Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. Edward Abbey

02 July 2009

Taking ownership of my slave ancestry

I'm a white South African woman who takes daily responsibility for all that apartheid was and is. I have apologised and still do apologise for it. I take responsibility for all that western civilisation - spearheaded by the global, corporate white elite - is doing to the planet, to indigenous people, to animals and to the fast diminishing wilderness.

But I am also a woman and my sexual preference is not that of the majority. So on two counts I intimately understand discrimination. Therefore I distance myself from the perpetrators who continue to deny any wrongdoing. I side with the indigenous, with the four legged ones, the winged ones and the tree people. I have always aligned myself with human and non-human slaves.

As such, it was with great relief that I finally traced the slave heritage that I instinctively know courses through my veins. This has also come to me in visions and dreams. By the way, it is ironic that those who could claim slave "stamouers" would be far greater among the coloured and white people of South Africa, than among the black people of South Africa.

My slave ancestry is compliments of the "stammoeder" Angela of Bengal, who was shipped from the Bay of Bengal in India to the Cape. In 1655 she was first "bought" by Jan van Riebeeck and later "sold" to Fiscal Abraham Gabbema. On 13 April 1666 Gabbema signed a document which would lead to Angela's freedom. She was the third person to be freed from slavery at the Cape. She subsequently married Arnoldus Willemsz Basson and their descendants are people with surnames like Bergh, Basson and De Wet.

Angela's daughter Anna de Coningh (or de Koningh) is the stammoeder of 90% of the De Wets in SA. As such, I can safely assume that my paternal grandmother - who was born Bertha de Wet - has passed down slave heritage to me.

So with that in mind, what am I do to fight for the slaves in the world today. I recently read a quote that there are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history. And they were refering only to human slaves. There are also billions of non-human slaves, bound, gagged and caged in zoos, feedlots, tree farms and laboratories. I owe it to Angela of Bengal and Anna de Koningh to fight back.
By the way, the Cape received their slaves mainly from the Indian Ocean basin, since that was the trading domain of the VOC. Initially the Dutch captured slaves, who came from West Africa, on the sea from other slaving nations.

According to www.stamouers.com : "Later on slaves starting arriving in ship loads. The first of these arrived 28 March 1658 at the Cape on board the ship Amersfoort, with 174 slaves from Angola. Slaves came from Guinea, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, East Indies, Abyssinia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Japan and Angola and many other places.

"Unlike many other slave societies whose slaves were homogenous, the Cape had a real cosmopolitan slave population. The Cape was like the tower of Babel, with very diverse nationalities and languages. The slaves places of origin can mainly be divided in four equal part, Africa, Madagascar, Indian sub continent, and East Indies (Indonesia)."

Bengal remains a place of intrigue for me, especially in West Bengal where a tribal and Maoist movement has been fighting the Indian State. The people socially boycotted the police, and stopped them from buying foods and other essentials, which forced the police to leave their camps in the Lalgarh area making it a virtual free zone. I see a government offensive recently forced them out.

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