CLAIMING OUR HERITAGE

Motsoko Pheko

What is heritage? Is there any particular thing we need to have in order to claim our heritage effectively and beneficially? My point of view is that in order to claim our heritage we must have knowledge in all sphere of life. In other words we must hunger for epistemology. Epistemology has been described as the process and grounds of knowledge or science of knowledge.

It is therefore quite a challenge to claim our heritage as Africans, especially when we look at the visitation of Africa and Africa’s people by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, colonisation of Africa and the barbarism of racism. These barbaric acts had a dehumanising effect on Africa and her people.

Claiming Our Heritage is therefore very broad covering many spheres of life, one of which is knowledge. Today I can only tease this subject. I will therefore, give only an introduction before we can move fruitfully on our road of claiming our heritage. Elementarily therefore, I will deal with examples here in South Africa.

Claiming Our Heritage is a subject for many lectures and books. It affects us now. But it will affect our children even more in generations to come if we do not deal with it effectively, factually and truthfully now. Let me give my humble contribution to it.

The Khoisan And Other Africans In Azania (South Africa)

From the early days of Jan van Reebieck in 1652, all Africans made it clear that this country belongs to them. It is theirs. When Jan van Reebieck asked why the Khoi people were fighting the European colonial settlers;

a Khoi Ruler replied that the Khoi people saw colonial settlers taking the best lands and grazing their cattle where the Khoi were accustomed to grazing their own cattle; and in a manner that indicated the colonial settlers did not intend to leave the African country. It seemed they wanted to take permanent possession of the African land for themselves.

When Jan van Reebieck foolishly replied that there was not enough grazing land for both the settlers and the Khoi Africans, the Khoi Ruler retorted, “Jan van Reebieck, who should by right give way, the rightful owner or the foreign invader?”

The Khoi Africans were ultimately robbed of their land by European colonial invaders. The national sovereignty of the Khoi was usurped. The pain of this usurpation and land robbery was expressed on the occasion of the death of their Ruler, Adam Kok III on 30th December 1875. In a moving oration, Eta, a cousin of King Adam Kok III lamented this death prophetically.

“We have laid down in the grave a man you all knew and loved. He is the last of our race,” he said. “Do you realise that your nationality is buried there? There, lie the remains of a Khoi King. After him there will be no Khoi King.He is one Khoi King who never lifted arms nor fired a bullet against a British soldier, though many times provoked beyond human endurance.”

Hendrik Witbooi was a king of the section of the Khoi people owning land/country in parts of Azania and Namibia [before these countries were colonially named South Africa and South West Africa respectively]. He is on record as telling Major Curt van Francis of a German army that “Africa belongs to us, both through the hue of our skin and our way of life, we belong together….The fact that we possess a variety of LANDS [countries] and a variety of kingships does not mean any secondary division and does not server our solidarity. The Emperor of Germany has no business in Africa.”

Marriage Between Khoisan Africans And Other Africans

Colonial historians have spread falsehoods that there was deep-seated hatred between the Khoisan Africans and other Africans. This is indeed a colonial fabrication to justify land dispossession of the African people and colonial theft of African countries and their rich natural resources.

True history reveals that there was not only harmony between the Khoisan Africans and other Africans. This is not true. There was in fact much intermarriage among them. For example, King Moshoeshoe I of the Basotho Africans married two San women. Their names were Rosaleng also known by her San name as Qea. The other San wife of King Moshoeshoe was called Motseola known also by her San name Seqha.

The mother of one of the kings of Batswana and Batlaping was a Khoi woman. In 1450 a Mofokeng King had a San woman as his senior wife.

Intermarriage between Xhosa-speaking Africans and Khoi Africans was so common that Amangqwashu, Amangqunukhwebe, AmaciRa and Amasukwini Africans have been described by some historians as half-Xhosa and half-Khoi (Peter Dreyer author of Martyrs and Fanatics page 81). These Africans speak of the Khoi women as “Amalawukazi ampundu zibomvu” (The Khoi women who have fair red buttocks.”

Click sounds found in some African languages of Azania (South Africa) clearly demonstrate that Khoisan Africans and other Africans influenced one another. Let me give a few examples

Qhobosheane ……………Fotress Sesotho

Qina…………………………Be strong Xhosa and Zulu

Qgiba……………………….Finish Xhosa

Seqhobong……………….Hiding place Sesotho

Qoboqobo………………….Xhosa now colonially Keiskamhoek

Senqu……………………….Sesotho now colonially called Orange River

Cula………………………….Sing Xhosa

UkuXOXA………………….To converse Xhosa

Qoqolosi………………….. a kind of Sesotho fruit plant

Anyway, all the clicks such as “c,” “q,” “x,” “qh,” “gq” “xh,” “ch,” in the languages of the Khoisan Africans and other African languages shows long co-existence and harmony among them. It should never be forgotten that the Khoisan and Xhosa-speaking Africans fought the first war of national resistance against European invaders in 1510 together.

This was nearly 300 years before the West European Berlin Conference of 26 February 1885. At that barbaric inhuman conference the colonisers of the whole of Africa except for Ethiopia; heard their imperialist Chairman King Leopold of Belgium gladly emphasising: “We are here to see how we should divide among ourselves this magnificent cake.”[Africa]

False Theory Of “Empty” Land When Colonialists Arrived In Azania Is Rubbish

The false theory that Azania was “Empty Land” when colonialists invaded the countries of Khoisan and of other Africans must be exposed as colonial rubbish.

A British academic, Shula Marks has pointed out that the carbon dates that have been processed from the Early Iron Age stretching over central, eastern and southern Africa reveal that the first Iron Age African farmers were here in the first millennium and not as had been previously assumed, relatively late in the second.

Prof. Shula Marks has further stated that “The earliest dates we have for the Iron Age in South Africa (Azania) go back to 1200 years before the Portuguese rounded the southern tip of the Continent of Africa.”

This will be about 286 A.D. When it is noted that there were some Europeans who passed through this country earlier than Portuguese sailor Diaz in 1488, the date is much earlier.

Addressing a symposium in 1973 on ancient mining in Azania (South Africa) Prof. Revil Mason head of archaeology department of Witwatersrand University stated that “the early Iron Age Africans entered Transvaal [Northern Azania] between 27 B.C. and 473 A.D.”

In 1930 reports of excavations at Mapungubwe in the Limpopo area revealed skeletal remains of what was called “ancient Azanians.” They were also described as “Kushites.” (See also Old Africa Rediscovered page 95, The Lord Cities Of Africa pages 155-156 by Basil Davidson; Apartheid: The Story Of A Dispossessed People published by Marram Books London 1984 with a foreword by Professor of History at Harvard University, C.L.R. James)

The Khoisan Africans Were Exterminated By Colonial Settlers

Heinous atrocities against the Khoi and San Africans were to the degree that they were exterminated. It was as Eta the cousin of King Adam III of the Khoisan had foreseen, as I have indicated earlier in this discourse. There are few Khoi Africans in South Africa, and hardly any San people. The San had to flee to Namibia, Botswana and Angola to survive their colonial extermination from the colonial settlers.

Erick A. Walker in his book A History Of Southern Africa page 118; has written that a war broke out between the San Africans and the Dutch settlers, after much of their land by these settlers was taken from the San. The settlers had taken large tract of their hunting land and farming.

As a result of this war, the settler leadership ordered that “every Bushman (San), Hottentot (Khoi) or Bastaad robber of any sex or age be delivered alive at Robben Island, there to serve the Dutch Company in chains….The Graaf Reinet turned out too late, but Jan van der Walt of the Koude Bokkeveld and Jonker Afrikaner….did yeoman service killing over six hundred Bushmen and taking a few alive. As a reward for all this, Van der Walt was given two farms on the Nieuwveld.”

It is estimated that the population of the Khoi people when the colonisers arrived in the Western Cape was over a quarter of a million. Their extermination was not only with colonial guns. Leprosy diseases introduced from passing European ships decimated the Khoi people. They had no clue how to treat this foreign disease. They died in great numbers.

As Peter Dreyer, author of Martyrs And Fanatics….puts it, “The Khoi were reduced to a landless proletariat – Labourers or vagrants on the land of their ancestors.”

The colonial settlers having now subjugated the Khoi Africans and dispossessed them of their land employed them as labourers on their land robbed from them. They paid them with food, clothing and alcohol. The liquor is said to have been “ hot ten tots” a month – hence the new colonial name “Hottentots” for the Khoi people.

***NOTE: The Khoi people are called Bakhothu in Sesotho.The San people are called Barwa in Sesotho. The Xhosa-speaking Africans call them Abathwa. In anthropology the Khoi are classed as one family divided into Khoi and San. But together they are called Khoisan. Much more can be said.

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