Reclaim our heritage

Benjamin Petersen, Manenberg

A spectre is haunting South Africa. This spectre is the rise of Khoi and San consciousness.

A national awakening by people classified coloured by successive regimes since 1652.

The Khoi and San are the aboriginal indigenous first nation of South Africa. This awakening has the potential to transform every sphere of life as we know it in South Africa.

About 80 percent of people classified “coloured” today are Khoi and San, irrespective of their religion. It has been scientifically proved that the mitochondrial DNA of the Khoi San is the oldest in the world. The Khoi San originated out of South Africa and gradually inhabited the whole of Africa and thereafter spread throughout the world.

The Xhosas, Zulus and other Nguni groups have been traced to the great Lakes area of East Africa. When these groups arrived in South Africa they found the Khoi San had already been here for centuries.

This invasion led to the Khoi and the San being dispossessed of most of our ancestral land.

The first white invasion of the land of the Khoi San was repulsed in the 1400s and notably, one, Al’ Meida, the formidable Dutch commander was defeated by the Khoi in battle when he attempted to conquer them. It was only in 1652 that Van Riebeeck was able to establish a settlement at the Cape.

The colonial powers used the method of genocide and the introduction of germ warfare (small pox) to crush Khoisan resistance to the dispossession of our land and the destruction of our culture. Survivors of this Holocaust were forced into slavery and or as indentured labour and classified “coloured” and humiliated as “Hottentots” and “Boesmans” and forbidden on pain of death to speak their language or to practice their culture, especially on the farms where the dop system was used to degrade us as a people.

The last licence to hunt San Bushman people was issued in the 1920s.

Today our people have lost track of who we really are. This was caused by centuries of dispossession, degrada-tion, marginlisation and brainwashing by the colonial-apartheid regimes and continued by the current government.

Today the majority people who are labelled “coloured” are actually Khoi San people. We are concentrated in overcrowded crime ridden townships, impoverished on farms and grim rural RDP houses, discriminated against and margin-alised. We have been condemned as a people without a history, having no heritage, no land mass of our own, no own language, no culture and no heroes and no identity. As a result our communities are caught up in violence and destructive behaviour.

Our families are dysfunctional and our communities are gang ridden.

The majority of people in jail today are Khoisan yet we are a minority in the South African population.

The self hatred that we inflict ourselves with, make the Cape Flats one of the most violent and dangerous places on earth to live in. We lack a sense of who we really are. Our children are in danger of becoming a “zombied” drug generation because we lack self identification.

We need to reclaim our heritage and culture and our status as First Nation.

We are extending an invitation to our community to join us at Jou Ma Se Kombuis Coffee Shop, situated in the Beulah Outreach Centre, Manenberg Avenue, Manenberg, on Saturday May 21 and Saturday May 28, at 1pm, to attend a symposium on identity called: “Khoisan, nie kleurling”.

The aim of the gathering is to showcase Khoisan talent and to learn from expert panellists about Khoisan history, culture and identity. Entry is free and food and beverage will be on sale in aid of a youth project. Seating is limited. Contact Patrick at 078 3414 864 by Thursday May 19, to book.