captain, noun

Origin:
English, South African DutchShow more Special sense of general English captain a leader or chief; influenced by (or translation of) South African Dutch kaptein, see kaptein.
historical
kaptein sense 1.
Note:
During the 1970s, this obsolescent title was briefly revived by the government as a substitute for ‘chief’.
1688 G. Tachard Voy. to Siam II. 68Every one of these Nations have their Head or Captain whom they obey, that Office is Hereditary, and goes from Father to Son.
1731 G. Medley tr. of P. Kolben’s Present State of Cape of G.H. I. 85The Captain of a Kraal, or Village, looks to the Preservation of the Peace and the Administration of Justice in His Jurisdiction.
1786 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. I. 240Captain, says he, is merely an empty title, formerly bestowed by the regency at the Cape on some princes and patriarchs of the Hottentots.
1798 S.H. Wilcocke tr. of J.S. Stavorinus’s Voy. to E. Indies I. 547[Hottentots]..dwell together in villages, called kraals, and under a chief, whom they elect themselves, and who has the title of captain.
1804 R. Percival Acct of Cape of G.H. 81The Dutch have paid some marks of respect to the chiefs or heads of those tribes; and have publicly nominated them captains over the next.
1819 G. Barker Journal. 28 Sept.Linx, or Makana, the Caffre Captain passed this to Algoa Bay, to go on board a man of war in order to be sent to The Cape.
1827 G. Thompson Trav. 30A chief or captain presides over each clan or kraal, being usually the person of greatest property; but his authority is extremely limited, and only obeyed so far as it meets the general approbation.
1838 Graham’s Town Jrnl 26 Apr. in J. Green Kat River Settlement in 1851 (1853) 48Meyers told me that..all the Kaffir Captains, with the exception on Tyalie, Macomo, and Pato, were ready to make war against the English.
1839 W.C. Harris Wild Sports 41When near Daniels-kuil — a kraal of Griquas, or mulatto Hottentots, we met their Chief, Captain Down.
1857 H.F. Fynn Letters to Secretary of Native Affairs. 5 JuneI must add that not only Ketchwiya, but Panda himself, and the captains also, urgently expressed their wish that the Natal Government would send an officer to reside amongst them in whom they could place confidence.
1861 P.B. Borcherds Auto-Biog. Mem. 157In 1781 a report was received..that several Kaffir captains and Kaffirs had, contrary to treaty, occupied land on this side of Great Visch River.
1930 A. Elliott S. Afr. through Centuries 860 (caption)Captain B. Plaatjes. Captain of a Bushman tribe at Harlam...He is shown wearing his badge and staff of office...circa 1806.
c1936 S. & E. Afr. Yr Bk & Guide 176The Hottentots were originally divided into 10 tribes or clans, at the head of each of which was a captain who was assisted by councillors appointed by the male population.
1958 A. Jackson Trader on Veld 56At least one famous man came to my store at Rietfontein. He was Hendrik Witbooi, ‘Captain’ or Chief of the Witbooi tribe of Hottentots, who wore white bands round their hats.
1961 L.E. Van Onselen Trekboer 112These Koranna Hottentots were a fierce clan led by a succession of halfbreed captains.
1970 S. Afr. Panorama Sept. 14 (caption)Senator J.J. Boshoff with the chairman of the Zulu Territorial Authority and members of the Executive Council. Third from the right is Captain Gatsha Buthelezi.
1973 S. Afr. Panorama July 46There are 1766 schools in KwaZulu...One of these schools, the Bhekuzulu captains’ sons’ school, trains captains’ sons for the leadership and responsibility which they will have to assume in their various tribes.
1987 C. Hope Hottentot Room 157It’s historically valuable, you see. It’s the cane colonial governors gave to the Hottentot captains.
1994 M. Roberts tr. of J.A. Wahlberg’s Trav. Jrnls 1838–56 34Zambus, Dingaan’s greatest Captain, arrives at Peter Maritzburg.
kaptein1.
Derivatives:
Hence captaincy noun, a political system in which a ‘captain’ presides over a district or people.
1976 R. Ross Adam Kok’s GriquasIf there had been a division between black and white inherent from the beginning of South Africa, then the anomaly of a free, independent, ‘coloured’ polity, such as the Griqua Captaincies, would not have come into existence.
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