Letters to the editor: July 7 to 13 2017

Khoe story shifts over time

Andy Mason’s facts are correct: there was no “Merrie Africa”. In turn, let me respond that his main example is limited to San hunter-gatherers, not Khoe pastoralists. Also, his example is of San enserfed by several Tswana chiefdoms in today’s Botswana. My letter was mostly concerned to rebut a previous letter that denounced specifically the Nguni for this.

The historical evidence of specifically Nguni incorporating Khoe “not as equals but as clients with a defined lower status” is limited chronologically and spatially to that century in which unusually large numbers of Khoe were being evicted from their former pastures by trekboer invasion and seeking immigration to Xhosa chiefs.

There is no evidence that the significant minority of Xhosa clans listed by Jeffrey Peires in House of Phalo, whose ancestry was entirely Khoe, were demoted to client status. This assimilation happened in previous centuries, before trekboer shooting of wild animals and seizure of Khoe pastures changed the dynamics of interaction between black Africans and Khoe.

Historians also need to be alert to other instances where San-black conflict only flared up after white colonial governments deported a black African chiefdom on to lower Drakensberg land formerly ranged by San. – Keith Gottschalk, Cape Town

■ The extermination of the Khoisan in the Western Cape can be described in no other way than a genocide: they were hunted down over a period of more than 100 years, with permits issued as if for animals, by Dutch East India Company commandos and early colonists.


It is important to raise this uncomfortable issue from our past and to invite discussion, so that this can be analysed and put on the agenda of our national discussions and debate.

The Khoisan nation was not successfully exterminated; indeed, there are almost 40-million South Africans with more than 20% Khoisan DNA, and almost 10-million with more than 75% Khoisan DNA, out of our 55-million citizens. There are 12 Khoisan groups over areas from the Northern Cape to Cape Town and Fort Beaufort; each has a chief and there is a national leadership.

Cape Town’s pre-colonial Khoisan name is Hoerikwagga, and the Camissa River was the river from which the first European sailors and traders drank in the 1500s and 1600s.

My information is that the Khoisan were treated as equals in the Eastern Cape, and that they intermarried with Xhosa and AmaPondo clans, and contributed both genetically and linguistically to South Africa.

In the Western Cape, they were pushed off their lands. Many were shot and the Khoisan mostly became a broken nation subjugated to colonists as labourers and translators.

This history is horrific but needs to be put on the agenda of colonial wrongs. Restitution was forgotten in 1994. South Africa owes much to this First Nation, and they deserve a much broader discussion and recognition.

The Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill seeks to tie them into a sort of apartheid-like role, which is unhealthy and inappropriate for the great nation they are. – Michael Pickstone-Taylor, Franschhoek


Police minister must act on BLF

The condemnation of President Jacob Zuma’s new “political pitbulls”, Black First Land First (BLF), who intimidated Tiso Blackstar editor-at-large Peter Bruce and threatened other journalists, is not good enough. The reasons for this primitive behaviour have to be uncovered. It will take more than condemnation to stop them. Police Minister Fikile Mbalula must act now.

We must speak to the moral conscience of the ANC, particularly Ayanda Dlodlo, Jackson Mthembu, Zizi Kodwa and Humphrey Maxhegwana, to ask Zuma to distance himself from BLF.

Outstanding journalists associated themselves with the ANC – Alex La Guma, Brian Bunting, Ruth First, Marion Sparg, Nat Serache, Thami Mkhwanazi, Thenjiwe Mtintso, Zwelakhe Sisulu, Mtholephi Mthimkhulu, Joe Gqabi and many more. Liberation history is filled with journalists such as Donald Woods, Aggrey Klaaste, Gabu Tugwana, Percy Qoboza, Thami Mazwai, Subri Govender, Phil Mthimkhulu and Ameen Akhalwaya – a long list.

Ideological differences are one thing, but what these political pitbulls are doing means we are back in the days of Jimmy Kruger and Black September. In The People’s War, Charles Nqakula is detailed on how the BJ Vorster and PW Botha regimes suppressed the media.

To BLF, truths exposed in the Gupta emails are lies created by “white monopoly capital”. I remember Andile Mngxitama as a Black Consciousness ideologue. Since leaving the Economic Freedom Fighters, he has become a stooge of the Guptas and Zuma. He must tell us how thieves can advance a left agenda.

The ANC Youth League created context for such hooliganism. When former finance minister Pravin Gordhan began speaking about corruption at the memorial service of Ahmed Kathrada, hired youth league hooligans disrupted the service. As the custodian of the ANC Code of Conduct, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has done nothing to charge these hooligans.

May Suna Venter rest in peace. – Siyanda Mhlongo, KwaDukuza

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