They may not have managed to grab the government’s attention yet, but the Khoisan activists stationed outside the Union buildings have become an unexpected hit with tourists.
The activists first arrived in Pretoria in 2019, having travelled there from the Eastern Cape.
Among their demands is to be declared first citizens of South Africa, to be awarded a portion of land which they can occupy like other ethnic groups in the country and for their languages to be added to South Africa’s list of official languages.
The government has ignored them for four long years – but the Khoisan activists are now getting welcome attention from holiday-makers.
When guides advertise their packages, they include a visit to the Khoisan settlement in the grounds of the Union Buildings.
Clad only in animal skin loincloths, the Khoisan are usually seen taking pictures with tourists and showing them around the settlement.
Far from being a hindrance to their political goals, the tourists are sustaining the Khoisan protest.
A marijuana and vegetable garden has been added to the settlement and it looks as if the Khoi are going nowhere.
King Khoisan SA, who is the leader of the Khoisan activist group, said they survive through donations from tourists.
“Without the generosity of visitors we would starve,” he said.
However, he said they have not forgotten why they are at the Union Buildings.
“Our presence here is protest. Without our demands being met we will never leave,” he said.
Tour guide Gerda van Zyl said tourists give positive feedback about the trip to the Khoisan settlement.
“They are excited to see Africans in loincloths and barefoot. They say that is the Africa they expect to see and they refer their friends to us,” she said.
Philomena Harris from Indiana in the US said the Khoisan have left her with valuable lessons.
“They teach about how to connect to Mother Earth and they take less from the earth. I think if we all lived like them most of our problems would be gone. They made my trip to South Africa a great one,” she said.
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