Look at that cragly visage! It belongs to Sir Christoffel Brand, the first Speaker of the House of Assembly in the Cape Parliament.
Brand was born in Cape Town in 1797 and left for the Netherlands in 1815, where he studied at Leiden. In 1820 he was awarded a doctorate in law based on his dissertation Dissertatio politico-juridica de jure coloniarum on the legal relationship between colonies and the metropole, and returned to the Cape.
The Cape of Good Hope was then still a colony effectively governed from London, and Brand joined in the movement arguing for representative government, which was granted in 1853 with the creation of the Cape Parliament and Brand’s election as Speaker. From then he put his efforts into the struggle for responsible government — that is, instead of the Governor running the show, an executive would be held accountable to a parliament. This was finally granted in 1873 when Sir Charles John Molteno was asked to form a government as the first Prime Minister of the Cape.
One of Brand’s most influential acts was the foundation of De Zuid-Afrikaan, the first Dutch-language newspaper in South Africa. This proved to be the most important newspapers in the history of the land and central to the formation of the identity of the Afrikaners.
Its first editor, the polyglot Frenchman Charles Etienne Boniface, was also responsible for the satirical play “De Nieuwe Ridderorde of De Temperantisten” written in the local Dutch patois and thus arguably the first work of literature in Afrikaans.
The newspaper struggled onwards, eventually merging with De Volksvriend and later on Ons Land before expiring in its hundredth year, 1930, just as Die Burger achieved predominance.
Thanks to the State Library of New South Wales, we can see his written hand in this letter to the naturalist Sir Joseph Banks in London, sent in 1811 before he had left to study in Leiden.