Leon Lemmer: François Levaillant as sosio-politieke kommentator

In 1973 het JC (Jacobus Christiaan) Quinton (gebore in 1922 en hoof van die Parlementsbiblioteek 1967-1982) in die Suid-Afrikaanse Biblioteek die volgende boek bekend gestel: JC Quinton, AML Robinson and PWM Sellicks, eds: François Le Vaillant: Traveller in South Africa, and his collection of 165 water-colour paintings, 1781-1784 (Cape Town, Library of Parliament, 1973, 2 volumes). Die Parlementsbiblioteek en die Suid-Afrikaanse Biblioteek is regoor mekaar geleë aan Die Laan, aan die bo-punt van Adderley-straat, in die Botaniese Tuin in Kaapstad. Robinson was die direkteur van die Suid-Afrikaanse Biblioteek (1961-1981). Hierdie waterverfskilderye het plaaslik groot geskiedkundige waarde en is om hierdie rede deur die Parlementsbiblioteek gekoop. Ten einde die skilderye as lands- of openbare besit wyer bekend te stel, het die Parlementsbiblioteek hierdie publikasie onderneem. Dit is immers nie moontlik om die 165 skilderye permanent uit te stal nie.

Die aanleiding vir my skrywe is die volgende boek wat op 6 Desember bekend gestel is: Ian Glenn, The first safari: Searching of François Levaillant (Auckland Park: Jacana Media, 2018, 230p, R280). Jacana is ‘n uitgewery wat daarvoor bekend is dat hy graag polities linkse boeke publiseer. Let op dat François Levaillant (1753-1824) se van verskillend in die genoemde twee publikasies gespel word. In werklik het hy sy van op vyf maniere geskryf: Vailant, Vaillant, Le Vaillant, LeVaillant en Levaillant (p 38). My bladsyverwysings is na Glenn se boek, gevolglik gebruik ek sy spelling. Ek kan nie meer onthou wat die bekendstellingsprys van die Quinton-boek was nie. Hoewel dit dadelik die stempel van waardevolle Africana gedra het, kon ek nie bekostig om ‘n eksemplaar te koop nie. Vandaar my belangstelling in Glenn se boek. Laasgenoemde boek is ‘n pragstuk: mooi stofomslag, plat rugkant, estetiese tipografie en ryklik geïllustreer. Party van die illustrasies is egter so klein en/of donker gereproduseer dat al die besonderhede nie maklik sigbaar is nie.

In die eerste paragraaf noem ek slegs die Engelse weergawe van die 1973-boek omdat dit plaaslik die bekendste is en ook deur Glenn gebruik is. In werklikheid is Franse en Afrikaanse (François Le Vaillant: Reisiger in Suid-Afrika …) weergawes terselfdertyd gepubliseer. Dit was die goeie oudae toe die regering tweetalig was en nooit, soos tans, Afrikaans afgeskeep of geminag het nie. Ek vind dit teleurstellend dat Glenn nie die Afrikaanse uitgawe noem nie; net die Engelse en Franse weergawes (13, 228). As oorverligte probeer hy ook om op ‘n vergesogte en skandalige manier ‘n politieke konnotasie aan hierdie publikasies te heg: “An attempt, at the height of the apartheid regime’s control, to assert French-South African links and historical ties. On the hard power side, South Africa bought French Mirage aircraft and submarines; on the soft power side, South Africa asserted its historical links with the country of the Huguenots and wine” (13).

Quinton het tydens die bekendstelling in 1973 genoem dat publikasie in drie tale en die reproduksie van die skilderye groot probleme vir die redaksie veroorsaak het. Een van die groot tekortkominge van ouer publikasies van en oor Levaillant is juis “unsatisfactory reproductions” (1); aanvanklik “hand-coloured” (172). Quinton het sy gehoor destyds verseker, “Nooit weer nie”, toe hy gevra is of hy weer so ‘n projek sou onderneem. Dit is ook verstaanbaar dat hy op 60-jarige ouderdom afgetree het. Parlements- en senaatslede het die personeel van die Parlementsbiblioteek voor groot uitdagings gestel. Politici is geneig om hulleself as belangrik en verhewe bo ander te beskou en van die biblioteekpersoneel allerhande vergesogte bystand te verwag, onder meer omdat ‘n lees- en biblioteekkultuur in groot mate by baie van hulle ontbreek. Sedert 1994 het hierdie situasie vererger omdat daar by die politici aan selfs funksionele geletterdheid heelwat ingeboet is.

Glenn was ‘n Engelsdosent aan die Universiteit Kaapstad (UK) en ‘n kollega van JM Coetzee, wat nie so verlig soos Glenn is nie en na Australië uitgewyk het. Glenn skryf oor wat hy beskou as “the central obsession of the South African novel in English: illicit relations between a man and a woman from different racial groups” (7), met verwysing na skrywers soos André P Brink, Nadine Gordimer en Alan Paton. In die konteks van Paton verwys Glenn na “the scandal of apartheid” (119). Hy vra: “Why did most novels deal with the transgressive relations between black men and white women rather than the socially prevalent exploitation of women of colour by the white colonist?” (7, 9). Later was Glenn ‘n dosent in Mediastudie aan UK, waar sy plek tans deur die ewe oorverligte Herman Wasserman ingeneem word; iemand wat dink dat Nelson Mandela een van die grootste geeste en beste mense ooit was.

Glenn se Brink-mentaliteit blyk uit sy verwysings na ‘n 16-jarige Khoi-Khoin-vrou: “Levalliant named the beautiful Gonaqua maiden Narina, a Khoi word for flower, and described her as one of the Graces” (8). “In meeting the young Gonaqua woman Narina, he compares her to a Grace, to give the black body the dignity and grace of classical art” (89). Levaillant skryf: “I found her figure charming. She had the healthiest and most beautiful teeth in the world, she was elegant and slender, and the sensual curves of her body could have made her a model for the brush of [Francesco] Albani [1578-1660]. She was the youngest of the Graces in the guise of a Hottentot” (90). Naby Cookhouse in die Oos-Kaap “Levaillant dallied with the beautiful Narina” (35-36). Later word dit beskryf as: “The flirtation with the delicious Narina” (46).

“Levaillant’s portrayal of Narina was the erotic highlight of the narrative. He spies on her bathing naked with her friends, she makes it clear to him that physical love is natural and she is open to it, their mutual attraction is evident. Yet, nothing happens … Levaillant’s criticism of the behaviour of the English sailors and Diderot’s rage against the colonists seducing the daughters of indigenous people inhibit any irresponsible encounter” (90). “In Levaillant’s case, he [Joel Kovel] suggests that racial difference and exoticism can be sexually attactive, and this desire and attraction across the colour line help humanise the Gonaqua fully against Western prejudices” (101-102). “Levaillant’s portraits simply do not apply any pejorative or racial filters … Only with the advent of social Darwinism in the mid-nineteenth century did the crude racial primate stereotyping recur” (94).

Levaillant het ‘n voëlspesie Narina Trogon genoem (153-154). “When he comes to explain why he gave the bird the name ‘narina’ (not capitalised), he simply says that in the Khoi language it means flower. The description he gave surely suggests he was not thinking fondly of the svelte Narina” (202). “He gave this country’s birds some of their most memorable names [eg Bokmakierie – 157, 198], while naming nothing after himself” (3).

Op die oomblik is Glenn ‘n navorsingsgenoot in kommunikasiekunde aan die hoogs getransformeerde Universiteit Vrystaat, weens onder meer die anti-akademiese hervormings van Jonathan Jansen en diesulkes. Glenn het dekades (“a quater of a century” – 4) lank navorsing oor Levaillant gedoen en in dié proses talle plekke, bv biblioteke en argiewe, plaaslik en oorsee besoek. “Working in archives may sound dull as ditchwater, but it is probably the most clothed fun you can have outside a casino and in many ways resembles the excitement of picking up cards at a card table” (147). Glenn verwys verskeie kere na inligting wat Karel Schoeman (1939-2017) aan hom verskaf het (bv x). Schoeman het jare lank in die Suid-Afrikaanse Biblioteek gewerk. “Trying to trace Levaillant’s footsteps in southern Africa has never worked that well for me. Part of the reason may be that landscapes have changed so much that it is difficult to feel that one is experiencing the same spirit of place that our explorer did” (34). Dit is ‘n skrale troos dat nie net verkrampte blankes ontuis in die getransformeerde Suid-Afrika voel nie, maar ook dat ‘n verligte aktivis soos Glenn ervaar hoe radikaal die land verander het – sekerlik nie altyd ten goede nie.

Levaillant is in 1753 aan die noordkus van Suid-Amerika, in Paramaribo, die hoofstad van wat tans as Suriname bekend staan, gebore. Ek het reeds oor Suriname geskryf (Praag 27.05.2017). Dit was ‘n Hollandse kolonie, maar sy ouers was Franse burgers. Levaillant se pa was die Franse ere-konsul en sy sake-onderneming het “trading in natural history specimens” onderneem (16). Dit het Levaillant se lewensloop deurslaggewend bepaal. Reeds van jongs af was hy “obsessed by birds” (17). Aan die Kaap het Levaillant steeds by voorkeur in voëls belang gestel: “The search for animals seems secondary to the search for birds” (48). “Levaillant produced twelve volumes of bird books from 1796 till 1818” (174) – “five volumes of birds of Africa” (176). In 1763 het Levaillant sy ouers se terugkeer na Frankryk meegemaak (222). Hy het as kind die Hollandse taal goed bemeester (17), terwyl sy Frans nie altyd op peil was nie (121). Dit is een van die probleme waarmee Quinton en sy redaksielede geworstel het.

Die volgende vertolking van Glenn oor inkommers in Frankryk kan aangedik wees: “Levaillant became one of the first literary and cultural figures in France … with a double identity, a cultural hybridity, as part of the painful benefit of not being born into settled metropolitan French society. For all of them, negotiating the complex heritage of a colonial history becomes part of their burden, though Levaillant was one of the few who had to negotiate between different European languages” (19). In hierdie konteks verwys Glenn na “a host of African and Caribbean figures” wat uit Franse kolonies ontvlug en hulle in Frankryk en by voorkeur in Parys gevestig het. Maar hulle was, anders as Levaillant, swartes, met kulturele hibriditeit van ‘n ander orde. Die blanke Algeryn, Albert Camus (1913-1960), word ook hier genoem. Camus het hard probeer om by bv oorverligte eksistensialiste, soos die kommuniste, selfs Staliniste, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) en Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), in te pas. Maar Camus se eerstehandse kennis van toestande in Algerië en sy opregte simpatie met die blanke ingesetenes het dit vir hom onmoontlik gemaak om kolonialisme sonder meer te veroordeel.

In April 1781 het Levaillant in die Kaap aangekom. Sy eerste groot ekspedisie die binneland in was van Desember 1781 tot Maart 1783. Hy het ooswaarts gereis tot by Port Elizabeth en vandaar na Cradock en die Groot Visrivier en deur die Karoo teruggekeer (32). Hy beskryf sy waarnemings en ondervindings in sy boek, Travels into the interior of Africa, gepubliseer in Frans in 1789 (33). Sy tweede groot ekspedisie het waarskynlik ses of agt maande lank geduur, van Junie (34) of Julie 1783 (223) tot vroeg in 1784 (34). Van Kaapstad af het hy noordwaarts langs die weskus op tot by die Oranjerivier gereis. Hy skryf hieroor in sy boek, New travels, gepubliseer in Frans in 1795. “Some of these elements may have been exaggerated or even fabricated” (57). “This second volume is far less reliable than the first” (33).

“The New travels feels … like a not-so-successful sequel compelled by the success of the first product. It is much more haphazard and inaccurate than the first, as though Levaillant had padded out a short journey” (140). Dit is dalk weens die langer tydsverloop tussen die ontdekkingsreis en die publikasie, al het hy ‘n dagboek gehou, wat ongelukkig steeds nie opgespoor kan word nie. “He must have worked on this sequel during the Revolution, as it was certainly ready for printing by the end of 1794” (138). Moontlik is dit ‘n geval van: “The author of the adventure is likely to find it ‘improved’, rewritten and made more exciting and sellable” (109). “The process of writing” het vir Levaillant geword “a way of reflecting his travels, so he gives it not only an intellectual but an emotional or psychological value” (45). Levaillant het die Kaap in Julie 1784 verlaat en via Holland na Frankryk teruggekeer (223). In 1800 is aangekondig: Levaillant “will depart again for Africa to spend the rest of his life there” (205), maar hiervan het niks tereg gekom nie.

Van 1797 tot 1804 was John Barrow (1764-1848) aan die Kaap tydens die eerste Britse besetting. Hermann Giliomee skryf: “Ten tye van die Sesde Grensoorlog [1834-1835] was dit al meer as dertig jaar dat Britte uiters negatief oor die grensboere geskryf het. Dit het begin met die reisverhaal van John Barrow” (Die Afrikaners, ‘n biografie (Kaapstad: Tafelberg, 2004, p 112). “Daar was hierdie kontras – tussen wit mense wat vry en gelyk is en swart mense wat ongelyk en onvry is – wat in die Kaapkolonie so sterk onder druk gekom het van die Britse Ryk met sy klem op die regsorde en die regte van die individu. Met ‘n geloof in hul eie meerdere deug en onskuld het skrywers soos John Barrow en John Philip [1775-1851] die Afrikaners veroordeel oor die groot onreg wat hulle teen die inboorlinge gepleeg het deur hul grond te vat, hulle kinders as arbeiders in te boek, hulle uit die kerk uit te sluit, en hul menswaardigheid te ontken” (632). Wat is Glenn se evaluering van Barrow se boek, An account of travels into the interior of Southern Africa in the years 1797 and 1798 (1802)? Glenn verwys na “the matter-of-fact British explorer John Barrow” (34). Dít geld vir Barrow beskrywings van die natuur; nie vir sy beoordeling van mense nie. Hopelik skryf ek eersdaags hieroor. Barrow noem dat die Ghonaquas ‘n basterstam van Khoi-Khoin en swart mense was (Kindle 2725). Tydens sy besoek was daar niemand wat Levaillant se “gay Narina” kon onthou nie (2739).

Glenn noem Levaillant “our hero” (38, 117). By hom is daar die neiging om Levaillant (te) hoog aan te slaan. Hier moet in gedagte gehou word dat Levaillant geen geleerde was nie. “He had no formal training in science” (24). Hy was bloot ‘n ontdekkingsreisiger wat inligting gedokumenteer het en wat meesal deur ander kunstenaars geïllustreer is. Levaillant het self ook geteken, maar met beperkte sukses. Byvoorbeeld, “Levaillant has been identified as the artist, as the quality is not nearly as good as most of the other botanical illustrations!” (iv, 129). Ons word darem verseker “Levaillant’s painting improved over time” (212).”Levaillant was one of the first artists to try to capture birds in life-like poses and to differentiate between adults, females and juveniles” (200). Hy word “a major cultural and scientific figure” genoem (2). “The first important modern ornithologist” (4), “Our first and greatest ornithologist” (5) en “The founding figure of African ornithology” (178). Hy was glo ook “the best taxidermist of his day” (20; ook 137). “He was a major innovator of techniques and technologies and infrastructures to portray nature” (5). “The well-armed traveller established his credentials as the first person to bring a giraffe specimen back in France” (iv). Sy roem berus ook op “a never-before-described antelope (surely the Bloubok)” (148), ‘n spesie wat in die omgewing van Caledon en Swellendam voorgekom maar uitgesterf het (158-159).

“He produced the first major, widely read account of southern Africa” (4). “Leviallant was the first writer to convey the excitement of the African wilderness, not only as hunter but as explorer” (5). “We can see this as the first example of a safari,* or voyage of discovery in the African wilderness, a voyage that combines danger, wild animals, self-discovery and transcendence” (46). Emosie word as ‘n noodsaaklike deel hiervan beskou: Levaillant “shares his emotional involvements and feelings. This turns his journey from being simply a recollection of a hunting or collecting expedition into a safari, a journey of discovery and change” (52-53). [* Vandaar die boektitel: The first safari.]

“For the first time, in Levaillant’s work, we are not only in the wilderness, but are on safari. Safari comes from the Swahili word for a journey and is originally derived from Arabic. Safari is closely allied to the notion of wilderness but is a particularly African variation of it in that it involves encouters with dangerous, deadly, charismatic wild animals and hunting – originally with rifles; now, most of the time, with cameras. Whole tourism industries depend on the feeling that one is returning to nature. And if travels provide freedom, they also become a voyage, a safari which involves self-discovery, a new distance from where one comes from, a different sense of time and space and values … When Levaillant … observes the behaviour of birds, he tries to give the sense of a world out of European control. To go into the wilderness, or on safari, is to move out of one’s comfort zone, to view the everyday world of constraints and norms differently” (58).

“Levaillant was a major social and cultural commentator” (5). “Levaillant is the only one of the earlier commentators to predict an uprising and rebellion againt the Company [VOC] from the settlers – something which took place in Swellendam with a short-lived republic proclaimed in 1795. And his sense of the frontier famers’ willingness to leave Company control for a new destiny foreshadows the Great Trek of the 1830s in ways the others do not foresee” (18). Glenn skryf hierdie raak voorspellings toe aan Levaillant se “linguistic and cultural sophistication and insights” (66). “In France, the Revolutionary parliament hailed his work as revealing colonial and racial exploitation” (3). In sy laaste hoofstuk verskaf Glenn die volgende samevatting: “Levaillant was a major innovator in the field of how to capture and convey nature and the new country and society he encountered” (219).

Levaillant was onder die invloed van Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) se opvatting van “die edele barbaar” (“The Noble Savage” – 80, “good savages” – 115) en hy was teen kolonialisme gekant. “Rousseau’s interpretation of this story turns Enlightenment thought about the Khoikhoi away from one set of responses (‘you can’t civilise these people; they are the lowest rank of humanity’) to another (‘their ways of life are more authentic, truer, better; we are in a fallen state’)” (80,82). “Before him [Levaillant] there was exploitation and the messy business of colonial expropriation; after him much of the world looked at the Cape with the anthropological eyes of Rousseau or the anti-colonial eyes of [Denis] Diderot [1713-1784]” (2). By Rousseau was daar baie subjektiwiteit en ‘n skeut romantiek. Diderot was deel van die rasioneel-wetenskaplike Verligting. Rousseau het baie meer en Diderot baie minder erkenning ontvang as wat hulle verdien het.

Dit is eintlik verbasend hoe baie lasposte in Europa hulle toe reeds (oor)krities oor rasseverhoudings in Suidelike Afrika uitgelaat het. Glenn skryf: “Only when I started working on Levaillant did I realise how much the early Cape had influenced European philosophical debates and the thinking of Rousseau, particularly in his Discourses on the origins of inequality [1754]” (79-80). Rousseau se invloed op Levaillant blyk bv uit die volgende: “In literature, his descriptions of travel and nature were first influenced by a Romantic sensibility about wilderness and nature” (4). “In his presence everything to do with nature becomes a delight” (207). Levaillant skryf oor hoe hy in 1781 op sy eerste ekspedisie gevoel het toe hy Sir Lowry-pas oorgesteek het: “I returned, so to speak, to man’s primitive state, and breathed, for the first time in my life, the pure and delicious air of freedom” (53). Glenn skryf hieroor: “The free air he breathes shapes his sense of the indigenous people he meets: if they are living before their encounter with colonists, they are free and good; if they have met the colonists, they have been or are being degraded and enslaved” (53).

Levaillant “reveals himself to be the philosopher, the profound observer, capable of appreciating men and of grasping their nature, no matter what their barely perceptible differences are” (114); dus soortgelyk aan die hedendaagse klem op die onderlinge eendersheid eerder as die andersheid van mense. Levaillant skryf selfs oor die inheemses: “Distrust is the only cause of their barbarity” (114). “For Levaillant, as for Rousseau, nature provides a healthy version of what society provides in a debased, luxurious form” (54). In hierdie gees het Levaillant in 1789, die jaar waarin die Franse Revolusie ‘n aanvang geneem het, “the first important African travel narrative” gepubliseer (30).

Ná die onregverdigbare Suid-Afrikaanse revolusie in 1994 het veral ANC-kamerade persoonlik buitesporig daarby gebaat. Hierdie soort onreg was ook een van die gevolge van die Franse Revolusie. “Levaillant was a revolutionary in good standing” (134) en “benefited from the Revolution in some important ways – notably in the sale of his natural history collection [to the state, the Natural History Museum – 135] and from receiving property [“an estate at La Noue near Sézanne” – 131] from his second wife’s family that had been confiscated from the Catholic Church” (130). Levaillant is in Sézanne begrawe (208).

As geswore linksgesinde vind Glenn “considerable ironies” in die publikasie van Levaillant se werk deur die Parlementsbiblioteek (13). Levaillant het “a very harsh view of settler brutality and Dutch East India Company exploitation of the indigenous people at the Cape” (13). “He was able to take a detached and critical view of commercial colonialism. Levaillant saw the treatment of slaves in the Cape as relatively benign compared with that in Suriname, but, influenced by Rousseau and Raynal,* his book took a scathing view of Dutch colonial exploitation and criticised the local officials and especially the colonists in the interior” (31; ook 46). [* Guillaume Thomas François Raynal (1713-1796), A philosophical and political history of the settlements and trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies (Franse uitgawes in 1770, 1774 en 1781).]

Dit verbaas Glenn geensins dat die elf geleerdes wie se bydraes in die 1973-boek gepubliseer is, “glossed over Levaillant’s political and social views … from Levaillant’s life to the provenance of the watercolours, to his contributions to ornithology, botany, anthropology, understanding local architecture, insects and snakes and the routes he took. Matthys Bokhorst’s biographical account was perhaps the most marked by his awareness of Levaillant’s ‘Negrophile sentiments’ (as the index puts it) but he tried to find reasons not to take them seriously – by suggesting, for example, that they were simply an addition by another writer, or the result of the malign influence of Rousseau” (13). Oor Bokhorst se artikel word verder beweer: “It allowed South Africans to distance Levaillant from the views of the French Revolution” (142). Glenn se benadering van Levaillant word dermate deur sy linkse politiek oorheers dat hy dink dat alles wat die NP-regering gepubliseer het, soos die 1973-boek, noodwendig die stempel van apartheidspolitiek moet dra.

Levaillant was krities teenoor veral die blankes in die binneland ingestel. Tog moes hy diep onder die besef gewees het dat die besit van wapentuig en ammunisie vir hulle noodsaaklik was: “Technological know-how becomes the way in which the coloniser saves himself or gets the upper hand over indigenous people” (57). Dit is “the colonist’s way of surviving in hostile territory” (44). Op sy togte het Levaillant hom met 16 gewere (43), 2 pistole, ‘n swaard en ‘n mes bewapen (44). Soos by die blanke inwoners was dit vir hom nodig om hom nie net teen aanvalle deur wilde diere te bewapen nie, maar ook teen inheemse mense. “He has a close encounter with a marauding bandit who nearly kills him” (57).

Hoofstuk 4 is die langste in Glenn se boek en het as opskrif: “Levaillant as social and cultural observer.” Die res van hierdie rubriek handel hieroor. Volgens Glenn, in sy navorsing, “one of the surprises was how often the early English translators … simply could not grasp how radical his criticism of colonialism was. Levaillant would say something sharp about the ‘colons’ or settlers; the translators would transfer the criticism to the indigenous people” (61). “Speaking Dutch and, he claims, Khoi gave Levaillant considerable advantages over other travellers, who could not talk to either the settlers or the indigenous peoples directly but had to rely on translations or hearsay. Levaillant himself comments on this directly when complaining that the Swedish traveller Anders Sparrman [1748-1820, at the Cape 1772, 1775-1776] based his account of indigenous customs on colonists’ accounts” (65).

Glenn borduur voort op wat reeds hier bo geskryf is: “Major French writers like Diderot and Rousseau influenced Levaillant’s critical stance on colonialism, and their omission from literary curricula has emasculated the South African literary canon. Levaillant’s text was clearly marked by the revolutionary, anti-colonial mood of major texts of his time: from Diderot’s Supplément au voyage de Bougainville (1772) to the third edition of Raynal’s Histoire des deux Indes, the major history of colonial expansion that was so critical of colonialism that it was banned in France. In the third edition of Raynal’s text, the analysis of the Dutch at the Cape, and in particular of the first Dutch commander there, Jan van Riebeeck, became far more hostile and suspicious than in earlier editions. In the earlier editions, Van Riebeeck is presented as a fairly humane and rational figure. But in the third edition, the new author, generally assumed to be Diderot, unleashes one of the classic anti-colonial tirades, urging the Khoikhoi to armed revolt” (66-67).

Daarna volg “a stinging portrayal of Dutch hypocrisy as the colonists feign friendship and charity, ‘but cruelty, but treason are at the bottom of their hearts.’ They will drive the Hottentots from their huts, steal their herds, corrupt their women, seduce their daughters … ‘You must send them your arrows’ … The Dutch cultivate land the Khoikhoi regard as theirs, and they feel themselves being reduced to slavery” (67-68). Levaillant reageer op Joseph Banks se siening. “Banks had been in the Cape only a decade before Levaillant and wrote that the Khoikhoi ‘are generally represented as the outcasts of the human species, a race whose intellectual faculties are so little superior to those of beasts, that some have been inclined to suppose them more nearly related to baboons than to men” (82). Daarenteen het Levaillant die Khoi-Khoin as “fully human” beskou: “If there is one place where one can still find decency in conduct and manners, it is in the far-off wilderness” (84). “I know his soul to be quite good” (84).

Levaillant vul die Raynal/Diderot-teks aan met: “Riebeeck[‘s] … shrewd policy was to appear as a able peacemaker and he used all the devious means necessary to attract the good will of the Hottentots, and covered the lip of the poisoned cup with honey. These masters of this whole portion of Africa by imprescriptible right, these savages, were won over by these cruel lures, and did not see at all how this culpable debasement was taking away their rights, their authority, their peace, and their happiness” (68). Levaillant gaan voort: “The Dutch held out great hopes for their greedy policy … by offering the Hottentots two highly seductive lures: tobacco, and brandy … [The Dutch] rejected violently all that might resist its ambitions and greedy advancement … This logic nullified the sacred and respectable rights of property. On several occassions, they grabbed indiscriminately more than was needed, taking all the land that the government or individuals it favoured thought good and suited them” (69-70).

“For Levaillant, the Khoikhoi are, ironically, the true ‘cosmopolitans’ for whom the world is their birthright and who do not understand private property or farming … Levaillant’s text is closer in its analysis of the South African colonial situation and its aftermath to the present-day Economic Freedom Fighters than to the apartheid government or what most white South Africans think now. It is thus hardly surprising that his work has received such a hostile reception from English or white South African critics” (71-72). “Levaillant went on to provide a front-line report of conditions and abuses on the frontier … He analyses how the frontier farmers manipulate the Company in Cape Town by reporting stolen livestock and obtain permission to retaliate, a permission which they abuse to enrich themselves … ‘This warfare, or robbery rather, went on all the time I was in Africa'” (73).

Levaillant het sy voorspelling soos volg verwoord: “I do not regard it as impossible that one day they [the colonists in the interior] might shake off the yoke and dictate the law to the government of the colony. This day will come when one man of ability can win the confidence and the minds of the multitude and dangle in front of their eyes an image of independence and liberty in alluring colours” (74-75). Dít kan ook ‘n boodskap van hoop inhou vir die huidige geslag Afrikaners. “They can already feel just how easy an undertaking this is and what the advantages of success would be” (75).

Oor die Xhosas aan die Oosgrens skryf Levaillant: “The Caffres are generally peace-loving and calm, but he [Hans] assured me that as they were constantly harassed, robbed, and slaughtered by the whites, they had no choice but to take up arms in self-defence” (76). Twee eeue later het Nelson Mandela met dieselfde drogredenasie gekom; dat geweld die enigste saligmakende opsie vir die ANC is. Hans “told me that the colonists reported them far and wide to be a barberous and bloodthirsty race to justify the robberies and atrocities they perpetrated on the Caffres every day and which they misrepresented as retaliation. Under the pretext that a few head of cattle had been stolen, they had exterminated whole hordes of Caffres, regardless of sex or age, stolen all their oxen, and laid their country to waste” (76). Mandela het insgelyks graag gepraat van “our country” wat onregmatig deur die blankes beset is. Levaillant skryf: “I would never stop if I wanted to report in detail the shocking atrocities which are indulged in every day against these unfortunate savages who have no protection and no support … all the horrors invented in hell are committed” (77). “Levaillant was witnessing the early days of something close to a colonial genocide” (78).

Sedert 1994 beleef ons veel eerder volksmoord, soos rassediskriminasie, in omgekeerde vorm. Ingesluit in menseregte is die onvervreembare reg van Afrikaners om in Afrika te wees. Afrikaners behoort toegelaat te word om hulle eie heil te verwesenlik. Dit word ‘n (sterk) moontlikheid as Afrikaners hulle kompromisloos daarvoor beywer.

Neem deel aan die gesprek en lewer gerus hier onder kommentaar!

L.W. U gebruik die Disqus-kommentaarafdeling op eie risiko en PRAAG, die redaksie of enige verwante persone of entiteite aanvaar geen verantwoordelikheid vir u kommentaar en watter gevolge ook al daaruit mag voortspruit nie. Terselfdertyd vereis ons dat u ter wille van beskaafdheid, redelikheid en die gerief van ander gebruikers, u sal weerhou van kwetsende taalgebruik, vloekwoorde, persoonlike aanvalle op medegebruikers, twissoekery en algemene "trol"-gedrag. Enigeen wat só 'n laspos word, sal summier verbied word en sy IP-adres sal insgelyks versper word. Ons sal ook nie huiwer om, waar nodig, kriminele klagte aanhangig te maak teen individue wat hulle aan dreigemente, teistering of intimidasie skuldig maak nie.