Hello friends, and welcome to the Revolution Route, Cape Town. You should be standing on Spin Street, outside the coffee shop called Bread Milk and Honey.
My name is Iain Harris, I’m the founder and creative director of narrative travel company Coffeebeans Routes. I conceived of and produced this audio tour, it builds on the four hour guided Revolution Route we launched in 2014, introducing guests to the people and stories that have shaped our Revolutionary past. Today I will be simply prompting you with directions.
GAEL: !Gai tses – hallo. Cape Town, the Mother Citi welcomes you. Khaits-go? Are you awake? Skrik wakker. Vuka.
IAIN: That’s Gael Reagan. Gael gave me my first real break as a journalist back in the 90s when she was the arts editor of the Cape Times. She was a journalist for underground newspaper Grass Routes in the late 1980s, covering the revolution as it took place. She’s covered the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for SABC TV, been an arts editor for a daily paper, and these days she’s a freelance journalist. Gael wrote this walk, and she is the narrator.
GAEL: “Khaits-go” is how the very first peoples of this earth, the Khoesan - the people who are philosopher hunters and gatherers - greet. In this one call is the core of a universe. The question statement is a cultural greeting – it is a constant call to your consciousness, your awareness. You see, this space, where all our ancestral mothers and fathers birthed and lived freely, sometimes aggressively, is where the KhoeKhoe named our species. ‘Khoe’: that is, ‘human’.
This is not only to distinguish you from all else that exists – water and proteasucculent and stone and wolf – but also to indicate for you the defining quality of your species. In the Latin root of the tongue you are named sapient: discerning, intelligent, wise. Our wisdom is derived from consciousness and expressed through language. Khoekhoe means a person’s person – the protocol of personhood, humanity, Umuntu umuntu ngabantu. I am a person because you are a person – it implies full understanding, obligation and agreement. You are because I am.
IAIN: It’s time to start walking. Turn so that Bread Milk and Honey is on your right-hand side.
There’s a street up ahead. Walk towards it, and then cross over at the traffic lights. I'll meet you on the other side.
VoiceMap uses GPS to pinpoint your location and trigger the relevant audio. This means you can put your phone away now and relax. I will tell you where to go.
Left on Plein
IAIN: Hello again! Stop for a moment here and look to your right, up the street, all the way to the horizon. Can you see a sliver of mountain between the buildings? That’s Table Mountain, and she is a constant presence in the lives of all Capetonians. She is also a guiding waypoint for us today, on this walk. Here’s Gael again.
GAEL: Notice carefully, Khoechild, as you stand here in the crownspace of your alertness, the stone-giant guiding you. Hoerikwaggo: ‘the mountain rising out of the sea’. When veiled by clouds, Table Mountain is venerated in the ancient KhoeKhoegowab, through the address !Hui Gais, to indicate the coverage of the rain spirit, Modjadji, she that brings forth new growth and replenishes the earth, rain being indivisible from God. Also called Camissa, ‘Place of Sweet Waters’, Hoerikwaggo continues to be a daily megaton wellspring of healthy O³ waters, ozone-rich, for humans and others alike.
IAIN: Let’s start walking again. Go left here, turning so that Table Mountain is behind you, and carefully cross the street. Then continue straight.
GAEL: Here in Cape Town at her head chakra, that is an earth energy centre, Table Mountain is to be viewed (from any point in the city radius) through the figure of Lions’ Head - guardian of the gateway of the sun, as well as small sister Signal Hill, forever in alert sight of the Island of Seals, Robben Eiland and all marauding, malafide ships.
Yes, Table Mountain and her ice and fire seas that embrace the city, starts our story. Cape Town, the Portuguese root of the tongue respects her as El Tormentos, Place of Storms while the real bad characters of this story, the Dutch root of the tongue, owns her as the Cape of Good Hope. The tale of Camissa’s walk with captivity is one of amanzi, meaning water in the gentler form of the Zulu root of the tongue, and the tale is to unfurl like icy Atlantic wavetongues.
Our Revolution Route shows you how Nelson Rolihlahla Dalibunga Mandela, the man every modern human measures his and her humanity by, is a person’s person, a product of his people and his place, a Khoe. We have many faces in our clan memory of militants and muses who went before Rolihlahla, the one who tears a branch from the tree, troublemaker. Robben Island has been home to many rebels, from East Indian slaves, including imams and scholars, to Khoesan resistors to Xhosa frontier-war chiefs. Tuan Matara, Aushumao, Krotoa, Makanna and Langalabilele are all ancestors to the 20th century revolutionary Mandela.
IAIN: Keep walking straight.
Cross to the Grand Parade
IAIN: Look across the street in front of you, at the building on the corner to your right. It has a short, pointed tower. That's where we're heading, so cross the road at the traffic lights just to your right, and make your way over to it. I'll meet you there.
Right, Along Grand Parade
IAIN: Now turn right and carry on walking. Go past the building and continue alongside the large open square on your left-hand side. I'll meet you a little further down the road.
IAIN: Those words were spoken right here. That impassioned crowd was right here. Gael will explain in a moment, but for now, keep going straight until you’re right in front of the impressive building to your right, our Neoclassical City Hall.
IAIN: Alright, stop here for a moment.
GAEL: You are on the Grand Parade, which before the 16th century invasion by the Europeans, was our seasonal agora, our marketplace.
IAIN: Turn around and look right across the square, at the busy road on the far side of it.
GAEL: All up till there was sea.
IAIN: Yes, the road on the other side of this public square was where Cape Town ended. This only changed in the 1960s through a dramatic land reclamation project that enlarged the historic centre, creating space for the tall company headquarters you see now, rising up to your left. **rerecord
Keep looking across the square, but move your gaze to the right now. You should spot what we call “the castle”.
Here’s Gael again.
GAEL: To the right you see a building made of mountainstone, the Old Fort of the Cape of Good Hope. This was built by the our East Indies slave ancestors, forced here by the Dutch, as a garrison and provisioning centre, but soon became the first administrative centre recording and refining the phase of our European conquest.
IAIN: Turn around now, so that your back is to the square. We’re coming back to that scene you heard when you entered the square.
[2 SECOND PAUSE]
GAEL: Across the road from you is City Hall, the stunning Da Vinci-Michaelangelo stone architecture imported by our land’s colonisers, where the late Madiba in February 1990 gave his thank you to the peoples of Cape Town and the globe for having sustained him through 27 years of captivity. Clearly he was the prisoner who never was.
‘I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people.Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands’.
IAIN: Mandela spoke these words to a crowd of almost two hundred thousand people, assembled here on this square. He had come out of prison that morning.
Let's get moving again. Turn so that the square is on your left-hand side and walk straight down the road.
GAEL: In his first hours as an unshackled man, Mandela, his fallen Queen Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela’s reading glasses bridging his brows, gives the mother city and her children over the world, his gratitude shaped in a flowershower of forgiveness.
He said: all of your bad and even the worst of you very bad, I forgive. This places a deep responsibility on the receiver. He and she then can only accept the growth of forgiveness by changing in accordance. THAT IS KHOE PROTOCOL – PERSONHOOD. You see this man, genetically bred from human stock, therefore incapable of being slave or prisoner, left the world with one fundamental: All Is Equal.
He had been held here in Cape Town from the island Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, festering in the city’s suburbia of the rich to Victor Verster Prison in the Rastafarian stronghold Paarl for 27 years by the system of apartheid, a very cruel form of fascism, a new Nazism.
IAIN: Keep going straight. I'll catch up with you at the corner of the square.
IAIN: Cross the road ahead carefully, and then keep going straight, keeping the castle on your left.
GAEL: Our story flows. Apartheid brought out the final face of European colonisers, who, 4 centuries ago, travelling towards the East Indies to trade spices and slaves, stopped here for fresh water and food, rest, sex and barter.
In 1510, the Portuguese recces Vasco da Gama and Bartolomeo came, then child slave-trafficker D’Almeida, whom our Khoesan ancestors repelled so successfully during our first recorded resistance war.
One hundred years later the Dutch came, not only seeking refreshment and a port fortress for their Indian Ocean war against fellow Portuguese, but space to plant flags for their kingdoms.
Then the British came, and genuflecting with bibles cushioning their hungry bony knees at the sight of the diamond and gold rivers of South Africa, fought a vicious war against the Dutch - brother thief and sister thief fighting for our country like this, barbarians, the story will describe them as, until the Dutch (in their evolution as Afrikaners) survived to establish the Republic of South Africa, on the back of the North’s victory over Hitler’s Human Holocaust, germinated in Germany.
At the time of the 1913 Land Act, whereby the Afrikaners took final ownership of our land, claiming 87% theirs, reserving the natives according to race and tribe in 13 percent of landmass; European imperial contact had already produced 24 scraps of law that said it was OK to steal people’s land and cattle and water sources and children and make slaves of them.
IAIN: Carry on walking straight ahead. You're heading towards District 6. We are on our way to view the shape and scope of South Africa’s successful resistance, it’s revolution, which is remembered here in street art.
Crossing Sir Lowry
IAIN: Stop here for a moment, where the road curves and divides, so I can show you where to go.
Look straight ahead, across the road. Can you see a small building with a red-tiled roof, surrounded by palm trees?
That’s where we’re going. You’ll need to cross two roads at the traffic lights just ahead, and then walk around the building with the red tiled roof.
Behind the Public Toilet
IAIN: Hello again friend. As I said a moment ago, walk around to the back of this red-roofed building, which is, incidentally, a public toilet. You’ll find an open patch of land there, and some remarkable graffiti. Look out for the numbers 60, 70, 80, and 90.
Street Art: The Liberation Struggle
IAIN: Okay, now stop here and face away from the island. On the wall opposite you, across from the island, there used to be a mural by the graffwriter or street artist Mak1.
The mural depicted the decades of the Aparthied struggle movement from the 60’s to the 90’s. Unfortunately this mural has been painted over - street art is transient by nature, but there’s also something to be read here about the deliberate erasure of memory. This is, after all, Cape Town.
To see a photo of the mural, please go to bit.ly/decades-mural.
2 SEC PAUSE
Again the link is bit.ly/decades-mural.
The image is also the cover photo of this tour.
Gael will explain more about it to you.
GAEL: We view the Revolution Route from the same 4-decade historical timeline because the 1960’s marked the start of two very important shifts in South Africa. It became a police state and its opposition turned to armed struggle, going underground.
IAIN: We’re going to be here for a few minutes. If you like, sit down for a minute if you like, in the shade of the tree.
Mak1’s piece is a way for Gael to give you an overview of the long struggle against Apartheid. This struggle ended formally in the 90s, like it ends in the art right here, but on the streets we’re walking through today, **life is an ongoing struggle. It changed shape between the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, as you’ll soon see, and it continues to change shape now.
GAEL: In 1948 our country became a human laboratory. The theorists of Apartheid, who engineered a system of difference between people based on the unscientific concept of biological racism, claiming their ascendancy an act of God, brutally transformed the land and the social order of its peoples through laws and arms and chemical and nuclear experiments. When Madiba emerges as a 20th century resistor of apartheid and an icon of human resilience for equality, our land had been stolen and our peoples beaten down and enslaved for more than 400 years.
In 1960 both the African National Congress and the Pan African Congress started campaigns of defiance rooted in mass burnings of the hated passbook which was the document that determined your movement and health of mind as a black South African. You see foregounded in the numeral of the 60s the hand holding aloft this apartheid Gestapo document.
IAIN: If you have the time, you may want to visit the Langa Pass Museum and listen to a fuller story of the pass system, described by curator Alfred Magwaca.
GAEL: In March 1960 the state showed its ugly face to the world when protests against the pass system were met by brute force by the police: 69 anti-pass protesters were shot and killed, many in the back, as they fled from the armed forces in a small town called Vereeniging - Afrikaans for solidarity.
The Sharpeville Massacre compels the UN Security Council to condemn apartheid for the first time. Chief Albert Luthuli, then president of the ANC, burns his passbook publically.
The state bans all political parties including the ANC and the PAC and institutes its first state of emergency, ruling by martial law. Many many thousands are arrested under the Suppression of Communism Act and held in solitary confinement indefinitely. Torture is normalised and prisoner deaths become statistics.
Apartheid opposition leaders are in exile, prison or underground. On the same day that Albert Luthuli receives Africa’s first Nobel Prize for Peace, Umkhonto we Sizwe, Xhosa for Spear of the Nation, is launched on 16 December through a series of explosions in major cities.
The decade of the seventies sees the apartheid race experiment finetuning through the concept of TOTAL STRATEGY. This form of fascism oversaw the neighbouring border wars, the seeding of extra-legal death squads like the Vlakplaas operatives, planting mass graves and the growth of death farms, cross-border assassinations, poisoning, infiltration, ambush and annihilation tactics besides turning its military might against townships at home.
You can see the figures of the blue-uniformed police in front of the blazing shacklands of South Africa.
The 1970s also spearheads the spread of the Black Consciousness Movement through the writing and work of master theoretician and prophet Steve Bantu Biko.
Biko’s brand of humanity called upon all those oppressed because of the colour of their skin to take pride in their blackness, since it was a feature of their existence. If you regain your pride as a human being, you will allow no man to oppress you.
IAIN: Here is a tiny slice of Biko’s thinking, in his own words:
ARCHIVAL: Any changes which are to come can only as a result of a program worked out by blacks. And for black people to be able to work out a program, they need to defeat the one main element in politics which was working against them, and this was a psychological feeling of inferiority, which was deliberately cultivated by the system.
GAEL: This thinking swept like raging fires though the embattled universities, schools and communities. Together with firebrands in the left and trade unionists like Dr Rick Turner, Black Consciousness kept burning the flame of hope during a very dark period of our country’s history.
Then, on 12 September 1977, Steve Biko’s brains are kicked in in Cell 46 during his detention in the Eastern Cape. He was found naked and manacled, the cause of his death said to be brain damage.
Four months later, in January 1978, Rick Turner, mathematician and philosopher, is shot and killed at point-blank range through his teenage daughter’s bedroom window in the Durban. At the same time the war here once again dominated the world screens as young students took to the streets in June 1976 in what is now known as the Soweto Uprising. 13 Year old Hector Peterson loses his life that day. More state murders, deeper resistance.
In the numeral of the 80 you see a youth armed with a stone illuminated by a burning tyre. This is the iconic image of defiance that defines the period of the eighties.
South Africa is now engulfed in a PEOPLE’S WAR. The armed forces are on our borders, our streets and doorsteps of our homes, schools and churches. Young people flee the country every day to swell the ranks of liberation armies umKhomto weSizwe or MK, Poqo and the Azanian People’s Liberation Army, or APLA.
Those who cannot get past the borders form fighting units inside the country. Hundreds of organisations have gathered under the banner of the United Democratic Front to defy apartheid – the largest formation of twentieth century solidarity in non-racialism against an oppressive regime. Shootings, detentions, tear gas and army tanks shape our daily lives. Elsewhere on the continent colonised states are gaining independence and elsewhere in the world the Cold War is coming to an end.
As the walls fall, Apartheid is becoming too expensive: bad for business and bad for its image. The country is ungovernable. From his prison home in Pollsmoor, Mandela issues a directive that it is time to talk with the enemy to bring this senseless war to an end.
So it is that in February 1990, Nelson Mandela walks out of his prison gates.
Mandela was a man of the law. He said the apartheid was unjust because it was based on inequality. In the 90 numeral you see the colours of the new South African flag and the figure of Mandela holding what is the document of identity in a democratic South Africa. This is his legacy wrapped in law: he gave us one-person, one-vote. The right choose our leaders and the direction of our country economically and ethically.
[5 sec pause]
IAIN: We're going to move on now, but if you want to take a moment while that all sinks in, be my guest. When you’re ready, turn so that the wall is on your left-hand side. Then carefully cross the road in front of you. Once you’ve crossed, turn right and keep walking.
[3 sec silence]
Were those directions clear? The wall on your left, then over the road. Turn right on the other side, and walk back the way we came. The difference this time, walking back, is that you’re on the opposite side of the road, with Table Mountain on your left. Take a look at the map on your screen if you get stuck.
IAIN: Stop here for a moment and look up, above the low wall here, at the four faces on the building with the balcony above its entrance.
GAEL: Imam Haron, Cissie Gool, Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela. Together they represent the incredible scope of resistance to apartheid as well as the intellectual and ethical calibre of its leaders.
IAIN: Imam Haron’s portrait is on the far right **do a 2nd pronunciation verson of Haron
GAEL: Imam Haron was an Islamic scholar and priest who started the first Muslim newspaper here in the Cape, Muslim News. He is known to have used his weekly Friday mosque sermons as a platform to spread the gospel of sisterhood and brotherhood and to urge the Muslim community to join forces with all fighting apartheid. He was detained, tortured and murdered by the State Security Branch here at Caledon Square police station in 1969. Iman Haron’s life was honoured through the award of the Order of Ikhamanga in 2013.
Next to him is Zainunissa ‘Cissie’ Gool, a fiery leftist leader and intellectual. Her father, Dr Abduraghman, was founder of the African People’s Organisation in 1902 as well as of the elite city school Trafalgar High.
Trained in the principles of Satyagraha, or passive resistance, by Mahatma Gandhi, Cissie Gool marched with South Africa’s female leaders in the 1940s anti-pass march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria. While serving as the first female councillor for this area, District 6, she was banned under the Suppression of Communism Act. She received the Order of Luthuli after her death, in honour of her fearless contribution to our freedom.
IAIN: Let's move on. Keep going straight, with the road on your right-hand side.
GAEL: The D6 Café, to your left, bearing the mural of our four icons, was established in the 1990s to capture the spirit of Table Mountain and the artistic life of the D6 community that was split apart through forced removals. Next to it was the M7 music school formed at the same time by our legendary jazz pianist and composer Dr Abdullah Ebrahim, affectionately known as Dollar Brand.
IAIN: D6 is an abbreviation for District Six. Keep walking while Gael tells you the story of this community.
GAEL: We are now in District 6, at what would have led to the Seven Steps of Stone. Also said to represent the seven wide rivers of ancestry that made this creole coloured community; including the San, Khoe, amaXhosa, baSotho, baTswana, freed urban slaves, sailors, African dockworkers from the Eastern Cape, European immigrants and refugees, and Zanzibari Siddis working for the Royal Navy.
In 1966, when apartheid was refining itself, this vibrant community, alive with the spirit of this sea city of hybridity, was torn apart when the state bulldozed the homes of 50, 000 people and then removed them to the windswept sand-dunes of what is now known as the townships and the Cape Flats.
IAIN: Carry on walking straight. I'll meet you a little further down the road.
Keep Going to Buitenkant
In the Footsteps of Philip Kgosana
GAEL: Turn left here, in the footsteps of schoolboy Philip Kgosana. On 30 March 1960, days after the Sharpeville Massacre, Philip lead a march up this street with 30,000 men, to the central police station, a few blocks ahead.
They marched from Nyanga and Langa on the Cape Flats, some 30km away. March with them now.
[5 sec silence, with marching FX]
It was a silent march, peaceful. The objective was to force an engagement with the Minister of Justice. The police were uncertain what to do, to attack or to simply watch.
It was a crucial moment in our history, and one that few people actually know about. It was also a huge betrayal, etching deeper into the minds of citizens the evil of the system. The police agreed to a meeting with the Minister of Justice provided Kgosana disband the march and send his men home. Kgosana duly sent the men home, and was immediately arrested. That evening, the army shut down the townships and raided homes across the city.
IAIN: Keep going friend, straight up the street.
IAIN: Stop at this corner and have a look down the street to your left. You can see the signs for the Fugard Theatre.
GAEL: To your left, you’ll see the Fugard Theatre…, which together with national theatres like the Market and the Windybrow in Johannesburg, as well as township theatres throughout the country, staged plays that spoke of anger, defiance and hope in the midst of burning barricades.
IAIN: Carry on walking straight ahead while Gael fills you in.
GAEL: The Fugard Theatre is named after famous playwright Athol Fugard. Art and aesthetics played an immense role in our freedom fight: what we call the rhetoric of resistance. Our memory centres abound with the art, music, poetic words and theories of humankind that shaped our journey into humanness. Posters, pamphlets, banners, t.shirts, flags, grassroots newspapers and graffiti told the story of an ungovernable nation in ways that could not be arrested or killed.
District 6 Museum
IAIN: On your left is the District 6 Museum, where artefacts and memories are stored and disseminated through living history narratives. Keep walking straight, but remember this place to return to later. It is one of the most important places to visit in this city.
IAIN: Turn right here. You’ll need to cross over the road.
The Book Lounge
GAEL: On the corner is the Book Lounge, home to some of the finest writing on the continent and the world and launching pad of many of our best contemporary writers of fiction, theory and journalism. Pop in here to book up any number of excellent books detailing the South African political history.
IAIN: Pop in now if you like, or just keep going straight if you’d prefer to circle back at some stage.
POEM: Now I’ve got a poem. This poem is called “This Poem”. It is called “This Poem” because it is so real.
IAIN: That’s Mzwandile Matiwana. Keep heading straight while you listen to him. I’ll meet you at the next corner.
POEM: [This Poem - 2:02]
To the Parliament Buildings
IAIN: Behind the gates in front of you are the Parliament buildings. Cross the road towards them. I'll meet you on the other side, near the statue of a man on a horse.
IAIN: Now turn left and keep walking.
South Africa’s executive Capital is Pretoria, judicial is Bloemfontein, and legislative is Cape Town. Right here, in this set of buildings, the constitution of the country is challenged, wrangled with, and upheld. Laws are revised, new laws made. It is one of the most representative parliaments in the world. And at the same time, it is a theatre of the absurd.
Into the Company's Garden
IAIN: Turn right here, and walk down this small lane. We're on our way to the Company's Garden.
GAEL: The Company’s Garden was the centre of the Dutch Colonial city, as established by Jan van Riebeeck. It was here that fresh produce was planted, and the first grapevines were established.
The South African National Gallery
IAIN: Go down the flight of stairs just ahead and then continue along the brick path ahead of you. The large white building to your left is the South African National Gallery, which is also worth a visit when you have some time.
The South African Natural History Museum
IAIN: We’re going to turn right here, but before we do, stop for a moment and look to your left. Can you see an artillery cannon?
On the other side of that artillery piece, just out of view, is the South African Natural History Museum. There’s an exhibition on the first inhabitants of the Cape, the Khoesan. I’ll let Gael explain.
GAEL: Here is a permanent installation of the history of the Khoesan, tracing our human genealogical roots through fossils and stone and DNA. It’s a poor memorial, but at least in this city that celebrates the colonial we can reflect even for a moment on what was here first.
IAIN: Okay, turn right now, and carry on all the way down this brick-paved avenue, shaded by trees.
[3 sec pause]
GAEL: This was a place home first to the indigenous people, and stolen by the colonisers, so let us not dwell on colonial history. While you walk, here is KhoeKhoe poet, Jethro Louw.
[In a Third World]
IAIN: Carry on going to the end of the tree-lined path.
St George's Cathedral
IAIN: Now stop here for a moment, and look to your left, at the large structure of stone.
GAEL: St George’s Cathedral, to your left, was always a sacred space, a safe space. Not all sacred spaces - Christian, Muslim or Jewish - were safe during apartheid, many having turned their backs on the realities of suffering and injustice.
But in 1982 this was home to the Cathedral Group - 57 women, men and 14 children came from Nyanga Bush squatter camp in old Crossroads to seek refuge from state invasion and eviction. At the time the state was removing by force all African women not fully employed in the city to homelands in the Eastern Cape. But the Bush women, regarded as surplus people, said NO. They lived and fasted at St. George’s Cathedral for 23 days.
The Bush Fasters captured the attention of the world and they were granted a reprieve. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, then custodian of the church, says that just four words “We Are Not Going” uttered by the women of Crossroads reminded him afresh of the “hardship and suffering of South Africans who demanded the basic right to live as families”.
IAIN: Now leave the Company's Garden, and walk to the right, following the gentle curve of the sidewalk. Can you see a colonial building with ornate shutters? That’s the Iziko Slave Lodge - another important place to visit while in the city. Keep it on your right and carry on to the next street corner.
Right to the End
IAIN: Now turn right, and walk alongside the shuttered wall of the Slave Lodge.
To Church Square
IAIN: We’re almost at the end of our walk together. Look diagonally across the road to your left. Can you see the open square? Make your way over to it, and I'll meet you there.
IAIN: Let’s Stop here. This is where our journey ends, for now, friends. It’s only a stone's throw from where we began. As the word Revolution implies, our path has been circular.
GAEL: Church Square. This was our slave market – where human beings were paraded as cattle and bought by the colonial overseers and free farmers.
Opposite is the Slave Lodge, now a museum, which housed some of the colony’s first intake of slaves. They were later spread into Bo-Kaap, District 6 and the growing agricultural districts of the Cape.
Next to it is the Groote Kerk, place of worship for the colonial slavemasters and thieves. Slaves were not allowed to give honour to God the Almighty from the same pews and pulpits - they were reserved to the Slave Church in Long Street.
IAIN: Can you see the granite blocks on the square? Go over to them and you’ll see that they are engraved with words. Gael will explain the significance:
GAEL: Here in granite, you will see carvings of old slave names. They were randomly and disrespectfully stripped of their birthnames and birthrights, being given the last name of their master, or the place they were captured from, or a perceived characteristic like Patience or Mercy or Faith.
On the Granite memorial seats, in amongst the names you will find Massavana, ancestral freedom fighter. A Prince from Madagascar, he was captured nearly 250 years ago and brought to the Cape on the slave ship, the Meermin (mermaid). On the way here, the slaves were, against all slave trade protocol, unshackled and told by the chief slave merchant Johann Krause, to clean the Malagasy spears he had stolen as souvenirs. Massavana seizes the opportunity to lead a mutiny and orders the Meermin to turn back to Madagascar.
The surviving slave merchant Olaf Leij fools them and heads for Struisbaai sending a distress message in a bottle. This is rather miraculously received by the settlement’s administrator who lights three bonfires, deceiving the mutineers that they were in sight of the Madagascar shoreline.
After a bloody battle on landing between the slave rebels and European settlers, the tender-aged 26 year old Prince is sent to Robben Island where he dies 3 years later. He leaves history with the story of his brave and brutal life and his name carved in granite marble.
IAIN: I’ll sign off now, and leave Gael to end this tour -- with some help from a giant. Thank you for your time and attention today. **rerecord
GAEL: And so, dear visitor to the Cape of Good Hope, here on a site of such sadness, now home to an incredible mix of free people from all over the continent, we end your walk along one path of the many that make up the Revolution Route.
A journey that starts in slavery and ends with fighting chance at real freedom. You see, Africa is beginning to shape for the world a more human face from the crown of this sacred city, as Biko had prophesied. It started with Mandela leading our country into an new code of conduct and a renewed moral authority. It ends with you – each and everyone of us is now responsible for creating a world of no greed, no war and no poverty. Umuntu Umuntu Ngabantu.
We gently close this chapter with Mandela’s final words in his memoir, Long Walk to Freedom:
I was not born with a hunger to be free. I was born free – free in every way that I could know. Free to run in the fields near my mother’s hut, free to swim in the clear stream that ran through my village, free to roast mealies under the stars and ride the broad backs of slow-moving bulls… For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.