Ricochet News

Khoi and San burn ID’s in bold demand for recognition

By Afikile Lugunya - Jul 18, 2018
Khoi and San burn ID’s in bold demand for recognition

A group of Khoi and San residents commemorated what would have been the late former President Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday by burning their Identity Documents on Wednesday at Port Elizabeth’s Donkin Hill.

They said that they no longer want to be classified as ‘coloured people’ anymore.

Despite South Africa attaining democracy in 1994, the Khoi-San say that they have no reason to celebrate as long as they are classified as coloureds while their language is not officially recognised.

There has been rising discontentment among various Khoi and San communities as they also feel they have been neglected by government despite history showing them as the first inhabitants of the land in Southern Africa.

Speaking to RNEWS, Chief Gaob Crawford Fraser said that “According to this government, we are still not born in this country because according to the Population Registration Act (Act No. 30 of 1950), a coloured person means a person, who is not a white person or a native - and a native means a person born in a particular place.”

He added; “The apartheid government classified us as people who were not born in South Africa and this government continues with the laws of the apartheid government and say that we are not born in South Africa.”

By burning their IDs, Chief Fraser said that they wanted to show the government that they mean business when they asked that they not be classified as ‘coloured’ as they are not coloured, but Africans.

When asked if they’d rather be called Khoi and San, Chief Fraser said: “We can’t be called Khoi and San because that is, who we are, the word Khoi means ‘human being’ so I can’t be called ‘human being’ because I am already a human being.

“We want to be called Africans for the sake of the population registration; we want to be referred to as the first indigenous people of Southern Africa.”

Chief Fraser added that they have been marginalised and discriminated against for long.

“I don’t want to live like that anymore and we want the government to understand that and if I don’t want to be discriminated against, I want to be respected and treated with dignity as a fellow citizen of this country because ‘coloured’ means you are not a fellow citizen of this country.”

They plan to visit government offices to inform officials that they must change the details on their system.

“On Thursday, we will go to Home Affairs to re-apply for new identity documents that do not label us coloured,” he said.

“If they refuse, then we are prepared to stage a sleep in at Home Affairs until they change the classification.”

Although there were a few Khoi and San, who came to join the protest, one of the organisers, Christian Martin, said that not everyone was in prison when Nelson Mandela was arrested.

“As I remember, it was not the whole of South Africa that was in prison before 1994, it was Mandela and a few others - so numbers are just numbers.

“We are representing all Khoi’s that could not make it here,” he described.

Meanwhile, the Chief of the Nama in Eastern Cape, Chief Vernon Hennings, said, “70% of the Xhosa language comes from our language and 50% of the Zulu language comes from our language, yet our language is not officially recognised.”

Janine Human added; “We are the oldest race in Africa, the first people in Africa and the world, but still we are fighting for recognition. It is time the government give us what we want because we are from this country, we didn’t come here by fate.”

 

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