Dr Diana Ferrus

In haar eie woorde: Ek is n digter, skrywer wat al 3 boeke gepubliseer het. 2 in Afrikaans en een in Engels. Ek is welbekend vir die gedig “I’ve come to take you home” wat gehelp het om die oorskot van Sarah Baartman terug na Suid-Afrika te laat kom. Onlangs is ‘n ere doktorsgraad deur die Uni van Stellenbosch aan my toegeken. Ek fasiliteer skryfwerkswinkels en werk nou saam met die Pniel museum.


Internationally renowned South African poet, writer, and activist for marginalised groups, Diana Ferrus, was born on 29 August 1953 in Worcester, Cape Province (now Western Cape), as the third of six children. The daughter of Ann and Jacobus Ferrus, she is of mixed heritage, including Irish and Khoisan.

Ferrus attended the Dutch Reformed Mission School before going to Esselen Park High School, where she matriculated in 1972. She then enrolled at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in 1973, however, the university was closed later that year in June as a result of protests. When it finally reopened, Ferrus was unable to return due to financial constraints. Consequently, she started working but later managed to resume her studies, part-time, in 1988.

In 1991, Ferrus started working as an administrator in the Department of Industrial Psychology. Two years later she completed her BA degree with Industrial Psychology and Sociology as her majors before studying for her Honours in Women’s and Gender Studies in 1997, completing it in 1999. She then pursued her Masters; her thesis topic was Black Afrikaans women writers: the joy and frustration of the writing process.

Ferrus began writing poetry at the age of fourteen. Her poems focus on personal, political, social, and historical themes.

Her poem, I’ve come to take you home, is a tribute to Sarah Baartman, the Khoi woman who was taken from her country of birth (South Africa) under false pretences to be displayed as a freak show attraction in 19th century Europe. Ferrus wrote the poem while studying at Utrecht University in Holland in 1998. Feeling incredibly homesick, she started thinking about how Baartman must have felt being in a foreign land far away from her home and this prompted her to start writing.

The poem became a catalyst for the return of Baartman’s remains to South Africa, persuading the French government to finally transport her remains back to her home country after 192 years. It was so impactful that it was included in the bill that allowed for Baartman’s remains to be repatriated, and was thus published in the French law (a first in French history) that made it possible for her remains to be returned. Ferrus, along with a delegation from South Africa, left to collect Baartman’s remains and in early 2002, Baartman arrived in Johannesburg, Gauteng, and was at last laid to rest on 9 August 2002.