On December 1, 1834 bonfires were lit on Table Mountain and Signal Hill announcing the end of slavery in the Cape. But joy turned to anger as they would remain slaves for another four years as indentured labour deemed their freedom only on paper. To slaves and Khoisan servants of the Cape, British rule brought freedom, but a freedom that remained limited and tasted bittersweet. Freedom for slaves was a non-event, a farce that humiliated them under the pretence that they were free. Even though they were declared free, they had to carry on working for their masters as apprentices. This further promoted and supported the institution.
It is shameful that stories of the First People of South Africa and Africa have not made it into the top ten in our official narratives and historical timelines. Even-though they were first to demonstrate their resistance and carried on their backs the marks of struggle and bondage long before Apartheid. They were the first to feel the loss of land and forced-removals.
These wash houses is situated at the foot of Hoerikwaggo Khoe for Table Mountain The Platteklip Stream in the upper Table valley became a recognised washing place by about 1700. The route to the washing pools led from the top of what is now called Upper Buitenkant in Vredehoek along an attractive lane known as the ‘slave walk’
The story of my life really began at the 10th episode, 9 episodes were blurred; mostly unspoken. The real Lucy, I later discovered, did not know, never learned, was never taught or told so could not be proud of her identity or culture. I was never told that Afrikaans was an African language, that I have African predecessors, that my hair was kinky because I have African grandmothers and grandfathers or why it is that I do not speak Xhosa. My mother never acknowledged her Khoi and San ancestry, she rejected black people, I was never black . Surely this meant there were many more people separated from their histories. The Cape Town telephone directory would give you some indication as to the huge extent of mixed descendents living in Cape Town. The names are endless: Abrahams, Adams, Cloete, Tys, Uys, Van Sitters, Davids, Manuel, Fredricks, Diedricks, Van De Merwe, Van De Spuy, Van Delen, Marias, Phillips, Williams, Solomons, Patricks, Cupido, Papier, Oosthuyzen, Ajam, Aaron, Mathys, Louw, etc. Only a fraction of people are aware of these historical bonds and events which are mostly located either in academia. The average man is unaware of their biological (DNA) and historical links to slavery. Researching the history of slavery revealed a side of me such that I would sometimes mirror the sentiments and emotions of the stories I uncovered. I read and relived many times, the results being painful. Challenging personal issues for me became clearer as I read the stories of my forefathers and foremothers. Little did I know then that I would be embarking on a journey so profound that it would take me to Robben Island in search of Madagascan slave, Masavanaâ€™s grave who in 1766 led a successful rebellion on a Dutch slave ship called the Meerminâ (Mermaid) near our southern coast. Masavana was never charged, was abandoned and died on the island. I did not find his grave. Many there are unmarked, unknown to the Cape's and South African history. The challenges in our communities are a regular topic of newspaper and television reports and continue to provide absorbing conversation around issues such as racism, unemployment, drug abuse, crime, illiteracy, and job creation. The absence of knowing who I am and where I come from is enacted in my every day life; on the trains, taxis, cinemas, I frequently feel a tenseness, an intolerable feeling and questioning of, â€˜who are you? who do you think you are?â€™ These current issues should be aligned and their thread with our historic past and heritage (e.g. racism, domestic violence, alcohol foetal syndrome and its relation to the dop system on farms, farm evictions) should be more widely known. Museums would be the prime institutions to help create such awareness. Active public discussion and participation around these issues should be driven by community representatives, government, and non-government, private and concerned citizens of Cape Town. The effects and affects of Apartheid on the people of South Africa should be reflected across all racial borders. That the so-called oppressor (white Afrikaner) and everyone who benefitted from it (i.e. other Caucasian people), were forced to support a system which they did not necessarily agree with or believe in. Even the stories of those who believed in the institution of apartheid should also be told to get a better understanding of our collective past. This point of view will contribute to healing and thus reconciliation. Cultural tourism plays a fundamental role in fostering social cohesion, nation building and reconciliation. Through cultural tourism we will see how the other parts of our nation live. This cultural tourism should not merely reflect one part of our nationâ€™s people. It should include the sum of our entire communities, i.e. â€˜Africanâ€™, Mixed-race (coloured), Caucasian, Indian, Hindi, etc. I founded Transcending History Tours with the aim of beginning the work just described. Through ethical tourism we will understand our diversity without ignoring the obvious tensions between races in Cape Town and our country and where these tensions come from so that â€˜blackâ€™ communities (the mixed race group or coloured), which have some of their roots in Khoi and San as well as those enslaved communities brought to the Cape, are given recognition and status.
South Africa and its people's socio-economic situation is a direct effect of our past. We can only start to understand these issues in their totality once we know the root of the problems. These challenges are my inspiration and drive me to continue to recollect. I am an African
THT focuses on: * Personalised stories of Cape Town's slave heritage. * Hosting local community artists in Museums and visa versa and aspires to strengthen these ties. * Customer Service Orientation training to Museums and community development activists to establish their own Museums. * THT partners Iziko Museums Education and Public programmes to assist the institution in raising awareness of Slavery at the Cape, making museums more relevant. * Maintaining links with the Tourism Industry to bring about a socio -economic shift from the City to the townships and other neglected areas. * THT conducts ongoing research on the history of Slavery at the Cape and uses this in telling the story to both local and foreign visitors. Lucy Campbell has more than ten years experience in museums and heritage sites. She holds a postgraduate degree in Museum & Heritage Studies from the University of Cape Town. She is also a registered tour guide and holds a certificate in Cultural Site Guiding from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Graduate Centre for Management. Her tours echo her own journey of self-discovery.