The exhibition dedicated to Dawid Stuurman provides a very real insight into this remarkable, and somewhat mysterious, man. He was a Khoi farm labourer in the Eastern Cape, having been born near the Gamtoos River in 1773. He joined the Khoi Rebellion and was soon appointed captain of the army.Dawid Stuurman and his men fought for what they believed to be right and against the injustices imposed upon the Khoi people by the colonists. During this time, no one of colour was granted the rights enjoyed by the colonists. This exhibition offers a detailed look into the life, freedom fighting and heroism of Dawid Stuurman.
Stuurman was trapped by British colonialists, sent to a jail in Cape Town from which he escaped, a fighter in the Fifth Frontier War, captured in war and sent to Robben Island (from which he also escaped), and, finally, exiled to Sydney, Australia, where he died.
A life this full of brave deeds deserves recognition. Therefore, this exhibition showcases the efforts made by Stuurman to fight for the freedom and rights of fellow Khoi people as well as for the Xhosa people with whom he enjoyed association.
Fascinating features of this exhibition include displays of common tools used by the Khoi in their everyday lives as well as hand-crafted weapons that enabled them to hunt for food and clothing and to defend themselves in battle. A video presentation of some of the remaining Khoi descendents, complete with interviews and musical performances by these ones, provides the visitors to this exhibition with a very real, personal perspective of this culture.
However, some of the most impressive exhibits are the copies of hand-written letters, some of which were sent from Dawid Stuurman to relevant political parties and other being about Dawid Stuurman and his fight for freedom and justice. His beautiful handwriting and eloquent wording belies a lack of formal education. Retaining his eloquence while never negotiating on his determination leaves visitors to South End Museum in no doubt as to how progressive Dawid Stuurman’s thinking and abilities were for this time.