Cultural Imperialism is the imposition by one usually politically or economically dominant community onto another non-dominant community. It is a form of imperialism, in that the imposing community forcefully extends the authority of its way of life over the other population by either transforming or replacing aspects of the non-dominant community’s culture.
Despite the fact that indigenous people never tried to harm these invaders, the invaders turned their cooperation and friendly relationship into conflict, war, and terrorism to expropriate the homeland of the indigenous people.
On 8 April 1713, the smallpox epidemic broke out in the Cape Colony. It spread among both the Europeans and Khoisan. The Khoisan had never been exposed to smallpox and had no natural resistance to the disease. Many of the survivors who fled came into conflict with other Khoisan groups. This resulted in the Drakenstein region suffering the most as the epidemic continued for between three and four months. In 1755 and 1767 two more smallpox epidemics almost eradicated the entire Khoisan population. Those who survived were forced to become westernised, Christianised and had to learn to speak Dutch, which later became Afrikaans. They even adopted the European style of dressing.
“Savage” is a colonialist term that has, in effect, been used for centuries to cast Indigenous peoples as less than human in order to make it easier to justify abuses against them.
The effect that stereotyping had on Indigenous women is one of the main reasons why non-Indigenous people committed violent crimes of hate towards Khoisan women and girls. Some non-Indigenous people believed that indigenous women are dirty, promiscuous and overtly sexualised, which made these women vulnerable to violent assaults.
Culture and its heritage reflect and shape values, beliefs, and aspirations, thereby defining a people’s national identity. It is important to preserve our cultural heritage, because it keeps our integrity as a people.
These days, because of cultural imperialism, those who identify as Khoisan are an ostracized minority, in a country of which they are the First Nation inhabitants.