TerryHowcott.com - Ravaged Cultures Spark a Cultural Revival


Sister Soldier Saartjie, Then and Now

And Her Name Was Not "Hottentot"

'She was born on the Gamtoos River in the Eastern Cape.'

Much great work has been put forth on the matter of Saartjie Baartman of the Khoikhoi people. She is our Sister who Europeans, obsessed with the shape of her body, buttocks and genitalia, all but forced her hand - transporting her to Europe, and parading her in public as if she were livestock.

Not only could she have never conceived of the horrors that awaited her in Europe, but she had no concept of the profound and shocking cultural changes she was to confront.

It is important to note that Sister Saartjie fell dead only after a year after her arrival in Europe after intense suffering and what we can assume considerable resistance against an onslaught of physical and verbal persecution.

She was 26 years old at the time of her death.

Trailer, The Resurrection of "Little Sarah"*

(Note, the actress in this piece does not represent the physique of Saartjie 'Sarah" Baartman, nor does this dramatization properly exhibit the extent to which we can assume she fought against her attackers

Also, the actress has a british accent. We know that Sis. Baartman who spoke several languages likely maintained much of the speech patterning of her people.)

Most presentations of Saarjie's story
are rightly centered around the tragedy and outrage of the manner in which she was treated, and less on the matter of her history and that of the South African Khoikhoi.

They were among the original peoples of the earth - and yet, they were pillaged and scorned, ridiculed, touched and bothered, photographed and harassed all because of the low intellectual abilities, and skewed emotional capacities of their White supremacist ravagers.

The Garland Book of African music not only references the Khoikhoi as having been enslaved, but further reports that they "disappeared" without explanation. The history reveals that they were pillaged in much the same way as other historic and contemporary populations from the African Diaspora to the Indigenous Alaskans to the native "Hawaiians" and beyond.

Here is a fresh opportunity to think about the African Khoikhoi people in general, Saartjie Baartman in particular, the barbarity they faced, and many of the similarities of Saartjie's life and conditions and many of our Sisters on the ground survive and resist today.

As was then, they are scorned, misrepresented, mistreated, abused and sometimes driven into a life of addiction and prostitution by the same exact system that brutalized and literally castigated her to death.

We are surrounded by Saartjie Baartmans, and we love her and all reflections of her, both then and now.

The Analyses of three African films with reference to Ubuntu

"It is conveyed that her family was separated, her community destroyed and she was shipped of the London in 1810 in which at that time, the English were obsessed with human curiosities considered as freaks and fair ground attractions."

The Analyses of three African films

Saartjie Baartman: A South African Woman’s Story

"Eventually, the French tired of her, and she was forced to support herself through prostitution."

A South African Woman’s Story

Saartjie Baartman by Monica Clarke, Storyteller

Sara's Story

She was born on the Gamtoos River in the Eastern Cape

in 1789 of a Khoisan family in what is now South Africa

Sara's Story

Saartjie Baartman, Caster Semenya and the "curious case" of Black female athletes

"curious case" of Black female athletes

Sarah Baartman

“Saartjie Baartman became a symbol of our suffering, and all the misery she went through was a manifestation of how the Khoisan people were treated during that period and beyond . . . ”

Sarah Baartman

The Venus Hottentot

by Elizabeth Alexander

"I was certain this would be better than farm life."

Encounter and Contact
between the Khoikhoi and the European Colonists (Also known as "Ravagers.")

"The Khoikhoi encountered and experienced the
European settlers as invaders
and competitors who were depriving them of stock as well as grazing facilities.

The Europeans considered the Khoikhoi inferior, lured and coersed them to labour
and servitude.

In an attempt to regain their territories the Khoikhoi resorted to taking arms against the Europeans and attacked them in 1659 and in 1673.

Many of the Khoikhoi were killed in these clashes."

Also known as "Ravagers."



What is "The Saartjie Project"

Life and Times of Sara Baartman

"The issue of Sara Baartman became controversial in the 1980s, when demands began for the return of her remains to the Cape of Good Hope, for burial with dignity."

Life and Times of Sara Baartman


"Here see quite clearly, the khoikhoi having painted distinct images of the White ravagers with guns, documenting the chaos and mayhem they must have brought to their sacred place.


The Misrepresentation of Black Women

The Misrepresentation of Black Women

Oppression of Khoikhoi and Xhosa

"The San branch were hunter gatherers; the Khoikhoi were herdsmen.

As a whole, the Khoisan needed large amounts of land in order to hunt and graze their cattle.

The Dutch refused to recognise their traditional grazing and hunting rights."

Oppression of Khoikhoi and Xhosa

Interview with Binahkaye and Chioma, The Saartjie Project

This video repeats.

é experiência torturante

é experiência torturante

Advance Look at New Saartjie Baartman Bio

In this brilliant, vividly written book, Rachel Holmes traces the full arc of Saartjie's extraordinary story - a story of race, eros, oppression, and fame that resonates powerfully today.

Advance Look at New Saartjie Baartman Bio

The re-objectification and re-commodification of Saartjie Baartman


re-objectification and re-commodification

Remembering Saartjie Baartman


Remembering Saartjie Baartman

Khoikhoi and San want rights to be recognised

"They claim that their history of oppression and dispossession has long been overlooked, with government preferring to focus on rectifying the evils of apartheid's land policies.

Indeed, South Africa's indigenous population have lived in the region of the Cape for thousands of years, but lost their and land and water to the first settlers who arrived in 1652.

The current Land Restitution Act however, only considers claims for land that was dispossessed after the 1913 Native Land Act came into effect."

Khoikhoi and San want rights to be recognised

Original Khoi-Khoi Sister

See photo number 11

This young women is representative of Cape Town's indigenous community and can probably trace her heritage to the original Khoi-Khoi inhabitants of the Cape. Source: Franco Frescura collection.

Original Khoi-Khoi

Trafficking: A very modern slavery

Penny was almost 29 when she was trafficked from Rwanda to the UK, tricked into believing she could start a new life.

Trafficking: A very modern slavery

Extrait #2 "Venus Noire

Saartjie Baartman's speech and the sounds of national identification.

Gould's prioritization of vision replicates the original dismissal of Baartman's voice by Georges Cuvier, whose autopsy report of her "mentions, in an off-hand sort of way, that Saartjie [...] spoke Dutch rather well" and had some familiarity with English and French (Gould 296, emph. mine).

Saartjie Baartman's speech and the sounds

Gwi-Khwe or Gwikhwe Language


"The Khoisan languages are written in a standardized alphabet based on Latin characters with special symbols for the click sounds unique to the Khoisan languages. Some of these symbols are //, !, /.

Technical materials are available to explain the sounds these symbols represent."

Gwi-Khwe or Gwikhwe Language

KhoeKhoegowab, Lesson 4

"KhoeKhoegowab is the most populous and widespread of the Khoisan languages.

It belongs to the Khoe language family, and is spoken in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa by the Namaqua, Damara, and Haillom, as well as smaller ethnic groups such as the #Khomani. The name for Nama speakers, Khoekhoen, is from the Nama word khoe "person", with reduplication and the suffix -n to indicate the plural.

Thusnelda Dausas and Gabriel /Khoeseb are two young teachers from the primery school, a small school vilage called Baumgartsbrunn in Namibia."

Aaartjie Baartman Film Project

However, it is important to note that this Sister was not "a woman of color." She was an African (Afrikan) woman.

Aaartjie Baartman Film Project

The Khoikhoi And The Dutch Resistance By Gonnema And Dorha A Threat To A Way Of Life

"Khoikhoi herdsmen and women who went to work on Dutch farms slowly lost their economic independence, culture and traditional way of dress."

The Khoikhoi And The Dutch Resistance

Mark Wells on the Sexualized Images of Black Women Worldwide

Prostitution: Where Racism and Sexism Intersect

"If from among the legions of the dead there is one single ghost that haunts the Aids narratives, it is the ghost of Saartjie Baartman, taken to Europe in 1810 and exhibited as 'the Hottentot Venus'.'

Racism and Sexism Intersect Prostitution

Between stigmatisation and regulation: prostitution in colonial Northern Vietnam

'This is somewhat paradoxical given that 'no subject is discussed more than sex in colonial literature' and 'sexual prescriptions by class, race and gender became increasingly central to the politics of rule and subject to new forms of scrutiny by colonial state'

(Corrected link)

Between stigmatisation and regulation

The Cape Herders

The Cape Herders

Drawing of Khoi dancers and musical instruments

"The depiction of young women, which sometimes seems deliberately sexualized, also raises questions about how independent an observer the artist was."

Drawings by Ravager

"The Pageant" aka "Miss 'Bust It Baby' Supreme"

Saartjie Baartman's Ghost

Saartjie Baartman's Ghost

The Life and Times of Sara Baartman

(Different article)

"In 1814 she was taken to France, and became the object of scientific and medical research that formed the bedrock of European ideas about black female sexuality.

She died the next year. But even after her death, Sara Baartman remained an object of imperialist scientific investigation."

The Life and Times of Sara Baartman

Standing on the auction block [electronic resource] : teaching through the black female body / (2007)

"Investigating her life and stereotypical images of the Black female body in the American Imagination provides a vehicle to examine the preconceived notions that students bring with them to the classroom.

Saartjie Baartman, Mammy, Sapphire, and "Jezebel" are juxtaposed with the experiences of three Black female faculty members to illustrate the continued struggle to adopt more positive images of Black women in history and in popular culture."

teaching through the black female body

False Diagnosis: Steatopygia

They even conjured up the idea that the size of Saartjie's buttocks should be labeled a medical defect.

They referenced and continue to reference it as "a high degree of fat accumulation in and around the buttocks."

Note, it appears that no African scientists have devoted time to crafting a diagnosis that would reflect the dilemma of "little to no degree of fat accumulation in and around the buttocks "

False Diagnosis

Her name was NOT hottentot

Sisters in the Vice

The Black Bottom Community

Sisters in the Vice

Garland Handbook of African Music

It was the KhoiKhoi who were among those early musicians, playing the mouth bow, 'single tone flutes' and other homemade instruments.

Check it.

Garland Handbook of African Music

Zola Maseko's film The Life and Times of Sara Baartman

Clearly, one of the strengths of the film is that it will allow students and scholars to examine issues related to African or Black women in Britain.

(Please note that for all of our admiration of femininity, it is not ''an essential."

Zola Maseko's film

On Display

Saartje Baartman arrives in South Africa from France

After moving to Paris, Baartman drifted into prostitution and died in poverty in 1816. Following her death, her genitalia and brain were put on display until 1974.

(Please note, you don't "drift" into prostitution.)

Saartje Baartman arrives in South Africa

African bodies of evidence

She plays a generative role in "Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body," a sweeping, gutsy, and provocative exhibition organized by curator Barbara Thompson at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College.

African bodies of evidence

Sister Temple

Sister Temple

Women of South African History: Book Review

Here, Sokari Ekine points to essayist Yvette Abrahams' writing of the quandary of Saartjie's publicly acknowledging the repression that she faced - as she takes it a step further, viewing her as an enslaved African whose continued molestation and abuse were the perpetration of rape of both she and the Khoisan people.

The Return of Sara Baartman

Saartjie Project South

Exhibiting "Others" in the West

"When abolitionists mobilized to put an end Baartman's public display, she informed them that she participated in the spectacles of her own volition.

She even shared in profits with her exhibitor."

Note author's neglecting to capture the point. This writer would have presented it in this way:

"She shared in profits with her exhibitor. Having no other means of survival, she informed them that she participated in the spectacles of her own volition."

Exhibiting "Others" in the West

"Sara's Story a symbol of subjugation and humiliation, her homecoming will be a spiritual thing"

Including discussion of the great defender of Saartjie Baartman: Robert Wedderburn

"Wedderburn is himself an interesting black British radical.

He was arrested twice in the early 1800s, once for Sedition for defending a slaves rights to rise up and kill his master, and then a second time for sending among the first revolutionary papers from England to the west Indies."

"Sara Baartman died in Paris in 1816, an impoverished prostitute, a lonely woman, and an alcoholic."

Sara Story

Returning Remains: Saartjie Baartman

Returning Remains: Saartjie Baartman

I've Come to Take You Home

I've come to take you home
home, remember the veld?
the lush green grass beneath the big oak trees
the air is cool there and the sun does not burn.

I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white
and the water in the stream chuckle sing-songs
as it hobbles along over little stones.

I have come to wretch you away
away from the poking eyes
of the man-made monster
who lives in the dark
with his clutches of imperialism
who dissects your body bit by bit
who likens your soul to that of Satan
and declares himself the ultimate god!

I have come to soothe your heavy heart
I offer my bosom to your weary soul
I will cover your face with the palms of my hands
I will run my lips over lines in your neck
I will feast my eyes on the beauty of you
and I will sing for you
for I have come to bring you peace.

I have come to take you home
where the ancient mountains shout your name.
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white

I have come to take you home
where I will sing for you
for you have brought me

Beautifully penned and read by Khoisan author and poet, Diana Ferrus, at the ceremonial reception of the remains of Sis. Saartjie Baartman by the South African government in 2002.


Sarah Baartman in Context

The Return of Sara Baartman

"Sara's repatriation involved years of lobbying by people in South Africa including Professor Phillip Tobias and many activists, a connection between a French parliamentary assistant and a South African poet Diana Ferrus, and French senator Nicolas about who, when told that only a law could force the country to give up Baartman, introduced one."

The Return of Sara Baartman

Theatre UAB challenges audiences with Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Venus”

"With "Venus," Parks manipulates the known historical facts concerning Baartman into a postmodern history that investigates the still present preoccupation with the physique of the African woman, Sheikh says.

The irreverence and circus-like situations depicted in "Venus" free Parks from the limits of moral judgment and push the play into a variety of thematic directions."

The Return of Sara Baartman

Sarah Baartman Memorial Centre Architectural Unveiling

Children's Presentation: African Saga - Sarah Baartman

"My skin is the deepest shade of the darkest chocolate."

"She wanted to go home so much. Longing for home..[a]nd if I was home and longed for my mother how much more did she long for her mother and her land. Sister you got to feel the pain that your ancestor

("The Return of Sarah Baartman" [2002])

* Note, the name Sara has been spelled with and without an "h" for the obvious reason that it was fictitious from the start.

Closeup photo is from this beautiful cave art site with other moving artifacts reflecting our glorious history.

glorious history

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