Learning to love the Princess
Emile Jansen is a hiphop star from the group Black Noise. He runs a programme called Heal the Hood, working with youth in the areas around Princess Vlei who are challenged by issuessu as poverty, drug abuse and gangsterism. He helps them to create an alternative path through life by affirming themselves through understanding their cultural heritage, and developing skill such as break-dancing, singing and rapping. He has been extensively involved in the campaign to save Princess Vlei. Here he explains why...
As a kid, I ran skelmpies (secretly) to the vlei with my brasse (friends) to catch fish. I say skelmpies because we all knew the legend of the Khoisan princess who was raped and lost her love there, and how her spirit would take a boy’s or a man’s life in the vlei every year.
When I was a kid, apartheid taught me to fear anything African, but today I am who I am because of these magnificent first people’s blood running through my veins. I encourage our communities to stand up and make sure that this memory is not cemented away in the name of greed and ‘‘progress’’. This heritage is what will stop gangsterism, crime, drug abuse and violence. This knowledge will bring a sense of belonging to the so-called coloured people who are made to feel like immigrants in their own country. This knowledge will give back our connection to the first people of the land and we will reclaim our self-worth.
That princess I feared as a kid, I now love as an adult. It is said that they took her to “Elephants Eye” as a hostage and when she cried, her tears ran into the Princess Vlei, Zeekoe Vlei, Rondevlei and Zandvlei. These are stories I wish to tell my children while sitting on the vlei banks, so that they can feel at home. I will tell them that we come from a long lineage going back to the beginning of mankind, and like those tears, our people’s blood flows through all people.
My children will finally feel equal and part of the human race and not some bastard tribe that apartheid created. I will tell them that we belong to the land and have to protect it because it is our only home.
I will tell them how we were taught to forget and write-off the Khoisan as uncivilised and childlike by our oppressors because they knew it would destroy our humanity. I will tell them how the Khoisan live on when we say “er” and “he er” as they mean “yes” and “no” in Nama language.
I will show them Nama words like gogga (insect), kriekie ( cricket), gwagga (kwagga), dagga, boechoe (a plant), abba (carrying a baby on your back), eina (ouch), aitsa (well done), that are still in the Afrikaans dictionary.
I will tell them about the natural fish traps at Kommetjie and the name Hoerikwaggo for Table Mountain, and they will be proud. I will tell them how the Khoisan named the Xhosa (which means angry looking man in Nama) and how they shared the three clicks out of four in Nama with them.
I will tell them how everyone in SA is living on the land of the Khoisan and how forgetting them, will be like forgetting our common humanity.
As we sit and watch the sun set, I will dig my fingers into the soil and know that I am blessed, for within them lie ancient dormant fynbos seeds that can be found nowhere else in the world. As I watch my children play on her banks, maybe she will not take our men any longer, for we have stood up and saved her from being raped this time.
Toa tama !kams ge (The struggle continues)
EMILE YX? GRASSY PARK