A delegation of the Schornville-based Oeswana tribe under the leadership of Chief Melvyn Smith attended the Eastern Cape Khoi and San Convention held in Komani over the weekend.
Prior to the event, EC Khoisan activist Christian Martin told GO! & Express the convention was being realised after a two-year period of engaging with the Khoi and San leadership across the province.
“The theme of this convention was ‘First Nation, One Nation’. With the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Act now signed by the president, our leadership is now in preparation to enact their role and responsibilities through the Act,” Martin said.
“Our Khoi and San commu-nities have suffered severe injustices and forced exclusion from mainstream traditional leadership after we were excluded from history for more than 300 years,” Martin said.
Tribes present included the Xekwi Xam, Korana, Khoi-Khoi, Gonaqua Khoi and Oeswana as well as a delegation from the Congress of Tradional Leaders of SA (Contralesa).
“For too long our country, and especially our traditional indigenous people, have been divided and kept apart from each other.
“There was this thing being imprinted on the minds of the indigenous Khoi and San descendants that they are better than the Nguni people, which was never the case as we all are equal,” Martin said.
Contralesa headman Mthuthuzeli Makinana welcomed the idea of the convention and said it would help unite the people of SA.
“We cannot work in silence. We want one structure that will represent the interest of traditional leaders in South Africa because we are one people, with one purpose and one goal,” said Makinana.
Dr Vivian Kok commended the organisers of the event and said it has helped them get to know each other and reach understanding.
“Remember, we come from five different tribes so this convention gave us the opportunity to better know each other,” said Kok.