Pretoria – As millions of South African voters descended on thousands of voting stations across the country on Wednesday, the Khoisan community which has been in a live-in protest for more than five months at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, was busy with an "inauguration ceremony".
A small group of tribesmen in traditional Khoisan garb witnessed Chief Khoisan SA being inaugurated to become "president, king and ruler" – among other positions conferred on him.
"On this day, our heavenly father and our council has made a ruling that this day will be the day where we symbolically the Khoisan leader will be inaugurated as the first nation leader of Southern Africa," said the programme director at the event, Bishop Victor Gelderbloem.
He made his remarks while standing on the greens at the Union Buildings.
"Secondly, this is a special day for the world to know the truth about Southern Africa … that we as the Khoisan nation we were the first nation of this country and this land," said Gelderbloem.
"This land does not belong to anyone else, but to the Khoisan nation. Today, we are taking back our land. The people that is voting right through South Africa, their votes are for the political parties.
"Those political parties will be the servants of this Khoisan nation. If you claim you are a political, then you are a servant of the people. All the political parties on the ballot parties from me the national priest of the Khoisan nation … today you have committed to serve these indigenous first nation."
Gelderbloem said the occasion at the Union Buildings was "to present to the world our leader who will also be your leader".
The small group of Khoisan community members have been camping for months in tents – just metres from the towering statue of former president Nelson Mandela.
"We thank the Lord for Nelson Mandela. He [the statue] is just standing across by us. He is standing here as witness. He knows, and his people know that this land belongs to the Khoisan. That is why we are here at the Union Buildings to claim back what is ours," said Gelderbloem.
Previously, Chief Khoisan SA said his people rejected the Traditional Khoisan and Leadership Amendment Bill because the "bill does not talk about coloured identity, although we are called Khoi Khoi or San. But still in government documents we are called coloureds”.
He is on record as saying even though the bill was rejected by the people, the government "sees it fit to pass it through Parliament as well as the NCOP [National Council of Provinces]".
During the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, the bishop presented Chief Khoisan SA with a rock, and sprinkled him with water.
A "Levite" was blowing a horn throughout the process, which also attracted the attention of tourists who tour the Union Buildings, particularly the Nelson Mandela statue.
Gelderbloem later introduced Chief Khoisan SA to address the world: "Now that you are blessed and anointed as the first nation leader, what can South Africa expect from you … how will you now lead all these political parties. God has ordained you to lead them and this nation."
Chief Khoisan SA was then introduced as "our leader, our president, our king of the First Nation".
Chief Khoisan SA took the oath to serve the nation while holding the Bible. The Khoisan leader said his kingdom would work with everyone who acknowledges that his people were the original inhabitants of South Africa.
"We will not chase anybody away from this country, because the same country that is our country is also a country that you love and became lovable with. You grew your children in this country. As of of today, we as the first nation, we are declaring our sovereignty."
The Khoisan community members returned to the Union Buildings in November, after walking from distant cities including Port Elizabeth and Durban. They have been begging for another engagement with Ramaphosa.
In 2017, on Christmas eve, Ramaphosa – who we as deputy president at the time – met the Khoisan community members who had been on a hunger strike at the seat of government.
For weeks, the group had been appealing to then president Jacob Zuma to receive their memorandum of demands.
They also went to the ANC elective conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg, but were blocked from entering the venue. Eventually they returned home.
However, they decided to return to Union Buildings this year because they said the ANC had broken its promises to them. They walked from distant cities such as Port Elizabeth and Durban.
African News Agency (ANA)