Time to give un­sung Khoisan he­roes their place in the sun – Dr Wal­lace Mgoqi

We owe it to their de­scen­dants that this his­tory is told in books, stat­ues and memo­rial parks

Pretoria News - - BUSINESS REPORT -

HAV­ING re­gard to what hap­pened in our past, go­ing back more than 500 years, from 1488 to date, when the first Por­tuguese mar­itime ex­plorer Bartholome­w Diaz landed on our shores around Mos­sel Bay, as dis­closed by Dr Ruben Richards in his two-vol­ume his­tory books, maybe it is time to go be­yond just know­ing about the con­tri­bu­tions of the first lead­ers of this di­verse na­tion by do­ing some­thing con­crete to hon­our them.

Maybe along­side the stat­ues of De Klerk, Tutu and Man­dela should stand the stat­ues of Do­man, Go­gosa, Xhore, Aut­shu­mato, Adam Kok, Kro­toa and con­tem­po­rary fig­ures such as Al­lan Boe­sak. They laid the foun­da­tions for our free­dom, from the very early be­gin­ning, through their re­sis­tance to colo­nial­ism, at great sac­ri­fice. They paid with their lives.

If we did that we would not only be hon­our­ing his­tory, which started more than 500 years ago, not in 1910, but also be say­ing to their de­scen­dants, the coloured peo­ple of to­day and many oth­ers, how much as a na­tion we value them, as a peo­ple, and the con­tri­bu­tions of their an­ces­tors who pre­ceded them.

We stand upon their shoul­ders to­day. If we ap­pear to be tall in the eyes of the world, it is be­cause we stand upon the broad shoul­ders of these gi­ants of the first na­tion, the first cit­i­zens of this coun­try, the Khoisan peo­ple, in all their di­ver­sity. What is recorded as a di­arised con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Jan van Riebeeck and the lo­cal Khoisan lead­ers is quite re­veal­ing in re­gard to the mind­set and val­ues frame­work of the Khoisan peo­ple.

He writes: “They (Khoisan) strongly in­sisted that we (Dutch) had been ap­pro­pri­at­ing more of their land, which had been theirs all these cen­turies, and on which they had been ac­cus­tomed to let their cat­tle graze, etc. They asked if they would be al­lowed to do such a thing sup­pos­ing they went to Hol­land, and they added: ‘It would be of lit­tle con­se­quence if you peo­ple stayed here at the fort, but you come right into the in­te­rior and se­lect the best land for your­selves, with­out even ask­ing whether we mind or whether it will cause us any in­con­ve­nience.’”

With the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, we now know that these lead­ers ended up fight­ing no less than five recorded wars of re­sis­tance, the Khoi-Dutch Wars, the first be­ing 1659-60, sec­ond 1673, third 1674-77, fourth 1692 and the fifth war 1700-03.

It is recorded that by 1700 sev­eral Khoikhoi whose eco­nomic back­bone had been dec­i­mated found them­selves as ser­vants on the farms on land they had pre­vi­ously owned, or had be­come de­pen­dent on the colony for their liveli­hood, to this day.

Their cat­tle and graz­ing pas­tures had been seized by the Dutch East In­dia Com­pany and their chiefs had been sub­or­di­nated. Fre­quent raids were sent into the in­te­rior and brought back thou­sands of live­stock.

Go­ing for­ward, as a coun­try, in the next decade 2020-29, we would do well to find a way and a process by which we should hon­our the he­roes and hero­ines of the Khoisan peo­ple. The Min­istry of Arts, at na­tional, pro­vin­cial and lo­cal gov­ern­ment lev­els, would do well to lead this process, as the Na­tional Coun­cil of Khoisan as well as all the ref­er­ence groups would guide the process in the com­pi­la­tion of lead­ers to be so hon­oured as well as the strate­gic sites where the stat­ues would and should be lo­cated.

There can be no doubt that such a memo­rial-type park-like Free­dom Park in Pre­to­ria would have to be around Cape Town, where it all started. The ques­tion to be set­tled would be where ex­actly in Cape Town, and it is here where the peo­ple, in­clud­ing ex­perts such as Richards, would have to be con­sulted.

It is im­per­a­tive that this pro­ject is un­der­taken, as ar­tic­u­lated by Richards in Vol­ume 1, where he says: “Un­for­tu­nately, the nar­ra­tive (that is, his­tory) of the orig­i­nal in­hab­i­tants and their de­scen­dants is one writ­ten in tears of blood rather than tears of joy and ju­bi­la­tion. A poignant mo­ment in this re­gard was in 2012, dur­ing the State of the Na­tion ad­dress by for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, when he drew the na­tion’s at­ten­tion to this nar­ra­tive of blood.

While it was his pre­de­ces­sor, for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki, who was the first to for­mally ac­knowl­edge the atroc­i­ties ex­pe­ri­enced by the Khoisan peo­ple, it was Zuma who was first to make an un­der­tak­ing that this un­just his­tory needed to be ad­dressed.

This year seems to be both the year and the decade in which this pro­ject must be un­der­taken and im­ple­mented, to the mi­nut­est de­tail, once for all, in the spirit of restora­tion, re­build­ing the ru­ins of our past, and in­clu­sive­ness.

We owe it to this gen­er­a­tion of the de­scen­dants of the Khoisan, the coloured peo­ple, as well as fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, that this his­tory is told, not just in books, in li­braries, and all in­for­ma­tion stor­age places, but also, and more im­por­tantly, in phys­i­cal form in stat­ues in a memo­rial park, where it can be dis­played, for all the world to see.

If not for any rea­son, but pre­cisely for the point made by Richards: “The cor­rec­tive mea­sure re­quired is to ac­knowl­edge that such a group of peo­ple do ex­ist phe­no­typ­i­cally and that they are not sec­ond-class cit­i­zens, but in fact, they carry the soul of South Africa in their veins…

“Coloured peo­ple are a gift to South Africa as the pro­gen­i­tors of what it means to be a non-racial fully in­te­grated so­ci­ety.”

The time is now. Sekun­jalo!

Dr Wal­lace Mgoqi is the non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­per­son of AYO Tech­nol­ogy Solutions and for­mer act­ing judge of the Land Claims Court. He writes in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity.

JAMES MAHLOKWANE African News Agency (ANA)

THE Khoisan camped at the Union Build­ings for more than a year. The writer says in the next decade, 2020-29, we would do well to find a way and a process by which we should hon­our the he­roes and hero­ines of the Khoisan peo­ple. Photo: James Mahlokwane King Shaka. |

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.