Autshumato (or Autshumao; akas: Herry or Harry de Strandloper) was a Strandloper leader who worked as an interpreter for the Europeans in present-day South Africa during the time of the establishment of the Dutch settlement on the Cape of Good Hope in 1652.
His date of birth is unknown, but it is thought that he lived between about 1625 and 1665. In 1632, he moved to Robben Island with a group of people and worked as postman and liaison for European ships passing the island. Moving back to the mainland 8 years later, Autshumato worked to create trade between the Khoi and the Dutch.
On 2 April 1652, Jan van Riebeeck, a Dutchman employed by the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (V.O.C.), and his crew arrived at the Cape to establish a settlement that eventually became Cape Town. Autshumato started trading in livestock for small amounts of alcohol and tobacco with the foreigners.
But after the effect of the alcohol had passed, the Khoi Khoi tribesmen became angry and stole from the Dutch who they felt had cheated them. Because of this, Jan van Riebeeck ordered in 1658 that Autshumato be imprisoned on Robben Island. After one and a half years on the island he and another Khoi escaped from the island on a rowboat. One year later Autshumato applied for and received permission to again live and work near the Dutch settlement, resuming his role as an interpreter. He died in 1663.
Krotoa, or Eva, was the niece of Autshumato.
The South African Department of Arts and Culture and the Centre for Text Technology (CTexT®), at the North-West University (NWU) initiated a project named after Autshumato in 2007. The aims of the Autshumato project is to research, develop and support open-source translation software in order to promote multilingualism and access to information in South Africa. The project is still active and the following outputs have been developed and released:
- An Integrated Translation Environment (ITE); which is a derived work of the popular open-source OmegaT CAT tool.
- A Terminology Management System (TMS),
- Several machine translation (MT) systems for automatic translation in the government domain; developed language pairs include: English (EN-GB) into Afrikaans (AF-ZA), IsiZulu (ZU-ZA), Sepedi (NSO-ZA), Xitsonga (TS-ZA) and Setswana (TN-ZA).
- Machine translation web service; through this service anyone can gain access to the MT systems developed as part of the Autshumato project.