DOCUMENTS

Our museums must be transformed and decolonised - Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma
12 August 2012

Text of President's address at reburial of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar's remains

Speech by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the reburial of Mr and Mrs Klaas and Trooi Pienaar at Kuruman, Northern Cape Province

12 August 2012

The Acting Premier of the Province of the Northern Cape, Grizelda Djikello,
The Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr. Joseph Phaahla,
Honourable MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture in the Northern Cape, Pauline Williams and other MECs,
The Representatives of the Government of Austria,
Representatives of the National Khoisan Council, 
Leaders of the San and Khoi communities of the Northern Cape and South Africa,
Members of the Council of Traditional Leaders of South Africa,
Members of the Human Remains Repatriation Advisory Committee of the Minister of Arts and Culture,
Members of the Klaas and Trooi Pienaar Reference Group,
Members of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities,
Fellow South Africans,

We have gathered today, to close another painful chapter in our country's history of colonial subjugation, racism and oppression.

We are here to correct a historic injustice, and restore the human dignity and citizenship of Mr and Mrs Klaas and Trooi Pienaar.

Our two compatriots are amongst a number of citizens of this country, who were violated in life and in death, by people who regarded them as not worthy of humane and decent treatment.

Our painful history tells us that more than hundred years ago, in 1909, a scientist from Austria, called Rudolph Pöch, went on a rampage in the greater Kuruman area, digging up bodies of dead people, destroying graves and disfiguring sacred art works, all in the name of science. 

Mr Klaas Pienaar and his wife Trooi were farm workers on the farm Pienaarsputs near where we are today. 

In May 1909, aged about 60 or 70, Mr Klaas Pienaar passed away after being sick for a month with malaria fever. In the first week of June 1909, his wife, Trooi Pienaar died, also due to malaria fever. 

They were buried in the veldt on a farm at the instructions of their employer, the Griqua farmer Abel Pienaar. They left four children, who were temporarily taken into the care of Abel Pienaar.

The two were dug from their graves in October 1909, by an adventurer and grave robber Mehnarto, on the instructions of Rudolf Pöch.

We are told that Mr Pöch had been undertaking an expedition through southern Africa documenting and collecting Khoisan material culture, rock engravings and bodies. 

Reports state that Mehnarto and his assistants wrapped the bodies with linen, cut them both at the knee joints, and forced them into a large barrel, which they filled with salt for preservation. 

From there, Meharto proceeded to other farms and villages in the Kuruman district where he dug up and removed more bodies and skeletons. In some cases, he boiled the degraded bodies down to bone on the spot. 

By the time the contents of Mehnarto's wagon arrived for the train to Cape Town on 11 November 1909, it contained stolen rock engravings and 31 skeletons, at least five of them of freshly dead people, as well as the two bodies of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar. 

From Cape Town, the bodies of the Pienaars and the other skeletons were illegally exported to Vienna. 

Such behaviour is shocking and inexplicable. In African culture, and indeed in almost all cultures, very few things are regarded as sacred and worthy of profound respect as the dead. 

We have deep respect for the dead because death is a fate awaiting all of us. 

In death, all of us are vulnerable and dependent on other human beings to protect our dignity. 

The bodies and skeletons sadly became part of the scientific collections of anthropology and material culture across a range of museums and institutions in Austria.

Rudolf Pöch was appointed at the University of Vienna as Austria's first Professor of Anthropology, possibly as reward for what was then considered his exceptional work in Africa.

The truth about what happened in this area, has been uncovered thanks to research done by two Professors from the Department of History at the University of the Western Cape, Martin Legassick and Ciraj Rassool. 

We are grateful to these two historians whose research produced a book called Skeletons in the Cupboard: South African Museums and the Trade in Human Remains, 1907-1917. 

The book was published in the year 2000 by the South African Museum and the McGregor Museum, with assistance from the National Research Foundation. 

In this book, Professors Legassick and Rassool share the painful history of a competitive trade in human remains, especially the remains of San Bushmen and women who were regarded then as ‘relics' of an ancient anthropological and racial type.

The two scholars uncovered the evidence of an enquiry into the activities of Pöch and his assistant Mehnarto, undertaken by the Department of Justice during the period of the Union of South Africa government. 

The enquiry probed the illegal digging out and exporting of bodies, skeletons and rock engravings. 

The enquiry led to the country's first law on heritage being passed, the Bushmen Relics Act of 1911.  However to add insult to injury, this law was passed not to protect the Khoisan people.  It was done simply because South Africa's own museums and scientists had complained about the removal of the bodies and bones as they wanted to use them for their own experiments and exhibitions locally.

The work of these historians, and today's reburial, forces us to confront the reality that in some of the museums in our country, there could be human remains collected largely from racist grave robbers. 

This calls for urgent interventions to transform and decolonize South African museums, in the same manner that Austria is doing with their museums.

In Vienna in May 2008, at a conference held at the Natural History Museum to celebrate Pöch who had been regarded as an accomplished scholar, our Professors Legassick and Rassool outlined the brutal details of how Pöch's human remains collection had been acquired. 

We are pleased that subsequent to that presentation and engagements, the Natural History Museum of Austria committed itself to return the remains of Mr Klaas and Mr Trooi Pienaar to South Africa. 

We are happy too, that the Austrian Minister of Science then authorized the formal removal of the remains of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar from the collection of the Austrian Academy of Science.

We take this opportunity to thank the Austrian government for taking this step and for working together with us to bring finality to this painful matter. Working together with the government of Austria we are turning the tragic events that befell Mr and Mrs Pienaar into an opportunity for healing. It is also an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between our two countries.

We therefore accept unconditionally, the apology expressed by the Austrian government for the actions of Rudolph Poch. Today, Mr and Mrs Klaas and Trooi Pienaar are no longer dehumanised objects of racial science and anthropology, to satisfy the curiosity of Mr Poch and his ilk. 

They have been re-humanised and have regained their South African identity, 103 years after the tragedy that befell them. Today, through this reburial, we are taking another step forward towards closing the chapter on the brutality of racism and its legacy in scientific practices and museum collections. 

The democratic government remains determined to restore the right to human dignity, as in that way, we are reaffirming the humanity of all our people. In 2002 we brought back the remains of Sarah Baartman who has been stripped of her dignity and Khoi-San identity. She had been shamelessly paraded throughout Europe for years and was treated with barbaric brutality. 

Her remains were given a permanent resting place at the banks of the Gamtoos River where it will stand forever as a monument to the need to respect the humanity of others, and to eradicate racism and white supremacy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The horrible treatment of Mr and Mrs Pienaar and others is a stark reminder of the need to comprehensively transform our museums and heritage sectors. We are delighted to announce that processes are already underway to address the deep legacy of racial science in our museums.

Our museums must be transformed to become centres of heritage and expertise which respect all peoples and cultures. No museum must have a collection or material that depicts any section of the South African population as colonial objects, more so the indigenous people. 

Therefore, all museums in South Africa need to urgently undertake an enquiry into the ethics of their human remains collection. They must ensure that none of the material was collected through dehumanizing and racist methods.

The Department of Arts and Culture will work closely with the museum sector to ensure that this important national process takes place in accordance with national policy.

We have seen some positive action already. It is encouraging that Iziko Museums in Cape Town, one of South Africa's national flagship museums, has already investigated the ethics of its collection.

The museum decided that all human remains bought from grave robbers or acquired for racial research were unethically collected and needed to be returned. We congratulate Iziko Museums for subsequently removing from their collection, all unethically collected human remains.  

Compatriots,

It has been a difficult and painful process to reach this point of laying our ancestors to rest in the country of their birth, where they were uprooted with no ability to defend themselves, as they were dead.

We are truly thankful to all parties in government, the museum and heritage sector, the universities and communities who have made it possible for us to be here to rebury them with the dignity they so truly deserve. 

We are also thankful for the guidance of all the members of the Human remains Repatriation Advisory Committee for their emphasis on this being a project of rehumanisation. 

We congratulate the scholars from the University of the Western Cape, Professors Martin Legassick and Ciraj Rassool. Their expertise in Northern Cape history and in the field of Museum and Heritage Studies has ensured that every stage of this rehumanisation process was premised on thorough research and the best international scholarship. 

We are grateful to Professor Walter Sauer, formerly the head of the Austrian Anti-Apartheid Movement, for his comradeship and commitment to the people of Southern Africa. Our friends and comrades in the Anti-Apartheid movement stood with us as we fought for freedom.

We are happy that they stand with us still, as we rebuild the country and create a humane, caring, democratic, nonracial and non-sexist society.

We are grateful to the government of Austria and the leaders of the Austrian museum sector for walking this important road of healing with us.

We are thankful to the members of the families and communities of the Northern Cape, especially the members of the Reference Group for assisting and engaging with government to ensure that the return and reburial of Mr and Mrs Klaas and Trooi Pienaar would be dignified and treated with the significance that these processes deserve.

Finally, we are thankful for the lives of Mr and Mrs Klaas and Trooi Pienaar. We are delighted that we have been able to bring them home to be buried near their people.

Mr and Mrs Pienaar will now rest in peace on African soil. Through today's reburial, their humanity is being reaffirmed and their dignity is being restored irreversibly. 

May their spirit help the people of our country to overcome the pain of the past, and move together in harmony to build a better future.

I thank you.

Issued by The Presidency, August 12 2012

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Comments

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 responses to this article

Now we can all sleep in peace with them
Such are the burning issues that keep our president from sleeping at night, or from doing something about the desperate situation many find themselves in.

by Questor on August 12 2012, 21:08
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@Transforming and decolonising museums
Someone please tell this oaf that a museum has nothing to do with his culture. If he is offended by museums, then tell him to just stay out of them. We never invited him in. He is a Zulu. A nation that arrived in South Africa after white people had . .more

by John on August 12 2012, 23:12
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DE-COLONIZE MUSEUMS? WHO IS HE KIDDING.
What is wrong with the loon brain? Does he think by taking "colonialist tendencies" "OUT OF THIS MUSEUM! BLOODY AGENTS" will change history? Just shows from which tree he fell out of! Nothing will change the FACTS THAT WESTERN EXPERTISE CHANGED THE . .more

by REALIST IN ZA on August 13 2012, 09:38
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New found treasure
Yes we need to get our hands on this forgoten treasure.
We are running out of income from the minority, non represented taxpayer who has no vote/say in its use and they are now rebelling.
Income is low - Expenses high - Theft high - lets sell . .more

by Auctions soon on August 13 2012, 09:47
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It was a speech.
Don't forget that those words were not of that mindless crook. They were written for him, doubtless because he is incapable of stringing words together to form a coherent sentence. He just reads the words, and not well, either.

by bowside8 on August 13 2012, 09:59
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Until the 18th century Doctors in Europe had degrees in Theology not Science!
Unless Western Christian, Arab Muslim, and other doctors had broken the religious laws and examined dead bodies we would not have modern medicine!

by Lyndall Beddy on August 13 2012, 10:03
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@ all
You cannot reason with a P**** head.His claim to fame as a teenager, according to his uncle - another illiterate retard - was stick fighting and talking to the 'ladies'!!!

by James Reagen on August 13 2012, 10:25
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SA's Museums have been assets stripped,AND our historical archives!
Sold to antique dealers, collectors, and to the black market in the last 18 years.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 13 2012, 11:27
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Unless Shaka lied, Zulus arrived in SA in the same century as Whites!
Even before the missionaries, were the first hunters and explorers, who befriended Shaka, who was fascinated by them and insisted they record the History of the Zulus. It was his successor, Dingaan, who saw whites as a threat, not Shaka.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 13 2012, 11:29
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Hau, Madoda, Utheni?
Doesn't he mean 'Austrian' museums not 'our'?

by Brett on August 13 2012, 12:59
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Grahamstown's transformed Museums....
...yes all three of them.

The three museums used to be packed full of stuff (much of which would be valued at a very tidy sum on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow). Meanwhile, up at the fort next door to the 1820 Settler Monuments were two old cannon . .more

by John Austin on August 13 2012, 13:08
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Our heros at the scrap yards
Imagine the quick cash for a 15 ton Sherman Tank, 2 x 3 ton iron cannons, 30 ton frigate etc all in one week.
Lots of beer money for the Comrades :)
Brass plaques from the 2 great world wars - sorry already stolen.
Wooden 1820 wagons - . .more

by Scrap Dealers are also Theives on August 13 2012, 13:25
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Apartheid corrupted minds
You people really believe that you arrived here before Zulus? -

by Mzala on August 13 2012, 15:36
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Please create a Museum dedicated to black apartheid

Blood River was a Xenophobic attack by racist hate filled blacks on white settlers - 15000 blacks attacked 350 whites, that Xenophobic attack went horribly wrong and consequently Mandela founded MK on 16 Dec 1961 to avenge that horrible xenophobic . .more

by Nasdaq7 on August 13 2012, 15:45
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Please create a Museum for the 67000 babies raped in this country
Those savages that rape babies. Please create a holocaust museum for rape Mr. Zuma. If you want to desecrate our history, please create a museum for the 500,000 killed since the end of apartheid under YOUR ANC leadership. A few blacks killed and displayed . .more

by Nasdaq7 on August 13 2012, 15:51
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Still Holding on to the Broederbond's nonsesnse?
@Lyndall Beddy and others
The oppressor/ settler/ colonialist arrived land at Camissa (the so-called Cape Town) in 1652.

Before the Zulu Kingdom there existed the Mthethwa/ Zwide/ Ndwandwe, etc kingdoms, and before them there existed the . .more

by Craig De Montfort-Braganca on August 13 2012, 16:30
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Museums in Africa?
If it had not been for Raymond Dart and museums MRS Ples and the cradle of mankind would not excist. Why should he suddenly care now.

by Donkervlie on August 13 2012, 16:30
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Lets talk about the problems we are facing
1. does everyone have water ?
2. electricity
2. security
3. entertainment
4. loans from the bank
5. jobs
6. border controls
7. education
9. food
10. transport
11. homes
12. new commercial areas
13. new . .more

by Nasdaq7 on August 13 2012, 16:31
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De-colonisation a la ANC
First we change the names of towns and cities from Afrikaner pioneers to mythical black kings and heroes.

Then we change the Afrikaner names of streets to ANC heroes.

Then we steal and sell all exhibits in museums that depict Afrikaner . .more

by James Bell on August 13 2012, 16:49
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Well done.
Well done Mr President on addressing an issue of major importance that was threatening to tear apart our fragile country, and taking a principled stand on SOMETHING for a change. Now, about those textbooks......

by Miksa668 on August 13 2012, 18:11
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@ Craig De Montfort-Braganca
Try as I may there doesn't appear to be anything about South Africa being inhabited as early as 800 -1200 BC. Perhaps you would be so kind as to enlighten us with the origin of your facts.

by Open Minded on August 13 2012, 18:26
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@ Craig De Montfort-Braganca
This seems to be a site you might like to refer to. Incidentally they are inviting anyone with additional information to share such with them so that they can update their data base. With your superior knowledge I am sure that not only will Britannica . .more

by Open Minded on August 13 2012, 19:00
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Dumbass president.
The real anc.

http://mbokodo-quatro-uncensored.co.nr


by Braaitjie. on August 13 2012, 19:06
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Blacks and Whites are both Colonisers- the Original people were the Brown Bushmen.
The original people of Africa started developing 120,000 years ago, and the first sign of homo-sapiens was about 70,000 years ago in Africa. A very SMALL band of Bushmen moved out of Africa, before the Sahara Desert formed 60,000 years ago.Blacks only . .more

by Lyndall Beddy on August 13 2012, 19:47
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@Craig De Montfort Braganda
Did you think the Maoris and Tahitans migrated from Africa, and why do you think that the oldest language of Madagascar comes from Borneo?

by Lyndall Beddy on August 13 2012, 19:49
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There was NO contact between Black Sub Saharan Africa and Brown Egypt.
Which is a favourite myth of Black America. Not only the Saharan Desert, but also the swamps of the Sudd, cut Mediterranean Africa off from Black Africa. Which is why sheep could not have come from Egypt either, and would not have survived crossing the . .more

by Lyndall Beddy on August 13 2012, 20:03
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2000 years ago neither the Roman Emperor Nero nor Julius Caesar could explore up the Nile.
Neither could Alexander the Great - because of the swamps of the Sudd - so how could sheep have come from Egypt, or anything else?

by Lyndall Beddy on August 13 2012, 20:06
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And don't forget the Arab colonisers!
Arabs started colonising Africa in the 9th century, 1000 years before European Colonisation of Central Africa.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 13 2012, 20:09
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Only 3 peoples still have the Original Culture of the World
The Bushmen, the Aborigines and the Basques.

There are 14,000 year old rock paintings in the Basque country that Piccasso said were so beautiful that "after this all is decadence". Egyptian culture only started 7000 years ago.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 13 2012, 20:25
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Hpld on!
Perhaps JZ783 is referring to the SAPS raid on the Imperial War Museum during which the curator lost an eye?

by Brett on August 13 2012, 23:02
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WOW!
@Open Minded
really? this is information as known by all Nguni elders. I'm not surprised that you do not happen to possess such info, as the Broederbond went to great lengths to sanitize the land and its people of their history! And no I have . .more

by Craig De Montfort-Braganca on August 14 2012, 03:42
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Black America made up these Blacks came from Egypt myths
@ Craig De Montfort-Braganca

It is both Historically and Geographically impossible. Blacks of Asia, the Pacific and Africa have similar cultures - pottery, tatoos, initiations for girls and boys, and language. Bushmen culture is totally . .more

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 03:57
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The Indigenous Bushmen of Africa were genocided by migrating blacks
Just like the genocide of the Native Americans and the genocide of the Australian aborigines. Blacks, Arabs and Whites are all colonisers in Africa.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 04:58
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Prince Wlliam said "Americans Don't Understand Geography"
Which applies to Black Americans as well. If neither Emperor Nero, nor Julius Caesar, nor Alexander the Great, could penetrate into Black Africa from Egypt because of the swamps of the Sudd and the Sahara Desert, and they all tried, how did this myth that . .more

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 05:12
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Dicktator 783
JZ does nothing that is of benefit to anyone other than JZ and his extensive family. Just to put it all in perspective I have coined the following quote:- “Democracy without accountability is a dictatorship”. We all know that JZ heads the unaccountable . .more

by Noonie on August 14 2012, 07:57
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The Cape Brown Homeland has been under Racist attack from the ANC since 1993
Either ALL race groups ahould have Homelands or NONE should have them. Why should SA taxpayers subsidise expensive lifestyles of the Swazi and Zulu Kings, yet bus unemployed Xhosa into the Brown Homeland of the original people?

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 10:29
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The Cape is the ONLY Homeland left in Africa of the Original People
The Cape Coloureds are 3 main groups: descendents of the San Bushmen(in areas like the Karoo), descendents of the Khoi(in areas like the Cape Flats and Boland) and descendents of Malay slaves (the smallest group, mostly only in Cape Town)

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 10:33
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Coloureds exist at all because whites got to the Cape first
The genocide of the Browns by Blacks that had happened in the rest of Africa did NOT happen in the Cape, and ONLY in the Cape Colony!

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 10:35
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Brown and Black Cultures are DIFFERENT!
Browns ar monogamous and paint pictures of animals and spirit people on rocks (Bushmen, Basques, Aborigines). Blacks are polygamous and paint designs on pots, houses and body tattoos (Africa, Asia and the Pacific)

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 10:46
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@ Craig De Montfort-Braganca
Geologist are from all walks of life yet I don't recall anything about there being human remains being found in South Africa dating back to those early years. So to suggest that whatever is know is only because the Boers or whom ever went about searching . .more

by Open Minded on August 14 2012, 12:24
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The oldest human remains in SA are 120,000 years old.
They were found at the caves below the Pinnacle Point golf course, but they are remains of the Brown ancestors of the San, Khoi and Strandlopers NOT of the Black Bantu. The remains of the oldest domesticated sheep was also found in a Strandloper cave at . .more

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 12:41
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The Whites recognised the Browns as the Original People.
Which is why the Cape was a "coloured preference" area. Now Jimmy Manyi says "there are too many Coloureds in the Western Cape" (but NOT too many Zulus in Zululand, or too many Xhosa in the Transkei)!

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 12:43
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@Open Minded
I take back back what I said about sharing my knowledge, my sole misgiving is sharing it on Brittanica... maybe wikipedia

But no, geologists do not come from all walks of life, and some only work to find data to simply justify their prejudices. . .more

by Craig De Montfort-Braganca on August 14 2012, 14:06
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Scientists are funded by vested interests
@ Craig De Montford

And that includes geologists and all the "climate change" scientists. The Dogon and the Taureg are both fascinating tribes with cultures unlike any other but they are only 2 of the over 3000 cultural groups and tribes of . .more

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 14:36
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What tall stories we are told by De Montfort-Braganca et al.!
Bearing in mind that prior to 1652 no tribes or peoples south of the equator had invented or used writing, the "history" of Black tribes and peoples have no more force or credibility than the myths of ancient Greece or Rome! Human memory is a poor thing, . .more

by Mute Fool on August 14 2012, 15:12
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Anthropologists agree that Blacks migrated from West Africa to S Africa
This migration from Cameroon to the Congo and from there to Southern Africa took 2000-3000 years. So 120,000 year old fossils can't be their ancestors, can they?

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 15:39
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Arrogance on display.
The arrogance on display by people who claim : "our land was stolen by (white) colonists", never fails to amaze me. I know of no piece of land on Earth which was earmarked by higher authority for exclusive ownership by a particular race, ethnic group, or . .more

by Mute Fool on August 14 2012, 16:14
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Blacks stole the whole of Africa from the Browns anyhow.
There are Brown Bushmen fossils all over Sub Saharan Africa, but they were killed off everywhere else except in the Cape Colony, because the Dutch got there before the Blacks.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 17:19
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All Europeans descend from 7 Brown Women from Africa.
This is described in the book "The Seven Daughters of Eve"., except that the DNA scientists just call the Browns "one of the tribes of Africa" because everyone not white is black to Western scientists.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 17:46
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The Aborigines have refused to be DNA tested.
Which I find very fustrating, because they are so like the Bushmen and the Basques in culture.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 17:48
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@ Craig De Montfort-Braganca
Take a look at this site, click on each picture to enlarge
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SGc8xaMH0Pw/UAPF7D2nEaI/AAAAAAAAdbY/fzDSY2rztqk/s1600/Africa_8000BC_TheWhiteAfricans_GLange_500x1022.png

Must say I am intrigued by your name "de" is . .more

by Open Minded on August 14 2012, 18:19
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Most Indigeneous peoples are BROWN, not Black and not White
North America, South America, Asia, India, Arabia? And both Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) were BROWN not black and not white.

"There are none so blind as those who will not see" - because they are blinded by prejudices!

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 19:31
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