Van Meerhof, Eva
Eva van Meerhof (née Eva Krotoa, and also known as “Eva the Hottentot”) (circa 1642-74) was a Khoikhoi (Hottentot) interpreter who married the Afrikaner explorer Pieter van Meerhof. She was the first black African to marry a South African white in a Christian ceremony.
Belonging to a Khoikhoi band near Cape Town, she had been adopted into the household of Jan van Riebeeck as a servant. Learning Dutch and some Portuguese, she acted unofficially as an interpreter for the Dutch East India Company in its dealings with the Khoikhoi. She was baptized a Christian in 1664, and married van Meerhof in 1666; he died the following year.
After his death, she reputedly followed a dissolute life style which brought her into disrepute with the Dutch community, and resulted in her losing custody of her children. South African whites came to regard her as a symbol of Khoikhoi degeneration. Some of her own people, however, saw her as a traitor and tool of the Dutch.
Mark R. Lippschutz and R. Kent Rasmussen, Dictionary of African Biography, Chicago. Alpine Publishing Co. 1978. Readers’ Digest, Illustrated History of South Africa: The Real Story, Readers’ Digest, Pleasantville, N.Y., 1988.
This article was reprinted from The Encyclopaedia Africana Dictionary of African Biography (In 20 Volumes). Volume Three: South Africa- Botswana-Lesotho-Swaziland. Ed. Keith Irvine. Algonac, Michigan: Reference Publications Inc., 1995. All rights reserved.