The Khoi-San want government to recognise them as the first nation of South Africa, for their language to be made official and the Coloured identity to be removed.
The Khoi-San have brought their liberation fight the doorstep of the African National Congress (ANC)’s Elective Conference currently in full swing at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg.
The sight of the Khoi-San members dressed in traditional attire on the main Nasrec Road is met with cars honking in support as they are driving past.
This Nasrec protest is in solidarity with the current stake out at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Three members of the Khoi-San nation have been camping outside the Union Buildings, waiting for President Jacob Zuma or his Deputy Cyril Ramaphosa to accept their memorandum.
Chief Khoi-San SA, leader of the Damasonqua tribe in the Eastern Cape, Shane Plaatjies and Brendon Billings have put up tents and have been sleeping on the lawns of the Union Buildings since the beginning of December.
They walked for three weeks and more than 1 000 km from Port Elizabeth to get to Pretoria.
Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe met with the group camping at the Union Buildings in the past week.
They thanked him for his presence and politely declined his offer to help them get back to the Eastern Cape. They said that they will remain camped out until they are met by the president or his deputy.
The national co-ordinator for Khoi-San Liberation, Anthony Phillip Williams, emphasises their demands.
First and foremost, they want government to recognise Khoi-San as the First Nation of South Africa. They further want their language to be recognised as one of the official languages.
Lastly and importantly, they want the Coloured identity to be removed.
“A lot of things have gone wrong in the last 24 years. Amongst those things there is stubbornness from government to make sure that coloured people remain under this label. It’s really a lie. We are here to tell the ANC government that this cannot continue uncontested any longer. We are the first nation.”
Khoi-San is a unifying name for two groups of people who share ethnic cultural and putative linguistic characteristics from the Bantu majority of the region. The San include the indigenous inhabitants of Southern Africa.
700 years ago, the southward Bantu migrations from North and East Africa reached the region.
This led to the Bantu populations displacing the Khoi and San to become the predominant inhabitants of Southern Africa.
“When people migrated to South Africa, we were the ones welcoming them. We welcomed our brothers and sisters from the Great Lakes region because they are indigenous Africans, as we are. What has subsequently happened is the ownership has now been replaced and the guys who have welcomed everybody has no been put on the periphery to be mere spectators and we are saying to them it is unacceptable.”
Williams further says that they will camp outside the Nasrec Expo Centre until their demands are heard.
“We want to humbly ask the president of the country to go back to the Union Buildings and meet with the Khoi-San leaders and personally accept the memorandum that they have prepared for him. They are not going to leave the Union Buildings until they personally meet up with the State President. He owes us this as a token of respect.”
The Khoi-San leaders at the Union Buildings have embarked on a hunger strike and have vowed to rather die on the lawns than to give up their fight.
“They are very weak at the moment. They are going to stay on hunger strike until the president comes and sees them. He says he will see them in the second week of January and that means that they will be spending Christmas and New Years on the lawns of the Union Buildings.”