Poet pays tribute to Sarah Baartman

Poet and activist Dr Diana Ferrus recited some of her work during a weekend poetry reading at Groot Constantia.

Poet and activist Dr Diane Ferrus recited some of her work at Groot Constantia, at the weekend.

Dr Ferrus’s 1998 poem, I’ve come to take you home, about Sarah Baartman, holds much political and cultural significance. It is believed to have been a catalyst in the return of Baartman‘s remains to South Africa nearly 200 years after the Khoi woman was taken from her home under false pretences to be displayed as a freak-show attraction in 19th century Europe.

“An Hour with Dr Dianne Ferrus” was hosted by the Koena Art Institute in partnership with Groot Constantia Iziko Learning Centre.

Visitors to the centre also had a chance to see the institute’s standing art exhibition, Dans Laat Die Stof Staan, a celebration of the rieldans, a dance rooted in San and Khoi traditions.

“It was an honour to bring such a beautiful and significant author to the Groot Constantia space,” said, Khoena director Lukretia Booysen.

“Ferrus’s poem and the story of Sarah Baartman is not only about remembrance, but we hope that after so many years, Baartman knows that her life is being honoured in the most beautiful way, which brings some dignity to the tragic circumstances she endured.”

According to South African History Online, Dr Ferrus’s poem had such an impact that it was published in the French law that allowed for Baartman’s remains to be repatriated.

Dans Laat Die Stof Staan is open at the centre from 10am to 5pm until the end of the month.

The Iziko Education Department and Koena Art Institute are presenting Dans Laat die Stof Staan. Pictured is artist Dieuwke-Jean Linee, of Kraaifontein, with her oil and pastel painting.
Some of the artwork on display as part of the Dans Laat die Stof Staan exhibition.
Dr Diana Ferrus, seated, with exhibition curator and founder of the Koena Art Institute, Lukretia Booysen.
Former anti-apartheid activist Horst Kleinschmidt, of St James, with poet and activist Dr Diana Ferrus, of Kuils River.