Teaching the youth about Khoi heritage

Natural healer Reagan Appels, left, with members of the South Peninsula Customary Khoi Council, headman Victor Jacobz, chief Stephen (Xoma) Fritz and senior chief Ishmael (Ishsaqua) Sabodien.

Members of the South Peninsula Customary Khoi Council believe the Khoi heritage should be revived by teaching the youth where they come from.

Senior chief Ishmael Sabodien, known by his Khoi name Ishsaqua, meaning one who lives by the sea, said the Western Cape has the most westernised of all the tribes and they have forgotten their heritage.

Mr Sabodien has been given the opportunity by Johann Kikiillus, founder of the Ocean View Care Centre and the New Life Kids Centre, a safe haven for vulnerable children in the community, to teach children about Khoi heritage and language three times a week at the centre.

Mr Sabodien believes people should be proud to teach their children where they come from.

Khoi chief Stephen Fritz, known as Xoma, meaning son of soil, emphasises this. He was born in Sun Valley and said his ancestors had prayed at Peers Cave.

He said that as a child his grandparents had told him about his heritage and he knew he could not play near Peers Cave as it was sacred ground.

Although he is westernised, he has never lost sight of his heritage and the Khoi ways.

Peers Cave is known for the 14 12000-year-old paleolithic skeletons found by Victor Peers and his son, Bertie, in 1927. This included an 11000-year-old skull, proof of Khoi habitation.

Mr Sabodien, who has a background in environmental teaching, said it was vital to teach the children to respect nature and its many treasures.

Classes consist of literature, reading, storytelling, art, folklore and worshipping of multiple religions, sensory exercises as well as workshops, which include teaching the children about the use of medicinal herbs and plants.

Natural healer Reagan Appels assists Mr Sabodien during these classes, educating the children about medicinal plants, their use and healing powers.

Mr Kikillus said he was very grateful to have the team on board. He said it was rare to see men stand up and help children, and he wanted to thank the team for doing just that: standing up and doing what they believe in.

“I am deeply grateful for this opportunity and want to encourage people to visit the far south and the centre to learn more about the culture of the Khoi people,” he said.

For more information about the classes, email johann@soteriaministries.org.za