Natural History Image Slideshow

Evolution and Fallacies of Anthropology -2

Another Human zoo specimen Saartjie "Sarah" Baartman (Saartjie, pronounced "Sahr-chey"): born in Eastern Cape, South Africa (1789 – 29 Dec 1815) was exhibited (for her unusual body features) as sideshow attractions in 19th century Europe under the name Hottentot Venus—"Hottentot" as the then-current name for the Khoikhoi people, (now considered offensive)  and "Venus" in reference to the Roman goddess of love. Baartman was a slave of Dutch farmers near Cape Town when the brother of her slave owner, suggested that she travel to England for exhibition, promising her that she would become wealthy.  She left for London in 1810.  Baartman was exhibited around Britain, forced to entertain people by gyrating her nude buttocks.  Her exhibition in London, scant years after the passing of the Slave Trade Act 1807, created a scandal.            


A caricature of Saartjie Baartman, (the Hottentot Venus)

She was then sold to a Frenchman, who took her to France, and exhibited her under more pressured conditions for 15 months.  French naturalists, among them Georges Cuvier, visited her and she was the subject of several scientific paintings. Once her novelty had worn off on Parisians, she began to drink heavily and was forced into prostitution to support herself. She died earlier than expected on 29 Dec 1815, aged 26, of pneumonia.  An autopsy was conducted, and published in 1816 and then republished by French naturalist Georges Cuvier in the Memoires du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in 1817.  Cuvier notes in his monograph that Baartman was an intelligent woman who had an excellent memory and spoke Dutch fluently.  Her skeleton, preserved genitals and brain were placed on display in Paris' Musée de l'Homme until 1974, when they were removed from public view and stored out of sight; a moulded casting was still shown for the following two years.  The case became prominent after Stephen Jay Gould (an American palaeontologist) wrote The Hottentot Venus in the 1980s.  After the victory of the African National Congress in the South African general election, 1994, President Nelson Mandela formally requested that France return the remains. After much legal wrangling and debates in the French National Assembly, France acceded to the request on 6 March 2002. Her remains were repatriated to her homeland, on 6 May 2002 and she was finally laid to rest on 9 Aug 2002 over 200 years after her birth.                            

Even today, and after the election of Barak Obama, the first black President of United States of America in year 2009, racism remained as an important motivation driving many decision-makers in the united nations, heads of European States, leaders of European parties, the media, white judges in the courts, the employers in official and private establishments, the Police, the Army, and even in the scientific examinations, recruitment and decisions about who gets allowances and merit awards, driving such decision-makers (often, if not always) to stand discriminately unfairly and unjustly against the black and coloured subjects, biased secretly or publicly in favour of the white subjects.  Cinemas still show movies about fantasy disasters threatening the human race with temporary annihilation and extinction (e.g. following the impact of an incoming comet with the Earth). In their disaster plan, only the white superior (and clever) race is allowed to enter the shelters to be salvaged, so that they will re-populate the earth again (leaving behind, all the coloured and black inferior people to die, unaided)!

(Retrieved from the 'Introduction to Paradise Dictionary' by Prof Dr M Al-Fallouji, Chapter 3: Racism between two Languages - A Critical Review)