Baartman
Photo Credit: Supplied

“Saartjie Baartman didn’t have a voice and, 200 years later, she talks through me.”

 

South Africa (09 January 2016) – This is what Cape Town filmmaker and stage performer Deidre Jantjies, 25, sees herself doing through an ambitious project to bring Baartman, a South African icon and Khoisan slave, to the big screen.

Baartman became famous when she was exhibited in European freak shows in the early 19th century. She made international news headlines this week when UK newspaper The Sun reported that US singer Beyoncé Knowles had plans to direct and star in a film about Baartman’s life.

While Beyoncé has since denied being part of the project, the controversy about a non-South African playing the part has breathed new life into a project that has become Jantjies’ passion.

Jantjies travelled to the Sunny Side of the Doc film marketplace in France last year to pitch her idea. But because of the Beyoncé controversy, she is suddenly being taken seriously.

Jantjies’ obsession with Baartman, who was born in 1789 in Eastern Cape and taken to London in her early 20s to be exhibited for her large buttocks, began when she went to high school in Dysselsdorp, near Oudtshoorn.

As she developed into a woman, others nicknamed her Saartjie Baartman.

“It wasn’t nice to hear that they were making gay of an icon,” said Jantjies, who works as an intern videographer. “Last year I had an identity crisis. We, as brown people, are lost in a way. I asked my parents where we come from and they couldn’t answer me.

“There are so many ways I feel I can relate to Saartjie, from not being accepted to not being seen. Physical appearance was prescribed to us and I have always felt I’m ugly. I felt that my look, my class, my speech was different to everyone else’s.

“I connect to Saartjie. She came looking for me.”

Because of her “deep spiritual connection” to Baartman, she was angry when she heard Beyoncé wanted to play Baartman.

“It meant my project wouldn’t stand a chance.”

She wants to tell more stories of the Khoisan and restore identities “suppressed by imperialists”.

“We are sitting on gold. Our circumstances, where we live, where we come from. I want to tell these stories,” she said.

Jantjies released a three-minute film on December 29, the 200th anniversary of Baartman’s death in Paris, titled How I as a young coloured woman feel connected to Saartjie Baartman.

https://youtu.be/uSSciGpOJ_A


Sources: YouTube
Don’t ever miss the Good Things. Download the Good Things Guy App now on Apple or Google
Have something to add to this story? Please share it in the comments or follow GoodThingsGuy on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with good news as it happens, or share your good news with us by clicking here or click the link below to listen to the Good Things Guy Podcast with Brent Lindeque – South Africa’s very own Good Things Guy. He’s on a mission to change what the world pays attention to, and he truly believes there’s good news around us. In the Good Things Guy podcast, you’ll meet these everyday heroes & hear their incredible stories:

Or watch an episode of Good Things TV below, a show created to offer South Africans balance in a world with what feels like constant bad news. We’re here to remind you that there are still so many good things happening in South Africa & we’ll leave you feeling a little more proudly South African.

Facebook Comments

About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *