This is a collaboration evolved out of the PhD of Cheri Hugo, an auto-ethnography within Women's and Gender Studies. It addresses the politics of exclusion and insertion of womxn in spaces that are historically and presently troubling, the struggles that accompany the challenge of insertion and attempted inclusion, the shifting of positionality depending on place and space.
For indigenous ancestors, oceans were places of sustenance through stone-walled fish trapping. For enslaved people brought here from parts of West Africa through black market trade and from South East Asia, oceans meant death. There are vast tracts of unknown murky waters into which the dead were thrown after starvation in the hulls of slave ships. Many people with enslaved descendants still have a fear of the ocean as transgenerational stories of death at sea were passed on for hundreds of years. For many people of colour, the ocean holds a dread; the ghosts of those captured, maimed and never spoken of again but whose suffering and anguish at loss of lives never fully lived, echo from the depths. During the years of colonial and apartheid rule, ocean spaces became places of exclusion, like so many other natural resources, that saw people of colour excluded and unable to access.
Historically, the Afrikaans word ‘meid’ meaning ‘girl’ was used to repress enslaved black and indigenous women in South Africa. The word Klimeid means little daughter in Namaqualand dialect. Although the term ‘meid’ is still used to disparage black women, the Nama people use the saying - Klimeid se Lyf (the girl’s body) to sing praise and honour a woman's good work. Women can own their journeys no matter what was done to them because they feel it in their bodies. Klimeid se lyf serves as an affirmation of accomplishments made against all odds. Despite what the world says, she did whatever was necessary and excelled at it on her own terms. And so, even though the black female body was written out, we still acknowledge her by saying - Yes, Uitgeskryf (written out) - but we praise the Klimeid se lyf.