Ela Mesma Company

Dispora Dance Theatre

Transcending History Healing Of Memories Tour of the Mother City: Capetown

Lucelle Campbell, based in Cape Town, is a historian who was sensitised to the damage associated with a one-sided narrative during the time she spent working at Iziko Museums of Cape Town. Drawing on information collected during her 10 years, she began to research her own ancestry. She established Transcending History Tours, which takes visitors to museums and sites of memory, to offer a fresh, contemporary perspective on the lives of slaves and to affirm the contribution that they made to the social, economic, political and cultural life of Cape Town.

This was not just a tour, but treading on ancestral ground, healing, light work. It was truly an experience I will never forget along with the very special collection of creatives and healing women on the tour. First we visited the Kraal of the KhoeSan next to the Castle of Good Hope. The Kraal was the first buildings (matjies huise) at the Cape thousands of years before the Dutch, British, the French Huguenots and other Europeans arrived.

Next we visited the Wall of Memory. The first largest consignment of slaves brought to Cape Town in 1658 were mostly Angolan children, some of them still babes in arms. Between 1891- 1941 7000 children are orphaned at the Cape, most of them of colour. This memorial was a homage in their memory which also spoke of the homeless children of the present day. Next we moved to the Auction Block, in the middle of a busy main road, where thousands of Slaves were sold into bondage.

We visited the Groote Kerk: a church which was extremely influential in orchestrating the first legislative framework with regards the establishment of an Apartheid government, and a statue of Jan Smuts who Lucille explained is a ‘statesmen’, who she calls tyrant. It reminded me of Edward Colston, a Bristol-born English philanthropist, merchant, slave trader, and Member of Parliament, whose wealth was acquired through the trade and exploitation of slaves. Whilst his history is being revealed and there are many powerful statements happening with the changing of names of buildings named after him, he still has a statue in the centre of Bristol. Jan Smuts made his money from benefiting from slavery and later became a politician and an architect of apartheid.

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