Khoisan get wings for a day



The Port Elizabeth International Airport got a temporary name change as members of the Khoi and San community held up a sign welcoming guests to the David Stuurman Airport.
At times, the group of about 20 broke into song, entertaining guests who were greeted with “welcome, welkom, wamkelelekile, tawedes to David Stuurman Airport”, which was composed on the spot.
The group had gathered on Monday to welcome home Chief Wallace Williams and Chief Yolene Basson from a 10 day expedition in China for the 2018 China-Africa Seminar on Intangible Cultural Heritage Conservation & Inheritance at the Yunnan University.
The initiative sought to promote lasting co-operation and friendship between the two countries through cultural exchange and dialogue.
Five SA delegates were selected to attend but only two made it as the other three were injured in a car crash shortly before they were due to depart.
During their stay, Basson and Williams went on field trips and visited museums where they were exposed to 28 different ethnic groups.
They tasted indigenous food and experienced cultural practices and rituals.
Basson said dialogues and discussions on mechanisms to preserve heritage were held.
“The Chinese government really invests in their intangible heritage,” she said.
“I think the government should protect and safeguard the intangible culture of the Khoi and San because we are the forgotten people in South Africa.
“You hear about other cultures but the Khoi and San remain in the background.”
Basson called for more investment in developing cultural collectives such as dance groups, and encouraging poetry and storytelling in the Khoi language.
“Language is culture; if you take away someone’s languages, then you have killed their culture.
“Storytelling is another way we can learn about each other’s cultures,” she said.
Basson said she would like to see meeting places with different studios created where ethnic groups such as Zulu, Xhosa and Khoi could interact.
Williams said he noted that ethnic groups were more respected in China, and he hoped SA could do the same.
“There is a lot of investment into all the ethnic groups and it was refreshing to see the government is behind its people.
“Besides statues and monuments, books would be a great way to preserve the culture but interacting with the youth and getting them involved would be a good solution,” he said.
The pair plan to approach the metro for a budget to implement some of the matters they had learnt about.
ANC MPL Christian Martin thanked the Chinese government for giving his community the opportunity, saying they always looked to other countries for suggestions of best practices for cultural representation.
Explaining the Welcome to David Stuurman Airport sign, Martin said they planned to submit Chief David Stuurman’s name for the airport when name change dialogues take place later in November.
Stuurman was a political activist detained in the 1800s who became an icon and pivotal part of Khoisan history.

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