Address by President Zuma commemorating Griqua and Khoi-San


7 August 2011 

 

Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation,

Mr Marius Fransman;

The Mayor of Eden Municipality, Mr Van der Westhuizen;

The Mayor of Beaufort West,

Mr Truman Prince;

Descendants of Chief Adam Kok I,

Members of the Griqua Royal House,

Fellow South Africans,

Good day to you all!

 

I thank the organisers for inviting us to be part of this joyous celebration in commemoration of the great contribution by the Griqua Community to the rich South African history. 

 

Generations of South Africans from all walks of life and persuasions, including from different ethnic, religious and cultural origins, came together to fight against colonial oppression and apartheid.

 

They did so in a spirit of unity to bring about freedom, democracy the rule of law as well as human dignity and equality. They did so as well in anticipation of a better life for all.

This struggle against colonialism produced many heroes of our people.

 

Chief Adam Kok the first, the leader founder of the Griqua community is one such outstanding hero of the wars of resistance against white settlers and colonialism.

 

We are therefore delighted to be part of the momentous celebration of 300th year anniversary of Chief Adam Kok, one of the greatest warriors ever produced by our country. All generations need to know about him and be inspired by his life and times.
 

We join the Griqua Royal House in celebrating this freedom fighter, who founded and led the Griqua nation in 1720.

 

A former slave and cook for colonial governors of that era, Adam Kok decided that he was not going to fold his arms and allow people to take his land and oppress his people.

 

It is impressive that up until today, despite the difficult and trying times, the life and history of the distinctive Khoi-San descendants and of the Khoi-San people and languages are still preserved.

 

Today we pay tribute to all the indigenous Khoi-San communities for their heroism in defence of this country against colonial settlers and invaders under difficult conditions.

 

We celebrate other heroes of that era. We recall that in 1659, Chief Autshumayo, leader of the KhoiKhoi people led the first battles against the seizure of the best pasture lands in the Cape Peninsula, by the colonial settler Jan Van Riebeeck.

 

At the end of the war between the Dutch and the Khoi Khoi people in 1659, Autshumayo was captured and banished to Robben Island.

 

He is the only prisoner to have successfully escaped from Robben Island.

 

We also remember the heroes of other heroic wars of resistance against colonialism, such as one in 1662 and another in 1673 under the leadership of Chief Gonnema.

 

Wars of resistance were being fought in other parts of the country as well by other communities. As a result, Autshumayo was followed on Robben Island by a long line of patriots and heroes of the anti-colonial wars.
 

These included Makana, the commander of the Xhosa army in the fourth Xhosa war of resistance, Maqoma, commander in the fifth Xhosa war of resistance in 1834 and Langalibalele, the Hlubi Chief sentenced for ‘high treason’ by a special court in Natal in 1873.

 

The South African nation is not short of heroes at all, and they span many generations!

We just need to work meticulously at recording our rich history so that generations to come will understand where we come from as a people. Such heroes must be symbols of unity amongst our people in every part of the country.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

We meet just two days before the 9th of August which marks two important events.

Firstly, the 9th of August is National Women’s Day, on which we celebrate the strides made by women in the political, social and economic life of the country, and also take stock of work that must still be done towards equality and true women’s emancipation.

 

On such days we think of women who have become symbols of the degradation and suffering of women, whose lives inspire us to work harder to ensure that no woman in South Africa goes through the same experiences. Ms Sarah Baartman is a case in point.
 

The humiliation and dehumanisation that she was subjected to by colonialists is a reminder of how far we have come, to reach a stage where we control our own destiny.

 

In her memory and that of many more women, we pledge as government that we will continue to work with all South Africans to continue promoting women’s rights as human rights.

The 9th of August also marks the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, which makes this event very timely.

 

South Africa remains conscious of the need to improve the economic, social and cultural situation of the indigenous people, with full respect for their distinctiveness and their own initiatives.

 

In compliance with international treaty obligations, the Government is in the process of finalizing its position with respect to the signing and ratification of the International Labor Organisation Convention 169 on traditional and indigenous peoples.

 

As it will be recalled, International Human Rights Law is based on the fundamental principles of non-discrimination. 

 

This principle ensures that there must be no discrimination among citizens of the same country in the full enjoyment of all human rights for the advancement of human dignity and equality. 
 

This event is therefore a reminder to us to work harder and faster, towards achieving the recognition of the Khoi-San identity and the protection of the rights of the Khoi-San people.

 

We know that the Khoi-San communities are unhappy that the process has taken longer than it should have.

 

Cabinet took a decision on 03 November 2004 giving mandate to relevant National Departments to work with the Khoi-San communities on a range of issues for the promotion and protection of the rights of the Khoi-san Communities.

 

These communities were identified through research as being the San, Nama, Korana, Griqua and the Cape Khoi, all resident mainly in the Northern Cape, Free State, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. We believe these communities are also resident in the Eastern Cape.

 

We have directed the Department of Traditional Affairs to ensure greater speed in working with the National Khoi-San Council, towards achieving the desired goals of recognition of the Khoi-San identity and communities.

 

The Department is currently processing the new National Traditional Affairs Bill. The Bill provides for the recognition of Khoi-San communities, leaders and councils.

It provides for representation in houses of traditional leaders and the participation of Khoi-San leaders in municipal councils.

 

The Bill also provides for the establishment of an Advisory Committee to investigate and make recommendations on the recognition of Khoi-San communities and leaders.
 

The Committee must consist of knowledgeable persons regarding the customary law and customs and the institutions of Khoi-San leadership.

 

An extensive consultation process will be undertaken on the Bill.

 

A three day workshop was held with the National Khoi-San Council last month where the provisions of the Bill that applies to the Khoi-San communities was discussed in detail. An extensive community consultation programme was developed.

 

Although these consultations will be open to all members of the community, the focus will be on the Khoi-San members of the community.

 

The consultations will consist of 29 sessions which will commence on the 20th of August 2011 and should be finalized on 16 September 2011.

 

Government plans to hold 11 sessions in the Northern Cape, two in the Free State, four in the Western Cape, seven in the Eastern Cape, two in KwaZulu-Natal, two in North West and one in Gauteng.

 

The intention is to introduce the Bill into Parliament towards the end of this year.

 

We urge your participation in the legislative process to enrich the Bill.

 

I wish to encourage the Griqua Royal House and the broader Khoi-San Communities to assist us in ensuring that this legislation does achieve the intended objectives.

Compatriots,

 

We reiterate that our current struggle is the one that aims at ensuring that all South Africans enjoy substantive equality without any discrimination of any kind.

 

It is for these reasons that our democratic Government decided, based on our constitutional provisions, to establish the following institutions;

 

  • The National Khoi-San Council;
  • The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities;
  • The Pan South African Language Board; and,
  • The National Heritage Council.

 

All these institutions were established with an all-important view of ensuring that our rich cultural heritage, which on many occasions was facing the danger of extinction, be properly resuscitated in cooperation with the affected communities.

 

We urge you to use these institutions to help the country preserve and celebrate the rich heritage of the Khoi-San people.

 

We thank you once again for inviting us to be part of this important occasion to celebrate the Khoi-San identity and heritage.

 

We look forward to working with you in the legislative process, and generally to promote the rights of the Khoi-San people.

 

We wish you well with the 300th anniversary celebrations.  I thank you.

Issued by the Presidency

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