There is no progress in my films.
There are small changes.
above all it’s a
There is no progress in my films.
There are small changes.
above all it’s a
first published here: http://www.electricsheepmagazine.co.uk/events/2014/09/20th-etrange-festival-preview/
click here to order: http://bookloversmarket.com/product/from-a-place-of-blackness/
first published here: http://witsvuvuzela.com/2014/09/19/wits-great-hall-stairs-vandalised/
this review first published here: http://chimurengachronic.co.za/the-case-of-sipho-mchunu/
Between 1653 and 1856 approximately 72 000 slaves arrived in the Cape either as imported slaves or captured ‘prize slaves’. While around 62% of the imported slaves were from Africa and Madagascar and around 90% or more of ‘prize slaves’ were also from Africa, around just over 17 300 slaves brought to the Cape were from the Indian sub-continent and a further 13 500 were from the Indonesian Archipelago. Largely unrecognised and dovetailing both the Indian and Indonesian components were many slaves who originated in the South East Asian territories of today’s Bangladesh, Burma/Myamar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Many of those who were enslaved by the Dutch East India Company were persons taken as prisoners of war in the many wars that raged across India, South East Asia and the Indonesian Archipelago.
The intrusion of the Portuguese, the Dutch and later the British in the region as well as the steady advancement of Arab commercial interests, Islam and its military forces, all assaulted Buddhist and traditional animist societies in South East Asia and the many Indonesian islands. It is from the conflicts and victor and vanquished societies that the enslaved emerged, often as spoils of war. This aspect of our Cape slave heritage is little understood or appreciated today as layer upon layer of distortions and shorthand research has resulted in various myths about the origins of slaves in South Africa.
Entrenched in the story of slavery and the history of people of colour in South Africa are some deeply entrenched myths that have their roots in distortions by white dominated academia and by colonial and Apartheid ideological constructs around the notion of race groups.
Some of the biggest myths are the assertions that:
• there were no sub-saharan bantu Africans in the Cape in the 17th and 18th centuries regardless of the African slaves brought to the Cape – over 62% of slaves over 200 years.
• the Eastern slaves were Malays whereas the smallest component of slaves were broadly from the Indonesia Archipelago to the outreaches of South East Asia with a mere trickle of slaves were actually dispatched from Melakka (the Malay Peninsula).
• the enslaved and others from the outlying archipelago islands were Muslims whereas most often they were war-booty enslaved from animist and Buddhist communities who were in the path of advancing competing Muslim and European forces.
• the first Indians or more broadly speaking, Dravidians, came to South Africa in the 1860s either as indentured workers or passenger Indians, whereas the second largest groups of slaves, and the earliest slaves to arrive in the 1650s, were from all along the coast of India, Bengal, Arakan and further afield in South East Asia.
• the best matrix used to explain the origins of slaves are the patronyms used as surnames, whereas these were often the major Dutch-controlled slaver-stations rather than the actual places of origin, thus obscuring the broader cultures of the enslaved and often perpetuating a conquering culture instead.
• perhaps the greatest myth, is that Khoena, San, and Bantu South Africans were not made slaves or that none ever found themselve exported.
As a result of these mythologies, in celebrating our slave ancestors we are missing out on the much more diverse ancestry of the enslaved, only reflecting later overlays of oppressor societies in the East and then perpetuate an injustice in terms of memory and restorative justice. We are largely lazy in our approach to delving into our past. We stop short in looking at slavery at the Cape by only studying the people we call the slaves of the Cape, at the Cape. We do not focus on PEOPLE who were ENSLAVED but rather look at our ancestors simply as SLAVES. Even here at the Cape we tend to focus on their SLAVERY EXPERIENCE rather than their RESISTANCE EXPERIENCE. To really understand slavery at the Cape, and indeed our ancestral wealth, we need to understand the capture and enslavement experience and the conditions that led to slavery, in the East, in Africa and indeed in South Africa. This is the challenge that this heritage day holds out for us to explore.
The clashes between the Europeans and the emergent Islamic states in India, South East Asia and Indonesia, and Chinese expansion in this part of the world are all facets of the conflicts that we must get our heads around, even although at times the Europeans and the Islamic rulers worked together cooperatively. All of these forces gave rise to slavery and perpetuated it in this part of the world. Advancing Muslim victors like that of the Europeans captured their opponents and sold these as slaves. Muslims, Europeans and Chinese dominated in territories peopled by indigenes who did their best to resist but most often ended up as subject peoples and slaves.
The character of the resistance and the identities of the resisters were most often were animists, Buddhists and Hindus and even in cases , due to earlier Portuguese influences, Catholic, and they and their cultures and sub-cultures deserve to be understood. In coming to such understanding we may indeed learn where some of our own peculiar cultures truly originate. The anti-colonial movements and wars of resistance in the East are virtually unknown to South Africans, yet the various European East Indies Companies and their super trading missions and colonies in the East had a dynamic relationship to the VOC station at the Cape. The whole reason for the existence of the Cape Colony was as a support base for this expansive empire of European interests in India, South East Asia and the Indonesian Archipelago. It is absolutely weird and inward-looking that South Africans know so little about the ties that bind us to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma- Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the many far flung Indonesian Islands.
Resistance also included Muslims in the context of the competing forces of Islamic and European interests in the East. The rise and fall at different times of Islamic kingdoms or fiefdoms and European bastions, commercial centres and factories in the East gave rise to special impacts at the Cape. After Muslim resisters were captured and forced into exile at the Cape, the passion, example and missionary work of those Muslim exiles won over to the faith many of the slaves that were brought to the Cape. These amazing stories make up the truer picture of Islam’s entry into the Cape, rather than the slaves being Malays or indeed Muslim, and paints the true history of Cape Muslims.
Enslaved prisoners of war from many resisting tribes in many locations were transported to the slaver markets in Cochin, Saloor (Sri Lanka) and Java and from there were sold and transported further afield. Bengal (Bangladesh), Arakan (Burma/Myanmar), Siam (Thailand), northern Melaka (Malaysia), Cochin China (Vietnam) and the neighbouring territories of today’s Laos and Cambodia were all sites of the mass movement of peoples displaced by wars over a long period from around 1600 – 1800 and although difficult to quantify, there are a number of indicators which clearly show that people from these territories landed up in the Cape as slaves transported by the Dutch East India Company (VOC), and are part of our genetic and cultural make up in the Cape today. The linkages to the Cape go further afield too, to Japan and China, and to New Guinea and the Philippines. But we do not celebrate this because it is largely unknown in Cape memory. Just have a closer look at our many different faces and scan the faces of the many tribes of these regions and I can guarantee that the light will be switched on.
Slaves often ended up with the toponym surname denoting the location of the slave market from which they were transported, rather than the name of place of origin. Hence Batavia, Java, Cochin, Galle, Colombo and a number of other factory and trading centres feature large amongst the toponyms. It is only by more closely studying the geo-politics, geo-religious conflicts and war campaigns of the time that one gets a clearer picture about the origins of slaves who were taken to the slave markets serving the centres of European commercial power in the region. These slaves ultimately found themselves sent to the various Dutch commercial centres of power. The VOC Cape Colony was one such outpost.
An example of what I am alluding to can be taken from the work of one of the best experts on slavery in the region, Markus Vink, “The World’s Oldest Trade”: Dutch Slavery and Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean in the Seventeenth Century,” where he makes the point that for instance, of the 211 manumitted slaves in Batavia over a short 4-year period over 59% came from South Asia. He goes on to say that Slave raids into the Bengal estuaries were conducted by Magh pirates using armed vessels working in cahoots with Portuguese traders operating from Chittagong and that these raids occurred with the active connivance of the Taung-ngu rulers of Arakan. Vink also says that of almost 10,000 Indonesian slaves brought to Batavia by Asian vessels between 1653 and 1682, over 41% came from South Sulawesi, around 24% from Bali, 12% from Buton, 7% from the Tenggara islands, and 6% from Maluku. Thus a ‘van Batavia’ (Jakarta) slave may have originated from a wide area stretching from Bengal/Arakan to the furthest reaches of the Indonesian Archipelago of Islands with each area having a story to tell. Certainly the people who were enslaved were unlikely to come from the later established elites.
By way of example let me just illustrate with one indicator about heritage ties that we have with South East Asia. Old Siam, Ayutthaya for instance was an important power base first of the Portuguese and then later of the Dutch (VOC). Siam itself relied heavily on war slaves and a complex system of slavery until slavery was abolished by King Rama V in 1868 when he proclaimed that all the people born in his reign would be free, and that slavery must eventually disappear from his realm.
At this time there were 7 kinds of slaves still in Siam:
1. slaves obtained by purchase from owner
2. children born from slave parents
3. slaves given as presents
4. people who sold themselves for money to pay fines after criminal conviction
5. people who exchanged their freedom for rice during hard times
6. prisoners of war
7. children given to gambling houses as payment for gambling losses.
Full freedom from slavery took another 30 years as the progressive King who championed freedom from slavery had to fight a huge battle against various interests in Siam to ensure his decree was realised. The subsequent name of Siam became Thailand, the land of the free. The first Thai people to come to South Africa were slaves and are part of our genetic and cultural heritage.
The clearest markers for the origins of slaves showing the South East Asian connection to the Cape are the slaves recorded with such names as Louis van Bengal, Anthony van Bengal, Soutanij van Burma, Leonara van Siam, and Achilles van Siam. The latter shows the earliest explicit Siamese or Thai connection with the Cape. Thai people are as ignorant as we are about these facts. I once asked a Thai lady who does she think was the first Thai person to come to South Africa and she said… “Oh everybody knows it was Nicky. Do you know Nicky, she came here in 1985”. She was surprised when I mentioned the 1750s.
The first Europeans to go to Siam and establish themselves there were the Portuguese in 1511. From the early 1600s and growing increasingly stronger by the late 1640s Siam had become a major trading centre for the Dutch VOC and indeed was one of the reasons for the establishment of a strategic refreshment base for the company at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652. Ships bound for Siam were frequently rounding the Cape and then returning to the Netherlands with goods acquired in Siam where the Ayutthaya factory was pivotal to the successful Dutch trade interests.
It can also be noted that Dutch officials and Portuguese officials took concubines from Burma, Siam, Melakka and Japan during their stay in Siam and had many children by these women. Both the women and the children were often abandoned, with a few exceptions, after the official’s period of duty ended. An orphanage was established in Ayutthaya for the abandoned children and the King of Siam afforded them protection. Many of the recognised children however were repatriated to the Dutch commercial centre, Batavia. In time some of these Eurasian children inter-marrying with Dutch officials in Batavia would also end up at the Cape of Good Hope. Thus both from the side of the colonials and from the slaves there are under-explored threads of heritage connections to this part of the world that is yet to be fully explored. We could take similar examples from all along the west coast town of Goa in India, through to Burma and Siam and down to Malaysia and on to Japan and China, then way over to New Guinea an all in between. There is a whole arena of our hidden heritage with a myriad of questions to be answered about our roots in slavery.
Likewise we can explore the roots of our African slave forebears in all its diversity. When we truly look honestly and deeply at the commonwealth of our heritage and the ties that bind our human family that underlies the happenings at the Cape that give rise to our identity or rather identities in the plural, we can only exclaim that ours is a truly rich heritage. Deep within this heritage of experiences surely there lies an abundance of answers to many questions that vex our society. Happy Exploring….. and may we truly have much to celebrate on Heritage Day 2014.
a radikal re-mix by aryan kaganof of three frans zwartjes films
commissioned by frank scheffer
keep reading this article here: http://www.litnet.co.za/Article/tien-vrae-stephanus-muller-oor-nagmusiek
more information here: http://www.insideoutfestival.org.uk/2014/events/an-inconsolable-memory/
i think what happened on those occasions when i was able to experience zim entirely in the music
entirely given to the moment
zim ceased to be
there was only the music
zim’s presence as a conduit was erased
only the music existed
those occasions were rare
derek davey was with me once, our first trip together to the zimology institute
an audience of three – derek, zaide harneker and myself
zim played for about an hour and a half
just played and played and played and the sound overtook us all
actually none of use were there
none of us existed for a while
there was no lack of connectedness with the one
every possibility of lack of connection was erased
all the fake identities we hang on to in order not to be overwhelmed by the chaos of the One, were simply shredded
and it wasn’t zim that shredded them
it was the music itself
never before, and only once after this night, have i ever experienced this totality of the One (incidentally when Kyle played in India)
and not surprisingly, both times I did not film the events
because filming of course prevents me from being fully in the moment
so when i film events i am always somewhat removed from them
15 september 2014
first published here: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/impunity-toronto-review-732283