Chief hosts classes, lest we forget

YONELA SINQU

In a bid to preserve the Nama language and share the origins of coloured people, Westridge resident, James Henry runs discussions at the Westridge and Rocklands libraries.

And not even the poor attendance at these classes, has deterred him from pursuing his mission. He starts off his conversation with the history of the Khoisan people, followed by an explanation of who Jan van Riebeeck was, dabbles in a bit of indigenous medicine and then gets into the language.

According to Mr Henry, who identifies himself as Chief Jakobub, there are only 20 letters in the Khoi alphabet and the Nama clan was the last clan whose language was kept.

“There are three languages within the tribes,” he said.

Sharing the history of the Khoi people, Mr Henry, also shares what the term chief meant to those people.

“In the old system, before Jan van Riebeeck landed here, we (Nama) had a hierarchy system where leadership was chosen out of the wealth of the group. That group decided on the leader and that person was named a chief. The responsibility of the chief was to take care of the well-being of the people and ensure stability among the people.

“There was no such thing such as a king or queen. It was only through the invasion of the colonialists that they introduced the king and queen.”

Relating the history of South Africa as far back as his memory served him, Mr Henry concluded that the term “coloured” had been introduced to create levels of superiority and inferiority during the formation of the Union of South Africa in the 1900s.

“One of the pieces of legislation was to identify pure Europeans. Those who took resemblance of their mothers were labelled as coloured. The Nguni people became ‘black’ people – those were the three groups formed. The Nguni strongly laid a claim that they are African and ‘coloured’ preferred to be called brown people.

“I invite people to visit the Castle of Good Hope, in Cape Town on Saturday mornings where they can experience the history of the Khoi tribes. Also every Wednesday from 1pm at the Westridge library and every Friday from 10am at the Rocklands library, people are welcome to come to the discussions where they can pose whatever questions they have.”