By Allan McDonald

The attempts to shut down the River Club development by Tauriq Jenkins, unconstitutionally appointed Supreme High Commissioner of the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council (GKKITC), and Leslie London of the Observatory Civic Association (OCA), have been revealed as spurious and deceitful at best, fraudulent and perjurious at worst.
Their highly publicised opposition to the development is based on a distorted and delusive representation of the resolutions of the wider Khoi community.

At first glance, the objections raised by Jenkins and London seem to have legitimate foundations in the Khoi Sacred Land narrative; after all, heritage preservation, particularly among First Nations cultures, is catalytic in igniting powerful emotions among communities, commentators and activists.
The opposition to the River Club development is no exception.
A deeper look into the offended voices behind the resistance, however, is both illuminating and deeply disturbing.

Chiefs, Elders and recognised members of the Goringhaicona and other Clans, have been forced to contest this attempted hijacking of their constitution and cultural values in the Cape High Court.

The tactics and strategies initiated by this splinter group of individuals go against every traditional consultative procedure, deliberately amplifying their own brand of social activism constructed around an arcane, minority agenda.
According to Regent Edmen Hansen, of the Goringhaicona, “there is no possible basis for Tauriq Jenkins to act in any position akin to a “Supreme High Commissioner” as he is not a chief, to begin with, and incapable of deployment in this manner.”
None of the Tribal Leaders we consulted have any idea how Tauriq Jenkins infiltrated Khoi leadership structures. In fact, it is doubted that he belongs to any Khoi Clan, and is reported to be from Zimbabwe.

In a recent statement by Peter Ludolph, Senior Elder of the Goringhaicona, with some 50 years of association with the Tribe’s leadership, he said “Paramount Chief Aran and Tauriq Jenkins are purporting to represent the Goringhaicona without any consultation or engagement with myself or the rest of the Tribe, in respect of this matter. I am a senior member and elder of the Tribe and I expect that I should have been engaged with.”
According to Ludolph, and other leaders of the Goringhaicona, “there is no authorisation for Mr Jenkins to act in any capacity whatsoever, much less as a“supreme high commissioner”, a position which does not even exist in our structures”.

From here, the intrigue only gets deeper.
Although Jenkins and OCA have based their whole objection on the basis of the preservation of Sacred Land, Regent Hansen observed “in over 40 years in Cape Town, and as a Khoisan person, I have never myself seen or even heard of this land, in particular, to be used by any Khoisan person for any purpose, including any ceremony or rituals, and it should not be confused with, for example, the Oude Moulen property, or Hoerikwaggo (Table Mountain), which are of incalculable cultural and spiritual significance.”

The majority of Khoi leaders we spoke to have extolled the efforts and the investment of the developers who have committed to valorising the Khoi heritage and culture through the donation of a R55 million Heritage Centre, the incorporation of Khoisan art and architectural representations in the construction, a green area dedicated to the Khoi Nation, the preservation of indigenous knowledge through plants and herbs and an amphitheatre for the celebration of Khoi culture.

In the words of Chief Shiraatz Mohammed, “We are just as committed to heritage preservation as were our ancestors; perhaps even more so, given the continuous destruction of natural spaces, rural landscapes and historical sites through uncontrolled economic development and chaotic urbanisation taking place nowadays. But the developers of the Liesbeek land have consulted closely with our people, and are sensitive and deeply respectful of our culture.

After looking at the site and the footprint of the new development, he added “Contrary to what has been fed to the press by these pretenders, The River Club development site is not at the confluence of the Liesbeek and Black River. It’s over an infill with old rubble covered by invasive and alien plant life – previously housing a driving range, mashie gold course, restaurant bar and tarmac parking area.”

In the words of Chief Shiraatz Mohammed “I am of the view that my beloved tribe is being misdirected, in order to serve an unknown master, with unknown motivations, where senior members, such as myself, have no knowledge of any tangible benefit to those we are supposed to serve.”

Across the world, the interpretation of Heritage, tangible or intangible, has contrasting narratives attached to it, grounded in differing historical perspectives and fixed to specific communities, or agendas. By definition, Heritage is the preservation of the past, and nothing is preserved by isolating it within its own community, or factions therein.Heritage should be celebrated, shared and communicated.
Through broad and sensitively managed community engagement in a bottom-up approach, as undertaken by the River Club developers LLPT, provisions for Heritage preservation, development and management can offer many benefits to indigenous stewardship. It also provides sustainable opportunities to allied and broader communities, heritage and tourism operators, developers, planners and to the public as well – local, regional, national and international.

Today, research has shown that 37% of global tourism has a cultural motivation* and that 57% of global travellers are strongly influenced by history and culture in their choice of holiday destination**
Which brings us, of course, to the thousands of new job opportunities that will be provided to unemployed Capetonians, and the many thousands already employed by Amazon.
Yes. Jobs.
An ancient and sacred tenet of many Indigenous cultures here and around the world is The Seventh Generation Principle: “Remember the seven generations who came before you, and the 7 generations coming after you – in your words, work and actions.”
Simply put, Heritage Preservation needs work.

*United Nations World Travel Organisation    ** US National Trust for Heritage Preservation