Sarah Baartman, 200 years of alienation and indignity.

Sarah Baartman, Story of an African woman took 200 years to end!

Oct 27, 2020 - 13:19
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Sarah Baartman, 200 years of alienation and indignity.
Sarah Baartman is a journey of torment

Sarah Bartman, nicknamed "Saartjie", was born in 1789, and its literal translation means "little Sarah", which Africans use as a kind of affection for a person and a sign of closeness to him and not an expression of small stature.
It belongs to one of the African tribes known as (Khoi Khoi), which is believed to have been the first tribes that inhabited South Africa in the Eastern Cape in South Africa on the banks of the Gamtoos  River. It is generally believed that she was born in the Gamtoos  Valley, but moved there with her family only years after her birth.
Sarah Bartman worked as a maid to Dutch peasants at the age of twenty, and while she was working, she caught the attention of a visiting British surgeon named William Dunlop. What caught his attention was the very large size of the buttocks, which is known for the women of the Khoi Khoi tribe, which is called steatopygia. Sarah agreed to travel with Dunlop to Britain after he promised her fame and fortune that she would go as a subject for research and anatomy because of her UFO shape.

Sarah went to London at the age of 21, 1810, with her employer, a free black man named Hendrick Cesars, and William Dunlop, an English physician. Who worked in a slave hostel on the Cape. . Initially, she underwent a number of studies to dissect her UFO. Sarah was performing in a circus (Piccadilly) under the supervision of a "predatory" trainer. Spectators were allowed to touch her big ass in exchange for a ticket increase. Hottentot is the term that the Dutch used to denote the African Khosyan tribe because of their strange language, which contains a lot of "clanking" of the tongue during words. In a novel that this word means "stutterers." Sarah Bartman did not allow this last characteristic to appear throughout her life.

Work in the circus

Sarah was forced to work in the circus and was shown completely naked, and she was forced to perform shows in which she appeared as a predator where she was ordered to sit and stand, and she was confined in a cage for predators and forced to dance for her jailers. Bartman was supposed to make half of the income from her shows, but the truth is that she saw little of it.

Sara Baartman spent four years on stage in England and Ireland. Early on, her treatment on the Piccadilly stage caught the attention of British abolitionists, who argued that her performance was indecent and that she was being forced to perform against her will. People were able to see her for a fee, people were able to touch her for a fee, and people were able to touch her genitals and other parts of her body for a fee. Ultimately, the court ruled in favour of her exhibition after Dunlop produced a contract made between himself and Baartman. It is doubtful that this contract was valid: it was probably produced for the purposes of the trial. 
Cesars left the show and Dunlop continued to display Baartman in country fairs. Baartman also moved to Manchester, where she was baptised as Sarah Bartmann. In 1814, after Dunlop's death, a man called Henry Taylor brought Baartman to Paris. He sold her to an animal trainer, S. Reaux, who made her amuse onlookers who frequented the Palais-Royal. Georges Cuvier, founder and professor of comparative anatomy at the Museum of Natural History, examined Baartman as he searched for proof of a so-called missing link between animals and human beings. After being sold to S. Reaux she was raped, and impregnated by him. The child was named Okurra Reaux, and she died at five years of age of an unknown disease.

Poverty and insult after death

Bartman lived in poverty and died in Paris of an unspecified inflammatory disease in December 1815. After her death, Cuvier explained her body for his study in comparative anatomy, trying to prove that she was closer to an ape, particularly the orangutan. In 1974 these remains were removed from the museum in Paris and put in storage, and their order was completely forgotten. For more than a century and a half, visitors to the Museum of Man in Paris could see her brain, skeleton, reproductive organs, as well as a plaster cast of her body.

Return to Africa

But it seems that the African community has never forgotten. Sporadic attempts appeared at that time to recover Sarah Bartmann's remains, but the first serious talks were in 1994, when Nelson Mandela took office, where he held talks with the French government, demanding the return of Sarah's body. The talks took a very long time. Her remains were returned to South Africa in 2002 and she was buried in the Eastern Cape on National Women's Day in South Africa.
After nearly 200 years of alienation and indignity, Sarah's remains were transported to Cape Airport, where it is usually to her village of Gammot, her birthplace, where her remains were buried covered in the South African flag. Her memorial service was on August 9, 2002, International Women's Day.
The European poet Diana Ferrus, who is originally from South Africa from the Khoisan tribe, wrote a poem entitled “The Sartigi Bartman’s poem,” and this poem was a reason for Sarah's return, and Diana was the one who invited Sarah back, and one of the three who accompanied Sarah to her last residence.

Julian Joseph Ferry used Sarah Bartmann's published photo to validate racial patterns. In his article "Dictionnaire des sciences medical", he summarizes the true nature of the black female in the context of acceptable medical discourse. Ferry focused on defining her genitals as being more developed and distinct compared to the white female organs. All of his theories on sexual primitivism are influenced and supported by the anatomical studies and illustrations of Sarah Bartman devised by Georges Cuvier. In cartoons and drawings, Bartmann's features were often exaggerated to highlight her differences from European females.








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