May day celebration of Khoisan community

Members of the Khoisan Kingdom gathered at the stone church in Constantia on Monday May 1 for a traditional ceremony to introduce new members to the community and to get their approval.

High Commissioner of the Khoisan Kingdom, Colin Hobanie opened the ceremony inside the church by reading from Mark 10 verses 42 to 44.

He then described what goes into good leadership in the modern democratic era and what is expected of the three new traditional leaders, Commissioner Gary Mars; Chief of Wynberg Magistrate’s District, Johannes Maarman; Chief of Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s District, Godfrey Smith; and one Logistical Officer, Bradley Rozier who will work in the cultural field. Mr Hobanie, Paramount Chief Clive Samuels and Commissioner Sameul Frans serve on the National King’s Council of the Khoisan Kingdom.

Mr Hobanie says since the early 1990s, activists have been trying to lobby the government to recognise Khoisan communities, their leaders and the claim of the Khoisan people to their undisputed, internationally recognised indigenous status.

He says Nelson Mandela instituted the National Khoisan Council during his presidency, and since then activists and leaders have been working with Khoisan and coloured communities.

“The government has failed to recognise us as a cultural nation. The national house of traditional leaders only recognised Nguni nation tribes,” he says.

“However, the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill, the statutory recognition of Khoisan communities and leaders, should go through at the next sitting of Parliament. Many institutions and individuals, including UCT, have provided input. The issue of indigenous status will need to be tested at the Constitutional Court. Already, we have been granted access by the Constitutional Court to argue our case against an inclusion in the draft bill which specifically denies our claim to indigenous status,” says Mr Hobanie. He adds that the term Khoisan generally refers to the two groupings, Khoikhoi and San. They have similar languages, cultural values and genetic ancestry. Under apartheid, the Khoisan were forced into the racial category of coloured, which resulted in a loss of identity as an indigenous community.

The five Khoisan bloodline groups Boesman, Nama, Korana, Griqua and the Cape Khoi signed the Ritz Treaty on August 10, 2015, to take the initiative in regulating their own affairs. The treaty seeks to regulate leaders and form common agreements on leadership titles and structures. The inaugural chairman is Kaptein Witbooi of the Nama. The treaty states that the Khoisan movement will make a combined land claim. “Coloured people are, in large numbers, saying that their Khoisan identity has been hidden from them and they want to be called by their true identity,” says Mr Hobanie.

He adds that the Khoisan Kingdom describes itself as a non-racist, non-sexist and apolitical organisation striving to alleviate poverty and to help and protect the Khoisan people.

Mr Hobanie also spoke of the placing of stones around the country to commemorate Khoisan forefathers and important events. Constantia was the first of seven areas to have received a stone. Others have been placed in areas including Beaufort West, Mossel Bay, Swellendam, Kimberley and Bloemfontein.

On the stone, it says: ”This land is known as Constantia (Konstan) Ikee/Xarra/Ike.