Sometimes as you are reading you get hit by a story, booommm and then you say, “wait, let me read this again” and then you go back and start re-reading.

The story goes like this:

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Despite their condescending racial attitudes, the English had designs on the country of the Khoe and wanted to learn more from them.

During their presence in Souldania, they had built some relationships and one was with a Khoe man called Xhore, whom the English referred to as Corree. In the year 1613, one of the commanders of the merchant ships took Xhore and his comrade on board against their whishes.

In line with their conquering ways, the idea was to take the two Khoe men to England, teach them English and a European modus vivendi in order to learn more about the land of Souldania and its people.

Xhore’s companion died at sea. Reverend Terry said the man had died of what was strangely described as ‘extreme fullenness.’

When Xhore arrived in Britain after a frightening first-time journey at sea, couple with the loss of a friend, he was made to lodge in the house of Sir Thomas Smythe, a merchant and governor of the English East India Company.

Xhore was held captive there for six months. According to Reverend Terry, at Smythe’s house Xhore had ‘good diet, good cloths, good lodging, with all other fittings accommodations.’

They made him a long chain made up of shinning brass, and a metal suit of armour. The mistake made by the English was to think that Xhore would be besotted with their ‘grand life.’ It was not to be. The man from Souldania wanted to go back home and did not stop pestering the English to take him back.

After learning some English words, Xhore would lie on the floor, miserably calling: ‘Corree home go, Souldania go, home go.’ This did not stop until a plan was made to send him back. Immediately after arriving home he threw away all the English clothes and reverted to his own traditional garments.

Before Xhore and his companion were snatched against their wishes, many Khoe frequented the shoreline and engaged with the Europeans. However, three days after his return, Khoe people grew cautious, thinking that they would also be kidnapped.

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This story is an extract from Phakamisa Ndzamela’s book Native Merchants: The Building of the Black Business Class in South Africa.

It is interesting that since the era of 1613 to today, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The condescending tones have not changed.

In his book When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, Martin Jacques argues that modernisation is not and should not be a function of westernisation. We don’t have to sound like the West to be deemed modern. 

The whole exercise of the English and Khore is an exercise by the West undermining other cultures.

As Martin Jacques explains in his When China Rules the World: “the taproots of modernisation are native rather than foreign.”

As visitors to other areas of the globe, we should respect and value these native cultures not as ‘nearly-Western’ but as advanced in their own right.

And so I urge you, during these holiday seasons when we jet off to the far-reaches of the globe, learn some of the native language, absorb the culture, and, please, don’t go to Starbucks or MacDonalds.

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