Man on mission to make the Khoisan language official

He will walk from PE to Pretoria to present President Zuma with a petition

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Photo of Chief Khoisan Africa
Chief Khoisan Africa marched through the streets of Port Elizabeth to highlight the Khoisan heritage. Photo: Joseph Chirume

A descendant of the Khoisan people surprised residents of Port Elizabeth when he walked across town almost naked in recognition of his culture. He said he was highlighting the importance of the Khoisan language and was on a lone mission to push for its recognition.

Chief Khoisan Africa, a 47-year-old resident of Bloemendal, draped himself in animal skin. He clasped in one hand a traditional walking stick while the other was carrying a bag stashed with bows and arrows.

He explained the purpose of his mission: “I would like to appeal to the government, including the ordinary citizens that Khoisan people are the original owners of South Africa. The Khoisan people have a language called the Khoe-khoe. People should know this. We have been lobbying this for many years with the successive governments but to no avail. Remember that when Jan van Riebeek and other foreigners arrived in South Africa he was met by none other than the Bushmen and the Khoisan people. The other races came afterwards. I have decided to take it on my own to move on the streets and tell people that the Khoisan people are still alive.We have a proud culture to protect and we want all the citizens to understand this.”

Africa, who has three children, said he is unemployed but depends on the goodwill of the people he teaches the Khoisan language and culture.

“I am also walking to promote the total unity of all South African races. The most important being the scrapping of the coloured identity. There is nothing called coloured race. We are all Africans and we share the same origin. We all come from the Bushmen. This is Heritage month so the government should promote unity of all cultures in our country. The khoe-khoe language is spoken by more than 20,000 descendants of the Khoisan people across Southern Africa, including parts of Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Yet it is not recognized as an official language.” he said.

Africa said he is one of the few descendants of the Khoisan with the rare traditional skill of being able to make fire by squeezing sticks.

On 2 October he intends to walk from Port Elizabeth to Pretoria to present a petition on 20 October to president Jacob Zuma. He wants the president to make the Khoisan language an official one. He also said he would like the president to restore the rights and dignity of the Khoisan people, including educating the children of northern Port Elizabeth about their origins so as to eradicate gangsterism and drug abuse.

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TOPICS:  Arts and culture

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