frontier, and the story of the major actors in its drama of transculturation, conflict, and transgression, are foundational in South African history. It was here, after all, as Clifton Crais and Tim Keegan have reminded us, that the South African colonial and racial order came into being, and it was here, too, that major resistance to that order would in due course emerge.1 In this paper, however, my focus will not be on the captains and kings, governors and chiefs, rulers and radicals who at various times decided the fate of the Eastern Cape, be they Xhosa or settlers, Boers or Bushmen, white or black. Rather, I am intrigued by the many shadowy characters in the margin of the story - liminal, unaffiliated, intermediary figures who move in and out of the shadows of the narrative. They are often enigmatic persons of unknown origin and barely known identity, but who equally often suggest that their role in frontier history could have been - and sometimes was - an important one ..
Van Wyk Smith, Malvern, Frontier Transculturation and Transgression in the Early Eastern Cape, Kunapipi, 21(3), 1999.