Mak-Ethics and Human Rights

creating human right awareness amongst the public

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06/07/2019

Mak-Ethics and Human Rights

[04/05/16]   Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them" - Dalai Alma

[02/06/16]   section 59 of the employment act,laws of Uganda, whether the contract for services(basically employment contract) is oral or written the particulars listed in the section must be written down including but not limited to,wage,full names and address,title or job description,place where the employee will perform his duties,rate of pay.....amongst other requirements the issue is informal/domestic workers how many employers can bother reducing such details in writing?do the domestic workers even understand?because it is extremely important for evidence purpose since employment is considered to fall in the realm of contract principles

[11/10/15]   what is your stake on crime preventers in line with human rights promotion and violations?

[10/07/15]   R.I.P

[10/07/15]   Lora's death took me by surprise may her soul R.I.P

[10/04/15]   If anyone is in need of any human rights document just inbox me its name and your email I will email it to you

[07/17/15]   msnbc "We have a tendency … to think it’s normal that so
many of our young people end up in our criminal
justice system. It’s not normal. It’s not what
happens in other counties. What is normal is
teenagers doing stupid things. What’s normal is
young people making mistakes." -- President Obama

[07/17/15]   hapi EID to all moslems around the world.

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[07/11/15]   What is your say on human rights in uganda today. And why?.

[07/03/15]   As i walk around kampala streets and slum i here only sad stories from children who have lost hope of attaining full quality Education and yet they depend on the who are unemployed. On this count what can we do to change their attitude towards Education

[07/02/15]   Thank to all of who have taken their time to visit this page which is so inspiring.and it makes think of new ideas such that i can make this page interesting for all of us.

[05/29/15]   pliz inbox me for adjustments on this if you need any anyway keep you eye and hear open.there is still to come on this page

[02/03/14]   i welcome u all to this page hope u will again from wat am abt to offer u.thnks 2 u all

08/01/2014

Mak-Ethics and Human Rights

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:
Clifton Crais & Pamela Scully:

Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus

is published by Princeton University Press and copyrighted, © 2008, by Princeton
University Press. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form
by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information
storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher, except for reading
and browsing via the World Wide Web. Users are not permitted to mount this file on any
network servers.
Follow links Class Use and other Permissions. For more information, send email to:
[email protected]
Ee

INTRODUCTION

Ee

Sara Baar tman and the Hottentot Venus have had mysterious careers.
Sara Baar tman was born on the South African frontier in the 1770s.
She lived nearly three decades in South Africa. She then spent some
five years in Europe before dying in Paris at the end of 1815. Sara Baar t­
man loved, and was loved, and for many years before she went to Europe
she was a mother and a working woman in the Cape. Yet she has come
down to us in histor y captured by the icon of the Hottentot Venus, a
supposedly paradoxical freak of race and sexuality, both alluring and primi­
tive, the ver y embodiment of desire and the impor tance of conquering
the instincts. Writings on Sara Baar tman have subsumed the life of this
beautiful woman almost totally in those brief, if momentous, years she
spent in Europe displayed as the Hottentot Venus. A shor t period at the
end of her life has come to stand for all that passed before.1
In Cape Town, and then in England and in Paris, Sara Baar tman as the
Hottentot Venus fancied and troubled the minds of people who, in their
often quotidian ways, helped fashion the modern world. It was, by all
accounts, an extraordinar y epoch. During her lifetime American colonists
declared their independence and quashed Native American cultures. In
Saint Domingue, slaves revolted and created Haiti, a ne w society free of
the plantation master but still full of sorrow. Across Europe revolutions
came and went, in France by the stamp of feet and the guillotine’s percus­
sive thump. Napoleon’s armies marched and perished. The masses moved
in and out of the factories of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, or
worked on the docks of the great city of London. The Luddites rioted
against the factor y system. Gas lighting came to Soho. King George III
went insane. The Romantics imagined the beauties of nature, the emotions
2 INTR ODUCTION
and the transcendental, the monstrous and the exotic. Scientists measured
and classified the world.
Where, Europeans wondered, did the Hottentot Venus fit in the order
of things? What makes us human? What is intellect, feeling, love? Many
believed the Hottentot Venus was more ape than human, or that she repre­
sented a fifth categor y of human, a Homo sapiens monstrous, a kind of
Frankenstein’s monster scarcely capable of emotion and intelligence yet
also a reminder of the primitive living deep within the self.
That fiction became a constant presence throughout much of Europe
during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. On Baar tman’s death in
December 1815, Georges Cuvier, then Europe’s most revered scientist and
the father of comparative anatomy, eagerly dissected her body for his inves­
tigations and remade her in a plaster cast as the Hottentot Venus. Sara
Baar tman disappeared from histor y as the identity she had per formed on-stage and in Europe’s halls was entombed in science and figured ever more
prominently in the Western imagining of women, race, and sexuality: the
primitive woman with extraordinarily large buttocks and, so many were
told, remarkable sexual organs. A huge illustration of the Hottentot Venus
greeted the tens of thousands of visitors who crowded into the Universal
Exhibition in Paris in 1889, and her plaster cast was made available to
the more than thir ty-one million people attending the International Ex­
hibition of 1937, just before the outbreak of the Second World War
when ideas about the supposed inferiority of the races nearly destroye d
Europe. Dickens and Dar win, Hugo, Freud, Picasso, Eliot, H. G. Wells,
James Joyce, and many others kne w or wrote of the Hottentot Venus, as
did the most impor tant writers on the so-called inferiority of the darker
races. “Ever y one, the basest creatures, ever y Hottentot,” Wells wrote,
“ever y stunted creature that ever breathed poison in a slum, knows that
the instinctive constitution of man is at fault here and that fear is shameful
and must be subdued.” The Hottentot figured in Gobineau’s famous Essay
on the Inequality of the Human R aces (1855), one of the foundational texts
in the rise of modern racism and translated and published throughout
Europe and America. The Essay was especially influential in the American
South and in Germany in the decades that led to spectacle lynching and
to the Holocaust. As the venerable Edinburgh Review put it in 1863,
“There is no vast difference between the intelligence of a Bosjesman and
INTR ODUCTION 3
that of an oran-u` tan, and that the difference is far greater between Desc­
ar tes or Homer and the Hottentot than between the stupid Hottentot
and the ape.”2
The Hottentot Venus confirmed to Europeans the inferiority of the
Hottentot and people with dark skins. It also confirmed the inequality
and unfitness of all women, for women were closer to nature, and the
Hottentot Venus was closest of all. “Hottentot women,” Rober t Knox
wrote in his R aces of Man, “offer cer tain peculiarities more strongly marked
than in any other race”—by which the Scottish anatomist, infamous for
stealing corpses, meant women’s buttocks and ge****ls. The sexual body
determined character, being even. Politicians and bureaucrats devised laws
throughout Europe to control the biological deviance of prostitutes and
their Hottentot sexuality that preyed on men. Well into the twentieth
centur y, doctors in Europe and America excised women’s ge****ls to make
them less pronounced, less like those of the Hottentot Venus, to better
control their presumed sexual cravings and br ute drives.3
In the 1940s and 1950s, Percival Kirby, a Scottish musicologist working
in South Africa, wrote a series of ar ticles on the Hottentot Venus. Most
ever yone had forgotten about the Hottentot Venus, even if her ghost con­
tinued shaping people’s perception of black women’s sexuality. Feminism
helped her resurrection. In the 1980s the Hottentot Venus returned, as a
symbol not of sexual excess and racial inferiority but of all the terrible
things the West has done to others. Scholars star ted reading Kirby. His
investigations became the basis for poems, plays, sculptures, and other
representations that now power fully depicted the terrible display of the
Hottentot Venus in Europe as the moniker of ever ything wrong with West­
ern civilization: Enlightenment science, racism, the abuse and exploitation
of women, the travesties of colonialism, and the exoticization of non-West­
ern peoples—the so-called “Other.”
Sara Baar tman also reappeared in South Africa. In 1994, apar theid
ended. South Africans began demanding the return of Baar tman’s remains
for proper burial in the place of her bir th. The French refused: they
claimed her body was theirs. Baar tman’s histor y became the grist of do­
mestic and international politics. Baar tman emerged as South Africa’s
“mother and her life as the Hottentot Venus a reminder of the injustices
black South Africans have endured over the past three and a half centu­
4 INTR ODUCTION
ries.” For the French, retaining the body meant defending the power and
enlightenment of French science. But science so clearly tied to race could
not win: Sara Baar tman was reburied in a state funeral in South Africa on
National Women’s Day in August 2002.
In the 1990s, Sara Baar tman thus began appearing from histor y’s shad­
ows. But who was this person who became the Hottentot Venus? Until
ver y recently when the question has been posed, if it has been posed at
all, the answer has focused on the five years Baar tman lived in Europe and
per formed as the Hottentot Venus. Various publics around the world took
the European representations of Sara Baar tman and turned them on their
head to expose modernity’s darker side. Scholars used Kirby’s work as
gospel, assuming that nothing could be found out about Sara Baar tman’s
life in South Africa: her colonial histor y either remained of no interest or
was presumed inaccessible. 4
As historians working on topics such as colonialism, race, gender and
sexuality, we wondered if a different approach to Sara Baar tman’s life
might be possible. What if we looked at the totality of her life and resisted
the temptation of reading her histor y backward as a stor y of inevitable
victimization? How might the past look then?
We began work on Sara Baar tman’s life in 2003, fascinated by the tre­
mendous, perhaps impossible, burden that seemed to be placed on this
African woman who lived in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth cen­
turies. We began innocently, perhaps naively, wanting to discover the per­
son behind the Hottentot Venus, where necessar y to set the record straight,
to tell the stor y of a woman who gre w up in South Africa and who was
killed in Europe by a figment of other people’s imagination.
The journey took us to three continents and research in five countries
in more than a dozen archives and libraries. We tried to track down ever y
possibly relevant record in the period especially from about 1750 to 1816,
and then from the 1990s to the present. We conducted genealogical re­
search to identify some of the possible relatives of Sara Baar tman. Discus­
sions with people brought us from the outskir ts of Por t Elizabeth to the
small town of Graaff Reinet to the desolate and impoverished community
of Lavender Hill near Cape Town. We spoke as well to various interested
par ties. Some people refused to speak with us. Others requested anonym­
ity. What seemed like a puzzle, the search for pieces of evidence to com­
plete a picture, became more like a myster y full of twists and turns with
INTR ODUCTION 5
one issue leading inexplicably to another and some questions left unan­
swered and perhaps unanswerable.5
All the while the ver y act of writing raised perplexing issues. We learned
that biography was a genre more suited to the life of the Hottentot Venus
than to the fragments recorded for posterity about Sara Baar tman, even as
we still found out far more about the person than people had thought the
records would reveal. Fixing Sara Baar tman within the conventional genre
of biography raises fundamental questions about how we know what we
know and how we write about people whose lives traversed so many geog­
raphies and different cultural worlds. Sara Baar tman’s life confounds con­
ventional narrative biography in at least two senses. She was in many senses
one of the “defeated and the lost” whose histor y, as one philosopher put
it, “cries out for vengeance and calls for narrative.”6 Yet the closer we get
to the defeated and the lost, the more fragmentar y the evidentiar y record
becomes. This is the case not simply with Sara Baar tman but with the
great swath of humanity, the billions of people who bequeath posterity
the simple lineaments of their lives. Sara gave only one inter vie w during
her life, in London, and it was given in Dutch, under the watchful eyes
of officers of a cour t, and then translated and handed down to histor y as
a paraphrase. Two other inter vie ws in Paris are probably fictive. These are
not the materials most biographers have to work with. Sara Baar tman left,
then, mere fragments of histor y.
Biography also promises “to satisfy the lingering desire for a solid world
peopled by knowable characters”7 by arranging the life of a person absent
its strangeness, as if culture was but the patina etched by histor y upon a
universal unchanging self. Biography, however, emerged at a par ticular
time and place in Europe’s imagining of the self; indeed, biographical
writing was being crafted in Sara Baar tman’s lifetime. It emerged along
with the idea of the possessive individual, that person who has agency,
autonomy, a vision of self. This idea of the person, of the self, is not so
easily transferred to anytime and anyplace and to worlds where there is no
clearly possessive subject, no “me,” “myself.”8
And live she did. Should histor y write only of people at the moment of
their fame, or of people with sufficient privilege to preser ve in the present
the lineaments of their lives? We think not. We are drawn to Sara Baar t­
man’s life and to the strange legacies of the Hottentot Venus. Therein one
6 INTR ODUCTION
can find many fascinating, if disturbing, stories. But her stor y—or perhaps
their stories—also is a cautionar y tale about silence and the limits of his­
tor y, and about what happens when someone, or something, comes to
stand for too much, when the past can bear no more.
Europeans created the Hottentot Venus as the living missing link sepa­
rating beast from man, the drives from the intellect, the anxious space
between our animal and human selves. Sara entered Europe’s psyche, mo­
dernity’s psyche, not as a woman, a living, breathing person with emotions
and memories and longings, but as a metaphor, a figment, a person re­
duced to a simulacr um. That figment subsumed the person. We will always
know more about the phantom that haunts the Western imagination, a
phantom so complete that it has nearly become a living, breathing person,
than we do about the life of Sara Baar tman, the human being who was
ultimately dest royed by an illusion.
These paradoxes and silences give us pause. Ghosts haunt these pages.
The thousands of people hunted down and murdered on South Africa’s
eastern frontier appear as par tial and veiled images, fragments or traces
really. So also those forced into ser vitude. Sara sur vived an era of extraordi­
nar y violence when all across the world native peoples died out and colo­
nial societies were made and remade and the modern world was born. In
South Africa, for the sur vivors of genocide and colonial violence, the many
dead abandoned without proper burial became ghosts visiting in the dr y
winds of the African veld. Sara lived in a world shattered by violence.
To many South Africans during the 1990s, as the countr y made its
miraculous if painful transition to democracy, Sara remained a mournful
spirit exiled from her land of bir th; only a proper burial in South Africa
might allow her spirit to become an ancestor. And yet she remains impris­
oned still, literally behind bars that surround her grave site, but also en­
snared by diverse people’s expectations, by histories that remain traumatic.
In large par ts of Africa ancestors are revered but also allowed to finally die,
to pass on, ultimately to be forgotten. This book is about discover y, about
what really might have happened, and about the extraordinar y power of
people’s imaginations. It also is about letting go, another burial of sor ts.

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