Annotations of loss and abundance : an examination of the !kun children's material in the Bleek and Lloyd Collection (1879-1881)

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

The Bleek and Lloyd Collection is an archive of interviews and stories, drawings, paintings and photographs of and xam and !kun individuals, collected by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd between 1870 and 1881 in Cape Town. My dissertation focuses on the !kun children's material in the archive, created by Lucy Lloyd and the four !kun boys, !nanni, Tamme uma and Da, who lived in her home in Cape Town between 1879 and 1881. Until very recently, their collection of 17 notebooks and more than 570 paintings and drawings had been largely ignored and remained a silent partner to the larger, xam, part of the collection. Indeed, in a major publication it was declared that nothing was known about the boys and stated that "there is no information on their families of origin, the conditions they had previously lived under, or the reasons why they ended up in custody" (Szalay 2002: 21). This study places the children centre stage and explores their stories from a number of perspectives. I set out to assess to what extent the four !kun children laid down an account of their personal and historical experiences, through their texts, paintings and drawings in the Bleek and Lloyd project to record Bushmen languages and literature. In order to do this, I have investigated the historical and socioeconomic conditions in the territory now known as Namibia during the period of their childhoods, as well as the circumstances under which the children were conveyed to Cape Town and eventually joined the Bleek- Lloyd household. I have looked at Lucy Lloyd's personal history and examined the ways in which she shaped the making of the collection in her home. I suggest that a consideration of the loss and trauma experienced by Lloyd may have predisposed her to recognition and engagement of, or at least, accommodation of, the trauma experienced by the !kun boys.