Khoisan heads meet at convention

Khoisan leaders and activists from across the Eastern Cape recently met at Maria Louw High School for the first Khoisan convention in the province.

Following the passing of the traditional Khoisan bill late last year, the meeting sought to establish a steering committee that would represent the different stakeholders in the Khoisan community.

Present were representatives of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), Stats SA and the congress of traditional leaders of South Africa (Contralesa).

Christian Martin, an activist, said the convention was to prepare a response to the bill. “We have a huge task to rebuild traditional Khoisan structures. We also have to convince our fellow coloured brothers that they are not the brand they were given by a government that sought to subvert their identity and take their land.”

Chief Mtutuzeli Makinana, Contralesa chairperson in Buffalo City region, said the integration of the Khoisan community was integral to address issues that would arise from the bill.

“They are already part of our structure. We identified early on that it was the only way forward. We leaders cannot work in silos. Even problems that may seem to emanate with regard to land settlements, will not be a problem if we work together,” said Makinana.

Some Khoisan chiefs present opposed some resolutions the convention wanted to make, citing process.

Daantjie Jafta, chief of the Inkwa tribe, said a different approach was needed. “Establishing a provincial structure is not something we support. That is not according to the act. It is not how we believe things should be done. There has to be a bottom-up approach, with the proper stakeholders consulted.”

The convenor, Benedict Jordaan, said a common forum was needed, from which to engage government.

“Activists and Khoisan leaders need an organised way to engage the premier and Cogta so that social, economic and land issues can all have a formal channel from which to communicate,” he said.

The meeting elected an interim committee comprising two members from each region.

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