Make our Children Proud of the heritage

Thesis by Priscilla de Wet

The government of the Republic of South Africa established a human rights enshrined constitution. To implement it, various commissions were established to promote constitutional democracy by embracing their diverse cultures and take up the challenge of changing the racist and segregationist ideals of the recent Apartheid past to a nation unified in its diversity and embracing its’ Africanness. The CRL Commission was established, as an agent for social change, to address issues relating to cultural, religious and linguistic communities. Two examples show that both on group and individual level, members of the commission have been able to mediate and by bringing in new research based information in the first case and the shared African respect for ancestors graves in the second, new modes of coexistence of diverse cultures have been formed. However, this is not adequate to address the Khoe and San issue as they need a specific body that would effectively address their issues of cultural development, education, economic upliftment, restoration of their territories and especially their power relation with the nation state. Khoe and San are not just minority groups but a people who have lived in Southern Africa since time immemorial. Their language group is only found in this region of the world. The CRL Commission cannot address the issue of the Khoe and San. Because of the power shift from colonial white rule to African black rule all black Africans are not indigenous to Africa anymore as the term indigenous addresses inequalities with regard to economic resources and the relationship between marginalised national minorities and the state. The change from addressing a hostile regime to addressing a well meaning regime, whose main shortcomings lay not so much in what is done than what is not being done, calls for a very different tactic and lines of arguments. The Khoe and San have become part of the global Indigenous arena who are using ethno-politics as a tool to reverse the negative stereotypes directed towards their ‘primitiveness’ and heritage as a means to decide their distinctiveness and therefore moral commitment by the state to address their issues. African nations have to transcend the postcolonial conditions and move towards modernities that unite ancient and modern knowledge.

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