About Me

The Sad story of Sara Baartman, the super endowed African woman.



Sara ‘Saartjie’ Baartman was born in 1789* at the Gamtoos river in what is now known as the Eastern Cape. She belonged to the cattle-herding Gonaquasub group of the Khoikhoi. Sara grew up on a colonial farm where her family most probably worked as servants. Her mother died when she was aged two and her father, who was a cattle driver, died when she reached adolescence. Sara married a Khoikhoi man who was a drummer and they had one child together who died shortly after birth.

Due to colonial expansion, the Dutch came into conflict with the Khoikhoi. As a result people were gradually absorbed into the labour system. When she was sixteen years old Sara’s fiancĂ© was murdered by Dutch colonists. Soon after, she was sold into slavery to a trader named Pieter Willem Cezar, who took her to Cape Town where she became a domestic servant to his brother. It was during this time that she was given the name ‘Saartjie’, a Dutch diminutive for Sara.

On 29 October 1810, Sara allegedly ‘signed’ a contract with an English ship surgeon named William Dunlop who was also a friend of Cezar and his brother Hendrik. Apparently, the terms of her ‘contract’ were that she would travel with Hendrik Cezar and Dunlop to England and Ireland to work as a domestic servant, and be exhibited for entertainment purposes. She was to receive a ‘portion of earnings’ from her exhibitions and be allowed to return to South Africa after five years. Two reasons make her ‘signing’ appear dubious. The first is that she was illiterate and came from a cultural tradition that did not write or keep records. Secondly, the Cezar families experienced financial woes and it is suspected that they used Sara to earn money.

Sara Baartman’s large buttocks and unusual colouring made her the object of fascination by the colonial Europeans who presumed that they were racially superior. Dunlop wanted Sara to come to London and become an oddity for display. She was taken to London where....
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