Research your Khoisan heritage

The executive members of KIWIA, from left, are secretary Hayley Hendricks; member Heibricht Lewin, additional member; Marlene Petersen, treasurer; Mary Jansen, chairperson; and Sheila Skosan, elder. Absent are Lucienne Bassick, deputy secretary; Magda Jordaan, deputy chairperson; and Chantal Leibrandt, additional member.

The Khoe-san Indigenous Women in Action (KIWIA) will be celebrating Heritage Day with a meeting at the Moravian Church hall, in Genadendal, on Sunday September 25.

They are inviting all Khoisan descendents to find out about their lineage.

KIWIA was registered as a non-proft organisation two weeks ago, but they have been active in the community since 2007.

They also held an event on Women’s Day (August 9) at the Pollsmoor Bowling Club, in Tokai, where they spoke about Khoisan heritage and gave an overview of the International Day of Indigenous People which coincided with Women’s Day.

Mary Jansen, chairperson of KIWIA, want to educate women about their history.

“Our aim is to make South African Khoisan women aware of their heritage status. We are striving for our constitutional accommodation within all spheres of government, local, provincial and national.

“The Khoisan were called coloureds during apartheid and we want to restore our authentic status,” she said.

Ms Jansen said she discovered that if people’s heritage status is not recognised it takes away their identity.

She has traced her own family history. “I’ve done extensive research on my linage. I traced five generations back and found out that my great- grandmother Maria Africa was a midwife in Genadendal in the early 1900s.”

Ms Jansen said Genadendal has a rich history of the Khoisan people. “We want to invite people to visit the museum in Genadendal where they can read up on their surname and their lineage.”

Ms Jansen said: “Doing research was liberating because not only did I restore my culture and values I understood why people behave in a certain way.”

She referred to how people were thrown into areas such as Lavender Hill, Manenberg and Hanover Park during apartheid. “Women play an important role in restoring our heritage. Because we were not recognised as Khoisan, we lost our values and our cultures.”

She alluded to the gangsterism and crime prevalent in the so-called coloured communities.

Ms Jansen said she was happy with the Women’s Day turn-out. “There are many Khoisan people in those areas who are now coming forward to find out about their heritage. At our Women’s Day event at Pollsmoor Bowling Club, I was surprised to see how many people wanted to know more about their heritage.”

She said even the Khoisan language played a significant role in other languages. “The Khoi language is broken up into groupings. Some of the Afrikaans words derive from some of the groupings, for example bobbejaan and Karoo.”

Ms Jansen said the community would learn a lot at the meeting in Genadendal and she encourages everyone to attend.

For more information, call Haley Hendricks on 079 529 4938.