(cachad from early internet)

Padrao 1485 Cape Cross / Namibia

CapeCross.jpg (30688 bytes)

Cape Cross is known mainly as a breeding reserve for thousands of Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus). Here, in 1485, the Portuguese captain and navigator Diego Cão landed. He was the first European to set foot in Namibia, indeed, the first European of his time to reach this far south down the coast of Africa. To mark the achievement he erected a stone cross on the bleak headland. It was a 2 metre high, 360kg commemorative stone, or padrão, (a tribute to João II) at Cape Cross in honour of King John I of Portugal. It was inscribed in Latin and Portuguese with:

Since the creation of the world 6684 years have passed and since the birth of Christ 1484 years and so the illustrious Don John has ordered this pillar to be erected here by Diego Cão, his knight.

Diego Cão died for his daring, and was buried on a rock outcrop nearby, which they called Serra Parda. One result of Diego's exploration was the opening up of the African coast to slavery, carried out by the Portuguese. Diego landed on the Namibian Coast six years before Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) discovered America, in 1492. The trans-Atlantic slave trade, organised by the Portuguese, began around 1530. In 1562 Sir John Hawkins started the English slave trade, taking cargoes of slaves from West Africa to the Americas. David Livingstone helped cease this slave trave, over three hundred years later. See the African History page for a timeline of events. Another notable event around this time was the invention of the printing press, by Johann Gutenberg. William Caxton printed the first book in English in 1474. Diego Cão's cross remained in place until the 1893. (Min anm. Ingen visste om att det fanns (?!))Then, a German sailor, Captain Becker of the boat Falke, removed (Min anm: Hittade det först vid landmätning i den dåtida tyska kolonin Deutsch-Südwestafrika) the cross and hauled it off to the oceanographical Museum in Berlin (Min anm.: Inte han, utan kejsaren bestämde det sen). In 1894, Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered that a replica be made with the original inscriptions in Latin and Portuguese, as well as a commemorative inscription in German. In 1974 the whole area was landscaped and a replica (dolerite) cross erected, on the site of Cão's original cross. David Coulson, in his book Namib, relates that an old slate was found half-buried in the sand around here, with a message dated 1860 reading:

"I am proceeding to a river sixty miles north, and should anyone find this and follow me, God will help him."

It is not known who wrote the message, or what became of them. There is also a pattern of concrete circles containing information on the area's history. It's laid out in the shape of the Southern Cross, the constellation which guided Diego Cão's original expedition. Find out more about European History, Art & Culture at Renaissance Reflections.

© http://home.vicnet.net.au/~neils/africa/CapeCross.htm (nicht mehr vorhanden 2008)