Mansell Upham

Mansell Upham, author: Uprooted Lives... Unfurling the Cape of Good Hope's Earliest Colonial Inhabitants (1652-1713)


Mansell Upham is a researcher, writer, historian and jurist specializing in South African colonial history. Born 1960 in Welkom, Free State, he grew up on the East Rand, Cahora Bassa (Mozambique), the West Rand and the Western Cape. He read French and English at the University of Stellenbosch (1977-1980). Thereafter he graduated with an LL.B (Stellenbosch 1984). Admitted as advocate (1988), he represented South Africa as diplomat in Tokyo, Japan (1991-1994). A champion of indigenous rights and Khoe/San renaissance, he spearheaded the campaign to repatriate the unburied Saartje Baartman (1995) becoming legal advisor and representative in South Africa and the UN (Geneva) for the Griqua National Conference of SA and other Khoe/San representative groups (1995-2000). He also farmed at Helderstroom in the Bosjesveld at Villiersdorp and lectured (2002-2005) in Seoul, Korea (University of Kangnam). He is currently freelancing in Tokyo, Japan (since May 2007).

Editor of Capensis (1997-2001), Upham has published a wide range of articles in Familia, Capensis, the Quarterly Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa and Antiquarius, Tokyo on early Cape colonial studies, notably :

  • From the Venus sickness to the Hottentot Venus: Saartje Baartman & the three men in her life: Alexander Dunlop, Hendrik Caesar & Jean Riaux
  • The miller of Platteklip painted by Otto Landsberg: Johann Bernhard Engelbrecht (1781-1838)
  • This corner of the world smiles for me above all others: Gysbert Hemmy from Africa - a reappraisal'
  • Children of Ham: The name Africanus / Africana during the early stages of the VOC's colonial occupation of the Cape of Good Hope - early examples of affirmative identification with the African continent by Eurasian, Eurafrican and even European folk
  • The first recorded Chinese and Japanese at the Cape
  • In hevigen woede: Part I: Groote Catrijn - earliest recorded female convict at the Cape of Good Hope - a study in upward mobility;Part II: Christoffel Snijman: his curious origins and ambiguous position in early Cape colonial society
  • Maaij Ansela & the black sheep of the family: a closer look at the events surrounding the first execution of a free-burgher in early Cape colonial society
  • In a kind of custody ... for Eva's sake, who speaks for Krotoa?
  • Who were the children of Eva Meerhoff?
  • Creolisation & indigenisation - Burlamacchi & Diodati family ties in the Dutch VOC Empire
  • Armosyn Revisited
  • At war with society ... Did God hear? - The curious baptism in 1705 of a 'Hottenot' named ISMAEL
  • Keeping the gate of hell ... 'subliminal racism' & early Cape carnal conversations between black men & white women
  • In memoriam: FLORIDA (born 22 January 1669-died April 1669): mythologising the 'Hottentot' practice of infanticide - Dutch colonial intervention & the rooting out of Cape aboriginal custom
  • Consecrations to God: the nasty, brutish and short life of SUSANNA from Bengal, otherwise known as ONE EAR: the Cape of Good Hope's 2nd recorded female convict
  • ZARA (c. 1648-1671) - an inquiry into the (mis)application against traditionally prescribed punishment against persons committing suicide during the VOC's colonial occupation of the Cape of Good Hope.

Upham is also a sought after speaker and has addressed several groups on early Cape history, genealogy, and indigenous rights, notably:


Friends of the Caledon Museum

The Asian in me, the European in you and the 'Hottentot' in all of us - Genealogy & our All-Sorts Heritage


Rotary Club, Constantia

Early Women at the Cape of Good Hope

The Genealogical Society of South Africa, Cape Town

My English Ancestors and the down side of being ostensibly English


Rotary Club (Waterfront, Cape Town)

Cape History with a difference

Human Rights Day Gathering, SA National Gallery, Cape Town

The Exploitation of Saartje Baartman: Why Saartje must come home for burial

International Conference on Khoisan Identities & Cultural Heritage, South African Museum, Cape Town

Our National Shame

SA Embassy, Copenhagen, Denmark

Griqua and Khoe/San participation at the UN, Indigenous Rights & Khoe/San Constitutional Accommodation


Genealogical Society of SA, Cape Town

Making a 'moordkuil' of our hearts: The Moordkuil massacres and its manifestations

SA National Gallery, Cape Town

Negotiating Khoisan History & Material Culture


The Asiatic Society of Japan, Tokyo. Japan

The First Japanese Africans and Early Japanese contact with the Cape of Good Hope

1990 Diplomatic Training: Department of Foreign Affairs, Pretoria

An alternative history of SA from a genealogical perspective


The Genealogical Society of South Africa, Bloemfontein

Die Kaap is wéér Hollands


The Genealogical Society of South Africa, Pretoria

Eva Meerhoff (c. 1643-1674)


The Genealogical Society of South Africa, Cape Town

Eva Meerhoff (c. 1643-1674)


Bookmark and Share