Sarah Baartman honoured by name change of Cacadu Municipality

Cacadu District Municipality is now changing its name to Sarah Baartman District Municipality.

Sarah Baartman

This followsthe acceptance of a request yesterday by the Executive Mayor of the municipality, Khunjuzwa Eunice Kekana, to support the renaming.

The National and Provincial Government will now be informed plus traditional leaders, stakeholders and all affected communities will be informed. In addition the renaming requires the amendment of the Section 12 Notice of the Municipal Structures Act of 1998 (Act 117 of 1998).

The communities and stakeholders of the Cacadu District Municipality are also urged to provide comment when the proposal is advertised for public input.

The significance of Sarah Baartman

Sarah Baartman is an international icon, synonymous with the commitment to democracy by the South African Government. Baartman, of Khoikhoi descent, was born in 1789 and raised within the Gamtoos Valley in the Cacadu District Municipality and was laid to rest in Hankey along the banks of the Gamtoos River on 9 August 2002.

She became orphaned when her family was attacked in a commando raid and was subsequently taken to Cape Town as a slave. At the age of 20, in 1810, William Dunlop, a British ship’s doctor, took her to London.

There she was put on display as a human novelty, due to the fascination of the Europeans with her body shape. Her inhumane treatment was exposed and a court case was brought in her defence by the African Association, an anti-slavery group in London.

When she could no longer be displayed in London, she was sold to an animal trainer in France, who also used her as if she were a circus animal. She died of a respiratory illness in Paris in 1815, after which her body was dissected by a scientist named George Cuvier, Napoleon’s surgeon-general. A body cast was made of her corpse and her body parts were put on display until 1974.

In 1994, President Nelson Mandela appealed to the French Government for the return of the remains of Sarah Baartman from the Musee de l’Homme in Paris. It was only in 2002 that the French Government finally agreed.

On 22 August 2002, the former president, Thabo Mbeki, declared the grave of Sarah Baartman a national heritage site.

In related matters it was announced last month that the Construction of the R168-million Sarah Bartmann Centre of Remembrance at Hankey will start as soon as the Department of Agriculture gives the go-ahead for the rezoning and subdivision of the site earmarked for the development. Kouga, the Dept of Arts & Culture and the Dept of Agriculture are still negotiating, but Arts & Culture are optimistic that the contractor will be on site before the end of the year.

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