Track­ing the foot­steps of . . .

The Herald (South Africa) - - FAMILY NEWS -

DAWID Stu­ur­man, who was born near the Gam­toos River in 1773, died in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia in 1830.

He was one of sev­eral Stu­ur­man brothers, the most no­table his older brother, Klaas, whom he later suc­ceeded as chief of the Khoena (Khoi) and younger brothers Boots­man and An­dries, who were also no­table lead­ers at the time.

Dur­ing Stu­ur­man’s early youth, he and his peo­ple lived on farms along the Gam­toos River and right up to the river mouth, where they en­joyed free­dom and in­de­pen­dence from colo­nial­ists.

In his teens, Stu­ur­man went to work on a farm, recorded as be­ing the Ver­maak Farm, in the area where he was at one point tied to a wagon and beaten with a sjam­bok. Salt was rubbed into the wounds and he was left in the sun.

By 1790s ten­sions and con­flict had spread through­out the fron­tier re­gion and around 1799, Stu­ur­man and his fam­ily fled Ver­maak’s farm. Many of the Khoi be­gan aban­don­ing farms along the Gam­toos at that time. Dawid’s brother, Chief Klaas Stu­ur­man, de­manded land and free­dom for en­serfed Khoi who led lives sim­i­lar to that of that of slaves on set­tler farms. The Khoena no longer had an in­de­pen­dent ex­is­tence and their chil­dren were be­ing “ap­pren­ticed” by colo­nial­ists or con­scripted into colo­nial mili­tia.

At that time Klaas Stu­ur­man be­gan or­gan­is­ing the Khoi, also known as the Gam­toos Peo­ple at the time, to re­sist the colo­nial­ists and their in­creas­ing sup­pres­sion. He later made and al­liance with the amaXhosa, who faced sim­i­lar chal­lenges. The re­sult was the cre­ation of a for­mi­da­ble re­sis­tance force and sub­se­quent war with the au­thor­i­ties.

Klaas Stu­ur­man died dur­ing a buf­falo hunt­ing ex­pe­di­tion around 1806 and was suc­ceeded by Dawid, who as chief be­came more vo­cal and an­tag­o­nis­tic to­wards the au­thor­i­ties than his late brother.

He was ar­rested three times and im­pris­oned on Robben Is­land three times. He be­came the only per­son to ever es­cape the is­land twice.

Stu­ur­man was even­tu­ally de­ported to Aus­tralia where he died and where his re­mains are thought to be buried un­der a rail­way sta­tion in Syd­ney.

Sev­eral at­tempts were made to se­cure his re­turn from Aus­tralia be­fore his death.

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