Story of Saartjie Baartman of South Africa

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The African race have really suffered in the possession of the colonial masters. Colonialization has really dealt with the black race gruesomely. It really ridiculed the black race as our forefathers were subjected to abject humiliation. This notion still lingers in the mind of the whites, greatly discriminating the black and dubbing them for bad ordeals.

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The ordeal of saartjie baartman in the hands of the white is an eyesore to the black race. She was demeaned, from her existence to her death. saartjie baartman was born in 1789 at the Gamtoos river (now known as the Eastern Cape ) in south Africa,to Gonaquasub group of the Khoikhoi.

The significance of Sarah Baartman - BBC News

The place was dominated by the dutch farmers.. Her father and mother were farmers precisely cattle herding, she lost her parents at her prime age as her mother died when she was just two and her father at about fifteen years of age, thus, she didn’t enjoy parental care a bit. She was from a poor background and lived on the colonial farm.

saartjie baartman was a plump lady with a large buttock, which was the object of her predicament but was this her fault? Obviously no, this was how she was created but the Europeans humiliated her due to her illiteracy and poor back ground.

After the demise of saartjie baartman parents, she had to fend for herself and was subjected to the foreigners wills. She worked as a servant but at a particular time, the Dutch came into conflict with the Khoikhoi, her tribe,. Which led to the death of her fiance and dispersal of the Khoikhoi people. She was captivated and sold into slavery to a trader named Pieter Willem Cezar, who took her to Cape Town where she became a domestic servant to his brother. It was during this time that she was given the name ‘Saartjie’, a Dutch diminutive for Sara. She lived there for at least two years working in households as a washerwoman and a nursemaid, first for Peter Cesars, then in the house of a Dutch man in Cape Town. She moved finally to be a wet-nurse in the household of Peter Cesars’ brother-in-law, Hendrik Cesars, outside of Cape Town in present day Woodstock Sara Baartman lived alongside slaves in the Cesars’ household.

On 29 October 1810, saartjie baartman ignorantly signed’ a contract with an English ship surgeon named William Dunlop who was also a friend of Cezar. This was the beginning of her abuse. She was ignorant of the conditions of the contracts, however, terms of the contract stated that she would travel to England And Ireland to work as a servant and be exhibited at event centers for entertainment, thus, making money for her masters. She was entitled to some portion of the income as her own remuneration. Her body was the selling point in this crooked business. Dunlop was the brain behind the plan to exhibit Sara Baartman.

Sara Baartman large buttock and her alien skin color was the object of her predicament as the colonial Europeans feel superior by the virtue of their skin color. Sara was displayed in many centers in the street of London, many English men and woman paid to see her almost naked. The mischievous venture was trending as she became popular and her masters were making money from it.

During her venture with Dunlop and Hendrik Cezar, the campaign against slavery in Britain was in full fledge and as a result of this development, the misery of Baartman was called into question. Her bosses were brought to book and tried but they won the case due to the document sarah had ignorantly signed and her own testimony which claimed that she was not being mistreated, perhaps she was under duress. However, her contract was reviewed  and necessary, amendments were made, she became entitled to greater profit share but the business didn’t stop.

Having spent four years in London, in September 1814, she travailed to France, with her employers and upon arrival Hendrik Cezar sold her to Reaux, a man who trained and showcased animals. He bought her to promote his business He showcased her with his animals around Paris and made money from the public’s fascination with Sara’s body for fifteen (15) months. During her service with Reaux, she was displayed in a cage alongside a baby rhinoceros. He would order her to sit or stand in a similar way that circus animals are ordered. Atimes she was displayed almost completely naked, wearing little more than a tan loincloth, and she was only allowed that due to her insistence and love for the African culture, a times, she would be offered money to remove it but she refused outrightly. She was nicknamed “Hottentot Venus”. her experience in france was really quite miserable and extraordinarily poor. Sara was literally treated like an animal.

Her constant display on the street of France enamored some group of scientists. George Cuvier, a naturalist met Reaux that he should release Sara to be studied as a science specimen,  Reaux gave in. The study started in March 1815, Sara was studied by group French scientists like anatomists, zoologists and physiologists. Cuvier concluded that she was a link between animals and humans. Thus, Sara was used to buttress the conjecture that Africans were oversexed and a lesser race, imagine the insult to black race!

At the age of 26, Sara died on 29 December 1815. The cause of her death was not really known but different ailment like syphilis, smallpox, pneumonia were sighted. Her corpse was dissected by Cuvier not for an autopsy examination to know the cause of her death but for further exhibition in the museum. He made a plaster cast of her body and pickled her brain and genitals. They were placed into jars which were displayed at the Musée de l’Homme (Museum of Man) . imagine how dreadful this was, cruelty at its peak. Blacks were treated with contempt and disdain.

The victory of the African National Congress in the South African elections which brought president Nelson Mandela to power made a history as Nelson Mandela took the bold step and requested for Sarah remains from the  French government so that she could be laid to rest in her country, south Africa. This process took eight years, as the French had to put into their constitution that other countries would not be allowed to claim treasures taken by the French. Finally on the sixth of March 2002, Sara Baartman remnant was brought back to South Africa where she was buried. On 9 August 2002, which coincided with the annual Women’s Day, a public holiday in South Africa, Sara was buried at Hankey in the Eastern Cape Province.

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