Vivacious actress Pauline Aaron, who plays Groot Katrien in the recently released movie Krotoa, said her passion for performing sprouted when she a little girl.
“I was the type of child who, at 7 years old, would perform poems for my family. They delved into segregation and the loss of identity. Speech and drama was not offered as a subject at school, so I did not get the opportunity to perform very often”.
Aaron lived in Goodwood until two months ago when she moved to Boston in Bellville.
She attended Avonwood Primary School and Elswood High School in Elsies River.
“After school, I wanted to pursue a career in acting, but my parents were sceptical. They felt, I would not be able to make ends meet if I became an actress.”
She tried her hand at radio dramas for Radio Sonde Grense (RSG) but opted to follow a more financially secure path, and enrolled at Northlink College to study marketing.
After doing various jobs, she worked at Spoornet and later Metrorail from 1994 to 2006.
She views acting as an “escape which enables her to be anyone she wants to be”.
Pauline’s interest in acting was piqued again when actors performed Aids-awareness productions at her workplace.
“I thought I was too old to pursue my dreams, but seeing them perform inspired me.”
So in 2006 at the age of 34, she enrolled at the Cape Academy of Dramatic Arts, in Observatory, and did a three-year drama diploma.
“I took a leap of faith and trusted in God. I’m so much more happier now.”
Pauline’s says Krotoa’s story resonates with her as she grew up with a coloured mother and a black father.
“I always felt I was stuck in the middle of two cultures. My mother and father got together; put up a hokkie in Elsies River and lived their lives as a couple. I encountered push back from people because I was never coloured enough; nor black enough.”
She spent four days shooting Krotoa in Cape Agulhas. She plays the nanny who cares for Krotoa’s three children.
“The sea and the sounds of the seagulls on set were fantastic,” says Pauline.
Crystal-Donna Roberts plays the lead role in the movie, which hit cinemas on Friday August 4. It gives audiences a peek into the life of the young girl, 11, who was ripped from the bosom of her tribe to serve Jan van Riebeeck, her uncle Harry’s trading partner.
She is taken to the first fort built by the Dutch East India Company in 1652 and the movie explores how Krotoa blossoms into a multi-lingual, confident and feisty young woman who assimilates the Dutch language and culture.
She is later used as an interpreter between the Dutch and her people.
But she is branded a traitor by her tribe and broken down by the Dutch. She is eventually exiled to Robben Island, where she dies.
The film is written by Kaye Ann Williams and Margaret Goldsmid and directed by Roberta Durrant.
It has, however, not received a warm response from the Khoisan fraternity who claim it is riddled with inaccuracies.
Gorochouqua Chief Hendrik “Hennie” van Wyk, who was born in Vredendal in 1946, says the movie premiere left him feeling distraught.
“I feel it exploits history, and it was the perfect opportunity to tell the story of the mother of our nation. The movie was made into a fictional love drama and glorifies the role of Jan van Riebeeck.”
He says the Khoisan would never give away their children and he is unhappy with the way Harry was portrayed.
“The actor, Brendan Daniels, who played Harry was depicted as a weakling. The Khoisan nation fought against oppression and exploitation. When the British tried to invade at False Bay beach, my people, kept them at bay with bow and arrows for eight hours. Our people were very resistant toward colonialism.”
He says he saw one woman at the premiere get so upset while watching the movie that she stormed out.
“I also want to dispute that Jan Smuts and FW de Klerk are descendants of Krotoa. Does that statement give white people a genuine right to the land. I feel that was somewhat of a political move. Also, why was Krotoa portrayed as being an alcoholic?”
The chief “rejects a ‘coloured’ identity, and refers to himself as Nama, an ethnic group under the Khoi nation, the descendants of the indigenous peoples of South Africa.
“Jan van Riebeeck was banished to the Cape and did not come over with a wife. He also should have been played by a more mature actor. What happened to Krotoa distressed her. She was forced, against her will to adopt another culture. Christianity was also a foreign concept to my people. We had our own leadership structures in place. Why would we then barter with the Dutch?”
He says the indigenous people of South Africa have no place in the sun in the country today.
“We are being marginalised and sidelined. I have asked the government to foster a dialogue with us. We need to set up an inter-ministerial committee to address Khoisan matters.”
He says these rights should be granted to the Khoisan peoples under the UN declaration of 2007 on indigenous rights and which he says has not been fully implemented in South Africa.