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Indigenous people seek recognition

Politics
Cape Town - Indigenous rights organisations used Youth Day to draw attention to their plight, saying they do not enjoy the recognition they deserve.

The Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) and the Khoisan Reflection Programme held an event at the Grand Parade on Friday. It showcased Khomani San dances from the Kalahari, as well as music and acts from various culture groups.

Ipod co-ordinator Innocent Alia said 3.5 million people died in the Nigerian Civil War, better known as the Biafran War, from 1967 to 1970.

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A group who refer to themselves as the Indigenous People of Biafra gather on the Grand Parade, along with members of the Khoisan Reflection Programme, on Friday. Picture: TRACEY ADAMS

Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in Nigeria that existed from May 1967 to January 1970. The secession of the Biafran region had been the main reason for the war.

Alia questioned history being taught in schools about the indigenous groups in Africa, and accused the media of shying away from their struggles.

He said political structures and schools do not promote the interest of indigenous people: "We are a people who don’t know ourselves."

He said Ipob leader Nnamdi Kanu had been jailed in Nigeria in October 2015 and only released in April.

A group who refer to themselves as the Indigenous People of Biafra gather on the Grand Parade, along with members of the Khoisan Reflection Programme, on Friday. Picture: TRACEY ADAMS

The organisations will hold similar events across the country, to keep the spotlight on the plight of the Biafran people, Alia added.

Eibib Koopman, the director of the Khoisan Reflection Programme, said indigenous people were struggling for recognition.

“We would not need a day like this if we had the recognition we deserved and desired,” he added.

Koopman said indigenous people's struggle for identity, freedom, land and self-determination continued, adding that they hoped yesterday's event would raise awareness on the importance of heritage, especially among the country's youth.

“Very often the young people are ashamed of their history and we need to change this,” he said.

Weekend Argus

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