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David Stuurman: the South African who escaped twice from Robben Island

Statue of David Stuurman

David Stuurman, who simply had an airport named after him, was one of many first leaders in resistance to colonial enlargement in South Africa, however few within the nation know a lot about him, as Mohammed Allie stories.

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For the colonial institution of the late 18th and early nineteenth centuries, David Stuurman was a prison and a menace, however for the Khoi and Xhosa (or amaXhosa) folks he achieved hero standing for his brave and continued resistance. pressured evictions and subjugation.

Stuurman additionally has the excellence of being the one individual to have escaped twice from Robben Island – later referred to as one of many locations the place Nelson Mandela was incarcerated – off Cape City.

In 1809, he was among the many first political prisoners to be banished there.

First escape

“He was arrested and charged with resisting colonial rule in addition to opposing the conscription of the Khoi into militias created to defend the colony and to assault the San and AmaXhosa,” cultural activist Stephen mentioned. Langtry on the BBC.

“In December 1809, Stuurman and some others have been the primary to flee the island utilizing one of many whaling boats which was anchored within the harbor.

“He left the colony and took refuge among the many amaXhosa. He was recaptured [a decade later] and put to pressured labor on Robben Island. On August 9, 1820, he escaped once more, ”Langtry added.

Though the getaway boat capsized, Stuurman solely survived to be captured as soon as once more and despatched again to the island in December for a 3rd stint.

Deaths in Australia

This time he was chained to a wall till he might be transported in February 1823 to Australia.

Stuurman was then put to work on the Sydney Army Barracks for six years earlier than getting a ticket to depart. However by that point, he had change into lame in his proper leg and was unable to return dwelling, in line with Sydney Residing Museums.

He died in Australia in 1830 and was buried in a cemetery which was later redeveloped as Sydney Central Station, which means Stuurman’s stays couldn’t be positioned.

Khoi activists, Khoi San community members, relatives and government officials attend the symbolic burial ceremony for traditional Khoisan leader and freedom fighter David Stuurman on June 16, 2017 in Hankey, South AfricaKhoi activists, Khoi San community members, relatives and government officials attend the symbolic burial ceremony for traditional Khoisan leader and freedom fighter David Stuurman on June 16, 2017 in Hankey, South Africa

David Stuurman’s spirit rested in South Africa at a ceremony in 2017

After negotiations with the Australian authorities which lasted a number of years, a conventional ceremony was organized in Sydney in 2017 to repatriate the spirit of Stuurman. Three days later, a second religious repatriation was carried out on the Sarah Baartman Heritage Heart within the South African city of Hankey, within the Jap Cape Province.

Born round 1773, close to the Gamtoos River in what’s now Jap Cape, Stuurman took over the management of his Khoi clan from his brother Klaas who died in 1803.

He grew to become concerned within the anti-colonial wrestle after his folks have been dispossessed of their lands by Dutch and British colonizers, forcing him and different indigenous peoples to stay and work on their lands as laborers.

‘Tied up and overwhelmed’

Stuurman himself labored for a farmer, Johannes Vermaak, however his brutal remedy led him to surrender his job.

At one level, it was alleged that he threatened Vermaak.

“[After the disagreement] Vermaak had initially demanded that he be shot however had contented himself with having him tied to a cart and overwhelmed with sjamboks. [whips]“Wrote historian Vertrees Malherbe.

“After that it was salted and left within the scorching solar for a couple of hours.”

Key dates in Stuurman's life.   [ Early 1770s Stuurman born in what is now Eastern Cape ],[ 1795  British forces seize Cape Colony from the Dutch, then return it in 1803 and finally gaining  control in 1806 ],[ 1799 Khoi rebellion, which Stuurman helps lead, begins ],[ 1809 Stuurman arrested and held on Robben Island but later escapes ],[ 1820 Stuurman recaptured  after second escape ],[ 1830 Stuurman dies in Australia after being transported there in 1823 ], Source: Source: SA History Online, BBC Monitoring, Image: Key dates in Stuurman's life.   [ Early 1770s Stuurman born in what is now Eastern Cape ],[ 1795  British forces seize Cape Colony from the Dutch, then return it in 1803 and finally gaining  control in 1806 ],[ 1799 Khoi rebellion, which Stuurman helps lead, begins ],[ 1809 Stuurman arrested and held on Robben Island but later escapes ],[ 1820 Stuurman recaptured  after second escape ],[ 1830 Stuurman dies in Australia after being transported there in 1823 ], Source: Source: SA History Online, BBC Monitoring, Image:

Key dates in Stuurman’s life. [ Early 1770s Stuurman born in what is now Eastern Cape ],[ 1795 British forces seize Cape Colony from the Dutch, then return it in 1803 and finally gaining control in 1806 ],[ 1799 Khoi rebellion, which Stuurman helps lead, begins ],[ 1809 Stuurman arrested and held on Robben Island but later escapes ],[ 1820 Stuurman recaptured after second escape ],[ 1830 Stuurman dies in Australia after being transported there in 1823 ], Supply: Supply: SA Historical past On-line, BBC Monitoring, Picture:

Stuurman’s lively profession as Khoi ruler lasted for a tumultuous interval within the first 20 years of the nineteenth century, when the Xhosa, Boers, Khoikhoi, San, and British clashed intermittently within the Jap Cape.

A lot of the battle was resulting from colonial enlargement which dispossessed the Xhosa and Khoi of their land, livestock and different property.

In 1799, the Khoi on the jap border of the Cape Colony rebelled. A whole bunch of individuals left the farms they have been in lots of instances pressured to work on and went to stay with the Xhosa, in line with South African Historical past On-line. Collectively the Khoi and the Xhosa attacked the colonialists.

Stuurman helped lead expeditions to recuperate cattle from Dutch settlers between 1795 and 1803.

Clearly, Stuurman was a thorn within the facet of each the pioneers and the brand new British authorities in Cape City, as he refused to be pressured to relinquish his clan’s independence.

‘For us, he is a legend’

“He was necessary for his contribution to the resistance to the colonial occupation. He was additionally a formidable resistance fighter,” cultural activist Shepi Mati instructed the BBC.

“At one level he acquired refugees – individuals who fled slavery and compelled conscription into agricultural work and provided them a haven of peace amongst his neighborhood that resided within the space now known as Hankey in Cape City. Oriental.

“Stuurman himself was extremely regarded locally. He was not afraid to tackle the colonialists. He took again land and livestock that had been forcibly taken from his folks.”

Mati added that Stuurman additionally performed an necessary function in selling unity between the Khoi and the Xhosa.

“For us, he’s a legend. He is among the heroes Khoi and San who was the primary, alongside along with his brother Klaas, to battle towards colonialism, land dispossession and slavery on the time.” says Christian Martin, a Khoi based mostly within the Jap Cape and San Activist. In 2016, he proposed that the Port Elizabeth airport be named in honor of Stuurman.

“Stuurman was manner forward of his time in unity and nation constructing.

“There’s a white model of Stuurman the place he’s described as a assassin. Keep in mind some folks additionally thought-about Nelson Mandela a terrorist – however for hundreds of thousands of individuals he was a hero.”

The settlers seen him as a bandit and didn’t wish to cooperate, and in 1809 Stuurman was arrested and detained on Robben Island.

‘First revolutionary’

Martin reveals that he acquired a number of messages from white South Africans after the identify change of Port Elizabeth Worldwide Airport (which itself has a new name – Gqeberha).

One among them, written in Afrikaans, known as Stuurman a “infamous thief and assassin” who had killed settlers, stole their cattle and “hunted their wives and kids, barefoot and carrying solely their nightgowns within the area within the freezing chilly “.

Maybe a part of the supply of the anger was that the airport was as soon as named after former Prime Minister HF Verwoerd, thought-about one of many architects of apartheid, which legalized racial discrimination.

Based on Errol Heynes, former deputy mayor of Port Elizabeth, Stuurman, by opposing pressured dismissals, has change into “one of many nation’s first revolutionaries”.

“It was necessary to focus on those that had fought the primary settlers and fought colonization earlier than the arrival of apartheid,” he provides.

Stuurman was honored in different methods. In 2015, a life-size bronze sculpture of him, created by Cape City artist Keith Calder, was erected on the Nationwide Heritage Monument in Tshwane.

Regardless of this and having performed a key function within the resistance to colonialism, the airport needed to be renamed for a lot of South Africans to seek out out extra about it.

With this transfer and the tales of his heroism, together with the double escape from Robben Island, there’ll probably be extra curiosity.

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