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UCT plan to honour Baartman

30 October 2017 - 09:01 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
University of Cape Town. File photo
University of Cape Town. File photo
Image: UCT Student @UCTStudent via Twitter

After humiliation that lasted for almost two centuries, Sarah Baartman could soon be honoured by the University of Cape Town.

The university's prominent Jameson Memorial Hall could be named after the so-called "Hottentot Venus" by the end of the year.

Royston Pillay, secretary to the UCT council, said the plan started in 2015, and in the interim the building - the scene of graduations and other large communal events - is simply called Memorial Hall.

The motivation submitted to the naming of buildings committee hinges on the inhumane treatment the Khoi woman experienced when she was taken to Europe in 1814 for exhibition.

"Sarah's story is a victory over colonialism, a reminder that she suffered as black woman, a poor woman and because she was a woman," the motivation reads.

"The story of Sarah Baartman needs to be told over and over again because there are so many lessons in it.

"Slave history in Cape Town is characterised by a multiplicity of silences, erasures and contradictions in how certain narratives are made visible or hypervisible."

Jameson Hall is named after Cecil Rhodes's right-hand man, Leander Starr Jameson, after whom the infamous Jameson Raid is named. In 1895, Jameson assembled a private army in an attempt to overthrow the Boer government, but was forced to surrender just short of Johannesburg.

The motivation further states: "As a victim of colonial science exploits, Sarah Baartman is a good counter position to the mercenary and perpetrator of colonial crimes, Jameson."

The UCT council has called on members of the university community to comment on the new name by November 10.