Khoisan chief in high esteem

2016-02-23 06:00
 Grant Wilson, Kaumatua Bill Tamahiri (a Maori elder), chief Basil Coetzee and Ta Haahi Ratana Daniel Jeremiah.

Grant Wilson, Kaumatua Bill Tamahiri (a Maori elder), chief Basil Coetzee and Ta Haahi Ratana Daniel Jeremiah.

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He had been fighting for recognition for the Khoisan for almost a decade and now he has successfully built ties with other indigenous people across the globe.

“All indigenous people in the world have gone through the same struggles. I had a bit of background into the Maori culture and heritage and their struggle for self-determination was similar to that of the Khoi,” says Basil Coetzee, Khoisan chief.

Their journey started in 2014 when they raised funds to enable them to visit New Zealand last year.

Coetzee says many events stood out for him during the trip, including being accepted by the Maori and being recognised as fellow indigenous people.

He explains that as a chief he has been bestowed a special honour and is held in high esteem by the locals.

“I wanted to spend time with the Maori youth and I got the chance to interview some of them to find out about the cultural expressions,” he says.

“The most important highlight was experiencing the Maori cultural expression, warmness and sincerity. The people really made us feel welcome.”

Coetzee was also honoured at a powhiri, a traditional ceremony held for special occasions.

The two tribes also signed memorandums of understanding, joining them in partnership.

He explains many South Africans only know the Maori through rugby and that there is more to learn about their diverse culture. His visit is the beginning of processes to establish ties between the two groups, enabling a better understanding and relationship between the two countries.

He believes in this regard, his goals and objectives were met. He would also like to thank Prof Hirini Matunga for his involvement in their trip.

Coetzee came home with various gifts, including a carved walking stick, a spear, a traditional weapon and two precious stones.

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