In the 1400s the Khoikhoi inhabited the mainland. Those who herded cattle were known as the Peninsular Khoi and those who did not own livestock but lived of whatever the gathered in the area of the beaches were known as the ‘Strandlopers’ (Beachcombers). Even though the Khoikhoi traded with the occupants of passing foreign ships which rounded the Cape of Good Hope, they were not always willing to barter their precious supplies, especially their herds. They also retaliated against any form of ill-treatment they experienced from European explorers. Reportedly, in 1510, the Khoikhoi killed Francisco D’Almeida and more than 50 of his men after they tried to carry off some cattle belonging to the Khoikhoi as well as kidnapping some of their children.
The Dutch colonisers realised when they established their colony in the Cape during the 1600s, that they needed to negotiate with the Khoikhoi for cattle and other livestock as a primary source of meat. To this end the Dutch colonisers ‘groomed’ some Khoikhoi individuals to serve as intermediaries between the explorers and the Khoikhoi.