You might or might not know who Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman was depending on your geographical location but I’m in a good mood so I’ll tell my non S-African readers about her. Sarah was a Khoisan( I apologize for using the term) born in the eastern cape of South-Africa in the late 17th century, she was orphaned after a commando raid and became a slave to dutch farmers near Cape Town. The brother of her owner convinced her to move with him to Great Britain, promising her wealth and all types of shit but when she got there she was exhibited around Britain forced to forced to entertain people by gyrating her buttocks nude and showing to Europeans what were thought of as highly unusual bodily features. Due to her steatopygia, she had large buttocks; in addition, she had sinus pudoris, otherwise known as the tablier (the French word for “apron”) or “curtain of shame”, After the slave trade was abolished her owners moved to France where she basically did the same thing until her death. her death didn’t free her from being treated like an animal ’cause when she died her skeleton, brain and genitals were displayed on a French museum ’til 1974 when they were removed from public view and stored out of sight; A molded casting was still shown for the following two years. Her remains remained a property of France up until 2002 when The French decided to send her remains to her place of birth where she was buried. Things haven’t changed since then if you think about people in general are still obsessed with the female buttocks, how many times have you heard the term “bootylicious” or “ATM( African trade mark)”? * sigh*
To celebrate her story, explore humanity’s fascination with the black female form a collective in the US of A have created The saartjie projectTM They hold theatrical production, as a call to action, infusing song, dance, visual art and spoken word into a dramatic set of stories that travel from the life and times of Sarah Baartman until today. I’m just disappointed that nobody from south-African came up with the idea first. I don’t know much about copyrights and trade marks but the fact that the name Saartjie is part of a registered trade mark doesn’t sit well with me, it reminds me of when Burke International registered the name Rooibos in the US and prevented anyone from using that term there without paying him first.pfft. But personal feelings aside this is great initiative, Best of luck to them.
[ Hat tip DP.com]