In response to the email that we all received, please find the following statement and call for solidarity.
The A|XARRA Restorative Justice Forum together with the Khoi and San Kingdom Council of Southern Africa, the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Traditional and Indigenous Council, the Cochoqua Royal Council, the Kai Korana Transfrontier, the !Aman Royal Council, First Indigenous Nation of Southern Africa, Democratic Federation of Indigenous People of South Africa, !khoraIIgauIIaes Council and Khowese NamaTraditiona lCouncil, stand in solidarity and defence of activists, traditional leaders, academics and allies who are being targeted because of their position against the Amazon River Club Development.
We assert our deep concern over the malicious and defamatory email addressed to the University of Cape Town by an anonymous entity purporting to be the First Nations Collective.
The contents of the email are not only offensive and egregious but a complete distortion of our view regarding Prof Leslie London in relation to the proposed Amazon Development.
We wish to make it clear that Prof London is a partner of the A|XARRA, an anti apartheid activist, and a prolific activist in health and human rights. He, during the Fees Must Fall protests marched with his faculty in support of his students and immediately instituted negotiations and talks.
His work and solidarity with us in heritage protection of our sacred areas, and in activism and research on alcohol fetal syndrome is of vital importance.
The contents of the email is an insult to the leadership in our cohort, and to the broader San and Khoi as it insinuates that Prof London is misleading the San and Khoi groups against the development on the River Club site. This is an insult to our integrity and intelligence.
We represent a wide scope of traditional and political affiliations in the various Khoi and San cultural, and revivalist formations nationally. Our position has for years been very clear on the development from the moment it was first announced in 2017. This has not changed. We assessed rigorously the developments impact of heritage, and environment, have actively engaged in the various complex participatory engagement processes, and have responded both collectively and as individuals in protest to what we consider a severe threat to intensely significant tangible and intangible heritage and environment.
We condemn attacks of this nature on human rights defenders, and activists and conscience driven scholars who work to radically address the inequalities entrenched in our societies.
The attack on activists regarding this Amazon development is not unusual. Almost all the leaders of the AIXARRA Forum have been subjected to vitriolic smear campaigns and severe threats.
That Prof London’s private contact details, and home address are included is certainly designed to intimidate his sense of personal and family safety.
We condemn in no uncertain terms this attack on our colleague and comrade, and on the University’s commitment to research, teaching, public debate and community engagement. South Africans fought hard to create an environment against Apartheid type censorship. The Fees Must Fall Movement has reminded us of the ongoing work to break the barriers between academic silos and the relevance of the work in terms of how it relates to broader society. One of the most important democratic rights in the South Africa constitution is the right to free speech and freedom of association. We all have the right to engage purposefully in our history of entanglement.
In this regard a petition of support has been drawn up by our structures. We call on our Khoi and San leaders, activists, the academic community, students, citizens to place your support for the protection of people like Prof Leslie London.
We note the epistemological violence of these smear campaigns. The false and divisive narratives constructed speak also to the racist and ethno-nationalist sense underlining their content which when left unaddressed pose danger to our intellectual pursuit toward decoloniality. It replaces cultural debate, dialogical engagement, the rigour of robust research with fascist intimidation and violence.
This re-engenders the colonial divide and rule and pits Africans against each other.
By using a claim of cultural agency, this entity has unlawfully granted themselves permission to threaten with an open display of violence all in the name of San and Khoi in Southern Africa.
Not in our name.
We treasure our environment, our sacred spiritual heritage and the dignity of knowing who we are. Our values are founded on the principles of unity, healing and restorative justice.
Chair : AIXARRA Restorative Justice Forum
Tauriq Jenkins, High Commissioner Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin
Traditional and Indigenous Council on behalf of :
Paramount Chief Marthinus Fredericks, Khoi and San Kingdom Council of Southern Africa
Paramount Chief Aran, Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Traditional and Indigenous Council
Paramount Chief Johannes, Cochoqua Royal Council
Khoebaha Melvin Arendse, Kai Korana Transfrontier
B’ia Bradley Van Sitters, !khoraIIgauIIaes Council
Khowese NamaTraditional Council
!Aman Traditional Council
Rev Fick, chairperson First Indigenous Nation of Southern Africa
Rassool Snyman, regional organiser, Democratic Federation of Indigenous People of South Africa
Please add your details here to endorse this statement, as an individual or group, or both.
For further context please see the following links :
Alan Boesak’s Full Speech on Walk of Resistance
To view 47 000 objections to the development – https://www.change.org/p/department-of-environment-affairs-and-development-planning-voice-your-opposition-to-the-river-club-redevelopment-preserve-environment-and-heritage