Posts Tagged ‘Nigel Worden’

Andries Bezuidenhout. ID du Plessis se politieke rol?

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Ek dink vanoggend aan daardie gedig van ID du Plessis oor Katrina van die Bo-Kaap: “Katrina haat die lewe, Katrina vrees die dood, Katrina gaan haar slentergang, verdien haar bitter brood.” Of so iets.

Hierdie naweek ʼn uitstekende artikel deur Wilmot James in die Saturday Star gelees oor die bevolkingsregistrasiewette van die 1950s. Die artikel is geskryf in reaksie op die fliek Skin wat op die lewe van Sandra Laing (in die foto hier bo, saam met haar ouers) gebaseer is. James noem daarin die rol wat die Afrikaanse digter ID du Plessis gespeel het in die “beskerming” van mense wat as “Cape Malays” geklassifiseer is, asook die feit dat mense van die Bo-Kaap (toe Distrik Twee) nie aan gedwonge verskuiwings onderwerp is soos mense van Distrik Ses nie.

Ek kom toe op ʼn artikel af wat die historikus Nigel Worden geskryf het oor hoe mense slawerny in Suid-Afrika onthou. Hy noem ook die rol van ID du Plessis, wat op ʼn stadium die Kommisaris van Kleurlingsake was. Ek haal daaruit aan:

When apartheid was instituted in the 1950s, public awareness of slave heritage was well buried. At the Van Riebeeck Festival of 1952 (the tercentennial of the founding of the Dutch colony and a spectacle celebrating white South Africa), the slave past did not feature at all. Several days after the main pageant, a ‘parallel’ event marking ‘Coloured’ history took place. This event displayed the arrival of Sheikh Yusuf, the Islamic opponent of the Dutch, who had been exiled to the Cape in the 1670s, here portrayed as the founding father of the ‘coloured people’, the ‘coloured Van Riebeeck’. No mention was made of the slave trade, and the retinue of personal slaves that Sheikh Yusuf had brought with him was politely referred to as his ‘servants’. The event, like the rest of the Festival, was boycotted by most ‘non-white’ Capetonians and photographs show rows of empty seats. The Sheikh Yusuf pageant was part of the apartheid state’s support for a distinctive ‘Malay’ identity for Cape Town’s Muslims with Islamic and South-East Asian origins. This had been given a particular boost in the 1940s and 1950s by the state’s Coloured Affairs Department under the Afrikaner academic and poet I. D. du Plessis, who promoted a specific ‘Malay’ culture with competition choir singing, a distinctive cuisine and the demarcation of a specific ‘Malay Quarter’ on the slopes of Signal Hill overlooking the town. Under the Population Registration Act (1950), ‘Cape Malay’ was declared a distinct racial category, while the Malay Quarter was proclaimed an area for Malay segregation under the Group Areas Act of the same year. In this ethnic and cultural construction, little or nothing was said about slavery. The roots of the community lay rather in the exile of Islamic leaders and ‘princes’ whose past was romanticized and glorified.

Hy haal ʼn boek aan wat deur ID du Plessis geskryf is, met die titel The Cape Malays (1944). Nou wonder ek maar net; het iemand al ʼn deeglike stuk navorsing gedoen oor die politieke rol van ID du Plessis?

Aanhaling uit: Nigel Worden. “The Changing Politics of Slave Heritage in the Western Cape, South Africa.” Journal of African History, 50 (2009), pp. 23-40.

  •