Sarah Baartman, an African Woman Used as European “Circus Animal” because of her Big Buttocks
While you are busy hitting the gym, taking supplements and using butt lifts to enhance your buttocks, I guess you didn’t know that during the slave trade, there was a black woman with naturally endowed butts who was viewed to be abnormal as she got exhibited at shows like a wild beast, called European “Circus Animal”.
“What in the world are you saying” that’s probably the question going on in your mind now, right?
Well, I’m not about to bore you with history rather I just want to give some real gist!
So here is the download…
Born in the Eastern Cape of the present day South Africa in 1979, Saartje Baartman was as a member of the Khoisan group, the original inhabitants of southern Africa.
The Khoisan, pejoratively referred to as the Hottentots, are honey-coloured and steatopygic – that is, fat is stored in their buttocks.
However, the Europeans viewed the latter feature to be an abnormality and an attestation of racial inferiority.
According to the story, Sarah’s mother died when she was just two years old and her father died when she was an adolescent.
In her teens, a Dutch colonist forced her into domestic service after he killed her partner whom she already had a baby for and the baby had died.
So, on 29 October 1810, at age nineteen, she signed a contract to be taken from Cape Town to London to be exhibited for entertainment purposes.
Though she was illiterate, history allegedly claims she signed the contract with an English ship doctor named William Dunlop who was a friend to Pieter Willem Cezar and Hendrik Cezar.
Pieter Willem Cezar is the man who had bought Saartje Baartman as a slave at sixteen and she worked for his brother, Hendrik Cezar where she was named “Sara”.
According to the BBC, Dr Dunlop persuaded her that she was the one who was going to make “a fortune by allowing foreigners to look at her body.”
So, she was billed as “The Hottentot Venus” and she “became a freak-show attraction investigated by supposed scientists and put under the voyeuristic eye of the general public and was forced to show off her large buttocks and her outsized genitalia at circus sideshows, museums, bars, and universities.”
According to Black History Papers and I quote:
“The shows involved Saartje being ‘led by her keeper and exhibited like a wild beast, being obliged to walk, stand, or sit as ordered. ”
She also wore a skin-tight, flesh-coloured garment that preserved a little bit of dignity as she usually smoked a pipe during her “performances.”
Saartje Baartman had the wealthy people topping the list as they paid for private showings of this demeaning spectacle in their own homes where they were allowed to touch her.
Hmm… Black history indeed.
That wasn’t all… She was also disrespected even in death!
When Baartman died of what is presumed to be pneumonia, syphilis and alcoholism, George Cuvier, Napoleon’s surgeon, made a plaster cast of her body before dissecting it.
The Europeans went ahead to display her brain, skeleton and sexual organs at the Museum of Man in Paris, until 1974.
So, in 1994, South Africa’s President, Nelson Mandela joined a campaign to bring her home and asked his French counterpart François Mitterand to release her remains, which took years of stonewalling before Sarah Baartman was returned to her homeland and buried on South Africa’s Women’s Day, in August 9, 2002, in the area of her birth, the Gamtoos River Valley in the Eastern Cape.
And this was almost two centuries after her death, that’s about 187 years after her death.
Her story is so emotional that when the world heard of Beyonce’s plan to write and star in a movie based on Baartman’s life, there was a massive backlash.
Although Beyonce isn’t the only black female that has tried to depict her looks, Kim Kardashian also during her photo-shoot mimicked contemporary drawings of Baartman and it was widely criticised.
Actually, her story is the full representation of the evils of a hybrid of colonialism, slavery, racism and sexism.
The history of colonialism was so unfair to her that she was stripped of her identity and her bodily integrity. Baartman probably suffered the worst forms of subjugation and dehumanisation at the hands of Europeans.
Hence the speech of South Africa’s President, Thabo Mbeki at her burial, he said “The story of Sarah Baartman is the story of the African people.
“It is the story of the loss of our ancient freedom … It is the story of our reduction to the state of objects who could be owned, used, and discarded by others.”
Wow, right? There are a lot of other unheard and untold stories of our past.
I guess the beautiful and ugly stories of our past make us African and proud of our root!
So guys, what are your thoughts about this story… let us know in the comments section.