By Brian Ebden
A BELATED OPEN LETTER TO MOSIUOA LEKOTA WITH REFERENCE TO YOUR TELEPHONIC DISUSSION ON THE EUSEBIUS MCKAISER SHOW, RADIO 702 – 10 APRIL 2017 (Also known as “White people didn’t steal the land, they bought it legally”).
Dear Mr. Lekota
I must apologise profusely for this late response to your interview and am responding today as a result of this piece raising its head again yesterday via a number of right-wing white Facebook sites.
Let me from the outset state that as a child growing up, I was strictly taught to respect my elders and this is a valuable lesson I have internalized and intellectualized for myself and have carried this over to my own children today – having said this therefore, if I depart from this in terms of my response, please be so kind as to understand and forgive me for it is not my intention to be rude.
It is said Sir, that something is known by the fruit that it bears and the fruit that is borne by both you and your generation’s logic have thrown us as black people into a pit of despair and depravation. It is your generation to whom we gave our blood and trust and the net result of this is that we are left with very little, save a tiny black middle class who are fabulously wealthy and a mass of people living in grinding poverty the likes of which is second to none in the history of the world.
After trusting your generation for more than 2 decades we have reached an impasse because the only direction we are going is nowhere and it is as a direct result of the caliber or should I say the lack of caliber of the leadership of your generation Sir.
I particularly wish to draw your attention to two of your many comments you made during the radio interview vis-à-vis (your grammar) “There was things negotiated between the Khoi & the Dutch nation and later the English took over that – until that time there was no title” and loosely, once land has been appropriated from whites, “Which black family will you give that land to?” When I heard the first part I was horrified as it is not only bereft of logic but also devoid of historical fact and here I wish to give you a lesson in history because you need it desperately and urgently.
Firstly, land was forcibly taken and stolen from Khoe-Khoe clans by Van Riebeek which resulted in full scale wars the first of which was in 1659 due to Van Riebeek erecting a fortified fence along the Liesbeek River and in Kirstenbosch to separate the Khoena from accessing their traditional grazing lands.
The second full scale war began in 1673 between the Dutch colonisers and the Chainoqua, Hessequa, Quana, Cochoqua and Gouriqua clans around the Hottentots-Holland mountains – this war was so that the Dutch East Indian company could violently appropriate vast tracks of land as well as steal hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep.
Then the 3rd full scale war was against the Cochoqua clan from 1674 until 1677 which laid waste to much of this Khoena clan and both their cattle and vast lands. During the time of the Dutch occupation there were numerous violent and murderous skirmishes between Dutch raiding parties and Khoena and San clans where entire villages were destroyed and all the men butchered and women and children enslaved in their thousands. The numerous raids are detailed in the book entitled “The Anatomy of a South African Genocide: The Extermination of the Cape San” by Mohamed Adikari.
Furthermore, whether the indigenous peoples understood the European concept of private land ownership or held title deeds or not is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that they clearly and unequivocally understood the concept of ownership and this is expressed and well documented in the diaries of Van Riebeek himself – which is held in Amsterdam and detailed in the 1998 book by E. Van Heyningen, Nigel Worden, and Vivian Bickford-Smith entitled, Cape Town, the making of a city. He writes in 1655 that the Goringhaiqua (the senior clan of the Peninsula Khoe-Khoe sub-clan, Goringhaicona) stated that he was rapidly building on their land and as a result refused to barter cattle with him any longer. He specifically writes that they (Goringhaiqua) boldly declared that it was their land not ours.
A year earlier in 1654, he wrote that the Cochoqua clan and their leader Gonnema refused permission to permanently occupy any land in the Cape Peninsula and showed their contempt by forcibly grazing their huge herds of cattle in vegetable gardens Van Riebeek planted. You can read this on pages 21 and 34 of the afore-mentioned book. This is underpinned from an entry in the diary of Colonel Omas Vandeleur on meeting Khoe-Khoe war leader, Klaas Stuurman in the Zuurveld, the then “Cape Colony” in March 1799. Said Stuurman to Vandeleur: “Restore the country of which our fathers have been despoiled by the Dutch, and we have nothing more to ask, though we have yet a great deal of our blood to avenge.” Stuurman told him (Vandeleur) that the Khoikhoi wanted to recover their lost lands and avenge themselves for years of oppression and abuse. Again, I should allow you a historical remembrance that it was Simon van Der Stel who in 1671 (as written by him in his diary) stated that he set land aside for French Huguenots in Franshoek and Drakenstein (now Paarl). He gave land owned by the indigenous to foreign French settlers without any authority from the local clans and because he then gifted them with a title deed implies in your mind Sir, that it hence became legal tender notwithstanding the fact that nothing legal can flow from an illegal transaction. The illegal transaction was the forceful theft of the land in the first instance.
So Sir, it is painfully clear and obvious that your comment that Khoena clans “negotiated things” is hideously and horribly incorrect and the same goes for the Northern Cape where vast numbers of Khoena and San clans were decimated either through armed and or biological warfare (smallpox epidemics) – and I also wish to take the opportunity of correcting your further comment of government owning vast tracts of land is incorrect as private ownership of land in both the Western and Northern Cape is 89% to 8% Government control.
Then Sir, I must bring your attention to a solemn Xhosa song all us activists of the 70’s sang and knew off by heart, the title of which is Thina Sizwe. Shall I remind you what the lyrics state for your benefit again (and I know that even though you were in the leadership of the white owned, funded and instituted UDF) that you cannot claim ignorance of this very well-known song. For your benefit Sir it goes as follows:
“Thina sizwe esimnyama (We the black the nation)
Sikhalelela izwe lethu (Are we weeping for our land)
Elathathwa ngabamhlophe (Which was taken away from us by white people)
Mabayeke umhlaba wethu (Let them return our land).”
I question why Xhosa people would sing this song which as you know was adopted by all black groups in the country and may I remind you that President Zuma, a member of the Zulu ethno-linguistic group, sang this song at Mandela’s funeral in December 2013 (for avoidance of doubt here it is:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk1nR6n5KPw)
The fact is that prime land and land in general was forcefully and violently stolen and appropriated from AmaXhosa during nine full scale frontier wars which raged from 1779 to 1879. These wars were exclusively about land appropriation and of course I am employing a simile for the word stolen.
Then Sir, you forget the “Great” Trek from 1792 to 1852 where whites moved into the hinterland and wherever they went they first massacred the indigenous and then appropriated their land. Your great MoSotho King Moshoeshoe, who for 30 years fought both the Afrikaners and English whose sole intention it was, to steal land and again remind you that in 1838, the Trek-Boer Jan De Winaar attempted to colonise land in Matlakeng to which King Moshoeshoe replied, “The land on which they were belonged to me, but I had no objections to their flocks grazing there until such time as they were able to proceed further; on condition, however, that they remained in peace with my people and recognised my authority.” The same went for the Zulu, Tswana, Pedi and Ndebele nations who all defended the rights of their traditional land through numerous wars of attrition.
To recap for your benefit Sir, the indigenous people knew and perfectly understood the concept of land ownership in collective and custodial terms for the benefit of forthcoming generations. Given that the autochthonous peoples of South Africa did not subscribe to individual and private ownership of the land, this should speak to your silly statement of which black family should the land be returned to. You make as if you are umlungu and don’t understand how these things work – but sadly Sir when white people need to cheat, deceive and trick black people they use and roll out their well-paid coons such as yourself – to speak on their behalf and in their stead.
I understand why this argument and this a-historical and revisionist piece has raised its ugly head and making its rounds in our country – and its only because Mugabe has been seen to be defeated and now it’s time to prove that land was never stolen from us as the indigenous peoples. The fact is Sir, that land has been stolen and must be returned whether through peaceful or violent means. The choice is thankfully not yours to make.
In conclusion, all black people originated in South Africa as the genetic-anthropological discoveries of Professor Chris Marean and his multi-nation team of archeologists, scientists and anthropologists proved that the origin of modern man is in fact Pinnacle Point in South Western Cape near Mosselbay. I am on record where I prove this scientifically beyond a shadow of doubt: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YofbEFfmPIY)
I expect an apology and a public correction to your glaring errors and lack of scientific and historical knowledge on the subject you spoke on.
Thank you in advance.