Adam Eta Kok

From Early annals of Kokstad (1902), Rev W Dower:

The prejudice against the idea of a Queen ruling had been at one time very strong, and when hopes of issue from the union of Adam Kok III with his deceased brother's widow failed, then Adam Kok as good as adopted the eldest son of his cousin, Adam Eta Kok. familiarly known as "Eta". The boy lived in the Chief's house, and was taught to think of himself as the " heir apparent". He accompanied Kok and his Councillors to Cape Town in 1868, woed there a bride, and was married in right royal style. When this wife died, he returned to Cape Town and married her cousin. Meantime the "Eta Kok" influence began to decline, and that of Jood, increased.

Eta Kok was appointed the provisional Kaptyn of the Griqua at Griqualand East for a short period following Adam Kok IIIs death in late 1875.


Dower on the death of Adam Kok III

As the sun was sinking behind the western hills, the procession of wagons, carts, and horsemen entered the town, while the Griqua church bell tolled its melancholy dirge, and the members of the Chief's 'household wept and wailed in an agony of grief. Meantime, horsemen and Kaffir ruoners, fleet of foot, had conveyed the news to almost every corner of the land. During the night, loaded carts and w^agons, men on horseback and on foot, continued to arrive. All New Year festivities were suspended. For obvious reasons, the funeral was fixed for an early hour - nine o'clock. By that time a very large number of burghers had collected. Many of them had been roused from sleep, had hastily saddled up, and ridden distances of twenty and thirty miles in the dark. The people ranged themselves in a semi-circle round the front of the "palace" The coffin was brought out and laid on trestles. Some confusion arose from the absence of a responsible head. The relatives were all dazed and hesitant, wishing to do the right thing, but fearing they might do the wrong. There was no undertaker, no master of ceremonies. Mr. Brisley, with his wonted energy, took matters in hand, and everyone obeyed him promptly. I walked at the head of the procession. Eta Kok, Adam Muis, Bergover, Cumming, Brisley, Barker, acted as pall-bearers, while the Kok family and the women of the household took the place of cbief mourners The service at the grave was brief and simple. Any attempt at prolonged speech would have let loose the fountains of grief, and would have produced a scene of weeping and lamentation. After the women folk had retired, old Adam Eta, the cousin of the deceased, the man who had for many years always acted as Provisional Kaptyn, as he stood looking into the grave, addressed the people in somewhat broken language, as follows, speaking in Dutch:

Image right Adam Kok III's memorial in Kokstad

"Friends and Fellow-Burghers, - We have made a sad beginning to this new year. We have laid in this grave a man you all knew and loved. He is the last of his race. After him, there will be no coloured king or chief in Colonial South Africa. Of Kaffir tribes, there may still be chief; of coloured chiefs he is the last. Take a good look into that grave. You will never look into the grave of another chief of our race. Do you realise that our nationality lies buried there? The deceased was the friend of you all. Did you ever hear of Adam Kok making an enemy ? Political enemies he had, unfortunately, more than his share; private ertemips he had none. He had his faults - we all have ; but you will all bear me out, he was generous to a fault - too indulgent, and gentle, and yielding, for a chief. There lie the remains of the one South African chief who never lifted arms nor fired a shot at a British soldier, though sometimes provoked beyond human endurance. There is not a single man here who has not received favours at his hand. If you are ever tempted to forget him, turn to the titles of your properties, and see there his familiar sign manual. I have yielded to the temptation to add this much to what the minister has said, because I am his near relative, and he honoured me with his confidence, and occasionally delegated to me his authority. There are many who will arrive here too late in the day to be with us at his interment. Let us set guards, and leave the grave open till sun-down, so that these friends from afar may have the melancholy satisfaction of seeing all that is fit to be seen of the Chief they loved so well. Let all questions of politics rest. Let us go home to mourn in secret and in silence, and prepare for the funeral services tomorrow."

These words, more truthful than merely eulogistic, were uttered with deep emotion. Sometimes the speaker could proceed only with great difficulty. The whole scene was tragic and pathetic, and will live with me while memory lasts.


From Children of the Mist (2007), Scott Balson:

The outgoing and personable Kaptyn started to retreat from the public eye, making his cousin, Adam Eta Kok, the honorary kaptyn.

But life went on and Eta and the Griqua Raad now met regularly under a large tree some 500 metres from the settlement. Here they administered the territory and gave out land grants to their citizens as if it was their own, the agreements with the Cape and Natal having little bearing on the reality of life in this new land.

One of the raad's first duties was to ensure law and order, so magistrates and field cornets were appointed just like they had at Philippolis, Donald Strachan being given the unique honour of representing the Griquas as their magistrate in the district of Umzimkulu. This was a powerful position for any trader and, for one who controlled the main trading gateway from Natal to this new land of opportunity, the temptations must have been irresistible. But he was firm and fair, stopping an illegal trade in guns and liquor through the drift below his store.

Apart from making laws for this new land little else happened. There was not enough land for the Bergenaars to roam freely and hunt and so the Griqua philosophy prevailed: Why toil and sweat when you can eat venison, drink milk and sleep the rest of the day in the sun? Strachan was often called to Mount Currie to meet with the raad. He had often seen the tragic effects of alcohol on the Griquas, with men lying around in a half-drunk state and traders with dozens of bottles of brandy freely trading them for livestock and skins. It was a hopeless situation. It was only when Adam Kok took over the running of the raad from Adam Eta Kok that they instructed him to prevent any further shipments of alcohol crossing the drift at Umzimkulu. He was happy to comply and the trade in alcohol quickly dried up.

Balson on the death of Adam Kok III:

"Things are good at Riet Vley," Lucas replied. "Smith Pommer was very anxious about the annexation, but now that that talk has gone away we are all happy. He is very pleased with the work being done by the Committee of Twelve. How is the Kaptyn?"

"The Kaptyn is getting old; it is a real concern that we have no heir. There is talk of Adam Eta Kok taking over, but I don't think that that will work," Jan Jood replied.

"What about Smith Pommer? He has a big following in these parts. He is on the Committee of Twelve and he will not let the British take our lands," Lucas said.

"The raad have often talked about Smith Pommer, and many are sympathetic with him and the views that you have here at Riet Vley. The trouble is all these white settlers, they fear Pommer and would run to the British again if he was nominated," Jan Jood said.

"Yes, but the whites do not run East Griqualand, we do," Lucas replied.

Jan Jood looked up. The Kaptyn was calling him to continue with their journey.

"Yes, but for how long?" he said cryptically.

Not half an hour later, as the horse carriages wound their way through hills and valleys to Umzimkulu, tragedy struck. Driving his small carriage, the Kaptyn had stood up to whip the horses as they had slowed up because the road was not good. The accident happened on the banks of a dry drift just beyond the point where the Harding Road used to join the road between Kokstad and Umzimkulu. One of the wheels hit a large stone which had fallen from the bank. The carriage jerked awkwardly, causing Adam Kok to fall over the front of the cart. The same wheel that had hit the rock went over his chest, crushing his ribs and mortally wounding the Kaptyn.

As he lay there he said to Jan Jood, "Oh, what is this now?" before he lost consciousness and died. The carriages were immediately outspanned and the Kaptyn's body carried to a grassy verge.

A messenger was sent on to Strachan, advising him of the tragedy. The trader, deeply upset at losing his friend, sent an urgent telegraph to Cumming informing him of the tragedy. Within hours the whole of the population had heard the news.

The Griqua people went into mourning. The new year held no joy for them. Without their kaptyn they had no leader. With the British Resident in Kokstad their selfstandigheid was at great risk.

A few days later at Adam Kok III's funeral, his cousin, Adam Eta Kok, addressed the large crowd which included Lucas, Pommer and the Griquas from Riet Vley.

Text of Adam Eta's speech as italicised above

Adam Eta Kok had predicted correctly. With the Kaptyn's death came the end of the Griqua nation.

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