Khomani San mourn Oom Dawid
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A Traditional leader of the Khomani San people and one of the country’s most renowned bushmen died in Upington yesterday. He was 76.
Dawid Kruiper, who famously wanted to be called a Bushman and not a “San”, drew attention to the Khomani San people in the Northern Cape through his appearances in numerous films, books and academic studies.
He notably addressed the UN in 1994 in Geneva and also appeared in the film The Gods Must be Crazy II.
While he was generally accepted as the leader of the Khomani San and was praised for drawing much media attention to the plight of the indigenous people, disenfranchised by centuries of colonialism, he was sometimes criticised for his celebrity status.
For example, a 2002 paper written by Robert Gordon of the US University of Vermont’s anthropology department alleged that Kruiper would charge up to R500 an interview.
Meanwhile, other members of the family who similarly appeared in advertisements and documentaries were said to be paid minimally, if at all.
In 1999, Kruiper and his clan won a land claim and settled for 25 000 hectares of land, now on the out-skirts of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
A family representative said yesterday that Kruiper – whose wife Sanna died in 2006 – was a world icon who left big shoes for the family to fill.
Anna Festers, whose father is apparently Kruiper’s cousin, said the family were waiting for more relatives from Namibia to arrive in Upington so that the date and time of the funeral could be decided on.
She insisted he would be buried in the Kalahari.
“It’s a big loss for us. To us he was a dad and an uncle but to the world he was an icon. It’s surreal (his death) – it’s like a movie playing in front of you.
“Oom Dawid did a lot for the family and the Khomani San people. Dawid shared of himself with the world.
“He left big footsteps for us and the community to fill,” said Festers.
“It’s ironic – Oom Dawid was so famous but the people here are still so poor. Dawid would have wanted to do more.
“He always said he wanted to work for our people until his last breath. As for the people of the Kalahari, we are so much poorer. He was unique.”
Festers declined to comment on the cause of Kruiper’s death, adding that he was “very secretive about that”.
Kruiper fell ill last week and was admitted to Gordonia Hospital in Upington before being transferred to Medi-Clinic in Upington.
An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.