Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Cafres

Above: Details of a map published in 1679 in Nuremberg showing Cafreria, the homeland of the Cafres. The geographic location matches the southern portion of present-day South Africa plus part of southern Namibia. To its north was Monomotapa where, in 1420, 鄭和Cheng He and his fleet paid a visit and were well received by the royal court. Among the gifts from Cheng to the kingdom were horses and gunpowder. Some folks there later became experts of gunpowder-powered firearms.

It remains a great mystery as to what happened to the Cafres, the Black Rifle battalion, after the fall of Ming-Cheng Tung-Ning Kingdom in 1683. They had previously served both Koxinga's father 鄭芝龍 and Koxinga himself well in combats and as personal/palace guards.

The last known action of the Cafres was to follow Lady Tung's order and execute Cheng Jing's illegitimate son Cheng Ke-Chang to make way for the younger, lineage-based heir-apparent Cheng Ke-Shuang. This would have occurred near the end of the Tung-Ning era (ca 1682-3).

Lady Tung's residence (now 開元寺) where Cheng Ke-Chang was summoned to
and assassinated en route
It is highly doubtful that the Cafres were allowed to stay in Taiwan since all Ming-Cheng soldiers were forced to penal colonies in China. It is also equally doubtful that they were repatriated back to Cafreria as freemen. Assimilation into the general population remains a possibility since some had married Han women; although this is yet to be verified.

Possibly a Cafre in a temple in Tainan