By: Motsoko Pheko
The colonial ‘empty land’ theory has no historical credence. It stirs very deep emotions in the hearts of African people who were dispossessed of their land at gunpoint and are still dispossessed – hence rampant poverty among them, whether they be Zulu Africans or Khoi Africans.
On 16 February 2012, speaking in a purported ‘New South Africa’ Parliament, a former member of the apartheid colonialist National Party now leading the opposition Freedom Party Plus claimed that Africans are not the original inhabitants of 40 percent of Azania which colonialists called South Africa on 2O September 1909. His name is Pieter Muller. He is the minister of agriculture in the ANC Government led by President Jacob Zuma.
Muller posits that Africans, whom he calls Bantu, never in the past lived in the whole of South Africa. ‘The Bantu-speaking people moved from the Equator down south while the white people moved from the Cape to meet each other at the Kei River.’ He does not disclose that the colonialists came from Europe. Their sole purpose was to take African lands by terrorist militarism. He does mention the Khoi and San people, whom colonialists called Hottentots and Bushmen respectively.
This reflects a despicable colonial attempt to falsify African history and conceal the genocide that colonialists perpetrated on the Khoisan African people. They were not only in the Western Cape but all over Azania as were all various other African people. For instance, King Adam Kok, one of the Khoi Kings still has a town called Kokstad after his name. The Khoi Africans in the Western Cape under King Koebaha Heijkon maintained trade links with the Xhosa-speaking Africans to the North East of the Cape. The Dutch officials kept records that show that Europeans were amazed that the Khoi Africans traded copper ore with the Xhosa-speaking Africans. The Khoi also traded in goats with the Batswana.
Hendrik Witbooi was a King of the Nama section of the Khoi Africans that lived in parts of both Azania and Namibia. This was before colonialists gave colonial names to these African countries. It was also long before the imperialist Berlin Conference boundaries drawn by European imperialists. In July 1892, Major Curt von Francis of the German army ordered King Witbooi to surrender his African country to the Germans.
The Khoi King replied, ‘Africa belongs to us, both through the hue of our skin and our way of life. We belong together. And this Africa is entirely our country. The fact that we possess a variety of diverse LANDS and variety of kingships does not mean any secondary division and does not sever our solidarity. The Emperor of Germany has no business in Africa.’
The beneficiaries of European colonialism have no business to claim an inch of African soil. Long before Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company established a ‘provision station’ in the Southern tip of Africa (Western Cape) the first war of national resistance against European colonial aggression was fought in this part of Azania (South Africa). The colonial aggressors were Portuguese. Their war of colonial aggression was led by Dom Francisco de Almeida. The Khoi people with a section of the Xhosa allies won this war. This was at the Battle of Salt River. It took place in 1510.All the Portuguese colonialists were killed. Probably as a result of this victory, it took 142 years before Europeans dared invade Azania.
It was after the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck through the Azanian Sea (now colonially called ‘Indian Ocean’) that Africans fought several wars of national resistance against colonialism. One of the first of such wars was fought beneath Table Mountain. This war was led by a Khoi leader called Doman. The colonial wars against the Khoi, as against the rest of Africans throughout Azania were in 1657, 1659 and 1673 to 1677. These three wars against colonialism by Khoi and San proved that the bravery of these sons and daughters of Africa was no match for the military terrorism of imperialist aggressors.
But even then, a Khoi African king in today’s Western Cape asked Jan van Riebeeck, ‘If we (Africans), were to come to Europe, would we be permitted to act in a similar manner you act here? It would not matter if you stayed at the ‘provision station’, but you come out here in the interior. You select the best land for yourselves. You never ask us even once whether we like it or not or whether it will disadvantage us. You say land is not enough for the pastures of your cattle and sheep as well as ours. Tell me, Jan van Riebeeck and your colonial settlers: Who then, with the greatest degree of justice should give way, the natural owner or the foreign invader?’
Colonialists are hungry for the riches of Africa and they have desperately tried to make their own wishful thinking the history of Africa ever since they landed in Africa. In 1961 the colonial prime minster of South Africa, Hendrick Verwoerd, told an audience in London: ‘More than 300 years ago, two population groups equally foreign to South Africa converged in rather small numbers on what was practically empty land. Neither group colonised or robbed the other by invasion.’
His foreign affairs minister, Eric Louw had earlier said, ‘The Bantu began to trek from the North across the Limpopo when Jan van Riebeeck landed at Table Bay in 1652.’
The colonial ‘empty land’ theory has no historical credence. It is conceived in the womb of imperialism. Pieter Muller suggests that the records of the Boer Trekkers must be consulted to prove his ridiculous point of view. This would be like asking the European Allies in the Second World to consult Nazi history records. The colonisers of Azania have worked for centuries to turn Azania into an ‘Australia’ or ‘New Zealand.’ South Africa is the only British colony in Africa that was called a ‘dominion.’ Britain and its colonial settlers smuggled the African country it had colonised into the League of Nations and into the United Nations as a ‘sovereign state’, though the coloniser and its settlers could not tell the world on what date South Africa was returned to its rightful owners.
In 1930 reports on excavations at Mapungubwe in the Limpopo area revealed skeletal remains of what was called ‘ancient Azanians.’ (See also Old Africa Rediscovered page 95, The Lost Cities Of Africa pages 155-156 by Basil Davidson; Man In Africa by L.S.B. Leakey; The History Of The World J.M. Roberts pages 457-458; Apartheid: The Story Of A Dispossessed People published by Marram Books London 1984 with a foreword by former Professor of history at Harvard University, C L R James).
A British academic, Shula Marks, has pointed out that the carbon dates that have been processed from the Early Iron Age stretching over central, eastern and southern Africa reveal that the first Iron Age African farmers arrived here in the first millennium and not as had been previously assumed, relatively late in the second. Prof. Marks further stated that, ‘The earliest dates we have for the Iron Age in South Africa go back to 1200 years before the Portuguese rounded the southern tip of the Continent of Africa.’ This will be about 286 A.D. When it is considered that there were some Europeans who passed through this country earlier than Portuguese Diaz in 1486, the date is much earlier.
Addressing a symposium in 1973 on ancient mining in Azania (South Africa), head of archaeology department of Witwatersrand University stated that ‘the early Iron Age Africans entered Transvaal between 27 B.C. and 473 A.D.’
Heinous atrocities committed against the Khoi and San Africans is to the degree that they were exterminated. They are a few Khoi in South Africa today, but hardly any San people. The San had to flee to Namibia, Botswana and Angola to survive their colonial extermination. Here are a few examples: In 1771 another war broke out between the San people and the Dutch settlers. The San people had begun to retaliate against the setters. The settlers had taken large tracts of their hunting land for farming. As a result of this war, the settler leadership ordered that ‘every Bushman, Hottentot or Bastaad robber of any sex or age be delivered alive at Robben Island, there to serve the Dutch Company in chains….The Graaf Reinet turned out too late, but Jan van der Walt of the Koude Bokkeveld and Jonker Afrikaner…did yeoman service killing over 600 Bushmen and taking a few alive. As a reward for all this, Van der Walt was given two farms on the Nieuwveld,’ writes Erick A Walker in his book ‘A History Of Southern Africa’, page 118.
It is estimated that the population of the Khoi people when the colonisers arrived in the Western Cape was over a quarter million. Their extermination was not only with colonial guns. Leprosy disease introduced from passing European ships decimated the Khoi people. They had no clue how to treat this foreign disease. They died in great numbers. As Peter Dreyer, author f MARTYRS AND FANATICS…. puts it, ‘the Khoi were reduced to a landless proletariat – labourers or vagrants on the land of their ancestors.’
The colonial settlers having now subjugated the Khoi Africans and dispossessed them of their land employed them as labourers on their own robbed farmland. They paid them with food, old clothing and alcohol. The liquor is said to have been ‘hot ten tots’ a month – hence the new colonial name ‘Hottentots’ for the Khoi people.
Another false theory that colonialists and their historians have propagated is that there was deep hatred between the Khoisan Africans and other Africans in Azania. As indicated earlier in this discussion, King Witbooi one of the Khoi kings dismissed this colonial fallacy. Historian Shula Marks has written, ‘Contrary to much of the mythology which dwells on the inveterate hatred between them…there is much archaeological as well as linguist record of long peaceful interaction between them. The clicks characteristic of the Southern Bantu languages, that are characteristic of the South Eastern Bantu languages, that are unique to this family, also bespeak a long and intimate relationship between Khoisan and Bantu-speakers. Oral tradition in many areas recalls the intermarriage even of Bantu-speaking people with Khoisan women. Chief Molhebangwe(sic) of the southernmost Tswana people, the Tlhaping – his mother was a Khoi.’
In fact, a Mofokeng King married a San woman as his senior wife in 145O. Intermarriage between Xhosa-speaking Africans and Khoi Africans was so common that Amagqwashu, Amangqunukhwebe, Amacira and Amasukwini have been described by some historians as half-Xhosa and half-Khoi (Peter Dreyer author of MARTYS AND FANATICS page 81).These people spoke of their women as ‘Amalawukazi ampundu zibomvu’ (The Khoi women who have fair red buttocks).
King Moshoeshoe of the Basotho was among kings who married San women. Their names were Rosaleng also known as Qea and Motseola known as Seqha.
The historical fact is that the colonialists exterminated the Khoisan Africans. Loss of land results in loss of national sovereignty and nationhood. The national tragedy of losing one’s land was highlighted by Eta when the Khoi African King Adam Kok III died on 30 December 1875. In a moving funeral oration, Eta, the king’s cousin told the Khoi rather prophetically.
‘We have laid in the grave a man you all knew and loved. He is the last king of our people. After him there will be no Khoi African in South Africa….Take a look into that grave. You will never look into the face of another king of our people. Do you realise that your nationality is buried there?’
When the Peter Mulders, the Hendrick Verwoerds, Eric Louws and their historians talk of ‘empty land’ when colonialists arrived in Azania, they provoke very deep emotions in the hearts of the African people who were dispossessed of their land at gunpoint and are still dispossessed – hence rampart poverty among them, whether they be Zulu Africans or Khoi Africans.
Prof. James H. Evans of the Faculty of Colgate Rochester Divinity College in America has asked, ‘Why does the white myth of South differ widely from reality?’ He hits the nail on the head when he says, ‘The answer to this question in part is that the invaders found it necessary to justify historically, their invasion of a large portion of a black continent. By controlling the history of the region, they could control its inhabitants…the sole aim of which is keep the Black majority in slavery.’