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San and Khoi lead liberation walk in commemoration of the first land grab in 1657

A walk of Liberation and Resistance took place to commemorate the first land grab in 1657 by the Dutch East India Company, on the banks of the Liesbeek River, and led to the first frontier wars of 1659. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

A walk of Liberation and Resistance took place to commemorate the first land grab in 1657 by the Dutch East India Company, on the banks of the Liesbeek River, and led to the first frontier wars of 1659. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 28, 2022

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Cape Town - Civic and community organisations led by Khoi and San leaders held a “Walk of Liberation and Resistance” on Freedom Day, re-emphasising the sanctity of the Two Rivers Urban Park and surrounding areas.

The walk followed a heritage route commencing at the Oude Molen Eco Village, Pinelands, and proceeded to the Black and Liesbeek rivers in Observatory. Sacred San and Khoi chants were recited at each site, where speakers delved into the rich history and sanctity of the areas.

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Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council high commissioner, Tauriq Jenkins, said it was the second time the freedom walk had taken place in commemoration of the first land grab in 1657 by the Dutch East India Company on the banks of the Liesbeek River, leading to the first frontier wars of 1659.

The Two Rivers Urban Park has been nominated for natural heritage status and is currently undergoing a grading process with the SA Heritage Resources Agency. This will include areas of Oude Molen, parts of Maitland, Ndabeni, Valkenberg, Observatory and Malta Park, among others.

Last month, Judge Patricia Goliath said there was no meaningful engagement by developers, the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, with the affected First Nations people, and temporarily halted construction and a R4.5 billion development at the River Club site, which was to include retailer Amazon’s regional headquarters.

“Last year this time, there was a different sentiment in the air. We were facing, and are still facing great odds against the giant but at least when we walk from this Black River to the Liesbeek River, there is one thing we would’ve achieved as a people, and that is that building has stopped.

“The same way on the first of March 1510, the marauding Portuguese d’Almeida was stopped and in the same way in 1659 in the first frontier war, where there was a truce, the Dutch East India Company was paused. And so it is in that spirit of resilience, fortitude, liberation and resistance but also with the sense of great humility because of the devastating harm that has already taken place on the floodplain,” Jenkins said.

Marc Turok, chairperson of the Two Rivers Urban Park Association, said the organisation supported all others in calling for a balanced and responsible approach to the area, noting that they were not anti-development.

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“We are saying development is improvement and that must take place according to good planning policy, not in floodplains, not destructive of the rivers, or of our heritage sites. We need to keep our focus on what is our priority for our people, to heal our land. We are still traumatised.

“We need work, we need accommodation, affordable housing; all these things are needed. We don’t need office space at this time. There’s an over-abundance of office space and Amazon does not need to be in this floodplain site,” Turok said.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign spokesperson Usuf Chikte said the organisation stood in solidarity as it was the same struggle against the plundering and pillaging of an indigenous people by colonialism.

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