Ode to Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman

I wrote this poem in January 2017. Saartjie was weighing heavy on my mind. I became inspired to write down my thoughts on her life. I hope you enjoy it. I appreciate feedback. I changed a lot of what I had in the beginning.

 

Ode to Saartijie “Sarah” Baartman

If only you knew how beautiful you were

That your large hips, backside, elongated labia lips, and enlarged lips

Are what some females these days go under the knife for

That you were not “deformed.”

God blessed you with your curvaceous body

That you were over-sexualized for

That the Europeans obsessed and called you inferior for

You left your home Mother Africa to Europe under false pretense

 

If only you knew everything that glitters is not gold

That a person’s word to you is not always their bond

That trust is limited in a world were imperialism was rampant

That exploitation for land, resources, and people was in high demand

Exhibited in freak shows as an attraction

They labeled you as “Hottentot Venus.”

A Greek God of fertility you were referred as

African Queen you are!

African Goddess you are!

An African woman taken advantage

 

If only you knew how strong you were

How intelligent you were

You traveled all over exposed to various cultures

Beside your native language fluent in Dutch, French, and English

You christened yourself at the Manchester Cathedral 1811

Maybe you felt this was the only way to cleanse your burden

That God would save you from hurting

 

1814 then that French man brought you as his slave during one of your exhibitions

You underwent even more inhumane treatment

You were treated as a guinea pig

Scientific studies because you had a body that European women did not have

Painted in exaggeration

Curiosity of what they do not know so their confusion made them hateful

That dehumanization of a person can leave you depressed

You became a heavy drinker to suppress the feelings

To drink all the troubles away

 

You became the lifestyle by force

You even sold your body for work

Even though you said you were getting share profits

That profit was non-existent

You survived on the scraps you were given

Your life was cut short at 26

At 26 you perished alone

 

The cause is unknown

Inflammatory disease, syphilis then prevalent

Alcoholism is real

Depression trying to cope with the life you were living

How could you rest in power?

France after your demise felt as if they still owned you

 

Cuvier dissect your body because you were his hobby

He took your brain and genitals out

Your skeleton was on displayed

Your remains were pickled in jars in the name of “science.”

Your remains were exhibited in a Paris museum until 1974

It was fought for you to come back home to South Africa

The public outcry to return your soul home

To be laid at rest finally in 2002

May you rest in power African Queen

 

Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman

If only you knew how beautiful you were

That Khoikhoi still ran through your blood

That your physique is now something many adorn

That you did not have to go through the pain alone

What you went through then some women now do by choice

That you were made to believe you were inferior

When in truth what God had given you was superior

 

That kinky hair

Sun kissed brown skin

Those hips, butt, and plumped lips

A master piece in which God created

Your creation will never be tainted

Your image will never be in vain

Your anguish and the fear you faced

The strength you showed in your last days

If only you knew how great you were

 

 

 

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