With South Africa’s Colonialists Targeted, Sarah Baartman’s Grave Is Defaced

Abena Agyeman-Fisher April 28, 2015
Sarah Baartman's Cast


Sarah Baartman

Sarah Baartman’s Cast

In recent weeks, several of South Africa’s monuments have been defaced. Now, the world-famous burial site of Sarah Baartman, a.k.a. Hottentot Venus,” has also been defaced in a controversy that is said to be dividing the nation, according to BBC.


Keep Up With Face2Face Africa On Facebook!

Used To Degrade the Black Race

An indigenous Khoisan woman, Baartman left South Africa in 1810, when a doctor told her she could become rich by allowing foreigners to see her body.

But instead, Baartman’s life abroad would be peppered with disgrace, humiliation, and horrors.

The BBC reports:

…She became a freak-show attraction investigated by supposed scientists and put under the voyeuristic eye of the general public.

She was forced to show off her large buttocks and her outsized genitalia at circus sideshows, museums, bars, and universities.

And just when it would appear that Baartman’s dehumanization had reached its nadir, a “scientist” by the name of George Cuvier would turn her into a “specimen” to ultimately prove that Africans were inferior.

South Africa History reports:

As from March 1815 Sara was studied by French anatomists, zoologists and physiologists. Cuvier concluded that she was a link between animals and humans. Thus, Sara was used to help emphasise the stereotype that Africans were oversexed and a lesser race.

Six years later in 1818, Baartman would die at the young age of 26.

However, rather than being transported home, the aforementioned Cuvier would dissect her body, making a plaster cast of it, and pickle her brain and genitals to be displayed at the Musee del’Homme (Museum of Man) until 1974.

Even in death, Baartman was sensationalized and disrespected.

Late-South African President Nelson Mandela would be the one to ask that her remains be returned home.

It would take eight years before Baartman’s remains would be buried on August 9, 2002, in Eastern Cape Province.

Rejection of Colonialists

In present-day South Africa, many are questioning the presence of colonialists’ statues around the country.

Earlier this month, Face2Face Africa reported on the controversy that arose over British colonizer Cecil Rhodes‘s statue at the University of Cape Town:

Last month, students who were fed up with the enduring symbol of White imperialism protested Rhodes’ statue by defiling it with excrement, prompting school officials to seriously consider whether its continued existence on campus grounds is necessary.

University officials ultimately decided to have it removed.

cecil rhodes

In addition, in the capital of Pretoria, green paint was thrown on the statue of Paul Kruger, the President of South Africa Republic from 1883 to 1900.

Paul Kruger

The targeting of the nation’s colonialists has caused many White South Africans to protest against the rejection of these “heroes,” with one placard at a rally reading, “Hands off our heritage. This is genocide.”

Which begs the question:  Is the white paint that was thrown on Baartman’s plaque over the weekend revenge?

SEE ALSO: Migrant Children Often Refused Entry to South Africa’s Schools

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: June 19, 2018


Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates