“She lacks the basic human dignity to be worthy of writing Sarah’s story, let alone playing the part…- Chief Jean Burgess
The quote above came as quite the sting to the Queen Bey after reports surfaced the singer/songwriter would be making her screenwriting debut with a film about the life of Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman, a South African woman who was put on display at British freakshows in the 1800s because of her large buttocks.
The Grammy winner, who is allegedly set to reignite her acting career with a remake of the 1976 Barbara Streisand classic ‘A Star Is Born,’ also recently made headlines for reportedly planning to write and star in a film about Baartman. Though met with mixed review, the news found the least favor from Chief Jean Burgess of the First Indigenous Peoples of South Africa.
Read her fiery response below when quizzed on her thoughts on the rumored project:
“Ignoring the fact that the KhoiKhoi is alive and that Sarah’s story would have an impact on how we are portrayed, is a mistake of great magnitude,” Burgess said.
Burgess, of the First Indigenous Peoples of South Africa, maintained Beyoncé had no right to tell the story.“Why Sarah Baartman? Why not a story about an Indigenous American woman? I can only see arrogance in her attempt to tell a story that is not her’s to tell.”
She said consultation, respect, and acknowledging the existence of the Peoples were fundamental to the story.
Gamtkwa Khoisan Council member Kobus Reichert said they did not have a problem with a movie or Beyoncé acting in it, as long as the community in the Eastern Cape, where Baartman was born, was not sidelined. It had to be done respectfully and with the right “cultural understanding”.
They only became aware of plans to make the movie on Monday when approached for comment
Baartman, an enslaved South African sent to London and placed in cages for locals to gawk at her body, died in 1816. A mold of her body was made and displayed in museums long after her death with her brain and genitals sent to Paris for examination. After pressure from late South African president Nelson Mandela, the French government returned Baartman’s remains to South African in 2002.
The Beyonce project on the historic figure’s life has not been officially confirmed by the singer’s camp. See more on Sarah’s tragic story here: