PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma commemorated the 300th birthday of Adam Kok with about 5 000 Khoisan people at the Castle of Good Hope yesterday.
Kok is recognised as the first Griqua chief and as the leader of the Griqua people, whom he led from the Cape in the late 18th century.
After laying a wreath at the Castle in memory of Kok, Zuma moved on to the Goodhope Centre, where he addressed a crowd of about 5 000 people and said the fight against colonial oppression and apartheid had produced many heroes.
“Chief Adam Kok, the first leader, founder of the Griqua community, is one such outstanding hero of the wars of resistance against white settlers and colonialism,” Zuma said.
During his speech, he said the Traditional Affairs Department, via the National Traditional Affairs Bill, a work in progress, provided for the recognition of Khoisan communities, leaders and councils.
“It provides for representation in houses of traditional leaders and the participation of Khoisan leaders in municipal councils,” Zuma said.
The bill is expected to be concluded in September.
At the castle, where Zuma laid a wreath, were Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba, Deputy Minister of Human Settlements Zoe Kota-Fredericks and Deputy International Relations Minister Marius Fransman, among others.
Members of the Royal Griqua Tribe, which organised the event, were dressed in full regalia.
Goab Bishop Kenneth Visser, a provincial leader of the Griqua Royal House, said it was of great significance to come back to the castle, where Adam Kok had once been imprisoned. “For us it means the freedom of the Griqua nation,” he said.
Maurice Vivian Kok, head of the Kok family, implored the ANC and the government to protect the “descendants of Adam Kok”.
“Our people’s morale is very low. This is leading people to crime. Our people feel rejected and we urgently need the assistance of government.
“The Khoi and the San people are seen to be a marginalised people. We must not destroy our status as an aboriginal group,” he said. – Independent Cadet News Agency