We were here first but are now served last

THE Khoisan community wants the Company's Garden in Cape Town renamed in honour of one of its chiefs who once ruled the area and beyond.

This is among the Khoisan's claims for "recognition" as the indigenous people of South Africa. A handful of Khoisan met in Cape Town on Saturday, where they marched to Parliament.

Khoisan leader Petrus Vaalbooi - also known as !Uxe - said he marched to Parliament to meet President Jacob Zuma and demand the "recognition" of his community.

Zuma was not scheduled to meet him and the march ended up being purely symbolic.

"I want to talk with President Jacob Zuma. I want to ask him what race and what tribe he is. Then I will tell him that I am a Bushman and the laws are against me," Vaalbooi said.

Vaalbooi had travelled 1600km from the Kalahari with his family to meet Khoisan descendants from other parts of the country.

The Khoisan Emergency Committee was among the organisers of Saturday morning's march and an accompanying cultural festival in the Company's Garden afterwards. The committee said it wanted a review of Khoisan's land rights and settlements.

Vaalbooi said they were dissatisfied with the 1913 cut-off date for land claimants as this legally denied them access to reclaiming land taken from them in the colonial period.

Renaming the Company's Garden would form part of reclaiming land where the Khoisan ruled.

The Khoisan has proposed that the garden be renamed in honour of its former chief, Gogosoa, who "at the time of Jan van Riebeeck's arrival (from Holland) had dominion from the Cape up to the Berg River (in Franschhoek)".

Vaalbooi said: "I'm a Bushman. Our community has not been recognised and that hurts us. Our mother tongue is not recognised as an official language even though we are this country's indigenous people.

"We need support to keep our language and culture alive. It must be taught at schools, We have an opportunity now to revive it.

"We have been working on this for 10 years. Everybody just makes promises and nobody helps us.

The Khoisan said their march also marked the 500-year "celebration of a historic victory in Cape Town of the Khoi-Khoi over invading Portuguese forces led by Francisco de Almeida".

Iziko SA museum in Cape Town will host a symposium on September 24 (Heritage Day) to commemorate the Khoi-Almeida battle of 1510.

"When Almeida's crew kidnapped some Khoi children at Table Bay to force the people to bring cattle for barter, the Khoi-Khoi launched a full-scale attack on the cream of the Portuguese nobility, killing 50 of the crew, including Almeida himself," the museum said.