WILL the SA-government follow the lead taken by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who apologised for the systematic abuse of the country’s first nations? First Nations around the world have already praised the move, and called for other governments in the Commonwealth such as South Africa to follow suit. Canada’s national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said the Canadian government should match an apology Australia has made to its aboriginal people. Although South Africa’s Khoi-San have been accorded recognition in South Africa’s heritage, and various steps have been taken to counteract their marginalisation, there has yet to be an official apology for the virtual extermination of indigenous people of the Sub-contintent, such as the Khoi-Khoi who enjoyed over 20 000 years of history before being dislodged by European and Nguni Settlers.
Many people of mixed race still trace their roots to the Khoi and San, and so the issue is thus an emotional one that is not going to go away simply because it has become convenient to forget about this period of history. The South African government is currently comprised of the majority Nguni, with a minority who trace their roots to Afrikaner, Khoi and Malay ancestory.
DRL: In fact the Kalahari San are still being dispossessed of their land as we speak. Botswana, (a member of SADC of which South Africa is a part) has been criticised for allowing diamond mining to go ahead on land traditionally associated with the San. I met with a recent delegation to Cape Town, at the Oude Moulen Eco-Village, who implored South Africans to take a stand on the issue of the rights of First Nations.