Indigenous First Nation Advocacy Khoe-San Land Summit Statement
7th May 2018
The Khoe and San Land Summit founding Statement: “Racial Categorization perpetuates racism! We reject the so called “Black” notion because it’s a colonial imposed label, racially motivated and devoid of any academic or intellectual substance. The Land called South Africa historically was occupied by the San and the Khoe before any other group. The Land must be returned symbolically first to the Khoe and San and than a negotiated settlement is justified.”
Indigenous First Nation Advocacy South Africa (IFNASA), who organized the recent Khoe and San Land Summit carefully observe the continuous contradictions and conflicts in South African since democracy, which is beginning to find curious and concerning expressions amongst ordinary citizens as demonstrated by the communities of Mitchells Plain and Siqala in Cape Town. So, allow us to take this opportunity to remember the young life which was lost during the regrettable altercation, the struggle for our freedom will always remember the 19 year old Muhammad Tariq Mohamed and all those hurt in the process on both sides. It’s equally a tragic moment in the history of our country as we have learned of the brutal slaying of Pappa Aubrey Jackson and Mamma Rosalie Bloch, parents of Graeme Bloch and in laws of struggle veteran Cheryl Carolus. We remember all the lives lost at the brutal hand of an uncaring callous political system especially the lives on the Cape Flats.
The relative smooth transition in South Africa, from apartheid to a supposed legitimate social equality state continue to reveal fractures, notwithstanding, racism persist to be salient in the social justice and political make-up of South Africans, while we experience both intended and instinctive racial oppression. Besides the internal confusion and conflict we as a people experience amongst ourselves as it pertains to our apartheid classification, the new society has made our journey into democracy unbearable in every way possible. The continuous Coloured people’s marginality and our uniqueness is reflected in the South African historiography, yet the government continues to parade us under a false identity. History has generous accounts of our people’s origin and the subsequent inflicted mutation from the first homosapien (wise man) to savages. Very little has been written by ourselves concerning our history as a social group and much of what has been written either reproduces the simplistic formulations of popular racist conceptions of the Coloured identity or focuses narrowly on Coloured remonstration (disputes) politics and rarely correctly cover the social injustices suffered by our community. The existing literature largely disregards crucial questions relating to the “Genocide” “Original Cultural Sin” and “Character” of Coloured identity, including the social and political dynamic that inform Coloured distinctiveness.
By assuming Colouredness to be either an in-bred quality that is the automatic product of miscegenation (mixture) or an artificial identity imposed by the white supremacist establishment on weak and vulnerable people as part of a divide-and-rule strategy, this diverse historiography has denied people called Coloured a significant role in the making of their own “Identity” and “Land Ownership” in the country of our ancestors.
It is essential that we emphasize that the state continue to perpetuate past evils and it has become seemingly incapable as a democratic developmental institution, which is supposed to advance strategic orientation of the populace, now instead perpetuate institutional racism through racial categorization and ring fence a system that places the needs of the poor and social safety in the hands of some unscrupulous capitalist agenda.
Land and Identity the – Makeover
Colleagues, we want you to appreciate the focus on identity and land and why we spend considerable time taking you through some details. The Land Summit participants recognized the conflict between our imposed identity called “Coloured” and our authentic identity of which the majority of Coloureds are originating from, the San and Khoe and we will give greater interpretation as the brief unfolds. We realized that Land, Identity and Language are intricately linked. The summit noted the important development that took place on 20th March 2018, when the South African Human Rights Commission released an historic and groundbreaking report on the human rights violations against the Khoe and San community in South Africa, who are incessantly labeled Coloured.
It is unfortunate that very little analysis were done on the SAHRC report and we know that some in the corridors of power is hoping that the report will just magically evaporate, well, it’s not going to disappear until the government deals with the content. The SAHRC report reads: “The Commission has developed directives and recommendations in line with its mandate to promote the protection, development and attainment of human rights for the Khoi-San in South Africa, and in this way, aims to contribute to the transformation of society and the attainment of social cohesion and reconciliation. In considering the directives and recommendations set out, organs of State must recall the obligations set out in Section 181(3) of the Constitution to support and cooperate with the Commission. On this basis, the Commission strongly encourages that the recommendations be taken seriously and calls for the on-going commitment by all Parties, but also stresses the importance of co-operative governance and inter-sectoral collaboration in addressing the complex and interlinking challenges of the Khoi-San.”
We will now mention just two of the over 50 recommendations and directives:
Under the heading, Identity and recognition number (7.1.1) mention: “The State, through the Presidency and DAC (Department of Arts and Culture), must take steps on or before 31 March 2019 towards removal of the forceful categorisation of Khoi and San peoples as “Coloured”. Secondly in (7.1.2) is mentions that: “CoGTA, through the Minister, must ensure before 18 months of issuing of this report that official recognition of indigenous communities, through legislative and administrative processes, are equitable to the recognition of other traditional communities, and must not place an undue burden on Khoi and San communities desiring to receive official recognition from the State. In this regard, it is noted that “equitable” does not require the same treatment, but in noting the distinct context of the Khoi-San from other traditional communities, the department is required to meaningfully engage with the Khoi-San with a view of developing reasonable and practical procedures.”
The reason why we’re quoting from the SAHRC report is because it speaks directly to the heart of our ancestral land dispossession. The dispossession was meticulously executed and with military precision. What the colonizers and those captains of apartheid did was to successfully impose a new culture on our ancestors to the extent that we have lost the land and identity in the process.
Various accounts clearly show historical analysis of the Natives Land Act of 1913 which suggest long-term processes of colonization and dispossession, or colonial conquest. Some scholars see the starting point from the seventeenth century when the Khoe and San became the first group of African people to suffer colonization and dispossession from European permanent settlement and expansion of Europeans into their territory. After the incorporation of the Cape into the British Empire, further expansion of colonial boundaries extended colonial conquest of the Xhosa chiefdoms through the Eastern Frontier Wars for the better part of the first half of the nineteenth century. Colonial conquest then gathered pace from the second half of the nineteenth century especially from the 1860s and 1880s and brought much of southern Africa within the colonial restrictions. The major events here were the “mineral revolution” and the broader “scramble for Africa.” Through these phases of colonial conquests, various groups of African peoples (like Bantus and Nguni’s) in southern Africa were formally dispossessed of the land they settled on. The summit recognizes all the other African groups who settled in South Africa before the European settlers came to dispossess the land from the natives.
In the conquest of the Khoe and San, the result was the complete undermining of pre-existing political economies, customary law and the incorporation in to a subservient position (as labourers) in colonial society. The result was that our autonomous San societies and Khoikhoi chiefdoms ended. In some instances, however, groups of survivors moved further inland where they reconstituted themselves into varying formations including chiefdoms. The expansion into the “eastern frontier,” similarly in the disruption of pre-existing political economies, but some chiefdom remained in place though in a subservient political position.
Some of the Land Summit Resolutions follows:
- The Coat of Arms bears testimony as to who occupied South Africa from the beginning of time. Why does the state continue to deny us our ancestral land and identity?
- That the Khoe and San are the First Nation People of South Africa.
- Government should establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to deal with all related issues of Identity Theft, Land Dispossession, Language and related issues of genocide and trauma suffered by us and other African people of South Africa.
- The Khoe and San with government should enhance and accelerate inter-ethnic dialogue to close the gap between the Indigenous Africans.
- Renegotiate transformational economic instruments like BBBEE, EE and AA amongst others because it generally excludes our people from empowerment opportunities.
- We as a community should create social cohesion ambassadors.
- The constitution’s notorious section 25 subsection (7) has unjustly ruled and prejudice against the Indigenous First Nation People’s dignity as espoused in the preamble of the constitution and access to land rights. This piece of law is unsound and based on colonial conquest philosophy (Native Land Act No 30 of 1913). Section 25 subsection (8) petition the state to make exceptions when it highlight that: No provision of this section may impede the state from taking legislative and other measures to achieve land, water and related reform, in order to redress the results of past racial discrimination, provided that any departure from the provisions of this section is in accordance with the provisions of section 36 (1). We note that the government did make provision for such exceptions, however we reject it because there was no consultation when the constitution was drafted and as advocated for by international law.
The Indigenous First Nation People identity mutation and land dispossession, now protected by the constitution of South Africa has seen the struggle icons profoundly mute and our existence omitted, misplaced and miscarriage while the progressive voices are conspicuously tacit at a time when the land conversation as it pertains to our community has been energetic. The summit noted that the dialogue has been dominated by questionable voices. We acknowledge that in November 2004, Cabinet adopted a memorandum that would lead to an official policy on recognizing our “vulnerable indigenous communities”. The Traditional and KhoiSan Leadership Bill (2015) was supposed to gives effect to this decision, notwithstanding, the Bill is hopelessly inadequate and cannot meaningfully affirm our status as First Nation People of South Africa. The summit resolve is that the constitution is to be amended firstly to affirm the Khoe and San as First Nation People and that section 25 be removed because subsection 7 excludes the Khoe and San claim to land before 1913. We call on government to establish a Special Land Tribunal because the Indigenous First Nation People was deliberately sidelined at the pre-democracy settlement negotiations.
We call on the African National Congress to return to their historical memorable struggle credentials and meet the Khoe and San Leaders at the Round Table.
We thank you
/The End…. Issued by: Indigenous First Nation Advocacy South Africa (IFNASA) www.ifnasa.co.za