The strategic direction of the Board is to make our society No Place for Hate, so when it received a request for a meeting from Chief Autshumao Francisco Mackenzie, chair of the Western Cape Legislative KhoiSan Council and headman Joe Damons, to establish closer relations, it was happy to accede.
As Rael Kaimowitz said, with our own history of persecution, we can identify with other targets of discrimination and hatred and try to stand up for them.
The meeting was much appreciated and the Board received a letter afterwards from the Chief stating that they felt honoured to share their struggle for survival with it knowing that, as a people, we could identify with the hardship and brutality they had endured and the on-going challenges they were experiencing.
The Human Rights Council has recently released a report acknowledging that the KhoiSan form a distinct group that has suffered multiple forms of discrimination and marginalisation. The Government has been given until 31 March 2019 to recognise the rights of the Khoi and San communities, to remove their apartheid classification as ‘Coloured’ and fast-track land redistribution for them.
Chief Autshumao, a former UWC librarian, explained that, although the KhoiSan are the original inhabitants of the Western Cape, their rights had not been recognised as a specific group in the SA Constitution and they have been excluded in many areas, including land and economic opportunities. Although they are the first people, the term ‘African’ is not applied to them, but to black people who arrived in South Africa much later. Their identity as the indigenous inhabitants deserving recognition was not acknowledged by the apartheid government which classified them as ‘Coloured’, and that false classification has remained.
Both the Jews and the KhoiSan were survivors of persecution. In the 18th Century settlers even applied for permits to hunt them.
“We are supposed to be extinct, but here we are. We are just seeking a place in the sun and to be acknowledged in law. We need to make space for each other. A Toa tama !Khams ge — the fight for the aborigines’ survival continues. As they are not an identified group, the KhoiSan community receives no funding from the government. Jobs are accorded according to national demographics. They have no office, no laptops, no website, none of the resources they need to state their case.
The Board is currently investigating various ways in which we can assist their community build capacity.