Bey­oncé’s SA slave film pro­ject slammed

Lesotho Times - - Entertainment -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Bey­oncé has been blasted by a South African chief who says the pop star “lacks the ba­sic hu­man dig­nity” to be writ­ing a film about a South African slave.

Sarah Baart­man’s story is not Amer­i­can me­gas­tar to tell, said a chief of the Ghonaqua First Peo­ples.

“She lacks the ba­sic hu­man dig­nity to be wor­thy of writ­ing Sarah’s story, let alone play­ing the part,” Chief Jean Burgess said in re­ac­tion to the news that US singer, song­writer and ac­tress Bey­oncé Knowles was work­ing on a film to por­tray the life of the Khoikhoi woman Sarah Baart­man, who was forced to per­form in freak shows in Lon­don due to her large but­tocks.

“Ig­nor­ing the fact that the Khoikhoi is alive and that Sarah’s story would have an im­pact on how we are por­trayed, is a mis­take of great mag­ni­tude,” Burgess said.

Burgess, of the First In­dige­nous Peo­ples of South Africa, main­tained Knowles had no right to tell the story.

“Why Sarah Baart­man? Why not a story about an In­dige­nous Amer­i­can woman? I can only see ar­ro­gance in her at­tempt to tell a story that is not hers to tell.” She said con­sul­ta­tion, re­spect, and ac­knowl­edg­ing the ex­is­tence of the Peo­ples were fun­da­men­tal to the story.

Gamtkwa Khoisan Coun­cil mem­ber Kobus Re­ichert said they did not have a prob­lem with a movie or Knowles act­ing in it, as long as the com­mu­nity in the East­ern Cape, where Baart­man was born, was not side­lined. It had to be done re­spect­fully and with the right “cul­tural un­der­stand­ing”.

They only be­came aware of plans to make the movie on Mon­day when ap­proached for com­ment.

Baart­man was born around 1789 in the Gam­toos River Val­ley in the East­ern Cape, into the Gon­aqua­sub clan, part of the Khoikhoi.

Her large but­tocks and “un­usual colour­ing” made her the ob­ject of fas­ci­na­tion for colo­nial Euro­peans who pre­sumed that they were racially su­pe­rior, ac­cord­ing to Sahis­tory.org.

“She was taken to Lon­don where she was dis­played in a build­ing in Pic­cadilly. English­men and women paid to see Sarah’s half naked body dis­played in a cage that was about a me­tre and half high.”

In Septem­ber 1814, she was sold to one Reaux, taken to France and ex­hib­ited in a cage along­side a baby rhi­noc­eros. Baart­man mostly wore noth­ing but a loin­cloth, and was dubbed the “Hot­ten­tot Venus”.

She was sub­jected to var­i­ous sci­en­tific stud­ies. She died in 1816. Af­ter her death, a plas­ter cast was made of her body. Her brain and gen­i­tals were placed in jars which were dis­played at the Musée del’homme (Mu­seum of Man) in Paris un­til 1974, ac­cord­ing to the site.

At the ad­vent of democ­racy in South Africa, for­mer pres­i­dent Nelson Man­dela asked the French govern­ment to re­turn Baart­man’s re­mains so she could be laid to rest with dig­nity.

On March 6 2002, Baart­man’s re­mains were brought back home to South Africa. She was buried in Hankey, in the val­ley of her birth, on Au­gust 9 2002. — News24

US singer and ac­tress Bey­oncé Knowles.

Sarah Baart­man

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