Looking in the Mirror

Spiritual Revelations for those seeking Humanity in Humans ~~CordieB.

Archive for October, 2007

Who is Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman?

Sarah Bartman Skelatal
Photograph courtesty of  ” Mail and Guardian On-Line, Article Entitled, “Fetching Saartjie.”

Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman was born on the Gamtoos River in the Eastern Cape in 1789 of a Khoisan family in what is now known as South Africa.  British ship’s doctor William Dunlop persuaded her to travel with him to England by prominsing her a great fortune if she visited Europe and exhibited herself.   I’m sure Saartjie had no idea of her ill fate as she stepped on board, on her own free will, a ship for London. 

It is said that the first time Saartjie Baartman was dragged out to squat before the mob at 225 Piccadilly, the show’s promoters billed her genitals as resembling the skin that hangs from a turkey’s throat.  For several years, working-class Londoners crowded in to shout vulgarities at the protruding buttocks and large vulva of the unfortunate woman made famous across Europe as the “Hottentot Venus”.  The aristocracy were no less fascinated at what they saw as a sexual freak, but they had private showings.  

She spent four years in London, then moved to Paris, where she continued her degrading round of shows and exhibitions. In Paris she attracted the attention of French scientists, in particular Georges Cuvier.

Soon the Parisians tired of the Baartman show.  It is alleged that she was forced to turn to prostitution and that she became penniless and succumbed to alcolism.  Her body was unable to become acclimatised to the cold weather; her spirit could not endure the cruel culture; and Saartjie’s mind, body and soul could no longer endure further abuse.  Saartjie died in 1815 at the tender age of 25.

Sarah’s death was as ill-fated as her life.   She was carved up by Napoleon’s surgeon, who made a cast of her body, pickled her genitals and brain, and put her skeleton on display in a museum.

Some 160 years later they were still on display, but were finally removed from public view in 1974.  In 1994, former South African president Nelson Mandela requested that her remains be brought home.

Other pleas were made, but it took the French government eight years to pass a bill – apparently worded so as to prevent other countries from claiming the return of their stolen treasures – to allow their small piece of “scientific curiosity” to be returned to South Africa.

In 2002, Sarah Baartman’s remains were finally returned. 


Photo Courtesy of Washington Post

“The story of Sarah Baartman is the story of the African people,” President Thabo Mbeki said at the funeral. “It is the story of the loss of our ancient freedom … It is the story of our reduction to the state of objects who could be owned, used and discarded by others.”

May Miss Baartman finally rest in peace.  

Who are the Sarah Baartman’s of Today, a poem written by Cordieb

For a detailed story of Saartjie Baartman’s life, listen to Anchor Marco Werman’s interview with Rachel Holmes, author of the book, “African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus.”

Listen to the interview and the story

Diana Ferrus, of Khoisan descent, wrote “A poem for Sarah Baartman” while studying in Utrecht, Holland, in 1998.   It is widely believed that Ferrus’ poem played a major part in the return of Sarah’s remains.  Ferrus said, “One evening I was looking at the stars and I thought to myself, ‘They’re so far away. But if I were home, I’d be able to touch every one of them.’ My heart just went out to Sarah, and I thought, ‘Oh, god, she died of heartbreak, she longed for her country. What did she feel?’ That’s why the first line of the poem was ‘I’ve come to take you home.’

“I’ve come to take you home –
home, remember the veld?
the lush green grass beneath the big oak trees
the air is cool there and the sun does not burn.
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white
and the water in the stream chuckle sing-songs
as it hobbles along over little stones.
I have come to wrench you away –
away from the poking eyes
of the man-made monster
who lives in the dark
with his clutches of imperialism
who dissects your body bit by bit
who likens your soul to that of Satan
and declares himself the ultimate god!
I have come to soothe your heavy heart
I offer my bosom to your weary soul
I will cover your face with the palms of my hands
I will run my lips over lines in your neck
I will feast my eyes on the beauty of you
and I will sing for you
for I have come to bring you peace.
I have come to take you home
where the ancient mountains shout your name.
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white –
I have come to take you home
where I will sing for you
for you have brought me peace.”
Diana Ferrus, “A poem for Sarah Baartman”

References:

  • A French print
  • Guardian article on the return of her remains
  • South Africa government site about her, including Diana Ferrus’s pivotal poem
  • A documentary film called The Life and Times of Sara Baartman by Zola Maseko
  • http://www.heretical.com/miscella/baker4.html
  • http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/courses/306/Sarah%20Burial.html
  • Other Links:

    http://www.heretical.com/miscella/baker4.html

    This Morning I am Worried; This Morning I am Jubilant

    483423736_fcb6aa856b_o.jpg

    You know I’ve been having one of the “feeling down” weeks this week; so one morning I started writing this poem; the more I wrote, the more I heard that inner voice of love tell me to “get off my pitty pot.”   And so the poem changed from doom to to aspiration, and I thought I’d share it with my web friends. 

    I’m Worried – Im am Jubilant- By Cordie B.  October 23, 2007

    This morning I am worried.
    I am worried about where I will stay shortly,
    I am worried about where I will pray shortly.

    This morning I am worried.
    I am worried about how I will eat tomorrow;
    I am worried about all the pain that will follow.

    This morning I am worried.
    I am worried about how this relationship will last;
    I am worried about that perhaps we don’t have what it takes to surpass.

    This morning I am worried.
    I am worried that people may think ill of me;
    I am worried that I can’t really be me.

    This morning I am worried.
    I am worried that I may not see the sun again;
    I am worried that from now on, I’ll only see more rain.

    This morning I am worried.
    I am worried that I won’t see by worrying, I’m wasting my time.
    For in the broad scheme of all things, there’s neither rhythm nor rhyme.

    This morning I’m Jubilant.
    I am Jubilant to know
    that change is surely certain, all circumstances come and go.

    This morning I am Jubilant.
    I am Jubilant and free
    Because I’ve helped someone along there paths, and it has given joy to me.

    This morning I am Jubilant
    I am Jubilant to have a fresh new start;
    And in the days that come my way, I’ll love with all my heart.

    This morning I am Jubilant
    I am Jubilant to have another breath;
    And in the days I have to live, I’ll be attentive to my health.

    This morning I am Jubilant.
    I am Jubilant to see;
    The worries of my yesterdays were most because of me.

    This morning I am Jubilant.
    I am Jubilant to see;
    Most worries of my yesterdays will never come to be.

    This morning I am Jubilant.
    I am Jubilant, know why?
    For there’s no need on earth I know, for which God won’t supply.

    This morning I am Jubilant.
    I am Jubilant to say
    Thank God for changing seasons, and for another day.

    Looking in the Mirror – The storehouse of abundance is already mine

    Nia had been prepared to inherit the wise woman’s book.  The old woman was the salvation and the backbone of the entire villiage.  She was wise.  She was loved.  But she had become too old to carry out her duties.  In return for twenty-two years of training, Nia was to inherit the old woman’s key to life.  The ceremony was long.  The people were many.  The responsibility was great.  nea was prepared.  She was eager to get started.  She believed the book would reveal the answers to all of life’s questions.  It required two strong men to carry the book to her chamber.  When they placed it on her table, she quickly waved them away.  The book was solid gold, trimmed with emeralds, rubies and sapphires.  In the middle of the front cover sat a seven-carat diamond.  Nia’s heart was pounding.  Her mouth had gone dry.  With her eyes closed, she fondled the cover of the book.  The time had come to open it.  She was about to learn life’s secret.  She opened the middle of the book.  She looked down at the page.  Nia had inherited a book of mirrors. 

    From, Acts of Faith, Iyanla Vanzant

    The Touch of the Master’s Hand

    How often in life are we touched by God’s hands and helping hands just when we start losing  faith and hope?  How many testimonies have we heard of poor souls hitting “rock bottom” and being able to reposition themselves to bring joy back into their lives?   God delivers miracles everyday, especially with the help of his chief helpers (human beings).  If God can change a caterpillar into a butterfly, surely he can change conditions in our lives.   Our downs often make us  grow stronger; and help us to reflect on and make necessary changes for harmonious lives.   Our down points can actually take us to heights that we never imagined.  As Christians, we should always have faith in the touch of the Master’s Hand.   Also, we should never lose faith in any of God’s people, because in doing so, are we not losing faith in what God can do?   I would like to share this old poem, that still holds truth today.
     The Touch of the Master’s Hand 
    by Myra Brooks Welch (1926)

    It was battered and scarred,
    And the auctioneer thought it
    hardly worth his while
    To waste much time on the old violin,
    but he held it up with a smile.

    “What am I bid, good people”, he cried,
    “Who starts the bidding for me?”
    “One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”
    “Two dollars, who makes it three?”
    “Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,”

    But, No,
    From the room far back a gray bearded man
    Came forward and picked up the bow,
    Then wiping the dust from the old violin
    And tightening up the strings,
    He played a melody, pure and sweet
    As sweet as the angel sings.

    The music ceased and the auctioneer
    With a voice that was quiet and low,
    Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”
    As he held it aloft with its’ bow.

    “One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”
    “Two thousand, Who makes it three?”
    “Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
    Going and gone”, said he.

    The audience cheered,
    But some of them cried,
    “We just don’t understand.”
    “What changed its’ worth?”
    Swift came the reply.
    “The Touch of the Masters Hand.”

    And many a man with life out of tune
    All battered and scarred with sin
    Is auctioned cheap to a thankless world
    Much like that old violin.

    A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
    A game and he travels on.
    He is going once, he is going twice,
    He is going and almost gone.

    But the Master comes,
    And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
    The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
    By the Touch of the Masters’ Hand.