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“We don’t want to become servants and beggars!”

The Bakubung people from Mathopestad are worried. The government said they must leave Mathopestad. The government wants to give Mathopestad to white people.

In the past 20 years, the government has moved thousands of black people from places like Mathopestad. The government has sent these people to live in the homelands.

Mathopestad is a small village in the Western Transvaal. About 1500 people live in Mathopestad. In 1967 the government told the Bakubung people for the first time to move to a place called Onderstepoort. Onderstepoort is in Bophuthatswana. Onderstepoort is 80 kilometres from Mathopestad.

But the Bakubung people do not want to leave Mathopestad. They are happy there. They have lived in Mathopestad for a long time.

Eighty years ago, the Bakubung people bought the land from a white farmer. President Paul Kruger helped the Bakubung people buy land at Mathopestad. He allowed them to live there.

“We are happy here in Mathopestad”, says Johannes Mathope. “We have worked hard on the land. We can look after ourselves here. And our fathers and grandfathers are buried here. We can’t leave this place.”

“The land is good here. We grow lots of sorghum, mielies and groundnuts. And Mathopestad has plenty of water. An engine pumps water from a stream. And many houses have their own wells”.

“We live here in peace together. People do not steal from each other. We have a school. We have tractors. We have a place to live when we grow old”.

Some people have seen Onderstepoort. They did not like the place. One man said: “Onderstepoort is a wild place. The place is full of bushes and thorn trees. We saw wild pigs there. At Onderstepoort the soil is not good. And we didn’t see any water there. We only saw rows of tin toilets there”.

The Bakubung people have asked some lawyers to help them. But government officials have told the lawyers that the Bakubung people cannot stay in Mathopestad. The government has already made a law to make the Bakubung people move.

One of the Bakubung leaders says: “Today we are a people because we own land. We don’t want to move. We don’t want to become servants and beggars”.


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