Traditional dress a tribute to our past

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THE endeavour to find and repatriate Khoisan chief David Stuurman’s remains to South Africa is gaining momentum and all praise to The Herald for your article on March 14 (“Plan to bring chief’s body home picks up”). The article with the befitting photo of me in my Khoisan attire filled me with pride, knowing my heritage and where I come from.

The same photo and my recent “hairstyle” were also the cause of many SMSes, phone calls and even offers of gym time.

I looked at the photo with a nostalgic smile as I am intimately reminded of our ancestors, their way of life and the clothing they used to wear. This further reminded me of the humiliation they had to suffer at the hands of the oppressors and the colonialists of the time, so much so that our beloved Saartjie Baartman was sold to the French, only to be humiliated and embarrassed by being forced to perform naked in public shows, for the entertainment and pleasure of the “superior folk”, mocking her physique and publicly exposing it for all to see.

That thought in itself made me write this letter to ask The Herald that if there are more of such photos of me, to use them.

This should always remind me and others how our people were degraded for their body physique and mocked as monkeys. It makes me realise that the possible ridicule and mocking that I am experiencing is only but a drop in the ocean compared to what our great leaders like Stuurman, Baartman and others had to suffer.

I salute my compatriots who, despite the ridicule, the ignorance of the ignorant and the mocking of the mocker, have decided to join me in this quest to bring back the remains of Stuurman to the shores of South Africa.

Never will I feel embarrassed or ashamed and if need be, I’ll parade the whole of Stanford Road in full Khoisan attire for the sake and the cause of Stuurman. He fought for the freedom I enjoy today while Baartman was paraded at circuses, museums, bars and universities. At times, she was displayed in a cage and forced to behave like “a wild beast”.

I therefore call on all Khoi descendants from chief executives, vice-chancellors, editors, professionals, students, politicians and the like as well as the normal person on the street who wants to make a difference solemnly to celebrate the return of the one who was their father. We as heirs to this heritage should with pride join in and make this feat possible, even if it means that we are mocked or have to suffer any immature ridicule.

ANC MPL Christian Martin, Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Bhisho

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