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2010 Soccer World Cup on stolen land January 30, 2007

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, History, South Africa.
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According to Cyril Hromnik, the new 2010 FIFA Soccer World stadium to be built on Cape Town’s Green Point common will be located on “the first piece of land in future South Africa to be “legally” transferred, though without the consent of the original owners [he means to say “stolen”, OK!], to the new Dutch keepers.”

In a very interesting article in the Sunday Argus a couple of weekends ago, Hromnik describes how the flat seaside area of Mouille Point and Green Point, the proposed site for the new 68 000-seater stadium which is slated to host one of the World Cup semi-finals, was the location of a village of some of the Cape’s first inhabitants.

Hromnik is a very controversial character on the South African history and archaeology scene because of his contention that ancient Indian traders had a much more significant impact on southern African history than is commonly acknowledged. I’m in no position to comment on his more contested beliefs (very interesting though they may be), but much of this current article appears to stand up to scrutiny and it certainly raises some much forgotten historical perspectives.

The area was inhabited by two distinct but allied “tribes”.

The early maritime visitors to the K’koe Qui //Hû-!Gâis (the Cape of Great Rocks of Storms), be they Indians, Portuguese, English, French or pre-1652 Dutch, did not disturb too much the annual regime of both the //Kurin ai-Quena (Strandlopers) and the Huri-!Xai Quena (Kaapmans). The coming of these foreign traders to the Camissa Bay tended to enrich the material existence of the Quena and to expose them to more advanced food production and a higher lifestyle [sic].

The major – and in certain ways less desirable [wow, is this guy a master of understatement, or what!?] – change came with the arrival of the permanent Dutch settlers in 1652. From now on, the indigenous Quena had to gradually adjust to the behavioural pattern and to the needs of the newcomers, who intended to stay here permanently.

A huge change […] came to the lives of the Quena at //Hû-!Gâis […] when the Dutch started ploughing the land near and further away from the Fort.

[…]

The Quena did not take it lightly and the chief of the //Kurin gai-Quena, Harry or Autshumao, declared that “the land belonged to his people”. Furthermore, as we read in Van Riebeeck’s Dispatch of March 5, 1657, “They venture also to assert boldly that it does not please them that we break up the ground, and destroy the grass which grows for the use of their cattle – to grow our crops.”

[…]

The last thing to consider is what happened when the Quena inhabitants of Kai Haa Mullai [Mouille Point] and of the Camissa Valley realised that the only home they knew had been irreversibly taken from them. They took their horses, put their wives and possessions on the backs of their humped oxen and drifted into the dry hinterland of the Karoo.

Looking back at Kai Haa Mullai and the Camissa Valley from that new perspective, the Quena expressed their deepest feeling about what had happened by calling their former home at the K’koe Qui //Hû-!Gâis (the Cape of Great Rocks of Storms) by the name which says it all – /I-/k??ab, meaning De Facto Theft.

 

I find my own ignorance about the history of the place where I live quite embarrassing.

Ironically, for much of my life, I have been fascinated and inspired by another continent’s first people. Growing up as a boy in Germany, I used to love the noble savage novels of Karl May – Winnetou, the fictional Apache, was my first hero. Gratefully, I came across the real story of Tecumseh fairly early on and his bravery and defiance have remained an inspiration to me ever since, as has the history of the genocide of the American Indians in general.

Killing cowboys

The importance of knowing as much as possible about the people who used to live in the area we call our home before us is surely an important educational mission for anyone, especially for anyone living in a country like South Africa and even more so for any white South African. I have only come to this conclusion far too recently, but will definitely try to make up for lost time.

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