First Nations Ambassador
!Gaitsesa ti khoen, mî re? Ti Ions ge Edward Charles. Ti khaikhoe Ions ge Human. Ti ge Xirika. Tita ge ≠Gῡrokam Khoen. Good day my people, how are you? My name is Edward Charles. My surname is Human. I am a Griqua. I am First Nations.
I would like to acknowledge my First Nations / Khoi-San ancestors and the great leaders that came before me. Leaders such as Autshumatso, David Stuurman, David Kruiper, and Sarah Baartman, to name but a few. On behalf of Captain Johannes Kraalshoek and the Free State Griqua Traditional Council, I welcome you to the Griqua and Koranna territory in the heartland of South Africa, the Free State Province, in Bloemfontein.
I also want to acknowledge Danab ||Hui Gaeb di !Huni !nâ !Gῡkhoeb (Bradley van Sitters) and !Aru |khuisi Piet Berendse for their amazing work during the Welcome to the Country Ceremony, and lastly, I want to acknowledge the vice-chancellor, prof. Francis Peterson, all the delegates from the University of the Free State, and the delegates from the Volksblad newspaper, and other institutions and government sectors.
As First Nations Ambassador, I would like to congratulate the Vrystaat Arts Festival for reaching its 21st year as an art festival in Bloemfontein and South Africa as a whole.
≠Khî(sa) !Naetsē.b Vrystaat Arts Festival / Happy birthday Vrystaat Arts Festival
I have witnessed the growth of the Programme for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD) within the First Nations Programme during the Festival over the years. We were fortunate to have First Nations artists from Australia, Maori, Tasmania, New Zealand, American arts managers, directors, writers, and local First Nations artists as well.
At the 2019 Festival, we were fortunate to have dancers from the Pakana Kanaplila Troupe and Adὶe Bὰ Lόkùn from Nigeria and the “Rieldanser” from the Khoi-San in the Northern Cape.
The fourth First Nations Colloquium took place in Richmond from 3 to 9 November 2019, bringing together artistic minds from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It was facilitated by myself and Lee-Ann Tjunypa Bucksin, a Narungga, Wirangu, Wotjobaluk woman, who is well-known throughout the Australian indigenous and international art communities. The focus areas for the Colloquium was:
- Reflecting on creative works and engagement with First Nations artistic practices locally and internationally.
- The advocacy of First Nations expression through indigenous language, arts, and cultural practices.
- Societal dynamics and challenges that relate to First Nations communities and their expression through creative work.
Sadly everything came to a halt in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic but 2020 has also brought a great new vision for the First Nations (Khoi-San) in South Africa. This came in the form of Proclamation No. 38 of 2020 by the President of South Africa, the commence of the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act, 2019 (Act No. 3 of 2019), that gives constitutional recognition to the Khoi-San in South Africa. This achievement comes after 29 years of hard work by our elders and it will hopefully open various doors such as land restitution, and Khoi-San language development and promotion within our education system. With the successful negotiations regarding Rooibos Tea, we the Khoi-San have reached a benefit sharing with the major stakeholders in the industry.
We as the First Nations wish to congratulate Corneli van den Berg as the newly appointed Director of the Vrystaat Arts Festival and we also want to thank dr. Ricardo Peach for allowing us to grow as First Nations also as artists in unity. As First Nations, we are very privileged to be part of this festival once again and we know that it will only grow from strength to strength.
Happy birthday Vrystaat Arts Festival. / ≠Khî(sa) !Naetsē.b Vrystaat Arts Festival.